Excellence Reporter: Rick, what is the meaning of life?
Rick Snedeker: Intrinsically speaking, life has zero “meaning.” It is incorrigibly insensate and random, despite what poetry and religion constantly labor to imply.
We are but an infinitesimal wisp in an infinite enormity of emotionally dead atoms and irresistible forces behaving exactly as the natural universe’s mathematically precise and mandatory rules require. As far as is humanly possible, we cannot confirm any divinities exist in this profound ether to provide an arbitrary sense of meaning to our brief earthly transit.
We are all just stardust in different physical forms, all moving perfectly to the same unseen cosmic attractions and repulsions and inertias.
We laugh and love and dream because that is the way evolution made us for the sole purpose of survival. There is no hidden cosmic agenda, no philosophical purpose. No novel’s truth. After nature emerged, everything — everything — went on autopilot. Its rules were immediately and forever everything’s rules. Something, not somebody, was at the controls. We were, are, just incidentals in this process of existence.
So, outside of ourselves, there is no 2+2=4. No love at first sight. No epiphanies. We invented these conceits in our own minds. There is just the extant reality that sums are always exactly their parts. That what is just is. That attraction is just a mostly involuntary expression of genes. That outside of us there is just nature doing its unequivocal thing. Without end. Mindlessly. Unaware in the extreme.
Therefore, if life has any meaning at all it is within ourselves (and possibly nowhere else anywhere). Sadly, such “meaning” is a very temporary, transient quality in the grand scheme of things, however powerfully felt and virally shared in the moment and only within the species Homo sapiens. It’s the secret sauce of humanity’s utterly unique self-awareness. But when the sun finally explodes in a few billion years, without rancor, meaning will have long since vanished in the relentlessly raging heat.
Which, of course, is not to say I wouldn’t kill for a Big Mac sometimes and believe it entirely rational.
~Rick Snedeker, 67, is a retired newspaper, magazine and public relations writer and editor who now lives on a quiet creek in South Dakota. He lived 27 years of his life in Saudi Arabia and will publish a memoir of his childhood there — 3,001 Arabian Days— in summer 2018. He continues to write for various newspapers, magazines and online e-publications, and for his nontheist Godzooks: The Faith in Facts Blog on Patheos Nonreligious blog channel.
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