The meaning of life

Posted by

Last month (June, 2024) I received a letter – a real one on paper – from Dustin Cassell, someone I had never met. Dustin hosts a website,, dedicated to cataloging answers to a deep philosophical question: What is the meaning of life? He has contacted literally hundreds of people from various disciplines asking them the same thing, simply posting the replies without comment.

I don’t know how or why he decided to contact me. Perhaps he came across my previous blog discussing the difference between belief and faith, or maybe he knew about Nexus from a concert or recording. In any case, I was somewhat primed to consider ideas like this further. Dustin asked one of the two fundamental existential questions. Of course, the other is: Why is there something rather than nothing? I may try to address that one next.

DC: “What is the meaning of life?”

BB: Without defining the words meaning and life the question is ambiguous. People use these words casually and/or thoughtlessly all the time. Since you provide no definitions, I can’t know precisely what you are asking about; however, I can try to make the question coherent by first giving my own interpretations of these two terms.

Life can be considered in a general sense as “all organic activity on the planet earth”. By organic I mean all activity carried out by forms containing DNA and/or RNA, and more specifically all forms operating by means of the genetic code contained within these molecules. Any other kinds of material I’ll label inorganic (including hydro-carbons, enzymes, proteins etc. that do not in themselves contain DNA or RNA molecules, even though they may have been manufactured by true organic forms that did). Due to my own ignorance concerning the origin of this genetic code, and the complete ignorance about its origin by all other human beings at this moment in history, I will not try to discuss it further, even though any knowledge regarding an origin, if and when obtained, will in itself go a long way toward answering the question posed.

Let’s assume the word meaning in the context of your question is not synonymous with purpose. The idea of purpose includes the conception that there exists a function of some kind. One function of organic life on the earth is to mediate between the inorganic material that constitutes the planet, and something else. This something is sometimes referred to using vague terms such as astral, spiritual, sacred and so forth; however, since I have no certain knowledge of any such things, I will use a somewhat more concrete term – the future. Organic life mediates with the future by creating information and thus reducing entropy (a measure of the disorder in a system). This reduction in entropy is local in relation to the entirety of the universe, but it is nevertheless real. Humanity’s creation of information, and more recently in the history of the earth, its development of technologies, particularly digital technologies, places it in an ongoing active and creative relationship with the temporal continuum of future events. One purpose of life (in the general sense outlined above), then, is to carry out this function, thus giving a meaning to life.

Additionally, the word life also can be understood to refer to “a life”, as in an individual human being’s existence from the moment of conception up until the moment of physical death of the body. Implicit in the original question, then, is: can the existence of a purpose to life in general provide meaning for an individual human existence? My answer is that it can, but only if the individual living being remains aware of its own function, and so far on this planet, the only entity capable of such awareness is human consciousness. The implication is that without the awareness of purpose (that is, purpose as described previously), existence may well have no meaning for an individual human; however, insofar as awareness of purpose can be maintained and expanded, an individual conscious being possesses at least the possibility of attaining a personally meaningful existence.

Bob Becker

June, 2024

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x