On Purpose

Question from Niki:
Hi there again, I have been reading the abiogenesis part of the site and there came into my attention the question of MEANING OF LIFE, ITS PURPOSE, without god.

I am aware of the fact that the religious folks think that if this is all there is, material life and then death once and for all, for good, then there is no meaning of life. I knew you would disagree and so do I.

I have been thinking about this, for a long time, after I had read a book titled PLEASURE, I don’t remember the name of the author that says we are tubes that get born, eat and die, so why then live, and the author says because there is pleasure in life, with which I agree, as the meaning of life and apart from our instinct that keeps us not want to die, thou life can be unbearable for some, I came to my understanding of meaning of life without god and having only this one life, agreeing with the author.

I would compare our life once and for all, with an excursion you have won at lottery or any other way, to which you will go once and that’s it. Never again. So our life would be an excursion from nothingness to life and death would be the return from this pleasant excursion back to ordinary not so nice life or not at all.

So in my view our life is coming from nothing, living, and then going back to nothing, but i have no problem of ‘lack’ of meaning of life, not more than i would have in going to the nice excursion once in my lifetime.

So, according to the thinking of the religious folks that there is no purpose and meaning in life, if it is all there is, once for good and then death, then no one would go to this once in a life time dream excursion, because it will be only once and then never again. And you know it in advance.

Yet you go on such trips once in a lifetime because they are NICE.

And so is life. NICE.

But, what about life which is not nice?

Well, in that case there is HOPE that one day life will be nice. if even that proves wrong and unlikely, due to the insurmountable obstacles, as is ill health or invalidity of one’s body, or other, even worse circumstances of one’s life, then there is the INSTINCT OF SURVIVAL, that had evolved in all living beings over millions of years of existence.

If however one is so unhappy, suicide is not so uncommon and i don’t think it happens in only psychologically ill people. It happens when life is unbearable for whatever reason…

I have a comparison for that one too, the instinct of survival. it is actually the physical ‘want’ of a UNION to stay so. So, what is it that keeps it whole, what keeps all the cells or our organisms together. I am not talking about the ‘glue’ that there is in between of our cells, but about the psychological so to say glue, so, my answer may sound and it probably is, naive.

Something like the COHESION force. because death, with its consequence of the union of cells that once was a body of a living organism, being that now that there is no more of metabolism keeping it going and striving to STAY TOGETHER AND ALIVE, SOMETHING WE CALL SURVIVAL, the forces of ADHESION come about, helped by other organisms that dissolve the body by eating it or otherwise, but if there are no bacteria nor worms there, the body will dissolve anyway, but in much longer time, so, after a time the ex-union of cells that was once our body, is reduced to a heap of minerals in the casket, sometimes not even that, because the worms and germs have eaten us almost all, together with our organic matter and minerals. Only bones will remain because no living organism eats raw calcium that are our bones.

What do you think of this as the answer to the question of


If you have answered this in another discussion, please refer me to it. I tried to find an article titled meaning or purpose of life, but there is nothing. You don’t have a list of articles in alphabetic order here, nor grouped otherwise, I suppose you thought about it but found it inconvenient or time consuming and/or expensive, because you would need a programmer, or maybe not, I am not sure what they do.

Thanks !!!

Answer by SmartLX:
We talk about meaning and purpose in life all the time here. Just put the word ‘purpose’ into the top right search field and you’ll get seven pages of headings, like this.

The basic answer has two parts. Firstly, religious people don’t know the purpose of their lives either, even if they think there is one. Gods are not keen on sharing their plans, and believers may accept literally anything that happens as part of the plan. The second part is that atheists choose their own purpose in life, since they don’t expect there to be a divinely conferred purpose, known or unknown. If life loses all purpose and joy, suicide may occur, but this is true of everyone. Religiosity is negatively correlated with suicide rate in general, but this may be simply because major religions threaten eternal punishment for suicide, rather than giving additional hope to life.

The survival instinct is mostly mental, but elements of it are built into our entire nervous system as reflex actions. Your hand will snatch itself away from a hot stove before the sensation of heat or pain gets from your fingers to your brain. It’s easy to explain from an evolutionary perspective: a greater will to survive results in a greater survival rate in general, and is therefore passed down to more offspring. A species of animal uninterested in surviving or procreating wouldn’t last long, in any era.

3 thoughts on “On Purpose”

  1. SmartXL, in your last paragraph you are saying that when your finger touches fire it will that very moment draw from the fire, before the nerves have sent the message of heat on the hand to the nervous system, brain, and then you are going on explaining that this is because the greater will to survive results in the greater survival success, which is, of course, true, but I don’t think our muscles, of our hand in your example, have a mind of their own, so that they can pull the hand from the fire, before and without the command from the brain to do so, thru the nerves.

    As far as I know the subject, when our body touches fire, then the sensation of heat will travel to to brain, very quickly, of course, and the brain will command to the muscle, again thru the nerves, and again very quickly, both messages take just a sec, that’s why the nerves are there, evolution has put them there, spread thru all our body, for sending messages to the brain about what is happening to the body, and the brain sending its commands, back to the body, again thru the nerves.

    So, the muscle cannot possibly move away from the fire it had touched, before its nerve has informed the brain about the heat it touched, and before the brain has given its command to the muscle to move away from the heat.

    That this is true, we all know from our own experience, say you hit your toe strongly against the leg of a piece of heavy furniture. You see it hit, but the hit toe does not start to hurt that very second it was hit, but a second or so later, the time needed for the message from the hit toe to go to the brain thru the nerve and the brain to send back to the toe muscle its command to move away from the heat it had touched. It takes this one second, for the message from the muscle, thru its nerve, to go forth to the brain and back to the muscle from it, two messages, and the pain on your finger that touched fire is therefore not instant, but a second late.

    Thus, if we put our finger on something very hot, say on the stove, without seeing it, we will not ache from the pain of heat before our brains knows, gets the info about the accident, and commands back action. Only then will we move away our finger, from the hot plate and feel the pain in the toe, that was hit a second earlier.

    This is, I believe, not my opinion, but my knowledge and experience with my fingers on hot and hit toes on ha thru my life.

    1. As a matter of fact the brain really isn’t involved in such actions, Niki. See this teaching material from ASU: for some reflexes such as a knee-jerk the sensory neurons affect the motor neurons directly, so the sensation literally triggers the action. Even for the hot-stove scenario, the heat signal only has to get as far as the spinal cord before the command to move is sent back. The brain gets the pain signal a bit later and then does its best to make sense of it all, which gives a sense of confusion and alarm through the pain.

  2. Thank you, SmartXL, I didn’t know that, its kinda refreshing for me not to know everything, somethng, not even to have heard of such a thing, otherwise I would be too proud, there is a word for this, that I cannot think of, which is bad, thou there is no justification, either for pride or shame, because, as you nicely said in another post about purpose of life, after this one of mine, today’s, that we are products of the past, not only of live matter, but alo of all matter, unorganic, too, after the big bang, as an ivent without cause, if this was the scenario that happened, we are consequences of previous causes, law of causality and determinism rule, and our character is formed on the base of our inherited genes as a base, topped by our circumstances (mostly our parents and siblings) ever since the fourth month of intrauterine life of the fetus, so, we should not be praised, nor proud, for the good we are or do, nor blamed for the bad. but, criminal justice has to do something about the wrong doers, has to get rid of them, at least temporarily, because they are dangerous for the rest of us, so the justice science says, but they hide that the real reason for punisment of the criminal is revenge, animals revenge too, and we are intelligent and emotional animals, so the church invented the notion of ‘free’ will, so as to be able to blame the humans for their wrong doings, and also, to be able to free its god of its blame for letting evil be, because it, god, is supposed to be supreme in both might, then why there is devil, who is the doer of evil, but god is also the all-good-doer, supposed to be utterly benevolnet, so, if god is all-mighty, then, why does it let devil be, but because god is trying us, hahaha, if the notion were not utmost ridicule, then it would be just funny. but it’s not funny to die because god is trying you. and imagine people whose children die…

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