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Making Sense of Absolutely Nothing

Robert Franklin

Posted on June 15, 2018 17:27

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What if the pursuit of meaning is nothing but a waste of time?

While studying philosophy, I became attached to the writings of Albert Camus. I remember talking about this with my mom once while having coffee. She rolled her eyes and chuckled, commenting that "of course [I] would find something so bleak attractive." Her response made sense. Camus' work is dark and brooding, and runs counter to generally accepted views on the nature of human existence.

Human spirituality and theology is largely concerned with humanity's physical and spiritual mortality. Generally speaking, the answers to humanity's most burning questions -- Why are we here? What is our purpose? -- are largely answered among the world's religions. We're here because a supreme deity put us here deliberately. Our purpose is to serve that deity and attain spiritual salvation -- everlasting, beautiful life after death. Paradise is attractive. Paradise is the ultimate goal of human existence. For over 2,000 years, Paradise, in all of its forms, has given humanity meaning and purpose.

But, in our modern times, concepts like spiritual transcendence and supreme deities are forced into smaller and smaller gaps in our understanding. A millennium ago, everything from floods to plagues were the literal will of God, though now we know they're the product of an excess of water inundating land that is normally dry and an invasion of microorganisms into the human body, respectively. We know the biological machinations of both life and death, leaving little room for miracles and "plans" in the religious or spiritual sense.

The sciences have given us answers where there previously were none. Thus, "God did it" is no longer a justifiable excuse, even less so as we learn more about ourselves and our world.

But what does any of this have to do with "making sense of absolutely nothing?" Humans have spent a significant portion of their existence trying to figure out why we're here and what our purpose is. We've created stories and given power to supermassive institutions that exist for the purpose of answering those questions, but generally only succeed in creating more.

But maybe there isn't anything. Maybe humans, for a significant portion of their existence, have merely been trying to find answers to questions actually devoid of answers. Maybe the entire inquest is just... absurd.

Why are we here? No reason. What is our purpose? Nothing. If that sounds bleak, that's only because we're conditioned to believe it is. When I acknowledged that there isn't a reason I'm here and that I'm not here for a purpose, I felt a significant weight lifted off my shoulders. My life was truly my own. My actions were my own. No invisible parental figure is up there wagging his finger at me. There is no judgement. There is no Paradise.

As Morty Smith once said: "Nobody exists on purpose. Nobody belongs anywhere. Everybody's gonna die."

 

No religious text or effort for spiritual enlightenment brought me more peace than that.

Robert Franklin

Posted on June 15, 2018 17:27

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