Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Is there a purpose for human existence?

If we are evolutionary accidents, then our biological purpose is to reproduce ourselves, but even people who believe that we are evolutionary accidents don't take this as a moral imperative. (Otherwise, people who are atheists would be even more strongly anti-gay than Christians, since gay people aren't doing their jobs and reproducing).  But what they will say, instead, is that there is no given purpose for human existence, and we can choose what purpose we consider important.  But that leads to the conclusion that  apart from a teleological world view, there is no purpose for our life that comes from the nature of reality. 

13 comments:

jdhuey said...

"...there is no purpose for our life that comes from the nature of reality."

And that gives us the freedom and the responsibility to develop our own purpose.

Besides, what if the 'purpose' that 'the nature of reality' would foist upon you is not one that you agree with? What if the ultimate purpose of life is something we would consider trivial?

Aron Zavaro said...

"there is no purpose for our life that comes from the nature of reality. "

Is there any direct reason/evidence/argument to suggest that this isn't the case? Why should anyone think that our lives have an objective purpose? You could argue that IF theism is true, THEN our lives have a purpose, and therefore any evidence for God is evidence for meaning. But is there any reason to think it lives have meaning, apart from being a consequence of theism?

B. Prokop said...

"Besides, what if the 'purpose' that 'the nature of reality' would foist upon you is not one that you agree with?"

Sound like a perfect description of the sin of Adam. ("You shall be like gods!")

jdhuey said...

As I see it, the terms 'meaning' and 'purpose' are strictly human concepts that should be applied only to humans. However, we humans are very sloppy thinkers and so we anthropomorphize just about everything - nonhuman animals, the weather, rocks, the stars and planets. This leads us into thinking that the rest of reality has to have 'meaning' and 'purpose' as well and since the rest of the Universe is so much bigger than us then its 'meaning' and 'purpose' must also be bigger than our own self-derived meaning and purpose. But that larger 'meaning' is really just our own 'meaning' reflected back to ourselves.

Mr. Green said...

If we are evolutionary accidents, then our biological purpose is to reproduce ourselves

Of course, if evolution were purely accidental, then reproduction could not be our purpose either — any more than "eating or "dying" — they are merely things that happen to happen. And then we get into the whole problem of how to describe evolution at all without any appeal to teleological terms. But it's impolite to point out (as philosophers like Ed Feser have repeatedly and forcefully argued) that science — not just biology, but fundamental physics too — is unintelligible in the first place without teleology.

jdhuey said...

"science ...is unintelligible in the first place without teleology."

Piffle. Repeatedly and forcefully argued piffle but piffle none the less.

Crude said...

Repeatedly and forcefully argued piffle but piffle

Much asserted, never demonstrated.

Teleology. It ain't optional, kids. You need it, which is why you use it, even if you don't acknowledge it.

SteveK said...

And that gives us the freedom and the responsibility to develop our own purpose.

What responsibility?

Equally true would be that I'm free to give you a purpose and treat you accordingly. Anything goes.

Dave Duffy said...

I know this is one story, one data point: One of my customers brags to me that he has 17 children by nine different women. I didn't press him on the facts, but I'm pretty sure they are all either dependent on the state, he is lying and thinks this is cool, or he has fulfilled his evolutionary calling.

Callum said...

Have you seen Robert Koon's presentation on Youtube arguing that biology needs teleology? Its easy to find. Although i havent myself seen it yet, i assume he means in the Aristotelian sense of immanent teleology rather than extrinsic teleology of the typ le like ID.

Callum said...

Have you seen Robert Koon's presentation on Youtube arguing that biology needs teleology? Its easy to find. Although i havent myself seen it yet, i assume he means in the Aristotelian sense of immanent teleology rather than extrinsic teleology of the typ le like ID.

jdhuey said...

"...or he has fulfilled his evolutionary calling."

This is a vastly oversimplified conception of evolution.

Crude said...

This is a vastly oversimplified conception of evolution.

Reproducing ain't particularly complicated unless you're a duck or Richard Carrier.