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  • Olivia Sanders
    Olivia Sanders

    The Purpose of Meaning in a Meaningless Universe

    When people consider the vastness of the universe, filled with stars and galaxies and more, it can be difficult to fathom what place humans have in this insignificant corner of space. It seems counterintuitive that meaning or purpose could exist in an environment that is so expansive and indifferent. Yet, from a scientific point of view, the universe consists of matter and energy, without inherent meaning. Despite this, meaning and purpose emerges when life evolves on this planet.

    When organisms evolved on this planet, even the most rudimentary goals such as survival and reproduction were filled with importance and clarity. These primitive organisms were aware of their environment and had the capacity to form internal representations of the things which were significant to them. Without anything else to guide them, survival and reproduction become imbued with purpose and drove them to further improve on their situation. As they interacted with one another, relationships formed and a need for companionship and understanding emerged, replacing the simpler want of mere survival.

    Humans seek to give meaning to their lives in all aspects, from personal relationships to career, developing a heightened sense of morality, ethics, of what is right and wrong. We seek to create culture and art, and allow ourselves to spend sleepless nights ruminating over our purpose, pondering the self and its role in the greater scheme of things. We set our hearts at ease though the comfort of faith and religion, trusting in a shared belief of the fundamental nature of the universe.

    When our attention is turned to ourselves and our surroundings, we come to understand the importance of our role in the grand theatre of life. It is we who must recognize our true potential and strive to create meaning out of what appears to be an empty void on an otherwise meaningless stage. In spite of the indifference of the universe, we are capable of understanding, feeling, and creating a deeper sense of connection. We form connections with each other and come to understand the significance of our actions, actions which resonate with others and leave a lasting impact.

    When we look past the apparent randomness of the universe, and instead focus outward towards the people and world around us, we find that there is indeed a universe of purpose and meaning beyond the one we can observe. Our interactions, our relationships, our culture, and overall meaningful connections become the foundation for creating our own unique purpose, giving our lives and the stark darkness of the universe, a sense of understanding and familiarity. With this realization we can choose to shape nature in our own image, creating our own narrative, allowing us to make the most of what we have been given and bring meaning to an otherwise meaningless universe.

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