The meanings of life

by Marcus Loane



First, some words from Monty Python:

The galaxy song

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown,
And things seem hard or tough,
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft,
And you feel that you've had quite eno-o-o-o-o-ough,

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine thousand miles an hour.
It's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at fourteen thousand miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars;
It's a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it's just three thousand light-years wide.
We're thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go 'round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.


Our universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding,
In all of the directions it can whizz;
As fast as it can go, that's the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth;
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere out in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.



I have this feeling. I have had it for years. It could be described as "existential astonishment", the sheer amazement that the lump of organic matter that is me, is conscious and able to make a model of the universe in the grey matter of a brain. I have heard others describe similar feelings and it is perhaps similar to religious experiences. I acquired it from an interest in our origins - Big Bang physics, cosmology and evolution. The vast majority of lumps of matter in the universe have no idea they exist. It is so much better to be conscious than not. Appreciate it while it lasts!


And the meanings of life are....





Whatever you decide.

Meaning comes from our own minds, not an external source. What is meaningful will be different for every individual. One person's waste of time will be another's reason for living.

For me, the universe is strange and wonderful enough. It is more beautiful, it is better than any religion predicted. It provides me with a deep aesthetic sense. If something is in me which can be called spiritual then it is the appreciation of the form of the universe so far as science has uncovered it. The gods of myth and legend look tame in comparison. There are still enough gaps in our knowledge for those who desire mystery, and there is enough to learn to keep me busy for many lifetimes. When you see a snow covered landscape, a sunset, or stars at night, savour the moment. The moments matter. It is such a joy to be human and to be alive.

Marcus Loane