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maybe, frothow, you expect too much of an old man....|
and maybe, i had already answered you, that is, the meaning of life
for many people is about finding meaning in the pleasures of life,
however flimsy that sounds.
let me try again..
we have laws of science; these laws can be proven to repeat their
consistency each time they are empirically tested; in physics for instance,
they can even be proven to function with mathematical precision, often in
accordance with some sets of numbers (eg. fibonacci numbers) or values
(eg. pie = ...). If we ask ourselves why, we think there could be an invisible
order. But when we ask where did that order come from, we cannot, today
anyway, get a satisfactory answer. When man cannot get answer, he gives
a name and moves on.
so if we have laws of science, what about laws for man? this question has
puzzled us for centuries. Tied in with this question is the question of meaning
of life..for man. It is reasonable that an amoeba (a simple living thing) which
cannot 'think' would not be asking about 'meaning of life', and why we think it
cannot think is that there is a minimum set of tools needed in order to qualify
as a thinking process, and the amoeba, by all empirical observations, does not
have them. So, from the viewpoint of man looking at amoeba, the amoeba does
not think, and because it does not think, it cannot puzzle or ask the question:
what is the meaning of its life? For that organism, 'meaning' and 'life' do not
exist. So by this argument, we suddenly realize that we can ask 'what is the
meaning of life' simply because we can think, and the reason why we can think
is simply because we have been endowed with a set of thinking tools - for
some, the brain, for others like mencius, maybe, the toe.
thus the question really becomes why is it that man has those tools; however, that
would be like asking why the amoeba doesn't, wouldn't it? Since, again, this is not
a satisfactory finding, man must assign it a name and move on.
What's the name to assign? Some will say it's religion based on creation which in
turn seems to be based on beliefs that the combination of empirical observations,
historical scribings and records, perhaps visitations and manifestations, all in
totality, 'mean' something beyond, and above, us. It has to be 'above' because' it's
unlikely one can be created by something 'below'.
Others will say that perhaps it's evolution, although how an amoeba can evolve to
become forumites such as mencius or seneca sure needs a long stretch of imagination.
Is it then an impasse? a dead end when we are trying to understand what is the meaning
of life from answering why we can think? We try to solve by drawing a line across the page;
above, moral laws; below, ethical laws. Just as there are laws of science, there are now
laws of man; the moral laws are traceable to some theory about an Unseen One equals
some Order beyond this corporeal world; the ethical laws are set by society and are usually
consensual and tacit agreements applied over time. In many cases, moral and ethical laws
collapse one to the other and becomes indistinguisable in their common elements. Of course,
there has been much confusion which explains why in some religions they try to follow the
wordings from centuries past exactly as they think those wordings mean; in many cases causing
much grief. For example, in a recent case a girl was found going out with someone not approved
by the family; the man was beaten up and killed, the girl was physically abused repeatedly,
the killers were given light sentences, and the girl was then sentenced again to ninety lashes for
bringing 'dishonour' to her family. Was there a moral, ethical, human, societal or some animal
law in practice here? We'll never know.
Now we are ready for the deep question. Suppose there have been no religions in the history of
mankind. The question is this: would ethical laws have evolved along the same path as moral
laws that came about from religions? Now, whether the answer is yes or no, we still haven't
answered where our set of thinking tools came from.
So we are stuck with the question 'what is the meaning of life?' because we cannot answer
whether we have been created or evolved. We can of course continue the discourse into the
merits of either, and even chance the possibility that our brains, and all living things in their
present variegated differences and capabilities, are formed out of accidental collocation of
atoms over long periods of time..but frothow wants an answer now and that discourse may
We run away and chance another answer better than thinking about the pleasures of life. And
that's by giving our own personal views.
My personal view about the meaning of life is this: we must believe (and there's little facts
to support this belief) that life is meant to be a test for each person; the questions and challenges
in that test are to stretch capabilities to withstand taking the easy way out whenever it impinges
on laws of both science and man. It is a test which interplays chance and choice. Sometimes
even if we try our best with all conscious will and energy, things will happen to thwart our intentions.
Sometimes when we are asleep, the good luck rolls over like a ball and stops at our feet. Our
belief in this test should be that good comes because we have done good and bad comes because
we have done bad, and if bad things happen to good people, it's because, well, it just happens.
If at the end of my life i find that my belief is wrong, i will not feel any loss or feel that i have cheated
myself from what may be then revealed at the last moments as the real truth...
i would have tried my best to live by my own meaning in life... to try and do good
no matter what.