What’s the point?

The conversation returned to the question that had originally brought us together… “What’s the point?” Meaning, why does any of this matter? In the end, nothing we do really amounts to much.

From the perspective of the individual, we’re connected to one another via three or four generations, at any given point in time. Beyond that, people exist only as names in a grand story in which we may or may not play a significant part. This human story has been going on for hundreds of thousands of years. So, what’s the point?

It was suggested that perhaps, as a means of creating a purpose… and as a consequence thereof… that volunteering in some fashion may give more meaning and significance to our lives. It was an interesting proposition, but not one I hadn’t already contemplated. Sure, helping out by ‘giving back’ to others is a great and admirable thing to do, but it doesn’t do anything that will ultimately make much of a difference. The feelings we have when we help others are only that… feelings… and therefore, self-serving. Perhaps I’m being a bit too cynical? This very question is something I struggle with on a regular basis… finding a meaning, a point to life.

Something to contemplate

 

What is the purpose of our existence? Are we just the latest in a long line of organisms to have mastery over the Earth? Do we even matter?

Evolutionary timeline:

The universe, based upon the recession of distant galaxies, is approximately 13.8 billion (13,800,000,000) years old. Our solar system and the Earth, 4.57 billion years old.

Earliest life (single cell) on Earth, 4.25 bya.

Multi-cellular (cyanobacteria-like) life began 3.0 to 3.5 bya.

Ozone layer develops 600 mya.

Earliest known animal footprints on land – 530 mya.

Earliest dinosaurs – 225 mya.

Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, wiping out most dinosaurs – 66 mya. This event gives rise to the dominance of mammals.

First hominins – 4 t0 13 mya. The divergence of the Pan (chimpanzee) and the Homo (human) occurred during this time. The Hominini was the last common ancestor of both the Pan and Homo lines.

Homo Habilis (Africa) – 2.6 mya. Habilis are thought to be the first Homo to use tools (2.3 mya).

Homo antecessor (Spain)- 1.2 mya

Homoheidelbergensis (Europe, Africa, and China) – 600 kya

Neanderthals (Europe and Western Asia) and Denisovans (Russia) – 350 kya to 28 kya

Anatomically modern humans appear in Africa – 250 kya to present.

The genetic ‘bottle-neck’ – 70 to 90 kya. Homo sapiens numbered very few and we almost went extinct.

Modern humans start to migrate out of Africa.

 

Ok, that was quite a lot to digest without losing interest. But, consider this; at what point did we gain a soul, if we do in fact have souls? When did we develop consciousness? When did we ‘leave the safety of trees’ and venture out as ‘land walkers’?

In the evolutionary timeline presented above, modern humans have been walking the Earth 250,000 years or so. We’ve taken many baby steps as a species. In the last 130+ years, we’ve accelerated those steps… going from the invention of the car to a man-made probe entering interstellar space.

Are we alone? Are there other life forms in the universe? Are we unique? With trillions upon trillions of planets out there in billions of galaxies, it’s doubtful we’ll ever know for sure. Even if we were to detect life in a nearby solar system (Alpha Centauri), it’s still 4.3 light years away. The fastest outward-bound spacecraft (Voyager 1), has covered 1/600 of a light year since it’s launch 30 years ago. That means that a trip to Alpha Centauri would last 80,000 years. Would those life forms still exist once we’ve arrived?