People speak of Darwinism as removing the “meaning of life”. I contend this is wrong by presenting an alternate meaning of life which is entirely compatible with Darwinian thinking. I also put forward a somewhat satirical ‘proof’ for my thesis, for those who believe God exists.
The first argument to discuss, however, is why people are of the opinion that Darwinism takes away the possibility of a meaning of life in the first place. This view rests on the fact evolution by natural selection is a thoughtless, algorithmic process with no aims or desires, either for itself or its products such as humans. The reasoning supporting this view is essentially that, as we are produced by a thoughtless process, so our existence is just as meaningless.
This view seems to me predicated upon the belief that a meaning of life must be provided from outside the system; that it must be handed to us from on high. The most likely source for this particular intellectual stumbling block is religion, with its so-called the meaning of life being provided by a deity. The meaning of life being to live one’s life according to the deity’s prescription. In Christianity, for example, the meaning of life is to prepare for the next life.
It is often asked of Darwinists— and atheists for that matter —how they see any point to their lives if there is no external agent to provide one. It is true, we do not believe in an externally provided meaning or function for life. Just because none is ‘pre-programmed’, however, doesn’t mean we cannot generate one for ourselves which are as valid as any provided from outside. We need to remove the stumbling block to enable us to create our own meanings. Darwin has allowed us to do this.
Some people may decide the meaning of life is to be happy, to create works of art or to serve others. These meanings come from within themselves, but this makes them no less a meaning of life than any other. Each individual lives their own life and controls their own destiny, so for them to be able have their own meaning of life obviously follows.
This is a relativist stance, which I suppose is why so many have a problem with it: it supposes no absolute the meaning of life, but instead the view that everyone may have their own meaning for life; there are many meanings. I personally find this view much more fulfilling than some prescribed single meaning, which can account for no individual variants. There is no black and white, which some find unsettling.
I don’t believe in a universal meaning of life, but I have many things I regard as important to have a fulfilling life; these for the basis of my very own meaning of life and such things will form the basis of yours. Step away from the meaningless question of the meaning, and embrace a more fulfilling life by finding yours.
Interestingly, this view can be ‘proven’ in ways analogous to outmoded theist ‘proofs’ of God; given the axiom they presume: that God is perfect. I will leave you with this, which goes as follows:
1. Society today places high value on free will, freedom of action and speech and all the other freedoms we value highly; 1. Therefore, one can put forward the proposition that more advanced societies promote more freedom than less advanced, more dictatorial societies; 1. From this follows that freedom to chose one’s destiny and meaning of life is more advanced, and so perfect, than being straight-jacketed by some prescribed meaning; 1. As a deity is perfect, they must therefore allow this freedom rather than being a dictator of meaning.
Update: I’ve been told to make it more obvious the above ‘proof’ is a satire of the ontological argument for the existance of God. Job done.