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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Why we are here

Why are we here?? Recently, I have heard and seen that question several times. Quite honestly, it may well be the most depressing question ever. The question implies that there is no purpose for being alive. That being alive is a random event. That you need to carry the burden of life until being liberated by death. In this context, any other life form on Earth is quite lucky not to have a mind that can think and can come up which such depressing thoughts.

Interestingly, 3 out of the 7 Belief systems - being Philosophy, Religion and Science - are responsible for this depressing question. Love, Money, Politics and the Truth have a variety of answers to this question. My mentioning of Religion may however need some further clarification: in some religions, the concept of Heaven is far more interesting than Life itself.

Animals just seem to eat, sleep, reproduce, and do their thing. It's hard to see plants and trees being asleep but their response to sunlight does suggest something similar. Our fellow primates eat, sleep, reproduce, have fun, and do their thing. Why is it so hard for some humans to have fun and enjoy each new day? In essence, we are not that much different from any other life form when it comes to worrying about food, shelter or safety. The only real difference is the long term perspective.

The question - why are we here? - may be fundamentally flawed as “being here” is – most likely - the purpose and thus answer. We have twisted matters around. Our very existence brings purpose. Actually, the existence of any life form brings purpose, usually towards other – higher - life forms. Humans are on top of this (food) chain.

Humans excel in creating. It's hard to imagine that there could be a more superior life form in this Universe. Our superiority lies in our imagination (i.e., the “unknown unknowns”), and not so much in our knowledge ("known knowns"), beliefs ("known unknowns") or intuition ("unknown knowns"). Any deficiency in technological advancement will be overcome in the next hundreds - or thousands - of years. Actually, the continued increase in speed of our technology is within – rather than beyond – our imagination. We should only fear the day that our imagination runs out of energy.

Someday, human beings will have depleted this planet’s resources, and they will (have to) swarm, like grasshoppers, to other habitable planets. Analysing planets for its potential of harvesting its natural resources, is already a technological reality today (e.g, recent Pluto scans).

The conquering of the Universe may bring new friends or enemies, like Prof. Stephen Hawking warned us for only a couple of days ago (Guardian). The imagination of George Lucas (“Star Wars”) may even become reality. However, machines can only become our enemies when we - humans - build them first. It is inconceivable that there is any planet having (hostile) machines as a highest “life” form, unless actual life forms created them in the first place.

The fact that we exist, automatically brings purpose. It's up to each of us, to use our individual talents that were granted at birth. Creation is the human center of excellence. There is no creation without imagination. Our superiority is based on knowledge, intuition, beliefs and - most of all - imagination. Asking yourself why we are here is either liberating or depressing, depending on your (lack of) imagination.

"Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." Albert Einstein