Let's say that there is no higher being. There is no god or creator. Life came to exist just by a series of chemical reactions and other processes.
If you think that way, then we can discover the meaning of life: there is none.
That is what we fear and why we still cling to religions that tell us a different story. They try to convince us that we are special and we are here to be good and to go to heaven.
Well, we are designed to fear meaninglessness of life. Evolution made us that way. We are highly evolved beings. So are mammals, amphibians, birds, and even bugs. They all fear or try to avoid death. Because death is a threat to a species.
All species that did not care about the survival of the species died out because they did not worry about their own survival. Since humans are one of the most highly evolved organisms, we are highly selected for survival. We are one of the best species at survival. Since feeling that life is meaningless is a threat to survival, we naturally refrain from such beliefs.
However, natural selection and other evolutionary processes made us intelligent--intelligent enough to think logically without emotion and gut feelings. This enabled us to discover objective truth about the meaning of life: life is fundamentally meaningless.
That life is meaningless is hard to believe, because all of evolutionary processes have been working against that. But the same intelligence that enabled us to survive also enabled us to understand that life is meaningless (for some people) at least.
Well, it is sort of an irony. I understand the persistence of religion. I would like to believe that I can enjoy eternal happiness in heaven. But logic of my brain and my belief in reason deny me such pleasure. I think if life is meaningless, then there is no point on living it. Well, that is true. But everything ends eventually. The universe itself will die some day. Even if humans survive even the death of the universe, we cannot survive the infinity of time. We will all die eventually. Well, I don't want to accept that. But that's the truth.
The point is that we don't necessarily have to kill ourselves because life is meaningless. I don't understand going suicidal because you just realized you have to die. Why not make a meaning out of the meaningless? If we think that it's meaningful, then it is meaningful to us. But I don't want people losing their choices just because of certain religions.
Religion is a method of remedying the blow done by the meaninglessness. But I don't think the meaninglessness is too great. Religion still keeps us relieved but I don't think that should limit ourselves or hamper our happiness. Religion shouldn't be as strong as it is right now. It's time to stop clinging to religions indiscriminately. It's time to make a choice. If we think choice is important, then it is.
I acknowledge that writing this, this very act of writing is meaningless. But, well, I'm still a person and I believe happiness of all people is important. So I write this. I found a meaning in this and there exists meaning because I said it is meaningful.
I hope you see the world as meaningful.
Jin Woo Won
An undergrad at Columbia University, studying Computer Science and in particular artificial intelligence.