WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?

Is it really 42?

I wish it was - read ‘The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ and enjoy Douglas Adams’ brilliant, eccentric humour.

 

In reality, the question merely reveals the conceited, self-important attitude held by humanity about itself.

 

Why should we imagine our existence deserves a special importance?

In the vastness of time and space, men are like ants: ants with delusions of grandeur!

 

The answer to the question, ‘What is the meaning of life?’ is the same as the answer to the question, ‘What are wasps for?’

 

All living things exist to achieve just one function - to procreate in an attempt to ensure that their species continues to exist for one more generation. The notion that a creature should have any other purpose is a human concept possibly based on the fact that most of the things we encounter in modern life, from roads to computers, are man-made artefacts which do have a purpose. If you went back to pre-industrial revolution days when artificial products were rare and you lived in a world of natural things you might think differently.

 

This is all tied up with the misconception that humans are not animals or that we are superior to animals with a big gap of sensibility between us and them. Ok, we are top of the tree but there is a continuum all the way back to early life.

 

This ‘Animal Chauvinism’ has been promulgated by the Bible (and the Koran) which claims that God has given man ‘Dominion over the animals’. Right up until recently that has been interpreted as permission to abuse animals in any way we like. All sorts of atrocities have been committed under that remit from putting a lion and a bear into a pen and seeing which wins the fight, to factory farming.

 

Animal rights organisations are now improving the treatment of animals and some parts of Spain are even banning bullfighting!

 

Why should we assume we have a greater purpose?

Isn’t that just vainglorious?

Meet Kanzi, a Bonobo chimpanzee (Pan paniscus), who has a vocabulary of at least 384 words. By pointing to colourful symbols, he can build sentences, conjugate verbs and use different tenses. When he first ate kale he named it ‘slow lettuce’ because it takes longer to chew! He can order a pizza by pointing to the glyphs for ‘bread’, ‘cheese’ and ‘tomato’ - he is obviously a close relative of Homer Simpson!

 

We can now put animals into a rough ranking of brainpower. The Great Apes and the Cetaceans (dolphins and whales) have an awareness of self and live in complex societies like us. Going down the scale we come to the Corvids (crows) which can use tools and solve problems. Next come the social carnivores like hyenas which can organise themselves into hunting groups to kill the much larger zebra, then we have the herd animals (e.g. cows) that have limited intellect and, bottom of the class, the Gastropods (slugs and snails) which probably lack consciousness.

 

Homo sapiens and Pan troglodytes share more than 99% of their DNA!

 

Still think humans are special?

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Some religious people like to claim that Atheists have no morals.

Why do they insultingly presume that? Are they claiming to have a monopoly on goodness?  Even dogs and chimpanzees have a moral code! A member of the pack or troop who behaves unacceptably is driven out. I’m sure you’ll find that the vast majority of criminals in US jails claim to be Christians;

Do you think they are judging us by themselves?

 

Humans Behave Like Animals

US Army Chaplain leading prayers as troops prepare to invade Iraq in 2003,“Dear Lord, there are bad men out there, help us to kill them.”          Reported in Time magazine

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