Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Do We Have a Purpose?

This morning, as I was running, my thoughts turned to whether or not human beings have a purpose.

Of course, I believe we do.  As a believer in God, particularly the Christian God, I believe we were created for a reason which is highlighted in the Christian worldview.

But my thoughts actually turned to several debates I have watched on Youtube; particularly those debates involving Richard Dawkins.  Richard was asked questions about the purpose of human life several times, and (if I am remembering correctly) he seemingly dismisses them as absurd questions.

Many seem to be revolted at Dawkins' comments, but I think I understand them.  I think.

Dawkins, as a biologist does not think in terms of purpose.  Plants and animals don't have a purpose.  They are, and they strive to survive.  A dog does not think of itself as having a purpose.  Neither does a cat, dolphin, eagle, giraffe, whale, and so on and so forth.  As far as we know, no animal ever debates and wonders about why it is here.  IF (a big if) we are simply another animal in a long line of animals that has ever lived on this planet, then why should we be any different?  Why should we contemplate our purpose?  The question is actually irrelevant and not worth asking.  We are here.  We evolved from other animals.  We are driven to survive, and one day we will either evolve or die out.  End of story.  There is nothing more to contemplate.

IF, (as I said earlier) we are simply another animal.

Now, here is the rub, at least as I see it.

IF (a big if) we are simply like another animal, then what is to prevent us from acting like animals?  I mean, I study nature--not as a biologist, but as a hunter.  I know how animals act in nature--and even in domesticated settings.  They vie for power; for food; to be the apex predator or mate.  They cooperate, but only when it is in their best interest to cooperate--so that they can get something out of it.

  • I had two female dogs who wanted to be dominant.  They fought constantly; horribly; terribly; over things my wife and I considered minor.  But any "minor" pack violation would set them off.  We ended up having to keep them separate for over 8 years.
  • One day, while sitting in a deer blind, I heard the most God-awful sound.  A hawk swooped down out of the sky and killed a quail right before my eyes.  The strong killed the weak to devour it and gain strength.
  • Oftentimes, the offspring of another male is killed by a dominant male looking to spread his genes.  Survival of the fittest and natural selection.
  • Beta males and females turn to manipulative ways to further their advancement within particular colonies of species bypassing honesty and justice for self-serving need.
  • Again, observations from a deer stand: one morning I watched 11 whitetail bucks in a field.  Half the time they spent eating the other half fighting for dominance.
  • Nearly every animal species lives in a hierarchy.   There are those at the top and those at the bottom.  Those at the top live well.  Those at the bottom aren't so lucky.  That's just the way nature is organized for the most part.
  • Polygamy is the rule in nature.  Monogamy is the exception.  
Why should we, as humans act any different?  Is there a good reason why we shouldn't perform any differently than what the vast majority of nature's species?  Here is one of the many places those who espouse Dawkins' worldview run into trouble.  IF we are nothing more than animals, then WHY shouldn't we simply act like them? 

I'm waiting...

And will remain waiting. 

Philosophers have wrestled for eons trying to figure out what distinguishes us from other animals.  Whenever something has seemed adequate, it is usually found lacking in some particular manner.  This is why Stephen Hawking famously said, "Philosophy is dead."  Philosophy hasn't been able to give us the answer. 

Hawking tries from a scientific perspective.  So does Dawkins.  In my estimation, they leave much wanting.  They fail to offer any insight as to why we should behave any differently than any other animal in the animal world. 

This is one of those reasons, I believe science is incomplete.  Because of its base assumptions, it cannot address these important questions.

Something more is needed.

I believe we need purpose.

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