Most philosophers agree one cannot define a meaning for life; instead one adopts values, beliefs, faith or ideals embodied in our attitude to life- for if we dig below the surface it is there!!!
Faced with the horrors of war in the late 19th and 20th century the existential philosophical movement attempted to abandon any pretense for meaning and proffered that all philosophical considerations be confined to humanity –so that references to the abstract were deemed irrelevant. While there were differences in thinking within the movement there was some whose premise was to accept the absurdity of life which in turn was believed would lead us to seize the moment encapsulated in real outcomes to the extent we are able to live life to the fullest. But even those who concluded our existence is an absurdity could not deny the wondrous evolutionary process that brings us to our current state of self-awareness so that we are able to ponder such metaphysical questions as to who we are and why we are here.
What we can say is that in the beginning was the big bang, what scientists portray as creation from a singularity, from nothing as confirmed by science. From the big bang emerged the primeval soup of creation in a series of chemical reactions emanating from a fiery cosmos to planet earth so that today within our bodies are those first atoms of existence. The sequence of events and chemical reactions that evolved into the building blocks of life known as DNA over billions of years now enable us to marvel at all creation and pose the question that in all probability some purpose or sharing of power forms part of our existential state.
So that in the full gambit of humanity expressed in terms of beauty, love, fear, joy, sorrow, suffering in our advanced evolved self-awareness, we can, in probability, conclude we share in some way in ongoing creation. That is within the restriction of our earthly state and to the extent we have free will.
But this question of freewill has long since occupied the minds of philosophers with views varying from the idea of predetermination to complete freedom. The way that I would like to depict this would be to imagine that when we next go on holidays it was always going to be the case, but that the choice of where we stopped, and what we did and the myriad of other small details allow us the freedom to make whatever choices we so desire.
So that this scenario concludes there is causality of freedom within the confines of predetermined ultimate fateful outcome.
Religion has attempted to explain good and evil by virtue of the idea of original sin-a choice taken in the Garden of Eden to eat of the forbidden fruit. But this theory lacks probability and credibility. I would rather pose the question that if we are part of a creation then it is more the misuse of our freedom and our lust for power that cause conflict or results in evil acts. Indeed, it seems that all of us have a certain power and we can move beyond the concept of good and evil to the use of power as part of creation for good or to bring about destruction.
The creation given gift of freewill, by necessity, carries with it responsibility (barring mental illness) to exercise judgment as to what is right or wrong having regard to the circumstances or consequences of our acts.
How we interact with the world also depends upon the extent of self-awareness but our overarching philosophy (whether formally acknowledged or not) will influence how we exercise the power to which we become entrusted. In simple terms one might express goodness as kindness aimed at leaving the world a better place so that ancestral pride is carried forward to future generations...
But what has plagued religions is the ascendancy of beliefs over anything else – regardless of outcomes, to enslave successive generations to conflict and justify heinous crimes against humanity. The problem arises where conflicting interpretations deemed to be divine results in warring parties both becoming convinced they are right.
But if our beliefs underwrite goodness, to preserve life and offer kindness then we share in the same universal aim to advance our civilization for the benefit of humanity.
Interestingly enough in Christianity, Christ, as the central figure, has few historic references and whose ministry possible only covered 2 or 3 years, remains philosophically elegant today in the application of the golden rule and in the parables. Nowhere is there a call to violence or to take a dogmatic view as to how we should believe. All that was said was there was to be an era of the messianic kingdom of love, compassion and peace which is yet to be realized.
But what is of greater interest is the question of accountability and whether in the end some form of responsibility exists in an ongoing creation – in the remnant of consciousness that continues, which I would like to think is the case.