The answer to this 10 paise worth question will not be found at the heart of the many and varied - cursory - reflective - religious - philosophical - weighty and abstract searches, so long as the questions remain centered around, originate from and end with the bias perspective of a canine toothed mammal called "MAN".
Perhaps, instead of searching for what the meaning of life is supposed to be, we should be reflecting on whether a meaning is INDEED POSSIBLE. If so, does it then exist, only because we seek it? I really want to argue that a man's life, like that of a whale, a giraffe or a rat or a cockroach is devoid of meaning, and is no more worthy of deserving a meaning than the lives of any other species.
To search for a meaning that does not exist, or create one's own quixotic meaning is but a futile experiment in DELUSION. It invariably leads the vulnerable and the gullible into the tangled web of the religious industry, transcendental gurus, charlatans and other smiling predators.
From what I have read and understood, my brief view on our species about " WHERE WE CAME FROM & WHERE WE GO; THE ROCK ON WHICH WE LIVE AND DIE; ITS POSITION IN RELATION TO THE COSMOS AND THE FUTILITY, INDIFFERENCE AND IMPERMANENCE OF THE UNIVERSE".
# In the 1st possibility, an all powerful, all knowing and self existent SUPREME BEING has taken up the role of the Creator of all life & Universe; Moreover that everything was designed or foreordained for a specific purpose & meaning.
# The 2nd possibility is that the Universe was formed amidst an eternal and infinite cosmos that had always existed. That the limitlessness of TIME, in concert with gravity, quantum physics and nuclear fusion gave birth to stars, planets, moons and all other celestial bodies.
Anyways, the 1st possibility, GOD, gives the world meaning but doesn't explain its chaos, while the 2nd possibility, EVOLUTION, explain its chaos but cannot give it meaning.
As for the incipience of life itself from inanimateness to the first single cell organism; My understanding is simply that the chaotic and unique conditions that existed at that particular time, and which had not hitherto or since existed, at least not on our little planet, predisposed life to burgeon and evolution took us the rest of the way. Admittedly, this theory is not set in stone but there is incontrovertible evidence to suggest that it is the less ridiculous of the two.
Now, if we were to draw from the biblical and other scriptural version of creation, we would have to accept a world designed by a supposedly benevolent GOD; where one must feed on each other in order to survive; where one must feed on the death of the other - where something has to die for something else to live.
One would then also have to concede, that the pain suffered by a gazelle as it is devoured alive by a lion, or that endured by a rat ripped apart by the talons of an eagle, is all a part of a perfect and irreproachable nature.
Moreover, we must bear in mind that this nature was allegedly designed by a compassionate and omnipotent GOD, who then went on to pass a law condemning killing whilst recognizing slavery.
If we look into the history of the canine toothed predator we call, MAN, we would soon see an evolution from a raw and savage barbarism to a nefarious system of man systematically exploiting man - with a brief interlude immersed in blood, torture, rape, slavery, human sacrifice, wars, cannibalism and other abominations.
So, if meaning was a kind of reward which is bestowed on the " VIRTUOUS" by a caring and kindly creator, I hasten to add that of all the species sharing the Earth today, man would have to rank, among one of the least deserving species, to receive it.
It is often posited that man is the only species endeared with an innate sense of right and wrong. I submit that history does not support this view, for on most occasions when due to breakdown in law and order, e.g. wars, plagues and natural disaster; when those 'innate qualities' have not been enforced; when man has been left to his won devices, to do as he chooses with impunity, his so - called sense of right and wrong soon degenerated into widespread looting, burning, rape, murder and reckless destruction. In a nutshell, on the occasions where his nature has not been suppressed by force, his true animal instincts soon emerged.
In my sense, the sense of right and wrong is no more innate in man that it is in other species. It is taught to many by society, much in the same way as a man teaches a DOG that it is wrong to eat the family cat but right to retrieve a ball.
When we think of the brevity of our lives in terms of geological times, we can only conclude that it is no more than an insignificant heartbeat in time. Similarly, if we compare a finite Universe with eternal cosmic time, we begin to wonder what dent, a few thousand billion years of existence could possibly make on the fabric of eternity?
From this perspective of eternity, Our UNIVERSE would seem to appear and disappear as quickly as the future merges into the past; therefore it cannot be anything else but INSIGNIFICANT, INDIFFERENT AND COMPLETELY DEVOID OF ANY MEANING. What's more, it is not impossible that out " BIG BANG" may have been but one of many, that could have occurred in the past, and which may again occur in the future. " BING BANGS" which may have given birth to other Universes with stars, planets, moon and other life forms, like those that exist today - which may have existed for a time before disappearing without a trace.
It is self evident that the only interference we can draw from the turbulence of an impermanent Universe is its proof of randomness. It exists in all its randomness simply because it does, if it did not, it would not exist.
For some time now, humans have been led to believe, that should we aspire to and acquire "virtues" such as loyalty, obedience, honesty, nobility, charity, integrity, truthfulness, graciousness and so on and so forth. And if we did, then our original " DESIGNER" would somehow reward us with immortality - albeit posthumously. Another trendy thought suggests that even without immortality, "virtues'' per se, give meaning and purpose to life.
I do not latch on to the same view. It is my firm belief that in an epoch of ignorance and superstition that those 'virtues' were specifically constructed letter by letter, syllable by syllable & word & word to dissuade the oppressed many from cutting the throats of the bloated few; designed by those who would would benefit most from them. At first, by the vilets of institution: RELIGION and MONARCHIES. Later the Feudal system perpetuated those make believe 'virtues' to appease the serfs, to placate the slaves, to soothe the oppressed,to manipulate them into serving and fulfilling their master's purposes instead of their own. To convince them to remain servile and LOYAL, to indoctrinate them with the silly notion that they should not revolt but meekly accept their fate with dignity and that if they remain faithful and patient, then somehow, they would " INHERIT THE EARTH''. FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!!!
Today, those same fabricated ' virtues', those same unnatural qualities continue to beguile the gullible, the naive and the Innocent into leading artificial lives against the grain of their true nature. With most of the human race forced to waste their fleeting lives labouring like beasts of burden to generate capital of further enrich the few.
I ask you, where is the divine or otherwise in such a miserable existence of quiet desperation? It is mind blogging to accept that such an unjust biased system could ever have been designed, as rumor has it, by just , unbiased and omnipotent creator? Just as artificial 'virtues' exist only in the minds of those who believe in them, so too does meaning exist only for those who seek it.
To believe something to be true, simply because we wish it to be true, does not necessarily make it so. If you are standing ankle - deep in pig shit, no amount of wishful thinking or self delusion will suddenly change reality and put you ankle deep in Swiss chocolate. At the end of the day, you will still be in pig shit.
When all is said and done, we are not divine beings destined for immortal life somewhere in the clouds, but an evolving species of hairy mammals, who for this fleeting moment in time, live on a hot bit of stardust, which in turn spins around a temporary fire. Sooner or later, willing or unwilling, everyone of us is introduced to oblivion. That dear friends, is the long and short of it; everything else is mass delusion. DO not try to readjust your mind - the fault is inherit in reality itself. What I have been saying is this, no matter how much we try to sanitize and distort it, reality is reality. Our thinking can only change the way we see it - it cannot change reality itself.
I am afraid that the pure joy that other animals, madmen and little children derive from life, simply by existing, is all the meaning that life has to offer. Today, we may have evolved beyond a point where this pure joy is no longer possible and it could well be, that it is lost to us forever.
At this moment in time, we are merely recycling atoms, moving matter around on the surface of our rock from one place to another. In the end, whatever we as individuals or collectively as a species manage to achieve, will not amount to much more than just scattered debris of stardust wondering endlessly through time and space, waiting for gravity to weave its magic all over again.
Life is a journey leading nowhere, just as it has been for countless generations before us and will be for countless more after us, until in the end, even eternity and infinity may cease to be...