Asked by Fiona to Barbara, Matt, Ravinder, Sophie, Tristan on 11 Mar 2015.
    • Photo: Barbara Shih

      Barbara Shih answered on 11 Mar 2015:

      That’s a very philosophical question – I concluded after reading the book “Selfish Gene” that life is just something for the genes to be passed on and continue to exist. Similarly, I’m sure many parents would say their children are everything to them/what gives their life meaning. I personally just like being here. 🙂

    • Photo: Matthew Moore

      Matthew Moore answered on 13 Mar 2015:

      There’s no indication that there is any I’m afraid! Life started on this planet ~3.5billion years ago, the dinosaurs became extinct ~65million years ago and we left Africa about 100,000 years ago. 99% of all creatures that have inhabited this planet have died off!

      Equally our hominid ancestors diverged from the apes millions of years ago, these included Sahelanthropus tchadensis (6-7 million years old) Ardipithecus ramidus (5.2 to 5.8 million years old) Homo habilis (1.5-2.4 million years old) and many more!

      Modern humans ultimately evolved from Homo erectus which existed between 1.8 million and 300,000 years ago. These hominids used stone tools and had large brains and could be found in Africa, Asia and Europe.

      Modern human fossils first appear around 195,00 years ago in Africa and have since populated the planet. As with all evolution, there is no point or meaning to it, other than survival.

      This to me is amazing! We have done what no other species on this planet has done and manipulated our environment on a massive scale, created technology and science and mathematics. That we were at one point molecules bumping around in some primordial soup, physical unconscious molecules and have since developed consciousness and science to begin to understand the universe, when really we are the universe. We’re not separate from physical matter, the universe has become aware of itself (to paraphrase Carl Sagan).

      To our knowledge this has also only happened once. Perhaps somewhere, on a planet orbiting one of the 200-400billion suns in our galaxy or perhaps orbiting a sun in one of the 125billion galaxies somewhere, someone is having this same conversation!

      It might actually be an imperative of the universe that not only life, but intelligence evolve. Perhaps we’ll overcome environmental issues, even move to space and perhaps our species will survive long enough to one day found out if we’re alone in the universe, either way, the answer would be fascinating!

      In short, people give their own lives meaning, whether art or poetry or sport or science –enjoy!