To Question Our Existence…

After watching TED talk by Jim Holt: Why does the universe exist?


This following is pretty much a thought-porridge of my reaction to the video. Please disregard any careless errors–it reads like my thinking process, bare and unedited.

I’ve had many thoughts about the birth, purpose and fate of our existence as conscious beings…. Perhaps there are a multitude of other equally or rather more conscious (and therefore intelligent) forms of life that exist in other moving mounds of rock hurdling through the fabric of space and time. And perhaps the reason we, specifically Earth humans, exist is to ponder about our own actuality… But what if there are other (and the more conscious) creatures inherently born with this dilemma resolved and continue with their existence with a higher purpose? To do work. What kind of work? Work that accentuates the good in life and attempts to keep the bad influences at a minimum? Is that work? Are there even types of work or is work a universal term for doing anything?

If a Zambian girl, who’s reached menarche and is denied more schooling based on her “dirtiness”, learns of a better country where girls are allowed education after puberty, would this be cause for her to question the system of her backward government/country? Would this questioning lead to higher forms of thought–ones that eventually lead to questions of her own existence?

Our kind isn’t born to immediately question life. If we don’t go through the copious amounts of schooling, like the tedious geometry equations that lead our whiny teenage brains to question the most important thing in life–“Why do I even have to do this?”–then many of us would not have gotten to the point of questioning. THIS is what’s good for us. Thrusting upon our young the concept of labor until they question.

Or maybe not. Maybe we could approach this another way–by highlighting the beauty, the ugly, the evil, the good, the black and whites of the world to our young and gently guiding them toward “What is life and why do we live it?” questions. We could just as well constantly direct these questions to our children through their maturation–they might not fully understand the meaning of the question nor the thought process to the “right” answer… but, really, who does? There isn’t a right thought process or understanding of the question beyond the comprehension of its basic message. The “imagination”, or unbiased, thinking of our children (unpolluted by the structured system in our schools today) may lead us toward more answers… and thus more questions. Perhaps the reason music and art and writing seems to plateau in originality is due to the evermore organized system in our schools that influence our scholars. They hinder creativity and identity, and breed harsher definitions by categorizing and forcing students to choose one or two majors that will define their careers/lives, like “Marine science” or “Mathematics”. Brown University, at least, is making the effort to diverge from these hindrances and permit its students to essentially create their own curriculums.

Other life forms may have higher purposes, intelligences, consciousnesses, whatever you label it, but WE have our own: To question. To be curious. To learn.

Why does a dog not question his own presence? Or a fish its own? Or a goat, or a fruit fly, or a parasite or a tree or a venus flytrap? They are different levels of consciousness. From simple to complex, the humankind seems to take the highest reign of consciousness on this planet. But are we really that complex? What more could a consciousness question, observe, or learn in another world or life form?

I once read a cartoon that pictured a child ant with its mother ant. The child ant observes humans walking around, and the mother ant simply responds with “Don’t bother. There is no sign of intelligence in that species.” We are as ignorant of our surroundings as we are willing to accept intelligence from any form of life.

Every time I finish a TED video, I have a flurry of thoughts that I don’t bother to write down. Thoughts that might help me get somewhere and cure this incessant want for answers. Writing helps. Writing also hurts. It continues this process by helping me pick up where I left off in thought and further my thirst for knowledge.

“As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it.” –Albert Einstein.