In a fictional novel of the last century, pan-dimensional mice created a supercomputer, called Deep Thought. They asked it The Question:
'What is the ultimate answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything?'
The computer said it would think about it.. for 7 1/2 Million years, then finally returned The Answer:
This is the absurdist's view of philosophy. It is funny as a bit of self deprecating humor directed at philosophers who take themselves too seriously. but it implies there is NO answer, really, & that life has no meaning or purpose.
But other philosophers throughout the millennia have approached the subject with more reverence. They have boiled down the Fundamental Questions of Life into 4 basic queries: Origins, Meaning, Morality, Destiny. These are The Big Ones. How, Why, What, & When. They are questions of matter, purpose, law, & time.
HOW did i (and everybody else) get here?
WHY are we here? Is there a purpose to our existence?
WHAT do we do? Are there rules for our existence?
WHEN we die, what happens? Is there a soul?
..there are four fundamental questions of life.. They boil down to this; origin, meaning, morality and destiny. 'How did I come into being? What brings life meaning? How do I know right from wrong? Where am I headed after I die?' ~Ravi Zacharias
Some philosophers have felt it necessary to prove we exist, first, before the other questions can be tackled. Descartes was one of those with his 'cogito ergo sum' conclusion. 'I think, therefore i am'. But since he settled the matter of our existence, we can now get on to the more basic task of answering the fundamental questions.
Personally, while i think '42' is a fine answer, it does a bit of a disservice to the philosophical community. It is ridiculing the question as irrelevant, which it certainly is not. Every human being that thinks has pondered these questions, or variations of them, at some point in their life, even if they avoid them most of the time.
I see 2 basic options for Origins:
1. All matter & life was created by an unknown being or beings: Supernatural Design.
2. All matter & life happened by accident, via an unknown natural processes: Natural Accident.
We try to use science & logic to decide which of these is the more likely, or what the evidence suggests, but nothing really works. Science cannot answer this. We cannot see or define any natural process that could have done it, so we are left ONLY with belief in either theory. Neither are subject to the scientific method.. they can't be repeated or observed. Oh, i know that there are many people who believe very strongly in a particular theory. They claim science & truth. They dogmatically assert that a divine Being created everything from nothing, or they dogmatically assert that everything arranged itself by accident, through unknown processes. But neither has any provable evidence. Both theories are logically impossible. LIFE is impossible. The entire universe is impossible, yet here we are.
The naturalists like to ridicule the supernaturalists for believing in a 'sky fairy' or other unseen beings as the source of all things. But the naturalist's theory is equally absurd. Someone once summarized their hypothesis like this:
'The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason what so ever into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs.'
Of the fundamental questions listed, Origins is the MOST BASIC of the questions, & the answer to this one affects all the others.
IF we are here by an accident of nature:
1. There is no purpose to our existence. 'Why' is meaningless.
2. There are no rules. Morality & law are inventions of our own minds.
3. There is no destiny. You die & cease to exist. As you were for eternity past, so you will be for eternity future.
IF we are here by Supernatural Design:
1. There might be a purpose. Why would such a Being do this?
2. There might be rules, from the Creator's view. Perhaps there are consequences to our words & deeds.
3. There might be life after death. We may have souls, & live beyond what we see here.
As you can see, there are completely different answers to the other fundamental questions, depending on the answer to the very first one: How.
That is why a person's view of Origins is the foundation upon which their entire world view is built upon. Most people are content to have a disjointed, hodge podge of irrational thought, faulty assumptions, and wrong answers to base their philosophy of life upon. But that is because the MOST BASIC QUESTION, our origins, is unknown by any of our natural senses. We have to start with a belief, & go from there. There are other factors: mental, emotional, or spiritual that are not part of our natural sensory perceptions that figure in.
There is no empirical answer to our origins. There are no natural laws, or scientific explanations that can even make a decent guess as to HOW we came about. We are here. Descartes settled that for us. But HOW we came about remains a mystery, unanswerable by human reason & senses. If there is an answer to this question, reason & science cannot answer it.
Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the gods. ~Albert Einstein