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Why are we here?

“It’s one of life’s great mysteries isn’t it? Why are we here? I mean, are we the product of some cosmic coincidence, or is there really a God watching everything? You know, with a plan for us and stuff. I don’t know, but it keeps me up at night.”

Ok, seriously though, why do we even exist at all. I know everyone has their own ideas including myself, religious or not, but can you put that idea or belief to the test? The test being why are we here, what is the reason we exist at all. And if you believe god created us, why does he exist. Similarly, if the big bang created everything, why and for what reason or purpose? I am rather curios to hear everyone else’s answer to this question.

Closing Statement from A Few Good Men

I think its clear below that we all have differing opinions on why we are here. I am very glad to see so much interest and discussion about this and I personally have expanded my own thoughts as to why we are here. I hope that everyone who's commented has also considered some of the differing view points too. Will there ever be a widely excepted answer to this question? Someday perhaps but I think for now, what each of us believe to be true is as good as knowing the actual answer. Thanks for your comments!

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    Jan 6 2013: Hi Jarred:>)
    I don't need to know "why" I am here....I only need to know that I "am" here NOW.

    Can I put my belief to the test? Yes....in every moment of the life experience. We all create our reasons for existance....or not!

    I am one lilttle drop in the ocean that is our world. My intent is to flow with everything that "is" in the moment, keeping in mind that I contribute to the whole....or not....it is a choice. What we choose to believe is a choice....how we put our beliefs into practice is a choice....how we live our lives in each and every moment is a choice. I do not need to know any more than that to sleep peacefully at night:>)
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    Dec 31 2012: We are here because we are not there. We are here for several purposes. We were born because our parents decided to have us, we fulfilled the purpose of bringing them the happiness they sought from us as babies, then we went on to bring them pride, and further on to become their emotional supports in thier old age. During this process we realized and developed other purposes, like helping others, giving love to others, protecting others, and becoming useful and contributing what we can to this world we share. Yet some choose to make greater contributions by building technology, buildings, systems, processes, that help make this world better and end up leaving behind something for others to develop further. Perhaps they believed that now that they are here, why ponder on "why?" and venture into "why not?" and by doing this we may realize or develop our own purposes, reasons and the answer to the "why?' eventually.

    Now that we are here and not here for ever... why not make it spectacularly fantastic and change things for the better as much as we can?
  • Jan 2 2013: I think if you look at it we as an entire species are most productive when we are happy or we love something or something makes us feel wanted so i think its all about love and happiness and if you're not happy you're more likely to commit suicide and to paraphrase the original question Not be here. So I think we are here to be happy and love everything and everyone in our world.
  • Jan 1 2013: Hello Jarred,
    Your question has been asked by man since our earliest beginnings. A good question because it indicates a thinking mind. We possess much more information today, but still these questions stir us to greater curiosity to keep the conversation going over eons of time. Good!

    We are here, not because of an accident of evolution, but because of an original mind, parent to our mind we enjoy for thinking, who conceived of a long term plan of growth. Man cannot design purposes for himself and simultaneously admit to not knowing all. If we were omniscient, we would not need the question. Being non-omniscient, we are forced to conjecture, supposition, wondering, gazing in awe, and appreciating the gifts of life, formulated outside ourselves.

    Early man was harassed by beasts and other aspects of nature and he wondered, 'Who is tormenting me'? Thinking man with far more knowledge is stirred on by advancing philosophy, evolving religions and revelation. Evolution and revelation work together to bring man to higher levels of clarity and understanding.

    The tests you request are best addressed internally through your thoughts which may be adjusted as you grow and by listening to others as they write and speak their understandings of life purposes. There is a plan that involves all creatures and that plan includes for man an eternal purpose of never ending joy and adventure. Life here is just the beginning.

    Someone wrote here on TED a few months ago that persons who are adamant God is only imagination are also imagining the big bang. No evidence of it. The why we are here cannot be found in an imagination of a material bang event. The true answers of why are found by going inside oneself and listening for the higher reaches of value and purposes.

    Keep thinking. Congratulations on your water and fish projects in Washington!!!!!
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    Jan 6 2013: God said "I am that I am". We are made in God's image. That means that we are that we are. Do we need to know why? That question is never officially answered because it wasn't meant to be. If you knew why, would that make you a better person, or would it make you feel more like a puppet? You have the freedom to become whatever you want to be. Don't let needing to know why get in the way.
  • Jan 3 2013: Every human on earth is a child of God. We have a spirit and a body. The spirit comes from God, our body comes from our earthly parents. Before the earth was here we lived with God as spirits. In order for us to learn and grow God created an imperfect, hard world. I don't know if He used evolution to create it, maybe He did. But we came here to this place where we have to struggle, where we have pain and joy and family and death and disease and everything else imaginable. This life is like school. We can choose to learn from our experiences or not. We are free to choose the road that leads back to God or not. He wants us to return to Him and ultimately become like Him, and for that purpose has called prophets and established a church to show us that way. He sent His son, Jesus Christ, to make that way possible. He is willing to help us through this life, and loves each one of us, but will never force us one way or the other. That would defeat the purpose of coming here.
    • Jan 4 2013: Dear Scot,

      Like I said, you go on your own journey while I go on mine, because as you have seen in so many debates be it in TedTalks or some where else, people will not agree.

      What I do know is, I am living my life the way I have been programmed to do, just like the ants, the bees etc and I am impacting other peoples lives positively and that is what matters most to me.
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    Dec 31 2012: Why are we here? .

    I think the idea of 'why' is a non-question because it covertly implies an unsubstantiated foundation (a purpose for existence) when theres no justification for that pretense.
    Much like the question of 'what happens after we die?' Its not asking an intellectually honest question as Its already pointing to a conclusion that something must happen and thus, what is it?.. Its a flawed line of thought.

    We should instead ask 'How', as asking and answering 'how are we here' would not only eventually give a legitimate answer at some point, but will inadvertanly explain the 'why' aswell. We should start here.
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    Dec 31 2012: Being is what is.
    You're just one viewpoint within the cosmic being, among many only one way to exist.

    The reason you are is because everything else that is.
  • Jan 2 2013: We are here because we are not somewhere else.
    This is only a moment and one can only be in the moment.
    If there is a consciousness of some kind after death, then the only place one will be, is in that moment.
    That's' all it is anyway, a conscious awareness of a now moment.

    That's all we have yet many try to travel into the past (which doesn't exist) or travel in to the future (which doesn't exist), and just thinking one can do this creates or causes pain and suffering. You can't actually travel to either of those "places".

    Nowhere is where we all are.
    There is no place to go. There is no destiny. There is only consciousness now, or no consciousness now.

    Nothing exists. Nothing at all. Everything just is.
    And now the present,
    Is, isn't.
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      Jan 1 2013: Quite interesting ............ and contradictory . You just gave us a reason for your position (that with 'ask the goat') .
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          Jan 1 2013: Simple :

          Your position is that there is no reason for existence and you backed it up with 'ask the goat' ..... something like 'why there is no reason?' , your answer 'ask the goat' .

          You need reasons to can have an opinion , it is obvious ........ that's why what's really puzzling is why ' there is no reason' (may it be a purpose) .
  • Jan 6 2013: That is the question - why are You here? Regarding religion and science - people talk a lot of rubbish, and nobody knows anything, though they suspect everything. Even the famous boast of Socrates, that at least he knew he knew nothing, is entirely rhetorical and disingenuous. Whatever brought about your being can bear its own crosses. What are you doing here? Finessing your clever enquiring and not least provocative mind? Or passing the time? Religion and religious talk make my blood boil. That's why I am here. Because it fraught with half-knowledge, double-speak and passive aggression, not unlike Science and Scientistic talk.
    And anyway, what's with this misty-eyed "we" business? I'm with Jonathan Swift on this one -
    "I am everywhere for the individual. For example, I hate lawyers, but love my solicitor"

    Why are we here? Well, we are here, like travellers caught in a holding area. Now what? The world, or at least the holding area, is your oyster. Traditionally travellers in such a predicament tell each other stories. Have you heard the one about the three wise men? Topical, and seasonal.
    • Jan 6 2013: "The ancient Oracle said that I was the wisest of all the Greeks. It is because I alone, of all the Greeks, know that I know nothing."
      --Socrates

      I do believe that that is the quote your looking for.
      • Jan 6 2013: I respect what you're saying, but am philosophically opposed to purism and perceived rigour, I think it silences objection in the wrong way. But many thanks for the reference - is that from the Crito?
        Swift also wilfully misquoted - whatever he actually said is in a letter to Alexander Pope, and sounds a bit less like Groucho Marx.
  • Jan 3 2013: I believe we are just one of the many species in this world that has been created for a specific purpose. Bees, tigers, insects etc are going about their given roles every day and so are we.

    To understand why there are groups of human beings doing different things everyday instead of the same thing since we are all human, let me use an analogy to explain.

    To me, different groups of humans are akin to the various types of cells in a tadpole egg; they may look the same structurally, but there is a group of cells in the egg that are programmed to eventually become the eye of the tadpole and another group of cells programmed to be the fin. I believe both these group of cells will never be able to see themselves as part of the tadpole. I don't think these cells will ever ask what their purposes are.

    I don't think it serves me any purpose to find out my purpose in this world because I will never know and I am not programmed to discover the purpose; for me those who claim they know are to me mere speculation/conjecture.

    Having said this, I do believe that there humans out there who are programmed to continue to want to discover where we are from .. I will just leave them to do so, while I continue my own "destined" journey.
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    Jan 2 2013: Had you simply asked "Why are we here?", this might have been a viable conversation, but instead, you incapsulated the question with the same old black and white arguments of God/No God. So why not just ask God/No God? and forego the existentialist "why"?

    As for the "we", neither you nor anybody else shall determine for me the why or purpose for my being here or anywhere. Nor I you.

    Therefore the real question is -

    Why are You here?
    • Jan 2 2013: I did simply ask "Why are we here?" And I would consider this a viable conversation. There’s no need to talk down this discussion. If people choose to answer based on whether there is or is not a god, that’s up to them not me. I just used the god vs. no god as examples of commonly argued points. Its up to those in the TED community to answer how they want. I think if you actually took some time to read the comments below you would find a lot more than just god vs. no god answers. And as for the "we" in the question, I want to know how people think we, meaning all of us, came to be here not just themselves.
  • Jan 1 2013: What are we; we are right but misunderstand that right. We landed and are guided by that which created us to complete its end means and that is to expand the universe. The energy life form we landed on has also been comunicating with us. We crossed our reasoning with our creator, that which gave us life and our own thoughts.

    If we succeed, we will destroy this planet as the last one by creating a black hole on its surface blowing up the planet sending us through space till we hit fertile soil again.

    If the Earth succeeds in changing us we will live in eternity and enter a new phase in our existence...I call the trek years, but our creators have already sent a back up plan in case that happens.

    So we fight them or destroy the earth along with ourselves...what would you prefer!
  • Jan 1 2013: I think we are here as a result of a series of remarkable scientific coincidences and mutations.
  • Jan 1 2013: IMHO,

    Humans reached our maximum potential and fulfilled our existential purpose when we invented the chocolate doughnut. Enjoy them while you can. Happy New Year.
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    Jan 1 2013: Why not?

    And for restful nights, become agnostic, and you will sleep like a stone ... :o)
  • Dec 31 2012: The universe is here for no reason other than nothing is unstable and instability will eventually create a universe
    We are here for no reason other than near by stars exploded causing shock waves in 2nd or 3rd generation star material that allowed the creation of terstrial planets around a rather unspectacular sun
    Humans are here for no reason other than a big rock hit the earth 65 million years ago otherwise you would be a dinosaur pecking out your question using an opposible talon on a computer (probably not an Apple, more likely a Meat)
    LIfe in general is here because there is energy to use and life will always find a way to use some energy left in the system. (this is in contrast to many members of my family whom apparently are not driven to use any energy at all)
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      Jan 1 2013: So you are here for no reason other than because I don't know what star exploded some millions of years ago .
      I'm wondering how can a person with such perception (as long as he is enough aware of his perceptions) have a stable life : why not kill for example , because the star exploded ? so what ?
      • Jan 1 2013: Does having some arbitrary reason for existence cause ethics to exist? What would be a good enough existential reason for you to not kill? Would the arbitrary opinion of a being more powerful than us be enough for you?
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          Jan 1 2013: What are you impling ?

          All I'm saying is that a certain view of life may cause instability (like the one above if fully understood) .
      • Jan 1 2013: When I was a small child, I was afraid of the dark. When I got older, I realized that there was nothing in the dark to be afraid of.
        I get my moral code from the same place that everyone else does. I create it myself. No one takes their moral code from any place or document, its always an internal source. They may claim otherwise but thats just because they are still afraid.
        Your question indicates that you have never thought about it to any great depth because you have the same delusion many do, that morality is provided by an external source. It is not.
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          Jan 1 2013: Gordon Barker :

          I'm just impling the good and the evil transcends us (not that the morality is provided by an external source or anything else ).............. why are we here ? look a part of our beings - the ethics that transcends us , then why you say there is no reason for our existence ?

          What about you were created too ? by the people you lived with , by the culture of the country you live in...... what about it ? In the end you were created by the star , right ? why this ? or you just stop at the star moment ? What right do you have to do that ? (the people impotence to do that is not a reason) .
      • Jan 1 2013: Morals and ethics can and do come from our culture and upbringing. However, even though many of use share a common culture and similar upbringing, there still exists a wide range of behaviours from saint to sociopath. This lead me to believe that we decide how we are going to be more than we have it imprinted on us.
        Why do you feel that not having a reason to be here causes instant instability.
        I decided a long time ago to change my world view to suit the evidence (to the best of my understanding) rather than hold on to outdated precepts regardless of how comforting.
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          Jan 2 2013: Well , it's a bit contradictory to talk at the same time about 'we decide ... or we chose' and 'have it imprinted on us' . We are what we are because of the whole universe (and not only maybe) , there isn't too much 'option of choosing' here .

          In my opinion you did very well to change your world view to fit the evidence , but what you do when there are no eveidence ? or when you just get at the end of the line ? ...... this is the case with the question 'why are we here' ? right ? so what you do ? you just stop ? it seems so . Partialy that's why I"m feeling that not having a reason to be here causes instability .
          'I'm here only because a star exploded long time ago' , how do you feel about it ? are you all right with it ? I'm not , it's too trivial ,it's too empty of importance ...... .
      • Jan 3 2013: I suppose I should have asked at the start of this thread ..why do you find a non-directed existence confusing (or whatever your real question is)
        The implication here is that you prefer a directed existence which is usually phrased as ...my creator has a plan for me
        If this is the case, what do you do when you want this but the creator doesn't really talk to you so you don't know if you are doing what you are supposed to.
        If you think your creator talks to you perhaps YOU should be looking for better evidence
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          Jan 3 2013: I'm arguing only against the view that we are here with no ultimate purpose ( your view ) . You really seem to think that science is on your side , in my opinion it is not . I'm rather arguing for this opinion than for the existence of a Creator with a 'big plan for me' , ok ?

          Science ask questions, there will never be sufficient evidence to understand everything about us and our universe , I think at this point 'to believe' is the most right thing a person could do .
          To just remain in the bounds the evidence creates , to not use the all capacities an human being have (like this wonderful ones ' to trust' , 'to have faith ' ) ......... to do this things is against science and unhuman .
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    Dec 31 2012: Anyone with any sense is here to play a game and have fun at it. Why are you here?
  • Dec 31 2012: "Why are we here?"

    Why does 1+1 equal 2? Why does pi equal 3.14...? Why do humans always need a reason behind something?
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    Dec 31 2012: I take the traditional Christian view. Our reason for being here is to glorify our creator & enjoy him forever. He has always existed, &, as such, was not created so needs no reason for existence. He may have one, but we are not smart enough to understand.

    :-)
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    Gail .

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    Dec 31 2012: I believe that all are one, and that the singularity from which the big expansion evolved was/is sentient. That means that all are one with the singularity, that is an energy field rather than a personality.

    Within this energy field, that is unlimited potentials, the me that writes to you here is a sentient coordinate point. I experience this life of me as a result of my "choice". I chose to come to experience my potentials and in this way, evolve. I chose my parents and the core circumstances of my life. All that I learn as I participate in this human experience, becomes part of all that is, has always been, and will always be.

    Whether or not this life experience is "real" or not is not relevant to my immediate purpose. (There are theories that life is an illusion)

    Because I am "aware" that I am part of the energy field, I can tap into it and use the enormous creative power that it is, to manifest those things and situations that I want to appear in this life. (Think "The Secret" on steroids). This exposes more potentials from which I can choose from the probabilities in order to evolve.

    In this physical life, I live within a time construct that appears real (though it is not as real as it appears). From the greater perspective, time is understood differently and it is not a linear progression (as quantum physics is now suggesting).

    What powerful creatures we are. Too bad so many prefer to be vulnerable and powerless. (In this context, vulnerable means that those who believe in their vulnerability are vulnerable. I cannot be harmed by another unless I choose to believe that I am vulnerable. I don't choose that. This is something that I have tested.)

    There is a growing number of people who have this worldview, however strange it may seem to most.
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        Gail .

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        Dec 31 2012: I did answer. That you did not want to understand what I clearly articulated is your issue.
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    Dec 31 2012: What if we are an exhibit under the human section? it would explain a lot about why there is a lot of atmospheric traffic not of our own making, except when do the curators reset us for the next show?

    This is not my belief but i thought it fun to post it.