# Purpose can come from anyone. The same object can have different purposes to different people or to the same person at different times. If you, God, or anyone else, want to do something with your life, then your life has purpose. Nothing else is relevant.

# Purpose is not determined by origins. Things can have purpose even if their origin is due to chance. The North Star, for example, came to its position by chance, but people still find a purpose for it. via

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The phrase "man arose by chance" reveals a poor understanding of probability. First, we don't know how many trillions of universes have appeared and vanished before ours Big Banged, and how many will come to be after ours (the Zorkons, who will evolve in another billion cycles of the universe, will also claim that there existence is unique and improbable). Secondly, low probability systems come into being all the time - every time you knock over a salt shaker, you've created a pile whose precise configuration had an infinitesimal chance of occurring. Every time. Thirdly, evolution is not a string of random, unrelated events - there is not the same chance that an elephant will develop tiny pink wings as a thick skin. Evolutionary developments are pushed towards certain permutations and away from others by the environment. Thus, the phrase "man arose by chance" presents a false choice between pure randomness and conscious purpose. There is a third answer: an eternity of universes, and environmentally-driven evolution.

i think he meant that the origins of that life is irrelevant in the context of it having a purpose.

of course the effects of your purpose upon other conscious beings is relevant.

i hope he meant what i think he means.

This thread confuses the internal sense of "purpose" (I have meaning; I am not arbitrary") with moral codes ("This action is good; this action is bad").  The trigger statement "If man arose by chance, life would have no purpose or meaning" addressed purpose, not moral codes.  And, indeed, purpose is internally generated and needs no external cosmic source.  The sense of purpose is tightly linked to the sense of Self - the feeling that there is an "I" inside my head, the metaphorical centralized captain of the ship, the soul.  (By the way, there is a specific area of the brain responsible for this feeling of centralized soul, and the feeling can be distorted or completely wiped out by damage to this part of the brain.)

As far as morality goes: of course social actions have social effects on others, and certain moral standards are indeed universal among human cultures.  Believers would claim that universal moral codes (the Golden Rule, incest taboos, etc.) arise from God; but anthropology, neurology, neuropsychology, and animal studies say otherwise.

Humans are not blank slates that can develop any form of consciousness, perspective, awareness, and so forth.  Human psychology and consciousness involves some hard-wiring.  Many of the shared features of moral systems across cultures and societies have their roots in brain development, brain structure, and brain functioning.  In other words:  If we had evolved from non-social, asexual predators with extremely high reproduction rates, our brains would be different and our universal moral codes would be different.

One basic example is the Golden Rule, or the social value of empathy.  Empathy arises directly from the ability to recognize that there is a Person inside another person - that when another person cries out in pain, their internal experience is similar to our own when we feel pain.  This recognition that Other is like Self develops at around one year old in humans, when infants begin to cognitively differentiate themselves as individuals in a world of individuals.  This is a predictable process that is directly related to the development of certain regions of the brain.  In some people, this natural development is atrophied - usually through severe abuse and/or neurological damage.  

So: Of course certain "purposes" are maladaptive, or immoral. But this doesn't mean purpose is handed down by a deity.  It means that humans are animals, not angelic blank slates.

p.s. -

*** I'm NOT saying that morality/purpose is determined by brain structure and function; I'm saying it's influenced, and somewhat constrained, by those factors. ***  There is a rich literature addressing the links between neurology and social behavior which I urge readers to explore.  A fun one is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"  ...

After 35 years as an agnostic, I was on a jury and on a lunch break with two other men. One said he was an Episcopal and the other said he was a Catholic priest. I said I had once been a Catholic and the priest said my life was absurd.

Having days earlier seen "absurd" defined as meaningless, I replied that giving my life meaning was my responsibility. He so suddenly went silent and left the room that I decided my remark had frightened him. Remembering the twelve years of mental bullying I had survived in Catholic schools, I started telling myself, "Don't tell me revenge isn't sweet!" What fun it was.


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