The Purposeful Universe Paradox

I’ve finally got it. My own fruitful contribution to the murky and befuddling world of philosophy.

It’s a funny thing, on the face of it, philosophy seems like the most pointless and easiest thing to take part in. All you have to do is think. We do that everyday, so how hard could it be? All you needed to do was just sit in a room and think; usually on completely abstract topics that could range from ‘Why am I here? to ‘Did you choose to read this blog post?’. Subsequently, you would reach no obvious conclusion and then go back to spending the rest of your life shrouded by events personally affecting you.


We all think.

But, the great thing about philosophy is that it answers some pretty deep questions. Questions that aren’t specific or conditional in any way. These are questions that everyone could be interested in; that everybody could apprehend. Philosophy is something that digs deep into the fundamental, universal problems that ( in some level or another) pester each and every one of us. It connects with notions such as reality and existence; points that are relatively general, but in ways individual to all of us. Another great thing is that philosophy doesn’t have to be seen as an intellectual pursuit. In fact, the more limited your knowledge the better; allowing for more arcane thinking. Generally, what philosophy does is something that I guess we all love to hate. It strips down something that at first seems simple and commonplace and then takes to a level that seems so complicated we need to have a lie down before we can take it all in.

“The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as to seem not worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”

– Bertrand Russell

The philosophical route I’m taking in this post doesn’t exactly start of with a simple thing. If anything, this is probably the most complex thing there is, ( No, it isn’t the female mind). I’m talking about the Universe.

You see, recently a popular topic that seems to crop up a lot in conversation is the question ‘Does the Universe have a purpose?’

Neil Degrasse Tyson answers the question pretty comprehensively, addressing issues with religion as well as philosophy. Another personal contribution to this that I’ve had recent fun with is that because we don’t know why the universe exists, we can designate the purpose to absolutely anything. You could say that the purpose of the universe was for you to get up in the morning, or for you to finish that blog post. Pretty good motivation. Or apathy, whichever way you look at it. You can have fun with that little nugget whichever way you like.

A really interesting proposition to put forward is the fact that maybe the universe doesn’t have a purpose. I mean, does it really need to have a purpose? Human beings are obsessed with purpose. We try to discern it in everything. When somebody presents you with an object, we immediately think ‘What’s it for?’  Maybe the Universe just doesn’t work that way, after all does it need to?

The additional problem that could arise from this question is to put forward the question of what happens after the Universe achieves it purpose or even purposes? What happens when the Universe has completed the tasks it has set out to achieve? Will it just spontaneously combust and fade into nothingness? Or maybe the universe had already achieved its purpose. Maybe the universe continuously fabricates new purposes; soon after it has achieved them.

Finally, another cool thing that arises is the paradox you could generate from this question. If the universe does have a purpose, what if its purpose was ‘ to not have a purpose’?

That’s right. It could possibly be the case that the Universe is completely pointless and was purposely designed to not have a purpose. If that is the case, it’s hard to know if the Universe has completed its purpose or not. I mean, if the Universe has completed its purpose by continuing to not have a purpose, then it has achieved its purpose right? But then again, it hasn’t achieved anything. But that was its purpose in the first place! Anyway, if the Universe was designed specially to not have a purpose; than it presupposes the notion of a designer, and why would the designer create a Universe with no purpose I hear you ask? Well, that’s the problem, you can never be sure. As Tyson says in the video, people who do refer to the purpose of the universe with a designer are claiming access to evidence that’s not empirical.

If you don’t take anything much from this article, I think it’s safe to say that you’ve realised that philosophy can be a really complicated, maybe even purposeless piece of work. This quote puts it best:

“Philosophy: A route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing.”

– Ambrose Bierce


One thought on “The Purposeful Universe Paradox

  1. Pingback: Robert JR Graham » How To Find Your Life Purpose In 3 Simple Steps

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