Modern religion faces a tremendous challenge in maintaining the claim that life has a purpose. After Darwin showed that a creationist view does not fully explain our world, it is no longer fully honest to derive our life’s meaning from a creationist narrative. Entropy appears to be a law of the universe. The universe seems more like a temporary wind up toy than an eternal progression. Whatever meaning is found in such a universe cannot be to amass any treasure or to accomplish any goal. In an evolving universe, there are no such final resting places.
Still, we do experience meaning in living. When we build a sand castle, we do not need to pretend that our accomplishment is permanent. When we eat a meal, it does not diminish our pleasure to know that we will soon need to eat again. When we go to Las Vegas, the randomness of the situation is part of the fun. A roulette wheel that was rigged in our favor, might be profitable, but would lose the thrill of the game.
The Stoics believed in a cosmos such as ours. They taught that our purpose is to be like an actor who cannot control the script but still finds great meaning in his or her art. We do not need an outside plot line to give our lives meaning. Our “purpose” is found in manifesting what it means to be human no matter what is happening. This, for us, is meaning and peace and happiness; not to find these treasures, but to create them in whatever circumstance we find ourselves..
Meaning is found in knowing we are the ephemeral expressions of an eternal music, and in joining the dance.