the meaning of life and the god of the gaps

Here are two interrelated ideas. Let us see if i can weave them together without tying myself up in mystical knots.

There is a `god of the gaps’ problem; actually there are two, one of them usually getting unfairly overlooked: (a) As science progresses, all of those nice little godly explanations for why things just work must fall by the wayside because science has, frankly, always the better and more useful explanation. God must decrease so that science might increase. However, and all of that very true “my science will beat the crap out of your god any day” stuff notwithstanding, we tend to overlook the fact that (b) there always will be gaps; they will never completely disappear because science will never have enough time to explain everything, even if it could (this does not mean that `god’ will remain the best extra-scientific explanation for those gaps, though).

This leads (more or less directly) to the idea that the question of “The Meaning of Life” will thus always remain open and relevant, because it is, in some sense, the quintessence of all of those eternally shrinking gaps.

Moving on from scientists to atheists, i wish to note that the latter’s usual rejoinder to the admittedly mystical sounding Big Question of the above paragraph is a bad answer. What do they usually answer? That there is no meaning to life – except what you give it yourself. This is a bad answer for one good reason: it is an answer that is pretending not to be one.

In effect, the atheist is answering not that there is no meaning to life, but that there is only a rather negative one, a rather flimsy and unfounded one – your own. This is actually an answer and it is a very specific and meaningful one, albeit a tad underwhelming. And it is just as unfounded as any other grandiose and pompous religious answer. Moreover, the pretension to offer a final, negative answer to the Question Above All Questions encourages people to give up looking for a good answer, or, at best, to begin searching their godless navels for a few meaningful crumbs.

As long as those unrelenting gaps continue to haunt us no one should venture a final answer to the Meaning of Life – but no one should stop searching either.

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