Lawrence Krauss has a bleak view of the universe: We started with nothing, became something, and in the end, there will be nothing again. And the nothingness is heading towards us, faster and faster everyday.
So, what are we to make of this? How do we reconcile the self-importance humanity places on itself, when in reality, we are just insignificant specks in the cosmic timeline -- your consciousness, your existence, your life as you know it is just an arbitrary product of a trillion tiny reactions that all began with a bunch of ephemeral particles popping in and out of existence?
There are few things more soul-crushing than the idea that all of your actions are ultimately meaningless in the context of a vast, empty nothingness. But in a recent interview with our senior science correspondent Cara Santa Maria, Krauss advises us to feel differently:
"The two lessons I want to give people is that you're more insignificant than you ever thought, and the future is miserable. And those two things should make you happy, not sad."
When I peeked at the response to this post to see what people were making of this bold statement, I found a lot of interesting comments about how science informs philosophy (along with the occasional bad big-bang/orgasm joke).
As commenter Mac Howard noted, how you perceive Krauss's bleak view all depends on the angle you're coming from.
Sure, your immediate reaction to Krauss's statements is a psychological one. But whether or not you should be happy in response is a different question--a philosophical one (Just because something is, doesn't mean that is how it ought to be). And how we let this information guide our lives is a different matter, one that can and should be conscious.
I thought commenter moesmama beautifully summed up the important takeaway from this piece.
Our efforts to be "good," strive for self-actualization, and live the way we want to live are trivial. But if one were to truly live as though these things didn't matter, our world would collapse around us.
Krauss points out that, "the important thing about the universe is it doesn't give a damn about what we like." In the same sense, we can choose to give a damn or not what the universe has laid out for us. We can choose to melt into a puddle of apathy and numbness that would truly exhibit the supposed meaninglessness of our existence.
Or, we can choose to see that the only meaning in life is the meaning we create.
We can choose to wake up everyday, know that our existence is short, chaotic, and headed for nothingness, and that that is all the more reason that our life on this planet is so beautiful. How amazing is it that, out of nothing, a trillion finely tuned biological mechanisms came together to form your morality, your consciousness, the love you feel, and all that is good and pleasurable in the world? Everything you are is part and parcel of the mathematical fabric of reality. Just think: Right now, you are the universe reflecting on itself (it doesn't get much more meta than that). To choose to see that as "nothing" would be the biggest travesty of all.
How does science affect the way you choose to live your life? Do you have a strong reaction to Krauss's view of the universe? Let me know in the comments!