I’m wary of using the phrase ‘life purpose’ because it is often assumed to be somehow divinely or genetically predetermined.
Genetic predetermination actually holds some credibility for me, but more of that in a minute. Let’s first look at divine predetermination. I’m an atheist, so the thought that a supernatural entity has programmed my life, laid out a destiny, set me a challenge or in any way ‘decided’ how I might best live my life is, to be blunt, preposterous. If you believe otherwise, then that’s fine, but I wonder how dis-empowering it might feel to believe that your purpose is predetermined.
So, what about genetics? In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins argues that our life purpose is to pass on our genes. He argues that our physical presence and mental processes have evolved simply to maximise the chances of our genes being replicated. I agree with Dawkins.
However, I don’t believe that our lives are therefore empty and devoid of meaning and purpose. Nor does Dawkins. His books Unweaving The Rainbow, The Greatest Show on Earth and The Magic of Reality clearly demonstrate the wonder we might all find in exploring the universe. His passion for nature and science is evident. His work as a scientist and author demonstrate quite clearly where Dawkins has found meaning and his life purpose.
The evidence is overwhelming that meaning and purpose are very real and important in our lives, whether we are theists or atheists. I believe humans have evolved a predisposition to search for meaning and purpose because this predisposition aids our survival as individuals and as a species not because we have the oversight of a supernatural entity.
Searching for meaning and purpose are very real aspects of our condition. So is the fact that many of our traits, such as our natural talents, are genetically encoded. They are not fixed in stone, as many studies have proven, but they do carry strong predispositions. This means that behavioural traits, physical and mental skills, our emotional makeup and, therefore, what we might be predisposed to feel aligned to as a purpose, will also have strong threads of predisposition running through them.
Predisposition, not predetermination.
Your life purpose is vitally important to you. Your search for a life purpose that is fulfilling and enriching is a powerful life force for you, as it is for me. I would argue that we are predisposed to align our day to day lives to a purpose that has a foundation in our genetic makeup and is then further shaped by life’s experiences. It is not set in stone or given to us by others, whether these others be natural or supernatural.
I’m still going to refer to life purpose in my writings. It is a very common phrase in the language of personal development. What I hope this post has offered is a clear insight into my perspectives on purpose and therefore my writings in general.