It Isn't 42 After All




What is the meaning of life? A great deal of human history has been defined by that question. People have died, and killed over it. People have spent their entire lives working towards discovering the answer, driving themselves or those around them mad in the process. An entire history of a species has been spent trying to provide an answer to what really is a rhetorical question, and in the process created, invented, imagined, loved, hated, destroyed and repressed everything that we and cherish and loath.

And then, Neil deGrasse Tyson goes and gives what should really be the standard answer. And, as he is oft able to do, answered it in a way that simultaneously sounded like it was just occurring to him and that it was something he learned to repeat verbatim years ago. Some people have problems with Tyson; I'm not one of them, but some do. But you cannot fault him for 1) being honest, B) being romantically expressive and iii) if not being right, knowing how to be right.

Humans are a species of discoverers. Our greatest natural gift is our curiosity. And what we are most curious about is discovering absolutes. We ask questions, determine answers, determine better answers, and keep going. So, Tyson's assertion, in response to and directed towards a nearly seven year old, that the meaning of life isn't a quantifiable absolute, but the eternal (both personally and socially) quest for that answer. And that the quest is the answer. And that there is no answer in the first place. And that there really isn't a question to begin with, isn't a new assertion, but that doesn't make it less true.

If more people stopped believing in their personally held absolutes, and exchanged them with the same intensity for a desire to learn more questions, the world would be a better place. I don't mean kinder, or healthier, or shiner. I mean better. It would be the same world, and we'd all be the same kinds of people (i.e. some of us would still be jerks), but we'd be better versions of that. Because none of us would think that we knew all the answers; we'd still be looking for them. And that's what science is. It isn't a realm, or an object, like some who decry it make it seem. It's a philosophy, a practice, and a process that is executable and unending so long as someone, somewhere, is searching for an answer. That's how I'm able to say that I'm a Man of Science, despite never having been to Science-land, or work at a Science-building. I live in Science. I live through Science. I live to Science.

And Science is awesome.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.

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