I once read what I can only describe as a dissertation of sorts. The objective of which was to find the purpose of existence in the texts of every major religion. The conclusion turned out to be one steeped in individualism: Experiences. You are here to experience everything this world has to offer. (Or the experiences your circumstances allow, I guess.)
I disagree with that theory. As I read it, I thought of the civilizations that propagated said religions. I thought not of their theologies. Not of their ideals. I thought of our collective purpose. I wondered what the practicality of immortalizing something would be. (besides the obvious) What are the evolutionary needs for making the many colossal shrines, the millions of lives sacrificed? Was it because they could?
Many theorize the practical reason for the religious states to organize such projects was to maintain order, and morality. To maintain hierarchical control. That doesn’t explain the immense effort put into the construction of pyramids, temples, churches, and statues. What if the motivation of our species’ fascination with building such things was in it’s permanence. The passage of information at all costs. Progress in all it’s monumental glory. Standing in it. Touching it. What if this is our purpose?
Since their infancy, civilizations have gone to great lengths to leave evidence of their existence. The reason for so many cultures undertaking such daunting tasks has remained a mystery. So much so, that extraterrestrials have been credited with spreading the knowledge of erecting these structures to all the different ancient cultures that did so. What truly passed the baton of monument building? What force compelled the Sumerian, Egyptian, Inca, Aztecs, to leave their gigantic footprints on the face of this earth?
When the Europeans thought of their immortality, they thought of empires, not structures. They wanted the hearts and minds of future generations. Why the change? Cataclysmic events have been a part of human mythology for a reason. Is it possible that the ancients, like the generations after, knew that mass destruction was around the corner. They knew their texts wouldn’t survive the end of their societies. The structures were subconscious safeguards.
The European empires knew that even if a catastrophe wiped away their physical center of power; spreading their ideological, theological, and genetic traits to the farthest corners of the planet would be their monument. This need resulted in clashes with other societies trying to do the same. Fast forward to our present day. The battle for influence is on a continuum. But what of our purpose?
We have guaranteed that even a global cleansing of our species would not completely wipe out our presence. Even an asteroid completely destroying earth wouldn’t vaporize every single shred of human society. Especially now with our fingerprints on our moon and our neighboring planets.
This is our purpose. It’s not to spread ourselves in physical form anymore, but to spread our knowledge to the universe. To leave our progress behind for future species of intelligent lifeforms to emulate. To build upon. To pick up wherever we left off. I don’t believe our purpose is individualistic. That would be like saying the purpose for sight is strictly for looking at the things you want to look at. Not for spotting predators. Or like saying the reason we all have taste buds is to identify the foods you like or dislike. Not to distinguish between poisonous and edible. All our senses have the purpose of helping us continue our genetic line. Why wouldn’t our ultimate purpose have the same function. In a subconsciously driven metaphysical sense.
Just like most individuals have a need to show those around them that they exist. To exhibit their intelligence, share their ideas, their uniqueness. I believe we as a species have a subconscious need to leave proof of our existence on this universe. That is what drives us. That is our purpose.