We live entrenched in a nihilistic paradigm bolstered, on the one hand, by the alternative-reality escapisms of the world religions, which diminish the importance of life-on-earth in order to strengthen their fantasy utopias of the after-life, and, on the other hand, by scientific paradigms that paint the picture of a fragile and essentially moribund universe. This ultimate message of vanitas vanitatum directs us away from real purposiveness and has been exploited by religions and capitalisms alike in order to fabricate a paradigm of prayer and/or consumerism full of alienated subjects struggling to reap more reward from a reality dominated by the actual and/or another life after death.
Given this pessimistic scenario in which a pincer of nihilism squeezes us from the material and the spiritual side at the same time; with the dogma of the scriptures and the truths of science collaborating to create the same philosophical conclusion, Vanity of vanities; all is vanity: to think any differently seems like madness.
Nevertheless, on the scientific side of the nihilistic paradigm, glimmers of purposiveness are beginning to sparkle, like twinkling luminaries within the absolute blackness of the Universe’s deepest reaches.
Physicist Paul Davies argues the following:
“For three centuries science has been dominated by the Newtonian and thermodynamic paradigms, which present the universe either as a sterile machine, or in a state of degeneration and decay. Now there is the new paradigm of the creative universe, which recognises the progressive, innovative character of physical processes. This new paradigm emphasises the collective, cooperative and organisational aspects of nature; its perspective is synthetic and holistic rather than analytic and reductionist.”
Paul Davies’ idea is essentially anti-nihilistic. He gives us an idea of absolute human purposiveness within a mortal Universe. Beginning with the description of the heat-death state which physics predicts to be the Universe’s ultimate destiny:
“Eventually, even the galaxies near our Milky way (or what’s left of it) will be receding faster than light, and so will be invisible. If nothing acts to change their trend, the ultimate state of the universe will be dark, near-empty space for all eternity. It is a depressing thought.”
… Davies then throws in a positive spark:
“There is a glimmer of hope, however. The same physical process that triggered the inflationary burst at the birth of the universe could, in principle, be re-created. With trillions of years to worry about it, our descendants in the far future might figure out a way to produce a new big bang in the laboratory, in effect creating a baby universe … For a while mother and baby will be joined by an umbilical cord of space, offering a bridge between the old universe and the new. Our descendants might be able to scramble into the new universe, and embark on a new cycle of cosmic evolution and development.”
Yes, it sounds like science-fiction fantasy, but at least it does offer an alternative to the reigning nihilistic paradigms. What Davies suggests, is that perhaps all our earthly achievements have not been in vain. Perhaps it even gives us a general purpose in life within which we can start to build our individual purposes and structure our societies in a new, more positive way accordingly.
Once a positive final-purpose becomes possible and we start to see beyond the nihilist-paradigm, then possibility itself becomes a positive and creative driving force, pulling us out of the stifling gravity of the actual into a purposeful future.
New questions create new answers, and new answers create new scenarios, which create new paradigms and new societies. Once the creativity of thinking on the possible rather than the actual is put into play, then everything is changed.
If an idea that humanity has the possibility of creating a new, fresh universe to replace the dying inflationary one we inhabit at the moment, or perhaps even a vision of a distant future where humans have devised a technology that could remedy the degeneration in the universe and save it; then such positive aspirations to ensure such an evolution could become as ingrained in us as the pessimistic visions and nihilisms are embedded in our outlook of humanity today. If this did happen, then new societies and cultures would have to be born to adapt to such a radical positivism.
Instead of praying to God, we can start to have faith in a new idea of humanity: that human beings could themselves become gods. Paul Davies’ simple possibility implies this. A simple possibility given support, albeit theoretical and hypothetical, by science.
Once purposiveness (whatever kind of purposiveness) is fully grasped, can there be a more motivating and creative force? So motivating indeed, that the great motor that we currently have in our lives – money – could very quickly be superseded. And, with the root of all evil gone, societies will be invested with tremendously positive, new possibilities. A massive snowball of creativity will be set in motion. A new eon of humanity will be born with an optimism capable of taking it beyond the physical life-span of the Universe itself.
The purposiveness suggested by a simple idea such as Davies’, so that the destiny of mankind as gods creating our own universe, is reinforced by becoming. Absolute purposiveness can only exist in the task that is always in progress. The meaning is embedded in the process rather than the completion of the task. Completion is always an end to reason. Only the eternal becoming can be truly motivating.
 Paul Davies, THE COSMIC BLUEPRINT (from the Preface to the first edition)