Team & Leadership Excellence

Purpose of Living – Part 4: The View Point from Early Sciences

We explored the notion of purpose from the view point from Abrahamic Religions and Eastern Philosophies in the last blog post. Let’s now have a look at this notion from some of the early scientific viewpoints.

The various early sciences give a scientific basis for understanding life, and consequently the purpose of life and individual purposefulness. While purpose per se is researched in a very limited way according to the literature I have examined, reading in to some of the scientific theory and the life of some of the early scientists shows the scientific basis for the evolution of life. Therefore, reflecting on some of the concepts could help understand the purpose of living beings and the purpose of life as a whole. Theories such as the Theory of Gravity discovered by Isaac Newton, Theory of Evolution discovered by Charles Darwin, early discovery of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) by Friedrich Miescher and Quantum Theory by Albert Einstein, as well as the circumstances under which such theories evolved would provide a window in to the thinking about ‘purpose’.

During this era the religious thinking was challenged by scientific findings and scientists were seen as heretics. Isaac Newton had to come up with strategies to seem to be religious; one of the strategies used by him was ‘silence’ (Snobelen, 1999). Einstein introduced a higher level religious experience that he names ‘cosmic religion feelings’, which is rarely found in its purest form. Einstein argues that it is the important function of art and science that awakens this feeling (Einstein, 1930). Einstein also finds it strange to see people seeming to pursue a divine purpose, when we are on earth for a short visit. However, he feels that we are here for the benefit of others, thus he elaborates the important role played by others in the work he had done. Perhaps, ‘purpose’ for him was to achieve peace of mind by knowing that he had given to others as much as he had received (Einstein, Jeans, & Dreiser, 1931).

This summary of some of the early scientific viewpoints show that religious views were challenged by the early scientist based on their chosen fields. Such fields could be chosen based on what these scientists were passionate about and what they were talented in. This could be their contribution to the process of life. Consequently, it seems that our purpose could be derived from our contribution to the process of life from the talents we possess and what we are passionate about.

We will explore the notion of purpose from a modern scientific viewpoint in the next blog post. Meanwhile I invite you in to reflect on what you are passionate about and what you are talented in and try to make sense of your contribution to the process of life.

Einstein, A. (1930). Religion and Science.
Einstein, A., Jeans, J. H., & Dreiser, T. (1931). Living Philosophies. Simon and Schuster.
Snobelen, S. D. (1999). “Isaac Newton, Heretic: The Strategies of a Nicodemite”. The British Journal for the History of Science, 32(04), 381-419.

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