Why are we here?
Some would say that even the ability to pose the question is the answer. Some would say that posing the question is evidence that we are more than a biological accident or inevitability (given the size of the universe).
This moves beyond the comparatively simple question of purpose. I am not a philosopher — I only know enough to stay confused. However, I do believe in creative power. Since I am a Christian, I believe that we inhabit a universe created by God. I will leave it up to you to decide just how that happened from our perspective (one of or a combination of God’s thought/speech, big bang, evolution, or some other process).
What I do know is that human beings have a desire and ability to create. Obviously not on such a grand scale as a planet, solar system, galaxy, universe, or multiverse (whatever that is). It is, however, there in all of us. As soon as we figure out how to use those appendages at the end of our arms, we pick stuff up and start manipulating it for our pleasure. As we grow and become more aware of the world and our place in it, we begin to have thoughts and imaginations about how to change it to make it more inhabitable for us. Most of us also consider how to make it better for those around us.
We create new systems and organizations out of our of tragedies and mistakes. We create monuments and meeting places to celebrate heritage, competition, and faith. We create imaginative worlds for our entertainment and training.
I still have some of the early creations of my children. I still use a project I made in industrial arts class in middle school. I get satisfaction from tearing things apart and putting them back together (usually) better than before. We lose track of time when we create. Who has not been immersed in a project and did not realize the hours passing? We were created to create.
John of Damascus (676 — 749) connects thought and creation when describing God’s creating all things. Note that he holds that God created from nothing, which we cannot do.
“Since, then, God, Who is good and more than good, did not find satisfaction in self-contemplation, but in His exceeding goodness wished certain things to come into existence which would enjoy His benefits and share in His goodness, He brought all things out of nothing into being and created them, both what is invisible and what is visible. Yea, even man, who is a compound of the visible and the invisible. And it is by thought that He creates, and thought is the basis of the work, the Word filling it and the Spirit perfecting it.” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith, Book 2: Chapter 2)
Whether one agrees with John or not, it is interesting that he considers that God created to find satisfaction. We get hints of that in the creation account of Genesis one, where the phrase “it was good” is repeated after each creative invocation. We also learn that God intended for us to be fruitful and continue the act of bringing order out of chaos when he said, “fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion. . .” (Gen. 1:28).
Creating is a moral act. We create relationships, vocations, writing, art, music, tools, and comforts to fill our homes. We speak into existence marriages, business arrangements, and events. We create our stories from how we pass through this world. All of which indicates what we think of God, the world, and our fellow inhabitants.
What we cannot avoid is creating something. It is built into us from the beginning. I choose to do my best to recognize the wonderful benefits of being created in the image of God and attempt share those benefits with others.
I am one who believes that God brings order from chaos and those who listen to him will attempt to do the same. The prophet Isaiah says,
“For thus says the LORD,
who created the heavens
(he is God!),
who formed the earth and made it
(he established it;
he did not create it a chaos,
he formed it to be inhabited!):
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I did not speak in secret,
in a land of darkness;
I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,
‘Seek me in chaos.’
I the LORD speak the truth,
I declare what is right.” (Isa. 45:18-19)
Where there is beauty in this world, created by God or by man, there is revelation that we are meant for more than a self-seeking, self-absorbed, self-gratifying, and self-promoting existence. We know that sort of beauty when we see it.