A question about origin: Where did I come from? Where did the origin of life come from?
(JBH) We do not know. Those who know the most about biochemistry say that at present their best guess is that the first replicators were RNA strands on the edges of undersea hot-water vents, when the chemistry was quite different from what it is today. Research into this question is continuing.
A question for purpose: Why am I here? (Do I have a purpose? Is there ultimate meaning to life? What is the purpose of life?)
(JBH) For some of us, it is very important that life should have a purpose. When you go out to find the purpose of life, you are certain to meet someone who will tell you that the purpose of life is to do the will of God. Coincidentally, this same person will also do you the favor of telling you what God wills. And there you are… jumping through his hoops and carrying his luggage, and congratulating yourself for serving the highest cause of all. (I followed a Guru for five years.) SUCKER!!
We find ourselves alive and conscious. What shall we do with our lives? THIS IS OUR CHOICE!!. If we insist that someone else supply us with a purpose, someone else may DO just that.
Meaning is a different thing from purpose. Meaning is the story that you choose to join. There are many stories available, and you can make up your own if you wish. It helps if you believe the story to be true, at least potentially true, in it’s essentials. I find that the history of life on Earth, and the history of human civilization, provides all the meaning I need, I join it by seeking to make this Earth a better place, “for ourselves and our posterity”.
A question concerning morality: How can I know right from wrong? (Is morality objective or subjective? Can there be be objective standards?
(JBH) Religious folk misunderstand morality at its roots. Religious morality comes down to obeying the alleged will of God, as reported by the priesthood. But obedience is not morality, and morality is not obedience. We can all think of famous people who did bad thing while obeying authority, and others who did good things while rebelling against authority. ALSO: Religious morality is necessarily subjective and relative, because it depends crucially on faith. Nothing that you have to take on faith is “objective”.
Questioning destiny: Where am I going? What happens when I die? What happens after death? The question for truth: How do I know any of this is true? What is truth? Is there such thing as known truth?
(JBH) Every life has one death in it. Paraphrasing Mark Twain: “I was nonexistent for Eons before I was born, and it didn’t hurt a bit.”
I personally take as my working hypothesis that there is one Universe, and we all live in it. If we work at it, we can agree on what it looks like and how it behaves. AND, it is wiser and more useful to do that, rather than walking around believing whatever pleases us. I take as my working hypothesis that the Universe is what it is, independently of what we may think or wish. So there IS an Absolute Truth, but it is NEVER wise or useful to claim that you’ve GOT it. You may have great confidence in your current working hypotheses, based on the abundance of evidence, logic, and testing you have done so far, but you must always be open to new evidence, logic, and testing that may challenge it. You don’t need certainty, working hypotheses work just fine.