Dear Wonderfest friends,
A simple confession: I don’t know the purpose of life.
Oh, maybe I’ve discovered the purpose of my life. But I don’t know the cosmic Purpose of life — Purpose with a capital P. The absence of cosmic Purpose is sometimes cited as the crucial shortcoming of modern societies. Such societies — such people — may be prosperous and even happy, but they can feel a little empty inside.
Consider, below, the Pink-Tufted Small Beast in a Night Landscape by Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss). Perhaps we are the beast. Humanity is well-coiffed, even regal in appearance, and slightly absurd. We sit at the edge of our eerily beautiful world, facing out toward a vast and mysterious universe … with our eyes closed.
What can give such a life Purpose? Fortunately, our eyes are not closed. The scientific enterprise, in particular, opens our eyes, pierces the darkness, and offers at least the hope of genuine Purpose. What irony! For 2500 years, Science has obviated the gods with purpose-shredding naturalism. And now, Science seems to be our best hope of finding Purpose — in the exploration of Nature itself.
“I have never imputed to Nature a purpose or goal, or anything that could be understood as anthropomorphic. What I see in Nature is a magnificent structure that we can comprehend only very imperfectly, and that must fill a thinking person with a feeling of humility. This is a genuinely religious feeling that has nothing to do with mysticism.” – Einstein
“Humility,” for sure. But with our humility comes a whiff of cosmic Purpose: “Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth,” said Gandhi. Poet Robert Frost put it directly and simply: “The best thing that we’re put her for’s to see.” And Einstein, once again: “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”
Your curiosity about baseball(!) may not be holy, but I hope it’s deep enough to entice you to San Francisco’s StrEat Food Park on Wednesday, September 24, for The Physics of Baseball. Full details about this free event are here: