Why did the universe come into existence?

Going through the timeline of the universe (Big Bang, separation of forces, symmetry breaking, particle formation...), everything that happened lead ultimately to the existence of conscious life which is trying to rationalize the universe itself. The more knowledge we gain and the more we advance as a civilization, nature becomes more and more obscure on the fundamental level (from theory of indivisible atoms through elemental particles and the Standard model to strings).

There seems to be a deep link between consciousness and the existence of the universe. Our species will be eventually in danger of extinction and the universe has a lifetime and ultimately will cease out of existence, therefore I feel that we are forced to advance constantly and increase our knowledge. Is the purpose of the universe to comprehend itself?

EDIT: This is not assuming that we are the only conscious lifeform in the universe. If rationalization is actually the ultimate purpose, it would make sense that a vast number of conscious species exist across the universe.

  • Welcome to Philosophy SE! Check out the question, Why is there something instead of nothing? The answers there may be helpful to you. Jun 3 '19 at 22:07
  • Thanks. I realized that my question title didn't accurately express what I wanted to ask so I edited it.
    – Jonh Smith
    Jun 3 '19 at 22:15
  • A common answer would be that reality seeks to know itself, much as you surmise. .
    – user20253
    Jun 4 '19 at 10:00
  • @PeterJ you say it's a common answer. Can you expand on this? I would like to know who came to this conclusion and what arguments they used. References would be appreciated.
    – Jonh Smith
    Jun 4 '19 at 10:36
  • @JonhSmith - This view is common in mysticism and the Perennial philosophy, for which the space-time world would be all about the evolution of consciousness. The idea appears all over the literature. The whole idea is to 'Know Thyself' and thus become Reality aware of itself, and not just as a human being or a bat. Thus the mystical goal for theists is Godhead while for non-theists it is union with reality. Yoga as formulated by Patanjali is known as 'The Art of Union with Reality' so maybe the Yoga Sutras of Patajali would be a useful text. . , .
    – user20253
    Jun 4 '19 at 13:17

I think you should consider a possibility that your question is technically wrong, and is making your brain think over a senseless question. The word 'purpose' is used in contexts which are drastically different from your question. Traditionally, purpose is used when there is an individual who intends a particular result/outcome by executing some task. So your question assumes there exists some perception to whom there will be some over all value of this universe. And therefore this perception cannot reside within the universe. This implies that:

  1. If, indeed, there exists some perception to whom there will be some value of this universe, it cannot be us; this makes it impossible for us to accurately answer this question.

  2. Note that in 1 we assumed the existence of such a perception. Since you haven't proved it, your question is senseless. If there is no such perception, your question is wrong because the word 'purpose' cannot be used. With each word there is some idea. That idea is formed by our past experience of its usage. Since you used a word out of its intended context, it has invoked a wrong idea (of the entire question), and this makes your question senseless.

You might want to read about Wittgenstein's work on language.

  • Thanks for the logical explanation. It just baffles me that so many serendipitous events were required for the formation of intelligent life, like perfect balance of fundamental forces, antimatter annihilation, formation of celestial objects and all the events that happened in Earth's history. According to your statement 1: a conscious universe would never be comprehended by us? How did you get to this conclusion? I don't see where the separation of "us" from the universe comes from.
    – Jonh Smith
    Jun 4 '19 at 10:45
  • If purpose means teleology then the question is far from senseless. Spinoza contends that the universe, by definition, as infinite, eternal and self-caused can have no purpose. One way to think of the universe may be as, the eternal unfolding of all possibility. More and more science is beginning to admit that the universe contained within the
    – user37981
    Jun 4 '19 at 17:12
  • @JonhSmith I would say that whatever purpose we can make out will be our perception, with ourselves included. Some alien might do the same, and reach different answer -who is right or wrong? If purpose you are looking for is some overall purpose, then we need to be on the other side of entirety to be able to answer that. We cannot be within the system and still comment on its entirety. What I am trying to say is it is not the case that the question in your mind is senseless, but that it is indescribable.
    – Ajax
    Jun 4 '19 at 18:06
  • @CharlesMSaunders I would like to see the rest of your comment, but somehow you got it cut off. I personally don't follow Spinoza's way of thinking that the universe is eternal and infinite, as we today know that it most likely isn't. Looking at it as "eternal unfolding of all possibility" seems more intriguing.
    – Jonh Smith
    Jun 4 '19 at 20:54
  • @Ajax It might be true that our biological brains are incapable of comprehending it, but looking at the distant future where self learning digital circuits combine with quantum computers I hope that we might have enough power to explain it by math/logic arguments. If that's still unlikely, I another thought that came to mind is: since we are within the system, we can't fully comprehend it, but what if we could simulate it? Would projecting the universe as a perfect simulation be reasonable by laws of logic (from my vague knowledge I feel not)? If yes, would it count as "knowing thyself"?
    – Jonh Smith
    Jun 4 '19 at 21:10

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.