The naturalistic explanation for humanity’s craving for meaning in life is routinely brought down to this evolutionary narrative: those humans that felt that life was meaningful survived, and those who didn’t died out.
But this proposition necessitates a truly noteworthy consequence: we live in a universe in which the perception of meaning is conducive to survival.
I am prepared to accept that the reason we today all have a desire for meaning in life is that intelligent lifeforms required meaning in order to motivate their survival. But that doesn’t really solve the problem. Yes, nature selected the perception of meaning among our species, but how did nature produce it? How did the first human manage to concoct a desire for meaning before reproducing it in their offspring?
Where, I ask, did the very concept of ‘meaning’ come from? Which combination of atoms was it that made it possible?
How did a meaningless universe produce intelligent lifeforms that so strongly crave meaning?