Does existence make any sense?

Posted on September 11, 2015 by Robert Ringer


Today, the 14th anniversary of the biggest mass slaughter of human life on American soil, is a good time to reflect on mankind, his purpose, and the universe.

Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei is credited with saying that “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” A great way of putting it — and so true. Without mathematics, we would know virtually nothing about the universe. And if we knew nothing about the universe, we would know very little about ourselves.

Without math, our knowledge of ourselves and the universe would be largely based on mysticism. Without math, nothing would make any sense to a halfway intelligent, rational, 21st century human being.

Let’s start with the universe and work our way down to man. The most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it even exists. Why does there need to be a universe? Why not just a wart? Or an orange? Or nothing at all?

The second most incomprehensible thing about the universe is its vastness. The endless trillions of cosmic bodies that inhabit it are so far apart that without math we would know almost nothing about even our closest neighbors.

Finally, the third most incomprehensible thing about the universe is how it came about — and how it is still evolving.


  • The nearest star — repeat, nearest — to our solar system is Proxima Centauri — 4.3 light years away. For the record, a light year is 186,000 (miles/second) x 86,400 (seconds in a day) x 365 (days in a year).

    By my calculations, that’s more than twenty-five trillion miles, or a hundred billion times further than the distance between the earth and the moon.

    Not exactly a good bet for a Sandals vacation, given that a 21st century spaceship would take at least 25,000 years to get there. Or, if we could ramp that up to a futuristic spaceship that could travel at the speed of a million miles per hour, we could cut the time down to about 6,000 years.

  • As to our own little solar system — which is just one of trillions of such systems in the universe — it’s still so big that no one will ever reach its outer edge. Although we cannot be certain of the exact distance, we know that it has to be at least three billion miles or so from where we reside.
  • Of course, the universe is another thing altogether. The mathematically visible universe is a million million million million miles across. That’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles! However, most scientists suspect that it’s really millions of times bigger than this. But let’s not quibble about a billion or so millions and just stipulate that the universe is very big.
  • There are 100 to 400 billion stars in the Milky Way galaxy alone, and there are perhaps as many as 150 billion other galaxies in the known universe.

Okay, enough. You get the idea: The universe is humongous, and the spaces between the planets, moons, stars, and galaxies are far too great to be navigated by intelligent life — ever.

So, how does all this play into the fact that you and I exist? Because in order for us to have come into existence, the conditions of the big bang and the subsequent universal expansion — forgetting about earthly evolutionary factors that may or not have played a part in creating us — had to be just so. A helter-skelter universal expansion would not have produced us.

As just one of an endless number of examples, for the universe to exist in its present form, hydrogen has to be converted to helium in a way that converts seven one-thousandths of its mass to energy. Lower that figure by a hair, and the universe would consist of nothing but hydrogen, and we would not exist.


  • You are comprised of trillions of atoms, but no one has a clue as to what causes these atoms to come together in just the right way to create you — or why atoms even exist. In fact, if the universe had formed a fraction of a hair differently — say, if gravity were just a fraction stronger or weaker, or if the expansion of the universe had been slightly slower or faster — the stable elements that make up celestial objects (not to mention the human body and brain) might never have developed.
  • Even after having gone through all the trouble to make you, the atoms that form you are impertinent. Not only do they have no interest in you, they don’t even know you exist. In fact, when you die, your atoms go elsewhere, so, ultimately, your entire body disappears. Isn’t it strange that the atoms that formed you go on to form other things, but you disappear? Humbling, to say the least.
  • By the same token, the atoms that make you are never alive (or so scientists believe), yet you You “die,” but your atoms live on? By secular standards, it makes no sense at all. In fact, it seems impossible.
  • Remember the film The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey? He plays a character named Truman who lives his whole life trapped in a dome and not knowing there is an outside world. But near the end of the film, Truman manages to reach a wall with a door in it. After pondering whether or not to venture out of his capsule, he finally opens the door and steps into the real world.

Could someone mimic Truman in real life and actually escape the universe and discover what’s outside? According to Albert Einstein, the answer is no, because it’s impossible to ever reach the edge of the universe. Einstein believed that space “curves in on itself,” so no matter how far you go in a straight line, you’ll always come back to where you started. Don’t ask.

Some scientists believe that there may have been — and still are — trillions of other big bangs, and the reason we happened to end up in this universe is because the conditions of our big bang made it possible for its thought-devoid atoms to form us.

But the strangest thing of all is that while these atoms keep you intact as a human being, and even though what you do while you’re alive seems to matter a great deal to you, it’s all just an illusion, because you’re just a soon-to-be-gone creation of the atoms that formed you.

That’s right, you’re nothing more than a collection of atoms that will someday desert you, at which time there will be no more you. What a blow to the self-esteem to realize that you are just a temporary gathering of microscopic particles that will soon go on to other things without you and not even bother to say goodbye.

So what does all this tell us? Most of all, that when all is said and done, we actually know very little about the universe or ourselves. We certainly don’t know why we’re here or what our purpose is. Or if we have any purpose at all. How can something that cannot control its own existence have a purpose?

It’s hard to digest, but, say, in a million years or so, no remnants of 9/11 will exist. Ditto with the Civil War, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, the Gulf War, the Afghanistan War, the Iraq War, and so on.

So the question is, what is life on planet earth all about? The truth is that no one has a clue. No one knows why we’re here or who made it all happen. Nor does anyone know why there is a universe at all or why it developed in just the right way to make intelligent life possible.

Perhaps astronaut Gene Cernan — the last man to walk on the moon — gave as good an explanation as any as to what otherwise makes absolutely no sense to the human mind:

“What I saw as I looked at the earth from the moon was that it was all too beautiful to have happened by accident. This could not have been the result of two dust particles coming together. I wanted to do grab that crescent Earth, put it in my spacesuit and take it home and show it to people. Looking up at the Earth, I had the sense that I was sitting on God’s front porch.”

Given a complete lack of evidence that makes any sense, until a more logical explanation comes along, Cernan’s view sounds pretty good to me. The best alternative I could possibly come up with is that perhaps we’re all trapped in an eternal dream — but that doesn’t even make sense to me.

Having said all this, God bless the victims of 9/11 and their loved ones. But what it all means, none of us will ever know.

Robert Ringer

+Robert Ringer is an American icon whose unique insights into life have helped millions of readers worldwide. He is also the author of two New York Times #1 bestselling books, both of which have been listed by The New York Times among the 15 best-selling motivational books of all time.

29 responses to “Does existence make any sense?”

  1. Robert rdiamondesq says:

    Thanks for the interesting and thought provoking article. I always enjoy reading your works.

  2. L_Ferentchak says:

    Well that's a puzzler! Thank you for the very interesting perspective on life.

  3. Jurg says:

    Love your perspective and stuff….Thank God you were created. 😉

  4. Jacques says:

    9 11 was engineered by soulless psychopaths. C'mon Robert, step out of the matrix.

  5. real american says:

    Robert, I love your thought-provoking articles.

    But…."None of us will ever know"?? Well, we ALL will know one day.

    Also, the Big Bang theory is just that…a theory, and largely discredited.

  6. Rip Read says:

    On point…crystal clear reflective commentary on the “real world” as always. As one of the few people on this planet that can say I am fully in-touch with the universe…literally and figuratively, I could not have provided the perspective you did with such clarity. After 40 years of tuning into your high level of awareness…I, for one, ALWAYS appreciate it. A same but different take on your classic One to a Box equation. Much appreciated sir…keep up the great work…glad you are still here as one of my favorite guides and truth tellers!

  7. Burt Dubin says:

    Beautifully expressed, Robert.

  8. larajf says:

    We are souls having a human experience to learn and to grow. The only way I can learn compassion is by having someone be mean to someone else. I suppose I should thank the mean people.
    9/11/01 was horrible. (as was 9/11/12…may Benghazi never be forgotten for at least 30 more years) I did see some amazing things happen. People getting out of their lives and touching others. People talking. People taking a long hard look at their lives. People donating time and money. It was a beautiful thing that happened.

    Sadly, if another one happened, I don't think we'd get the same response. I worry about people in general these days. They're so focused on being right & having the government take care of everything so why should they have to. It frightens me sometimes and I wish people would wake up and start connecting as people again.

    • Richard Lee Van Der says:

      L: Your first sentence say it! Where we are here on the earth-plane is temporary and brief. Why? As you say, to evolve the Self that each of us are. The Self that is a living particle iN God. As a particle IN God, our Real Self never dies. But while incarnate, we have opportunity to grow though the process, our dramas, of overcoming. Thank God for you challenges, for it is through them that you Grow. Evolution through Involution. We involve ourselve in matter in order to evolve. That's the line of thought that I espouse.

      • larajf says:

        Amen. God is kind. And we do honor to Him by being open to learning our lessons and moving forward instead of fighting them.

  9. NoSpin says:

    According to the Bible, the physical environment [entire universe] was created intelligently to support the social environment. The social environment went up with a big bang in Genesis 3 [The Fall] and was retrieved by Christ [God incarnate] in the New Testament. The spiritual and social environments are expressed through the physical environment eg speech, hearing, eating, greed, love, replication. Few die with "science" on their mind, most I suspect crave an enhanced social side. Social is the superset of all that is physical and not the other way around.
    Thanks for the excellent article Robert.

  10. Dave Kempster says:

    Strange, nobody mentions Rudolph Steiner. I cannot give much credence to anyone trying to explain "the Universe" who doesn't quote from Steiner, even if only to reject his works.

  11. Safe Driver says:

    Since you're a thinker, Robert, and I suspect attract other people who are equally inclined to be thinkers … may I recommend a very new book? "Evolution 2.0" – by Perry Marshall. Has riveting and detailed scientific information about what's happening in us at the cellular level. It should be fascinating for the type of folks who ask big questions, and aren't satisfied by small or careless answers.

  12. Steve Koehler says:

    Hi Robert-always like your stuff. At the risk of sounding nit-picky and fault finding (I'm not)–the biggest slaughter on American soil was the battle of Antietam in 1863. ~30,000 casualties that day.

    • Robby Bonter says:

      Antietam was not perpetrated by foreign enemies, so that while you make a good technical point, it appears to be outside the parameters Robert was referring to.

  13. I made a reply to Larajf, but when I press SUBMIT COMMENT, only an error block comes up. Why? I wonder.

  14. Bill Zimmerly says:

    One of the greatest Mathematicians of all time had this to say on the subject:

    “I see many contradictory religions, and consequently all false save one. Each wants to be believed on its own authority, and threatens unbelievers. I do not therefore believe them. Every one can say this; every one can call himself a prophet. But I see that Christian religion wherein prophecies are fulfilled; and that is what every one cannot do.”
    – Mathematician Blaise Pascal, “Pensées” note #692

    Here is an -excellent example- of fulfilled Biblical prophecy that has grown in evidential importance since Pascal’s time:

    Jesus was a poor jewish man who lived in the Roman province of Palestine almost TWO THOUSAND years ago.

    He was a hated man, and many attempts were made to kill him from his birth to his ultimate death on the roman cross while still young.

    He had no home to call his own, indeed, the ONLY things he owned were the rags that he wore!

    Now picture this…this Jesus walked through the streets of the Ancient city of Jerusalem with his followers. He walked out of the city and sat down on the “Mount of Olives”, opened his mouth and stated a prophecy that must have astounded his followers…

    “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass way.”
    – Matthew 24:35

    The fact that “Heaven and earth” had not yet “passed away” is unimportant for the moment, what -IS- important is that Jesus told his followers that his words were immortal, infinite, and would NEVER pass away!

    As if this wasn’t astounding enough, he elaborated on this prophecy further…

    “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
    – Matthew 24:14

    “And the gospel must first be published among all nations.”
    – Mark 13:10

    “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.”
    – Mark 14:9

    In our time, it is not possible to refute the truth that his words HAVE NOT PASSED away, but are indeed being “PREACHED and PUBLISHED” throughout the entire world!

    As an Amateur Radio Operator, I spend a lot of time listening to shortwave radio broadcasts, and I can tell you from firsthand knowledge, that Jesus words ARE being broadcast worldwide every hour of every day on many more stations than any other single topic or issue!

    It’s a pretty astounding prophecy, eh?

    Here is how just a “surface reading” can cause people to miss fascinating details. From Revelation 11:7-11 (King James Version)…

    7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
    8 And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
    9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.

    Riddle me this – when in human history has it EVER been possible for people of many nations to SEE a few dead bodies lying on a street in Jerusalem …… -BEFORE- the advent of television and satellite communications??? How far and wide do you think such news could make it in the days when this prophecy was written and horses going 35 MPH was the fastest means of transportation available?

    10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
    11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.

    How could the perverse sort of celebration described above have been possible before the Internet, satellite communications and shopping / gift giving websites like EBay or Amazon existed?

    Keep in mind that this is taking place over a THREE AND A HALF DAY’s time!

  15. Pat says:

    First I have to observe that you cannot stat with certainty that none of us knows why we are here. This is just a conclusion to which you jumped. Grant the possibility that some of us DO know.

    Another thing to think about: if you see a watch, for example, you just know that it is a precision instrument, designed and engineered by somebody. It didn't arise spontaneously from a junkyard. But the universe is so much more complex, and the conditions necessary for life, or even the existence of formed material objects, as you have said, are so exacting and precise, it just smacks of design. That couldn't have happened by accident. Claiming there are an infinite number of universes is simply a fantasy. We have no evidence whatsoever for this, and it is simply an explanation where there is none other possible, except to admit that some intelligence somewhere designed all this. Why people can look at a watch and KNOW it was designed and built by intelligent beings, yet then NOT know the universe was, totally boggles my mind and puzzles the heck out of me.

    • Paul Herring says:

      I agree, Pat. People seemingly will believe in anything that a learned human might say but will not give credence to the Bible, the word of the Creator of Man.

      The Bible tells us who we are (not descended from apes). It tells us how the world and universe came to be. It gives detailed descriptions on these. It also tells us why mankind is in the bother we're in now. But it tells us about the happy outcome for those who are prepared to do things God's way. None of it is rocket-science.

      But for the so-called intellectuals of the world it is all too simple and they prefer to hitch their wagon to the evolutionary theory, which takes more faith to believe in than what it takes to believe in the Bible's account of creation.

  16. Froy says:

    LIving matter because we will die, while that happens, everything we experience through our senses that leads us to be the creators of the evolution of this material realm.

  17. Paul L. Fruend says:

    All of NATURE has to be one of the biggest proofs of there being a GOD.

    As a Marine Admiral’s Orderly, I was station aboard the Aircraft Carrier USS Lexington CVA 16, between 1957 – 1959.
    When we were in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, on hot nights, when there wasn't any night flight operations and it wasn't raining, (Without Air conditioning) I would take my mattress up to the flight deck to sleep under the stars.
    Without any lights, the clear skies made you feel the bright stars were all down all around you, where you almost felt like you could touch them.
    You thought you could see trillions and trillions of them. It was so overwhelming beautiful, I could not help thinking, it's incomprehensible & stupid to let yourself believe there was not a GOD.
    Nothing of that great magnitude could be possible without intelligent design.
    Even having night and day, like we always do, can not be a random accident.
    Astronaut Gene Cernan had it right, when he was on the moon, looking at the earth and feeling he was sitting on God’s front porch…and he was only seeing just a little more than you could.
    GOD is the creator of everything, and man is just "starting" to see the overwhelming grandeur of what GOD created that He said "was good.".
    (Man is only champion at screwing everything up.)
    The real wisdom of man, is knowing that, the more we learn about life, it only teaches us how little we know.
    Looking at the big picture of everything, man is like a blade of grass or a piece of sand, that is here today and gone tomorrow, …… and we are so arrogant to even think we can match wits and intellect with an all knowing, almighty GOD, that can do anything He want, because He is GOD..that created everything.

    What is it about man, that makes him want to spend way more time trying to prove there is not a GOD, than he does letting himself see the obvious?
    Man still can't explain: "Where any "first thing" came from," "Why an apple tree is an apple tree," "Why man is still a man," and "Why monkeys are still here."
    How can man say things like, "Without “Math, nothing would make any sense to a halfway intelligent, rational, 21st century human being., and without mathematics, we would know virtually nothing about the universe, we would know very little about ourselves,"… And yet, keep trying to dismiss intelligent design by an all powerful creator of everything.
    Why is it so important to him not to have a GOD? And try to make life all about nothing, without any meaningful purpose? Could it be that he is smart enough to know he is not perfect enough to qualify to go to a place where everything is perfect, and can't live with the consequences of there being a "HELL," and prefers just to live in denial? ( like as if that will change GOD'S plan for man?)
    What is so hard about understanding? That “GOD” created everything for his own “GLORY.” (WHO ELSE?) and “WE” are part of His creation. (like it or not.)
    Our ONLY purpose for life, is to serve His “GLORY.” …….with Heaven as our reward.
    God created us with an eternal life. (Soul/Spirit. – again, " like it or not.)
    GOD is love. Because His kind of “LOVE” (which is "real" love,) can only be given and received on a “free will” basis., MAN was created with “ free will.”
    Because He wants us to love him enough to choose Him. (We were not made as his puppets.)
    During the short time we have on earth, we can still CHOOSE to return to live with Him in Heaven for eternity. OR, (and there has to be an “OR” or there would be nothing to choose.) We can follow “Satan” who is outside the realm of salvation, and who was anointed by GOD as your choice of who we will follow.
    Following the fall of man, (Man's choice, not GOD'S desire.) Man will always be incapable of making himself perfect enough to live in a perfect place. (Heaven)
    The good news is! GOD still loves what He created;. He gave us his son Jesus to follow as the only way to qualify to return to live with Him in eternity. (THE CHOICE IS STILL OURS.)
    ……AND, by the way, just remember, you & and you only can make that choice, one way or the other. Just remember, we all have an expiration date on earth in which we can make it.
    I'm starting to believe the bad things we go through just before we die, may be GOD'S way of saying He thinks we are still worth saving and is still trying to get our attention. Thank you GOD, you got mine!

  18. Robby Bonter says:

    I wish we had had serious subject matter like this to study in school, instead of the glut of art, shop, gym, music choir and chorus classes, health, those awful bunsen burner and litmus test science classes, and that useless "Pennsylvania History" class we had in ninth grade, so that, for all of our lives, we would know who Thomas Mifflin was, so we could put that on job applications and seal the hiring deal. lol.

    Oh well, better late than never, the above material trumps all the fluff we had to suffer, as we "prepared" to take our place in society. Right.

  19. stogiechomper says:

    Through all of your books and articles, Robert, I always most enjoy your "what if" contemplations on the meaning of our existence. Why are we here? Who or what made us? What is our purpose? What happens to us when we die? Do we have an eternal soul that survives bodily death? I have spent countless hours musing and meditating on these questions. I have read books by Carl Jung, who also tried to find answers. I am now reading books on psychic phenomena, always in search of the enlightenment I need. Sometimes we get a peek behind the cosmic curtain, and glimpse greater realities. The Near-Death Experience, the Mystical Experience are two ways in which this may be accomplished. There is more to man than meets the eye, great mysteries awaiting our discovery. However, many truths may be forever beyond the reach of human understanding. As British scientist JBS Haldane observed: "My own suspicion is that the universe is not only stranger than we suppose, but stranger than we *can* suppose."

  20. JOSEPH says:

    WOW! The contemplation of exactly how large the universe is can make a persons head spin. I have to say after years and years of reading I have come to a definite conclusion about life. I don't believe there is any inherent purpose in life or existence as such. I don't mean this in any negative way. The meaning and purpose of life comes from you, what you believe you can get from life. However, I do believe that if life or existence is about anything it is about ONE thing-that is, EVOLVEMENT. Whatever meaning or purpose you give to your life as long as it allows you to evolve as a human being then I believe you are in harmony with life. To be more precise about this, it's about enjoying the process of evolvement. I believe that's what it's all about.

    So, Robert, do you have any thoughts about what I said?

  21. Dusty Rubric says:

    We can only speculate as to the reasons we are here. I tend to think this is a penal colony of some sort, designed to test us for future service – or not, if you failed the test, whatever that is. It is obvious this is a creation, no one can deny that, it is impossible given the evidence, like was stated earlier about the watch – surely no one can deny that something created that watch, and this universe is so much more complicated.

    So why are we here? We clearly will see an afterlife for our soul, there can be no rational denying that either; there is far too much evidence to deny it. And everyone knows intuitively that this is true.

    Now having read about The Truman Show above, there are those who have walked out of this earth while alive – a sort of de-materialization. They go thru what is called the "shimmering door". There are supposedly at least a dozen of these doors throughout the earth. They take you to other dimensions. The famous sociologist and author Carlos Castaneda is the most famous person so far to do this. He left the earth in the late 90's and there is no grave, no autopsy, no body – he went over while alive. He was seen once since then, by dozens of witnesses as he crossed back over to this dimension. He was only here for one minute, then stepped back over…

    Now of course I know how the above sounds, and especially to Robert, I can see him smiling now, well maybe laughing. But that's the story as told by another more esoteric author with abundant metaphysical skills. There is more to think about: what about the inner universes, which are even larger than our material ones. And given Robert said "God Bless", I know his intuition kicked in. He knows this is a creation, as did Einstein, and all the geniuses.

    But as of yet, no one has ever, to my satisfaction, explained the "reason" for our existence. Not the Bible, not any book, not anyone. If anyone has the answer, please post, you will be the wisest person to ever live. That's why my "Penal Colony Theory" makes so much sense. Robert gets to have lots of cool theories, so I want mine, and there it is. Now, if I can only figure out what we did, and why we are in prison, and what can we do to get out – and how do we walk out of here? Carlos? Anyone?

  22. Casual-Shoes says:

    Nice Informative Blog having amazing sharing thanks.

  23. Casual-Shoes says:

    Nice Informative Blog having amazing sharing thanks.