Jaws and the Meaning of Life: It’s just too hard to swallow

by William M Briggs

There is a scene early on in the killer-shark movie Jaws which has marine biologist Matt Hooper explaining to Amity’s Mayor Larry Vaughn the nature of sharks. “Mr Vaughn,” says Hooper, “what we are dealing with here is a perfect engine — an eating machine. It’s really a miracle of evolution. All this machine does is swim, and eat and make little sharks. And that’s all.”

Is this explanation true? If so, then why doesn’t it also apply to ocelots? What else besides running, eating and making little ocelots does this carnivorous beastie do?

And if it works for sharks and ocelots, why not also for dandelions, cockroaches and ratbirds (pigeons)? And if for them, why not for all life? Why not for you, dear reader? After all, what else do people do except scurry about, eat and make more people?

A Bag of Bones

If life can be reduced to biology, to nothing but chemical and physical interactions — as many atheists claim — then the explanation that all life, including our own, is meaningless futile repetition must be true.

Don’t pass too quickly by “meaningless.” This is the main point. If our lives are solely biology, then our lives have no meaning. This is a stronger conclusion than you might think. For it follows that any meaning anybody ascribes to any event in life is itself meaningless. Any and all moral judgments are mere prejudice, the result of particular arrangements of chemicals operating under unbreakable physical laws.

If all moral judgments are prejudice, then everything anybody ever thinks or says is opinion. And it’s forced opinion, at that. All opinions are the result of chemicals pushing this way and that, forming unwilled patterns in brains, under the control of nobody…


Jaws and the Meaning of Life: It’s just too hard to swallow | The Stream