People always asks "WHAT is the meaning of life?" Perhaps a better question is: "IS there a meaning of life?" Or better yet, "SHOULD there be a meaning of life?" After all, who ever promised that there is a reason for us to discover? Even all the great men (women?) before us who invented religion did not promise a meaning of life. Let's examine them:-
(1) Western religion (grossly represented by Bible-based religions of any variation). Whether you subscribe to the Christian branch of belief-without-seeing-and-you'll-go-to-Heaven or Catholic's be-a-nice-person-and-you'll-go-to-Heaven or the Islam (?) 27-virgins-await-in-Heaven philosophy, they invariably focuses on the afterlife. Nothing says anything about the meaning of this lifetime... other than working towards what you can reap after you die (hmmmmm).
(2) Buddhism did not address that question either, reincarnation and enlightenment again focus on life after death. Some argue that Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. Come to think about it, should Buddhism truly portrays the way the universe work, then it's just science. Science focuses on the mechanisms behind every process and cannot be further away from the meaning of life. (See my previos entry "The HOW versus the WHY".)
(3) Darwinism/natural selection. Definitely hardcore, no bullshit science. Reproduction might be the purpose of life, but definitely not the meaning. I can't relate to how great it is to have an offspring, and I definitely fail to see how that will make my life meaningful. Especially in this day and age when people just seem to be competing about who can leave a bigger carbon footprint and better drive this planet out of all higher life forms.
Perhaps all the quests for WHAT is the meaning of life is fruitless because there simply isn't one. It's like looking for that treasure that was never buried. Try as you might, you are not going to find anything because it was never there to begin with. I am starting to think that the "meaning" of life is all about distractions. It is about what kind of distractions you can find to keep your mind occupied so you don't the big void left by the lack of a meaning of life. If you think about it, everything is pretty much a distractions:- any kind of entertainment (TV, sports, gambling, shopping), power struggling, money that can buy you more distractions, vanity, and the best and most long term distraction of it all? Children.
Not having enough distractions can be detrimental -- see all the rich and famous that die from drug overdose or do a variety of stupid things that we won't even contemplate. Why do they still seek drugs when they are rich and famous, while the rest of us try to hard to get there? (Okay, don't care so much about the fame... definitely would love to be rich. ;) Because they weren't able to find enough distractions. They no longer need to keep a full time job and mingle with stupid people and deal with the stress that comes with a job everyday just to put roof over head and food on table. Thus proving my point that the "meaning" of life is all about how to fill your free time with various form of distractions.
That said, another good question will be:- Why do we have consciousness? It is obviously not essential for evolution. Brine shrimp reproduces just fine. Earth worms and cockroaches reproduce just fine. Perhaps the whole Eve-ate-the-apple incident marked the time when aliens came and modified us genetically and gave us this thing called consciousness!