People surely do feel that need, but there is no reason to believe that any such meaning MUST exist. There is no evidence to prove the validity of the assumption that life on Earth MUST have a "meaning". Life on Earth evolved out of the organic and inorganic elements of the Solar system. In countless billions of other solar systems, no such life has evolved. The fact that in our solar system life did evolve, is just a matter of chance. Therefore there is no reason to think that there had to be any special "meaning" for the evolution of life.
Any "meaning" that there is to our life, is that which we create for ourselves. There was no a priori "meaning" assigned to our life before we evolved out of the solar dust.
The human mind does not stop at the borders of its 5 senses that feed it. The human mind takes the input from the 5 senses, and makes something bigger and better out of it (I mean that in a subjective or perhaps "poetic" sense).
What gives human beings satisfaction, is their interaction with other human beings; and yes that interaction is through the 5 senses. all the human emotions are synthesized inside the same brain that processes the sensual input and creates our sense of reality. Our sense of reality is enriched through our mutually enjoyable interactions with other humans.
What the "meaning of life" is for me, is to have mutually enjoyable interactions with other human beings, that will help me and the other persons learn and grow, and enjoy life even more.
what is the final "meaning" of all of that ? what is the "purpose" of all of our joys and sadnesses and other emotions ? Who knows ? who cares ? maybe there is no meaning or purpose anyway. But so what ? We are alive by freak chance of luck, and so lets enjoy it and help everyother person enjoy their life too.
life is a rare "gift" in the Universe. we don't have to waiste our time searching for some "meaning" that is outside of our mutual human interactions. we can just spend our time enjoying ourselves and our lives, and letting and helping others enjoy theirs.
The question of sacrifice is an interesting one. I think the primary drive for sacrifice comes from a parents' sacrifice for their children. And that sense, comes from the evolutionary drive for survival and for passing on of our genes. Therefore, a parent would sacrifice him/her self for the sake of their children, in order to ensure their own survival, in a sense. (like Richard Dawkins' "Selfish Genes")
Then perhaps this sense and instinct is translated into a similar sense towards those who one considers as one's own kin. that could be brothers and sisters, or it could be members of the same clan, or members of the same country, etc. One considers the survival of those next-of-kin to be important to the survival of one's own progeny and descendents.
I think that's an evolutionary instict that's built into us, even for those who don't yet have children.
Here is a quote from Richard Dawkins, the famous British scientist:
"The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation, thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in the population until the natural state of starvation and misery is restored."
"In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won't find any rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference." [Richard Dawkins in "God's Utility Function," Scientific American, November 1995, p. 85.]
If humans truly want to be "masters of the universe", or at least masters of their own lives, they have to come to grips with the realities of the Universe, its makeup, and the physical laws that govern it. No amount of WISHFULL THINKING will be of any benefit to the human race ! Empty pipe dreams of "immoral life" and "immortal soul" are not going to help humanity make progress and improve its condition.
anti-scientific nonsense and empty pipe-dreams of "immortal soul" and "life after death" are going to make people complaicant about dealing with the difficulties of their lives. The first step for dealing with hardship and problems is to recognize their source. if a real source is found, then it can be dealt with directly. when no real source can be found, it must be conceded to be due to chance. But even bad "luck" can be overcome. The important thing is to not get deluded into blaming "supernatural" beings and phenomena and nonexistant entities such as "god" and "devil". This will only make it harder to deal with the problems and fix them, because it puts one's focus on a non-existant potential source for problems. Going after the wrong source of problems cannot possibly lead to a solution.
The second step for solving problems and overcomming difficulties, is to come up with a realistic plan of action, and to rely on all of the resources and powers that a person can muster. putting one's faith in nonexistance sources of assistance and resources, such as "if god is willing ..." only leads to disillusioinment and eventuall disapointment, if things don't work out. When one has the courage to take full responsibility for one's successes and failures, then one can more realistically follow up on good strategies for making progress, and more correctly eliminate ineficient or incorrect strategies. but if one says "if god is willing ..." or "it wasn't god's will ..." then one is not able to distinguish between what one did right and what one did wrong.
religious dogma and superstition and anti-science will continue to impede the progress of humanity and science, and human knowledge about the universe and his/her place in it, unless more and more people come to abandon the perenial wishfull thinking of humans for "immortal life" and such empty pipe dreams, and instead get a grip on the reality of the Universe and the physical laws that govern it.
[HamMihan in Jebhe Melli's discussion forum, August 2001, post #26057]