Intended and Unintended Life

The Philosophical Forum, Vol. 43, No. 4 (2012), 395-403

12 Pages Posted: 11 Nov 2012 Last revised: 19 Mar 2013

Brooke Trisel

Unaffiliated Authors - Independent

Date Written: 2012


Some people feel threatened by the thought that life might have arisen by chance. What is it about “chance” that some people find so threatening? If life originated by chance, this suggests that life was unintended and that it was not inevitable. It is ironic that people care about whether life in general was intended, but may not have ever wondered whether their own existence was intended by their parents. If it does not matter to us whether one's own existence was intended, as will be hypothesized, then why should it matter whether there was some remote intent behind the creation of the first unicellular organism(s) billions of years ago? I will discuss three possible scenarios by which life might have originated. I will then argue that, in regard to whether one’s individual life can be meaningful, it does not matter whether life was intended or arose by chance. If complex life was unintended and is rare in this universe, this is not a reason to disparage life, but a reason to appreciate and value our existence.

Keywords: origin of life, chance, contingency, unintended, meaning of life, rarity

Suggested Citation

Trisel, Brooke, Intended and Unintended Life (2012). The Philosophical Forum, Vol. 43, No. 4 (2012), 395-403. Available at SSRN:

Brooke Trisel (Contact Author)

Unaffiliated Authors - Independent ( email )

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