Elephant seals demonstrate that there are no demonstrations. The natural world is not where we find meaning.
So what good is it?
You are a product of this universe. You, with the power to think, to reason, to decide for yourself. Male elephant seals have no choice. They must follow their instincts. They must fight and die, or else perish alone. But nature flubbed up when it created us.
We can juke the game. We can find joy in other things – creating art, singing songs, falling in love, climbing a tree, reading a poem to a child.
And we can find joy in something else. We can find rapture in learning about this exquisite mess of a universe. We can learn about the cruel reality of elephant seal life – and we can call it what it is, wasteful and stupid.
But we can learn, too, of the intricacies of cell division. We can discover the mathematical precision of the periodic table, a bouncing tennis ball, a leaf floating to the ground. We can contemplate time and space, the past and the future, and wonder from where might it all have come.
We can marvel at the stars, (Jim reckoned the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn’t say nothing against it) and realize it was from there that we came, the elements of our bodies formed in the chaos of stellar death. We can wonder what it would be like to travel to those stars, how we might get there, whom we might meet.
We can look back at our own history and stare wide-eyed at the incredible set of unpredictable contingencies that made us who and what we are. We are incredible, an unrepeatable, fragile accident. We are one of the things the universe can make.
The universe is wonderful, and it is pointless. But the universe made us. And we make the point.
That’s what good it is.