Does the acceptance of scientific naturalism commit one to the view that the universe is devoid of all meaning?

There are at least two ways to interpret your question:

(1) Does scientific naturalism imply that no meaning at all exists anywhere in the universe?

(2) Does scientific naturalism imply that the universe itself has no meaning?

I think the answer to (1) is pretty clearly no. By "scientific naturalism," I presume you mean the denial of supernaturalism, i.e., the denial that any nonphysical minds or causes exist. On that reading, scientific naturalism is compatible with the fact that you meant something by your question (your question isn't meaningless) and the fact that I mean something by this answer to it. Nor does scientific naturalism imply that nothing is ever non-linguistically meaningful: it allows that an experience (say, of great music) can be meaningful to someone. What holds for the concept of meaning holds, I'd say, for the concept of purpose as well.

I think the answer to (2) is pretty clearly yes. But what could it mean, anyway, to say that the universe itself has some meaning? The universe isn't literally a linguistic item that could be linguistically meaningful, nor is it literally an experience that could be meaningful to one of its inhabitants. What's probably meant, instead, is that the universe as a whole has some purpose. My sense is that people who want the universe as a whole to have some purpose think that a "cosmic purpose" would put an end to questions of the form "Why bother?" or "What's so great about that?" -- questions whose persistence troubles them. In this short magazine article, I argue that they're mistaken.

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