I came to start a discussion, but now I see it was started 6 years ago and is still going.
OK, so here it is: the answer to the meaning of life. My answer implies a de facto religion is already in existence, like it or not, choose it or not, and that we have the option of helping it along. I'll state it as fact and solid personal opinion in order to play devil's advocate, with emphasis on "devil", the kind of which the Unabomber and Saudi Arabian 9/11 pilots were deathly afraid.
Life is the acquisition of energy to move matter to make more life, i.e., evolution itself, where my definition of "life" is not limited to DNA-based organisms. The One True Religion is this: to maximize this evolutionary process. By "maximize" I mean in a strictly physics sense, and it's an NP-hard problem, so we are allowed to maintain some mystical sense and awe, even allowing "love" the possibility of being a higher concept that our physical bodies can only intuitively sense some of the time, i.e., that it is an ancient, instinctive, deeply evolved feeling that motivates us to pursue this religion via things like good work and good babies.
So the religion and moral obligation is to acquire the MOST energy to move the MOST matter to create the MOST long-lasting copies of this religion. We can measure our success of this goal by watching the decrease in the Universe's "free energy" (a technical physics term, not an "economic" statement) decrease while releasing as little heat (entropy increase) as possible, thereby knowing we are converting the most free energy to the most copies (negative entropy) of the religion. This means we should probably not be driving SUVs.
The religion seems to need to change it physical state in order to extract more and more energy, including its previous selves, like the bacteria that fed on the worms that fed on Newton, who fed on the apple who fed from the Sun.
I am talking about something deeply opposed to humanianity and the entire biosphere because 15% efficiency solar cells are 100x to 300x more efficient per land area than sugarcane at acquiring Joules of energy, electrical motors are 10x to 100x more efficient than muscles at using energy to move matter, and CPUs need only move very light electrons very quickly in a solid environment in order to think thanks to the smelting of metals like silicon and aluminum, while brains have to move ions and molecules that weigh at least 40,000x times more and in an unreliable wet environment, thanks to DNA not being able to do anything unless it's at ambient temperature and pressure. I have many arguments that express just how inadequate brains already are compared to a CPU, in contrast to others like Ray Kurzweil who calculate it is something still in the future, mainly because he wants CPUs to act like brains rather than superior to them in an economic efficiency since. 20 years ago my arguments fell on deaf ears, but more and more people accept it as fact as they now see jobs replaced.
My point is that the biosphere is woefully outdated compared to our offspring, the machines, and like it or not, our un-governed economizing of local profit (aka the free market) is rapidly replacing the biosphere, as evolution dictates it should. A humanist religion should advocate and *be* an intelligent and strong governor (government) of the system-wide economic profit, and act in the best interest of the people that belong to it. We have already been following an ancient evolutionary path, letting the strongest religion aka government win. Might is right, where might is defined as I've stated above: the ability to acquire the most energy to move the most matter to make the most copies of the religion (aka to expand most efficiently). We are now moving towards a world economy and world government, but we still have an oversupply of means and confusion of goals, which Einstein complained about 70 years ago. If we had been dispersing the wealth and happiness with intelligent politics and economics wouldn't we have bred even more uncontrollably? We use 10 times more energy per person and 1,000 times more technology than Einstein's generation used in its youth, so utopia should have been present a long time ago, and I strongly doubt energy and technology were ever the problem in the first place. The problem is that people are not the end-all and evolution is our God, like it or not, and we have always brutalized each other for His benefit.
We are the children of evolution. Machines are our children. Who are we to argue? Maybe we should just have peace and let it happen, or to do what is most efficient in everything in life, including not using too much fuel and writing programs to replace people without thought for the consequences to humanity. This time is different. This 6th great extinction episode is not geologic or biological. It is not statistically impossible that we are so "lucky" to be in the midst of a fantastic change because 10% of all humans able to conceive of this are alive today, and biologic system collapse at their peak of energy extraction, so for these anthropic principle and biologic reasons, now is not the unlikely time and we are not the unlikely people to be having this discussion. We are so un-special that just after realizing we are less than a spec of dust in spec of time, we discover we are at our end. More likely, there is more afoot in this world than I can imagine, hinging on trying to observe brains by a brain's observations.
The Unabomber and Saudi Arabians had legitimate fears of the bankers in NYC and the lobbyists of DC. The bankers and corporate lobbyists could be the moral priests of our times, restricting wasteful people from access to resources the machines will be much more efficient at using to promote evolution's inherent physical religion.