The Egg


By Aidan Higgins, Senior Reporter

PLEASE NOTE: It is recommended that the reader reads The Egg prior to reading this article.

“Treat others as you would treat them if they were you…for they very well may be.” In essence, this is Andy Weir’s The Egg, a short story that offers an unorthodox explanation of the nature of humanity and the purpose of human life. Andy Weir’s 2-page philosophy on the meaning of our existence tells the account of a male protagonist who, after perishing in a car crash, engages “god,” or a god at least, in conversation. This “god” proceeds to explain that the meaning of human life is for the man’s soul to mature, elaborating that the protagonist has lived many lives prior to his last and will continue to be reincarnated into every life that ever existed and ever will exist, for the entire world as we (or I, if this philosophy is true) know it exists only for one single soul to mature until it is worthy of being like the “god” in this story.

When exploring the world of philosophical attempts to rationalize the existence of humanity, one will inevitably grapple with the question of whether a theory or proposal is truly believable, especially when it may contrast with everything the reader believes to be true. The Egg, viewed as a religion (despite its only intentions being to invoke deep reflective thought in the mind of the reader), is anything but tenable – if a heretic to the “religion” (I use this term lightly) questions whether or not The Egg can be proven, he/she will be answered with a resounding “no.” Ultimately, Andy Weir’s philosophy lacks a potential to be substantiated, for no proof of it exists, nor will it ever exist in the foreseeable future. However, to those who seek to satisfy their intellectual naggings and question the believability of The Egg, I respond: is any religion truly believable?

As humans, we encounter difficulty in processing the idea that our existence might eventually come to an end. We live in a world in which matter and energy cannot be erased, and everything that once existed will always exist, despite the various changes in nature it might undergo. To us, it is illogical that life should just cease to exist…would the logical explanation not be that in death, life only changes in nature? Such ideas have given birth to religions that have shaped our culture and society and contributed indefinitely to the formation of the modern world; yet, despite their heavy influence on our lives and the lives of all those who belong to modern civilization, such ideas are nothing but desperate attempts to prolong our existence, when viewed in the eye of a pessimist. In their deepest cores, the religions that dominate today’s governments and societies are based on a failure to cope with the idea that human life may be finite. Who is to deny that The Egg is just like every other religion in the respect that it, when looked at speculatively, is nothing more than a feeble attempt to rationalize human mortality?

In its essence, The Egg is no different from any of its rivals who dominate the beliefs of the general population. Like Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, The Egg seeks to answer questions germane to humanity’s existence and its relationship with time, particularly the existence and state of an afterlife and the retention of self-identity in that proposed afterlife. I dare to suggest that in religion, we subconsciously look for a logical explanation and rationalization of our possibly finite existence and mortality. Why look any further than The Egg? Does it not provide answers for the same questions that each of the world’s major religions revolve around?

Ah, but alas: The Egg cannot be proven. It provides a coherent, logical explanation of the universe that answers the unanswerable questions that plague the minds of those who seek to find the deeper meaning of our existence…But it cannot be proven. So where did it go wrong?

It did not. The Egg is an infallible explanation of the existence of humanity, just as are Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, and any other religion that provides a coherent, logical explanation of the meaning of human life, for it matters not that such philosophies cannot be proven. What matters is that they cannot be disproven, and hence must be taken seriously and truly be considered as possible explanations to the meaning of human life…For who can prove otherwise?

To consider oneself Catholic and to attend Catholic school and hold the aforementioned philosophy to be true might be considered contradictory. However, I believe that even if one believes in God and practices Christianity, he or she need not eschew ideas foreign and contradictory to the preaching of the Bible, for such ideas can only increase the depth of our knowledge and understanding of life and expand our perspective. Hence, those Christian intellectuals who are characterized by their insatiable appetite for an understanding of their existence should not avoid such heretic promulgations; rather, they should be sought, analyzed, and (if analysis provides so) considered to be potentially true. I believe that knowledge of philosophies, beliefs, and ideas that contradict your own are essential for gaining a complete understanding of what one holds to be true. The idea that doubt and engagement of heresies may cause a Christian to stray from his or her beliefs has no basis, for I’ve found that those who are the most intransigent and steadfast in their religious and political views are those who understand and are knowledgeable of ideas that oppose their own.

In conclusion, Andy Weir’s The Egg is a brave 2-page opposition to the most common preconceptions about human mortality and the meaning of human life. The Egg, like my own religion of Catholicism, can neither be proven or disproven from a speculative standpoint. Like each other major religion, to believe in The Egg and to hold it as truth requires a leap of faith. Whether we take that leap of faith wherever there is a gap in knowledge – not just as humans, but as Christians – defines who we are and what we stand for.