"I wish I knew." [...] "No one has ever told me. I have to make guesses, based on what I see from people who act like they know what it is." [...]
"And what is your guess?" [...]
"Ty shrugged. "Humans have always -"
He was about to say deluded themselves bit didn't want to make a poor impression [...]
"- preferred to believe that there was a purpose to the universe. Until the moon blew up, they had theories. After Zero, the theories all seemed kind of stupid. Fairy tales for coddled children. No one thought about the big picture for a few thousand years. We were all scrambling to survive. Like ants when their nest has been destroyed. On those rare occasions when we thought about the big picture, it wasn't really that big - Red versus Blue or what have you. There was surprisingly little thinking about the Agent. Where it came from. Whether it was natural or artificial, or even divine." [...]
"Some people - some Red, some Blue, and some ambiguous folks [...] seem to think they know something."
"Do they?" [...]
"I have no idea," said Ty. "But from what I've seen, they're not stupid. Even if they are -"
He paused, groping for words. [...]
"It's a way - the Purpose is a way - of saying there's something bigger than this crap we've spent the last week of our lives dealing with."
"Red versus Blue crap?"
"Yes. And even though no one is sharing anything with me - yet - I like the feeling of that. People who claim they are motivated by the Purpose end up behaving differently - and generally better - than people who serve other masters."
"So it is like believing in God."
"Maybe yes. But without the theology, the scripture, the pig-headed certainty."
[The others] nodded and looked thoughtful. But also, or so it seemed to Ty, a little let down.
"Sorry I didn't have an answer to your question," Ty said.
Neal Stephenson (2015), Seveneves, p. 859-860