Friday, July 30, 2010
What’s the point? Or as it is often asked, what is the meaning of life? We ask this question because we struggle to understand the purpose of our life and or the purpose of life in general.
I searched the web and found the following answers to the question, what is the meaning of life? I suspect they are fairly representative of most of the answers that people have come up with.
I noticed that all of the possibilities given for the meaning of life can be divided into about five distinct groups. See if you fit into one of these groups.
First, there are those who try not to think about the question. Either they think they are incapable of finding an answer or they are scared that they may not like the answer they would find if they searched for one. Here is a typical answer...
"The meaning of life is too large a question for me, and though I've given it thought I don't expect to ever know the answer." (L. Babauta)
Since you have taken the time to read this, I doubt that you fall into this category. You have the insight to see that this is a very important question, perhaps the most important, and burying your head in the sand is not an option for you. You desperately want to know the meaning of life.
Secondly, there are those who think the meaning of life is some specific quality or activity that we do or possess. Here are several candidates for the meaning of life that I came across...
Success, religion, love, freedom, accomplishment, exploration, learning, collecting toys, friendship, children, happiness, self, helping others, are all given as potential meanings to life.
Those are all nice things. But why is one better than another? Besides, they seem so trivial. They just don’t seem able to explain the whole meaning of anyone’s life, much less the meaning of a billion galaxies.
Thirdly, there are those who, although they do believe there is meaning to life, they do not believe that there is an absolute meaning to life. They believe the meaning of life is different for different people and that it can change over time. Here is a typical answer...
"The meaning of life is whatever you need it to be at any point in your life and can change (often many times) during the course of your life." (S. Walters)
The problem is the purpose of life had to be there at its conception. And we all have a similar conception so there must be a similar purpose for all of our lives and for life in general. The purpose for your life must be the purpose for my life.
Fourthly, there are those who say that there is no meaning to life. Meaning requires purpose, and they say that the origin of life was a random chance event void of any purpose. Here is a good explanation...
"When I look at the big, big picture, I don’t see any grand scheme, any good plan, any worthwhile explanation at all about why we’re all here and playing this ridiculous game that just seems to be one of lasting out various pain." (V. Lovic)
However, we all sense that there is a point to life. We have to convince ourselves otherwise, which usually occurs after we experience or become aware of some pain or heartache that we did not expect. But when we are in a depressed state is not the best time to make decisions of extreme importance.
I would fall into the fifth group, those who say that there is indeed an absolute meaning to life that is not based on what we do or possess. I will attempt to explain this grand purpose for all of our lives.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
Is there a meaning of life? Before we can discern what the meaning of life is, we first have to decide whether or not there even is a meaning of life. There are only two possible answers. Either there is a point to everything, or there is no point to anything. The whole universe matters or nothing matters.
If there is no purpose for the universe, then there is no purpose for the Earth or any other planet in the universe. And if there is no purpose for the Earth, then there is no purpose for you or any other creature on Earth. And if there is no purpose for you, then there is no purpose for you to eat properly.
Likewise, it only matters that you eat properly if it matters that you even exist. And you and all the other creatures on Earth only matter if the whole Earth matters. And the Earth and all of the other planets in the universe only matter if the whole universe matters.
For example, the engine in your car only matters if the car itself matters. Not only can the engine in your car matter only if the whole car matters, but the engine must matter less than the whole car. Because the car also consists of the upholstery, paint job, and other parts. The significance of the car is the sum of the significance of the parts. The car matters more than any individual part. So, the only way that your life can matter (have a purpose) is if the whole universe matters a great deal (has a very grand purpose).
If we could show that there is a purpose for the universe as a whole, then we would know that there is a purpose for every part of the universe. And the converse is true. If we could show that there is a purpose for any part of the universe, no matter how small of a part, then we would know that everything in the universe and the universe as a whole has a purpose.
So to answer the question, is there a point to your life (does your life matter), we just need to find a point to anything at all (something that matters). If anything matters, then your life matters as well.
The interesting thing is that we all sense that there is a meaning or purpose to some things. We have to be convinced otherwise. That is why we feed the hungry, educate children, take care of pets, brush our teeth, and an endless list of other actions that show we know there is a meaning to life. The reason you are reading this is because you want to see if I can confirm what you sense is true, that there is a meaning to life.
Even the people who struggle to find a meaning to life, that seem to think there may not be one, are evidence that there is a purpose to life. They are only struggling because deep inside they know there should be a meaning to life, it is just that they are having a hard time determining what it is.
Perhaps the biggest stumbling block for those who have decided there may not be a meaning of life is this -- in order for there to be a point or purpose to your life, there has to be a point or purpose to the whole universe. And in order for there to be a point or purpose to the whole universe, there has to be someone "outside the box" of the universe who had a point or purpose for everything. There had to be a creator. And they simply don't want there to be a creator.
We don't usually start by thinking that there is no point to anything, and as a result of taking it to the logical conclusion end up thinking that there cannot be a creator. We start by thinking that there is no creator, for various reasons, and as a result of taking it to the logical conclusion end up thinking that there is no point to anything.
As we have seen, the whole universe matters or nothing matters. And the whole universe only matters if there is a creator.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
The Bible says “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth... in order to make known the riches of his glory for vessels of mercy, which he has prepared beforehand for glory” (Genesis 1:1, Romans 9:23).
In other words, God's purpose in creating the universe was to create people who would know and enjoy the glory of God for eternity. Do you live for this? Do you hear this design for your life and feel a passion to pursue it?
Perhaps you feel it’s impossible for you. If that’s how you feel, please remember it is all mercy. Impossible to you, yes, but not to God. "With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27).
Or perhaps you don’t pursue this purpose for your life because you don’t want to see glory, you want to be glory. However, if you seek your own glory rather than seeing and savoring God’s glory, you will be bitterly disappointed in the end. Because in the end you will not be glorious, and everyone will see that and turn their face away.
Or perhaps you don’t pursue with passion to know the glory of God because you simply have no taste for it and don’t know what it is and therefore cannot feel drawn to it. To you I would say: The glory of God is shining everywhere. You live and move and have your being in God. When the psalmist says, "The heavens are telling the glory of God" (Psalm 19:1), it does not mean that sunrises and sunsets are the glory of God. It means, their magnificence across the bow of the earth, and their spectacular array of colors, and their evocative power to awaken deep emotions are tiny reflections and mere shadows of the glory to which they point. God is reaching out to us to say: it’s like this, only better – lots better!
C. S. Lewis once said: Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I do not see how the "fear" of God could have ever meant to me anything but the lowest prudential efforts to be safe, if I had never seen certain ominous ravines and unapproachable crags. And if nature had never awakened certain longings in me, huge areas of what I can now mean by the "love" of God would never, so far as I can see, have existed.
In other words, to you who say, you have never tasted the glory of God, I say, you have tasted many of its appetizers. Have you ever looked up? Have you ever been hugged? Have you ever admired anything? Have you ever sat in front of a warm fire? Have you ever tasted sexual desire? Have you ever walked in the woods, sat by a lake, lain in a summer hammock? Have you ever drunk your favorite drink on a hot day or eaten anything good? Every desire is either a devout or a distorted enticement to the glory of heaven.
You say you haven’t tasted God’s glory. I say. You have tasted the appetizers. Go on to the meal. You have seen the shadows; look at the substance. You have walked in the warm rays of the day; turn and look at the sun itself. You have heard echoes of God’s glory everywhere; tune your heart to the original music.
And the best place to get your heart tuned is at the cross of Jesus Christ. "We have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). If you want the most concentrated display of the glory of God, look at Jesus in the Gospels, and look especially at the cross. This will focus your eyes and tune your heart and waken your taste buds so that you will see and hear and taste the glory of the true God everywhere.
That is what you were made for. I plead with you: don’t throw your life away. God made you to know his glory. Pursue that with all your heart and above all else.