What is the meaning of life?
Perhaps that question is far too lofty. How about:
What is your purpose in life?
I think our lives require telos as the Greeks would say, or an end goal or purpose. Without purpose or a goal our lives are like a ship without a rudder, tossed to and fro whimsically by the change in our mood or the parts of “life” that we can’t control (which is a lot of things). The lack of purpose leaves one deflated at times, and in others life can seem meaningless.
What is your purpose in life?
Sometimes we reduce purpose to material items. How much money is in the bank, do I work in management, how much I work, what kind of things I accumulate, etc. Lose any of these things and you feel somehow you’ve missed the mark. Sometimes purpose is attached to relationships. How sane my family is, how my kids grow up, how happy my spouse is, how happy I am. Tying value to relationships can be a huge risk because relationships seem to have knack for ending, and when they do, routinely it’s bitterly sad.
Sometimes the purpose of life is reduced to an atheist vs. faith question (note: not a science vs. faith question. Atheists tend to mesh atheism with science when in fact they tend to be mutually exclusive. Accepting scientific process and progress does not equate to atheism. It is also false to assume Christianity and ‘science’ are juxtaposed as well. To accept one doesn’t mean you must reject the other. They DO, however, ask and answer different questions.) One suggests God plans and has a purpose for all things that includes our seemingly insignificant lives. The other surmises that our existence is a product of an improbable fluke.
If the latter is true we are a product of chance and thus our entire lives are a long drawn out fleeting facade lived out before we face the eventual return to the ground. In the meantime we participate in the abyss of materialization where everything is lost and even our decisions aren’t even our decisions. When survival of the fittest governs there’s no surprise that apart from momentary survivalism there’s no ostensible reason to reach beyond the self, to do good, no reason to help the less fortunate, no reason to reach beyond the pursuit of individual happiness, and ultimately, if we’re a product of mere haphazard biological functions–no reason to love. To put it more poignantly: if our lives have no meaning or purpose there is no fundamental reason to
That means no compelling reason to cherish beauty; no pursuit of justice because justice becomes relative; no hope of deliverance from the depths of despair; no substance behind love other than primal feelings.
Does this echo your life? Does it even make sense?
I don’t think so. There’s too much evidence, if you will, pointing to much more than a series of chance events that when combined happen to make us human. Rather, we live to live out intrinsic pursuits of our core purposes of love, justice, beauty, and hope.
The alternative reasons there’s no ultimate purpose of our existence, so then, one should surmise, why even bother? But we do.
My simple proposition is that an existence of nothing, one of mere chance, one that lacks enduring purpose, doesn’t suitably answer why it is at the very core of our being we long for an existence that juxtaposes pain, injustice, brokenness, and despair, with a taste for justice, for beauty, to seize, or even for a brief moment glimpse, love.
In many ways it’s a relief to know that life has a telos and is not senseless and meaningless. We are, indeed, invested in a hope that ultimately liberates us from the tyranny of what is. Praise be to God!
The invitations to take hold of the future is the hard part.