The Meaning of Life
The Meaning of Life
What is the meaning of life. The meaning of our lives, the purpose, and the dreams both dashed and realized, and the expectations forced upon us by others. In other words how do you “translate” what life is? “Translation” means to explain in simple terms. What is it supposed to be about? There are different answers for different people at different times in their lives. A person’s lifetime is filled with self-examination. Why am I here? What am I doing? Is this as good as it gets? You have a beginning. You’re in the middle, and your story hasn’t ended yet.
If one would recognize the greatest things we have in life, they would not be asking this question. These great things are faith, hope, and love. Faith is the one that can keep one from asking questions. If God wanted us to know something, then we would know it. In most religions, Christian ones in particular, the question of meaning in life is inextricably wrapped up in a relationship with God. Living in, for, with, and through him. Therefore, how one answers the meaning of life question bears directly the existence of God.
Soren Kierkegaard said to be the “father” of existentialism maintains that there are three basic answers to the question of the meaning of life. He called these “stages” of life, because he believed that people “progressed” from one stage to the next. Whether or not that is true, there do seem to be at least three fundamental outlooks on life. One is a life devoted to pleasure. This value perspective can be shown by a person whose only concern is for what they are doing now. They would rather gain from pleasures in life without any regards to how they might affect their future.
Another stage is those choosing ethical and moral paths. People who are honest and loyal demonstrate this in their everyday lives. Finally, there is a live religiously. This has been the popular way of life for many of us. It is going to church and practicing your faith Stace argues, the present age has begun to weaken faith in God. The concept of a supernatural person has begun to seem unlikely to many people. The Bible no longer seems as respected for many Catholics. While many people say they believe in God they are beginning question whether faith and God are the answer to the meaning of life.
Most of us whether we choose to admit it or not show that material things are what we base our lives around. These ideas are at the heart of existentialism, which is a view of life that says that human beings are the creators of their own sense of meaning or purpose. The most famous existentialist, John Paul Sartre in his books and novels developed several themes that portray existentialism. The first is the notion that “existence precedes essence. ” A legacy of traditional philosophy has been that we have a fixed human nature. Sartre challenged that we have no such set purpose or meaning.
Our real meaning or who we are is a result of our decisions. We are what we decide. The second associated concept is the importance of human freedom. Sartre believed that every human being has the freedom to live life as we choose to. He believed that we are often terrified by our freedom, and in fact frequently do not want to take responsibility for our own actions. This attitude Sartre called “bad faith. ” Bad faith is an act of self-deception in which we rationalize our actions as being caused by circumstances instead of being self-caused.
Basically blaming others for our own deceptions and mistakes. The third major concept of existentialism is the idea of the Absurd. The philosopher Albert Camus popularized this concept. The concept of the absurd is promoted by atheistic existentialist, such as Sartre and Camus. The similarity between Christian and atheistic existentialist is the significance of human freedom and the belief that we are the makers of our own lives One of the most significant pieces of the decline of religious faith is the continuing awareness that there may not be any purpose in life.
Both Albert Camus, and Stace, write from this perspective. They believed that traditional Christians have found security in the belief that their lives are invisibly directed or orchestrated by God. That we have assumed that God has a plan for our life, that things happen for a purpose. But as we experience, if we do, the decline of faith or the reality of God in our lives, we come to realize that perhaps we are more responsible than God is for what happens to us. We begin to realize or suspect that it is we, not God, who is the creator of our lives.
We are responsible for who we become. Of course, there are always going to be those people who doubt everything God stands for. For them, the body dies and eternity is darkness, I suppose. The fight is going to be, perhaps even as it has been a battle between those who reject God and the, and those who know that God is real. The soul is one’s conscience. Without the acknowledgement of that soul, there is no inner voice that helps guide him in the decisions that he makes. Yet, the soulless atheists still seek to discover the meaning of life, and this is where the battle is fought.
They are simply stating that there is no meaning to their lives they have no soul, there can be no meaning. Theists realize life isn’t fair. People aren’t created equal. Atheists believe that until all people actually are equal, life is meaningless, and this is the connection we have to make for them. People are not equal, people will never be equal, and if this equality is the requirement for accepting the meaning of life, then life will always be meaningless. If ambition brings about advantage, those advantages must be neutralized.
This is the goal of the atheist. If there is nothing but darkness after life, the goal must be to create heaven on earth. Everyone has questioned their purpose in life for example in his article, “My Confession”, Leo Tolstoy has gone through his life without ever really questioning the meaning. Then he periodically questioned it until one day he eventually could not picture himself living anymore until he came up with an answer to his questionings. All the things he was thought to be living by no longer made any sense or had any meaning at all to him.
He tried to answer his question many different ways, but whichever way he went he kept coming up with a dead end. He first thought the answer must be his family. Although he loved them very much, as humans they are confronted with the same questions he is. They are living this lie right along with him pretending that they have all the answers, or just simply ignoring the questions. He next thought the answer to be in his work. Eventually, coming to the realization that with all of his success in art and poetry he had become distracted. He was using art as a decoy.
Without knowing his answers to the meaning of life, it was wrong and useless to depict these lies to others. He soon felt as if life had stopped, and was even contemplating suicide when he came to the realization that faith is present in each one of us and is what makes our lives meaningful. Everyone must believe they have a purpose here, for if they didn’t they would not be living at all. For life to have true meaning, that meaning must come external to the individual and be somehow consistent with life as a whole. Christians would argue that only God could grant this.
It is the helping hand, which guides us through life with an honest and loving heart. Jesus is the only man to lead a true, meaningful life. His life is really the only life of meaning and it is only through him that we have the opportunity to live meaningful lives. Without accepting this answer, one will have only difficulty for the rest of their lives, especially in answering the question of the meaning of life. If you accept this answer, however life is much simpler, because your search is over. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life? ” John 14:6.
The way the truth and the meaning of life itself. There are scriptural accounts of people claiming to see God, and while a witness is more “proof” than no witness is, there is no way to scientifically verify these statements. They must be accepted purely on faith. Some say that the existence of humans or planetary balance is proof that God exists. These do not prove He exists. Christians believe God is in control of everything in the universe, and created the same. God created all beings, and every atom in this universe. We know God exists because He says He does. The bible is His word, left for us to read.
Psychologist Viktor Frankl wrote in “Mans search for Meaning” that we should not ask what we expect from life, but what life expects from us. He was making the point that people must deal with what daily tasks are put in front of them. Instead of arguing and complaining, we have to take action. Our strength is shown through the soul survival of the hardships we face. Which brings us to the problem philosopher John Hick was facing. In his article, “The Problem of Evil” he asks the question, “if God is perfectly loving, he must wish to abolish evil. But evil exists; therefore God cannot be both omnipotent and perfectly loving.
” The very fact that there is such suffering gives good cause to doubt not only the value of the whole human race, but also the existence of God. A God that can be said to care in the slightest for what’s been created, any God who has power over all things, who is anything other than a horrible monster who finds cruel unusual joy in squeezing every last drop of suffering out of them. It would rule out anything even vaguely resembling the God that Christians speak of. A God who deserves our utter hatred not our worship. However, Hick found that although harsh and painful, evil did have purpose in the world.
He stated in his article, ” the finest characteristics of personal life must have a good deal in common with our present world. It must operate according to general and dependable laws: and it must involve real dangers, difficulties, problems, obstacles, and possibilities of pain, failure, sorrow, frustration, and defeat. ” Without these sufferings, we would not be able to know what happiness and love really was. Evil provides us with the possibility of soul making, and according to free will, we must choose our fate. The Laws of nature must be abided by without them the world could not exist. God may be creating the lesser of the evils.
There must be suffering in order for God to give inner strength that compensates for loss, and gives the sufferer inspiration to live faithfully and effectively. What God provides are the resources so we can face the suffering and make something positive come from it. He gives the direction and power to make these resources work. He gives hope and wisdom to find the way past the suffering, and to learn from it. John Paul II gave us an outline of what is believed to be the salvific meaning of suffering. Suffering as he wrote in the Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris, “cannot be transformed and changed by a grace form outside, but from within?
” This question of human suffering is not answered directly by God. As man begins to share in the sufferings of Christ, the answer is discovered within in him. Suffering changes and can either increase or decrease, and in those moments Christians become aware of Gods closeness. We are given inner peace and spiritual joy when we suffer generously. When we are suffering we are never alone we are with Christ. With Christ everything has meaning whether its moments of happiness and peace or of pain and suffering. Nothing in life can be fully explained without God. . Look to the bible and Jesus gives us the answer.
Love God with your whole heart, mind, body and soul. Love your neighbor as yourself. If you do this, you are following all the commandments. Humble yourself and give the praise and glory to our creator. God the Father our creator is love and he loves you very much. God created us to worship him and he deserves all the praise because he is the first and the last. He has no beginning and no end. Just look around and take in all the beauty he has created. Everyone is special and made in the image of God. We are nothing without our creator. Sin will keep us from God for he is pure and perfect.
It is hard to let go of pleasure and putting ones self first. However, the key to peace and happiness is to surrender your freewill to God, the author of life, and he will give you complete, happiness, peace, contentment and purity you are looking for. That is what we were created for. God is made evident every day when the sun comes up, and there is still air to breathe, and you made it through the night. One cannot believe that everything we know was created by accident. Things are just too perfect to have happened by chance. Man is too corrupt a creature to have invented the beautiful things in the world, as in faith, hope and love.
He allows evil in this world because He wants us to have the opportunity to choose either Him or evil, thereby proving our love for Him. If His were the only game in town, then there would not be a free will conscious choice for Him. It is evident that the meaning of life has to far to complex for any one to fully understand or agree on the same answer. All these ideas of these different philosophers are not necessarily inaccurate, just incomplete. All pieces to a puzzle that one has no way of fully figuring out. No one has seemed to accomplish this yet in life. There are so many obstacles that we face as we try to achieve a higher good.
Many of these are based in the fact that we are human beings, and because of that are flawed by the ways of our culture. Things such as self-doubt, worry, ignorance, and the values put into our heads since the day we were born all are roadblocks on our way to a higher level. Also being human beings makes vulnerable to the ways of the world around us, so it is not easy to block these things out of our lives. This life is a stage in which we are to develop our minds, bodies, and souls to their highest potential in preparation for the afterlife. Only God could ever really show anyone true meaning.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 18 November 2016
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