On human purpose.
This chapter could have been titled C. S Lewis and nothing would have been lost.
It starts by the story of a woman, Jennifer Fulwiler, who had grown up atheist and when she had her first baby, she, in her own words,
I looked down and thought: What is this baby? And I thought, well, from a pure atheist, materialist perspective he is a randomly evolved collection of chemical reactions. And I realized if that’s true then all the love that I feel for him is nothing more than chemical reactions in our brain. And I looked down at him and I thought: that’s not true. It’s not the truth.
It is possible that there are people who look at life this way. They see a beautiful painting and say what is this but random brush strokes on a fabric on and on, which would be one correct way of looking at the painting or the baby in this case. But the baby or even painting, can be looked at as a labour of love.
I said the alternate title of this chapter is C.S Lewis because Justin can’t help himself from referring to him in almost every page. Lewis’ conversion to Christianity and his works in defense of that faith such mere Christianity are quoted as evidence that without god, our lives have no purpose, no meaning no value.
Justin tells us life only has meaning if you believe in Jesus. We will get to the question of Jesus later. For our purposes, I will just say it seems there are billions in the world whose lives have no meaning because they are not Christians.
If you don’t find this in some entertaining, funny and informative, I can’t help you!
Become accustomed to the belief that death is nothing to us. For all
good and evil consists in sensation, but death is deprivation of
sensation. . . . So death, the most terrifying of ills, is nothing to us,
since so long as we exist death is not with us; but when death
comes, then we do not exist. It does not concern either the living
or the dead, since for the former it is not, and the latter are no more.
Epiricus in a Letter to Menoeceus
What is life
Most religions claim to have an answer to the ‘big’ questions of life; is the universe finite or infinite, where did life originate, what happens after we die, do we have a soul separate from our physical bodies and many more questions people consider as ‘big’ or important. Whether this claim is true, I leave it to you to decide.
I think as Buddha many years ago observed, these questions are at best irrelevant. We need to concern ourselves with living this one life we have here and now. This by far I think is the most important thing. We must live a full life. Don’t misunderstand me, I love all the work scientists in different fields have put into answering these questions. Here, am addressing the man on the street who has no idea what the 1st Law of Thermodynamics is ( I also don’t know) and telling him/ her to live life fully. Am imploring you to live a life of compassion, to value your life and the lives of those around you and most of all to accept the eventuality of death that awaits all of us. I am forever hopeful, that if not in our time then in my daughter’s and grand children’s time, the answers to these questions and others yet to be formulated will be found. There is every reason to believe this; Bruno, Galileo, Einstein, Darwin and others before and after them have provided us with answers that have challenged most of the old claims advanced by theists and as we acquire more knowledge of our universe and continue research into all this areas, answers will definitely be found.
To get back to where we started, I want to posit a question in an attempt to deal with the above questions. To this end, I will use an example to get to my point. My question then is; is it of importance to you go when you go to a restaurant/ cafe to want to know from which coffee plant, who harvested the coffee bean and who roasted it or will just enjoy the coffee and its sweet aroma (that’s if you get good coffee) when served? If your answer to this question is similar to mine, then just enjoy the coffee. We can look at life in the same prism, and make each moment count.
The theists claim of having definite answers to these or any other question can’t be taken seriously until they adduce evidence to support their claims.
“What concerns me is not the way things are, but rather the way people think things are”
Epictetus, Greek philosopher
In his philosophical discourse, the Myth of Sisyphus, Albert Camus introduces his philosophy of the absurd: man’s futile search for meaning, unity and clarity in the face of an unintelligible world devoid of God and eternal truths or values and asks the ultimate question, does such a realization require suicide. The same question is examined Percy Shelley in his philosophical essay, The Necessity of Atheism.
Does life in and of itself have a meaning beyond those values that we create as we go along? Many people hold on to religion and say it gives their lives meaning whether this is real or not I let you the reader to decide.
I think, our lives have no meaning. That once we go through the accident of birth, we will live and eventually die and that is the whole and short story. Such a profound realization then requires one to create meaning in their lives. This realization awakens you to the very idea that you have just one life here and now and it is imperative that you make it the best it can be. You are called inspire, to change the world you live in and it is only then that you create meaning in your life.
Our afterlife exists in the lives of those we will have inspired while in this life. It is our duty to create a legacy. I think the stronger the impact of our legacy, the longer we will live.
In conclusion, as Camus ably said, the absurd life requires revolt not suicide. Go on and live your life. create meaning, make positive impressions and be happy.