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Blog-o-Brisbane » Everything… meaningless?
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Blog-o-Brisbane

June 6, 2007

Everything… meaningless?

Filed under: Reflections, General — Scott @ 12:01 am

Meaningless. Everything is meaningless! So we may as well eat, drink and be happy reflects the author of Ecclesiastes. Everything comes, and everything goes. Our days are like a mere breath and fleeting shadow. Anyone who thinks should have considered the question of life, although some choose to ignore it. The practical question to ask is how we each should live in response to it?

I believe there are two general responses, but before getting to them, I want to set the stage better. Why would the fact that we die in the end render our lives meaningless? Certainly it is not clear our lives are meaningless just because they come to an end, and many argue that we can find true meaning in our lives here and now. Yet, this still concedes the point that meaning is attached to our lives, and so when we are no longer alive any meaning there was is also lost.

Hang on. What of our offspring, and the lives we impacted upon for good or bad while alive? Well if we could fast-forward into the future, here is what we can expect: humanity, life, earth, our universe = all dead. The universe is expanding, and as the laws of entropy work, heat and energy become evenly spread out. Stars will continue to collapse, black holes will continue forming and sucking everything in, and tears in the universe will happen more and more. Earth’s own sun can only survive for so long, that is, if Earth even survives that long. In other words, our physical universe is winding down along with everything in it. Now, if the meaningfulness becomes attached to our offspring and those we impacted upon, then when they are no longer around, there is no longer any meaning. In other words, while finite meaning may be found, meaningless will ultimately reign since the end result turns up nothing.

Given this conclusion of ultimate meaninglessness, should we live in despair? I believe many avoid this despair by ignoring the question and trying to bury themselves in the toils of life. The author of Ecclesiastes even acknowledges this as a solution to the absurdity of living, and this person also obviously enjoyed eating, drinking and being happy. However, I believe this inevitably leads to a quite selfish and dog-eat-dog mentality. For if we live our lives to be happy, then our lives are naturally going to become about our own satisfaction and what makes us happy. So practical response #1 is:

1) Live life as we want to. Enjoy it as much as possible. Throw off and tear down everything which attempts to impinge upon our happiness. For example, social, moral, and legal laws are often a hindrance to enjoying life. Good or bad is not as important as satisfying our self and pursuing our own happiness. We should aim to be happy since it is the only life we have. Take advantage of any opportunity that comes our way. Of course, if we can’t obtain happiness, or we just get tired of playing game of life, we might want to invest in a piece of rope, or maybe go out with a bang by taking out our anger and resentment on society which has kept us down and trodden all over us. I have no doubt that the random killing sprees happening in schools and the like, are no doubt caused by an increase in despair at life’s meaningless for those who have not been able to enjoy it.

If all truly will ultimately turn out to be meaningless, then this option is most practical. Yet, will our life story and all of history end in nothing? What if beliefs regarding an afterlife are true? What if the resurrection of humanity that Christ promised is true? What if we are made to be everlasting beings, rather than simply the finite, purely physical beings Modernity believes us to be? Let me provide a second practical response which I am sure will strike many as being the better approach:

2) If we are everlasting creatures, then our actions which impact upon others have lasting meaning. Yes, that person who betrayed us, or who took advantage of us in life to get ahead - their actions have lasting meaning in our lives. And as we are not entirely guiltless either, that person whom we may have betrayed or taken advantage of to get ahead - our actions have lasting meaning in their lives. Our actions are cemented in the past, and such actions shape who we all are and become. They can be, and most likely will be, remembered forever! One might be lucky enough to receive forgiveness for hurt caused to others, and maybe reconciliation will even happen. That is the best that could be hoped for if a negative action has been sown into the life of someone else. Yet, think of the good we can do which can also have a lasting impact if carried out. Those who commit their lives to helping the poor will gain the most positive meaning in life.

To conclude, if we are made to be everlasting, then our impact in the lives of others, and their impact in our own lives, has everlasting meaning. To add a further reflect, we do appear to be designed to be in relationships. Starting from the foundations of family, to friends and others outside, to starting our own family. In answering what is the meaning of life, perhaps it is best answered by looking at each other?

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