“Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” – John 12:24
“The last enemy to be destroyed is death...Death is swallowed up in victory.” – 1 Corinthians 15:26, 54
"The greater the sin, the greater the mercy, the deeper the death and the brighter the rebirth.” - C. S. Lewis
"This story...has the very taste of primary truth." - J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

“The unexamined life is not worth living.” – Socrates

What is your worldview? What do you think the meaning of life is, or why we exist, or where the universe came from? These are big questions. “Too big for me,” you may think. “How could we possibly know the answers? Why not just live a good life and not get sidetracked trying to comprehend the incomprehensible?” A friend of mine told me “I figure that if there is some ultimate reason to everything it’ll find a way to show up sooner or later, so there's no sense worrying about it…all I know is, I can live my life comfortably enough.”

May I suggest that if you are looking at things this way, you may not fully appreciate the amazing fact of our existence. Pause for a second and think about it – you exist, this whole world exists, instead of nothing! We cannot afford to take existence for granted. It is a fact that cries out for an explanation, and the only proper response to it is to make an effort, to the best of our ability, to understand why. And it’s not just the fact of our existence. It’s that the world is intelligible to us, that we are aware of existence, that we can understand the world at all. If this is so, then we might just be able to come to a knowledge of the reason and purpose behind it all. The possibility of there being an ultimate meaning, and the possibility of knowing it, should send a sense of thrill down our spines. Don’t take it for granted.

Truth! What could be more important, and indeed urgent, than the pursuit of truth? You may think “can't I live comfortably enough without worrying about all this? How would such knowledge be relevant to my life?” It would be relevant in every way! If there is an all-encompassing meaning for the existence of the world, and a purpose towards which everything is moving, then it includes you, because you are part of existence. It encompasses your whole life, from birth to death. Do not all the concerns of your day-to-day life pale in comparison to the possibility that you could be part of something larger, something everlasting? What, then, could be of greater relevance to you than the pursuit of a correct worldview, a right understanding of what reality is all about? Such knowledge would change you. It would change your assumptions and values – it would change the way you live. And regardless of whether or not you would like that change, knowing and being changed by truth is better than living in ignorance or apathy. Truth must be faced, it must be sought.* So it’s no use objecting that you are too busy to pause and think about these things – that would be like the pilot of a plane objecting that he is too busy perfecting the positions of the air conditioning knobs to check where the plane is and where it is going. The pursuit of truth should be a foundational part of everyone’s life – it should be at the top of your schedule, of greatest priority.

If you haven’t thought through what your worldview is and made an effort to understand as much as you can of what existence is all about, then do yourself a favor and think about it. I’m not saying that all knowledge is even theoretically available to us, nor am I claiming that we can certainly reach an understanding of the meaning of existence. Perhaps years of thought will yield very little knowledge. What we can say, though, is that it might just be possible – in reading and thinking and sharing ideas, we might just find something extraordinary, that explains why the world is the way it is and what we exist for. And that possibility should be enough to get anyone thinking.

*And if there is a deeper truth behind existence, we cannot assume that it will simply "show up" someday. It may or may not be a truth that we could go to our graves without discovering, and that would be tragic indeed. So let us do what we can to understand the world we find ourselves in with the time that we have!

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