Answering the Questions for the Meaning of Life

Our search is for the meaning of life, but to find the answers we must start with the right questions.

In their book, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist, Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek  give us the five most consequential questions we could ever ask. When answered, they give us the meaning of life. To be valid every religion or worldview must provide coherent, internally consistent answers to these questions. But the answers must be based on truth.

The five questions:

  1. Where did I come from? (Origin)
  2. Who am I? (Identity)
  3. Why am I here? (Meaning)
  4. How should I live? (Morality)
  5. Where am I going? (Destiny)

To this we must add: What is at the center of our worldview? meaning-of-lifeWhat do we see as the ultimate reality?

Let’s look briefly at our list:

  1. Where did we come from? Did God create us? Or did we evolve through a process of the random mutation of genes? Or are we on an endless cycle of birth and rebirth (reincarnation) and if we’re good enough, eventually join with and become one with the cosmos?
  2. Who are we, really? Are we immortal persons who will live forever? Or are we just a collection of atoms, the result of a random accident, a meaningless result in a universe devoid of meaning?
  3. Why are we here? Are we supposed to live our lives with some purpose? Has God told us what that purpose is? Or do our lives simply hold no meaning at all? Is there no purpose for our existence? Are we simply adrift and alone in a cold, uncaring universe?
  4. How should we live? Should we care about anybody other than ourselves? Should we spend our time and energy reaching some theoretical, higher plane of existence that only benefits ourselves? Or should we live in such a way to glorify God and do his bidding? In other words, should our existence be other-oriented or self-oriented?
  5. Where are we going? At the end of this life, will we just return to a pile of atoms and exist no more? Is this life all there is? Or will we find ourselves on an endless cycle of birth and rebirth, possibly inhabiting the bodies of lower life-forms? Will we end up in a place of endless torment, separated from God? Or will we find ourselves in a realm of blessed peace and happiness where God himself dwells?

How does the atheist, naturalistic worldview answer these questions? Their answer is that we came to be here as the result of unguided processes without purpose or design. So our existence is meaningless. Under such a philosophy we are all accidents, the result of the random collision of atoms. Because there is no God, we have no one to answer to for our conduct. So morality is what we make of it. Thus it matters not if everyone is out for themselves. And our destiny? We will simply return to the pile of atoms we were before we were born—to nothingness.

Surely, this is a philosophy of despair and hopelessness. What meaning there is in life, if any, becomes what we ourselves make of it (existentialism). In this pursuit we are totally alone. In this worldview the ultimate reality is an empty, uncaring universe. There is no meaning in anything. We might as well pass the razor blades.

On the other hand, the Christian worldview proclaims that we were created by a loving God who has a plan for our lives. We exist with purpose, meaning, and hope. We know why we’re here, how we should live, and where we are going. The Christian bases his belief in the promises God gives him and in God’s Son. Here we find hope, joy, peace, love, and eternal life.

It’s the Christian worldview we will explore in subsequent posts.