One of the most appealing aspects of the Judeo-Christian understanding of reality is the idea of meaning and purpose: everything — including my life — has both meaning and purpose. Unlike an atheistic understanding of reality, my worldview doesn’t require that I live a fiction: instead, I get to live my life exactly as it is: with a meaning and a purpose.
Let me unpack that a bit.
One of the great tragedies of contemporary American culture is that despite the abundance of material wealth and leisure time which the vast majority of us have, many of us are profoundly unhappy. There are many causes for this malaise, among them a sense of purposelessness and a lack of meaning.
To overcome both, some people try to maintain a state of perpetual distraction, while others throw themselves into their work, hobby, or something else which at least gives their life the appearance of meaning.
The conundrum is this: if the atheist is right and there is no God, then life has no meaning, and any attempt to give it meaning is fictitious. While the average atheist may not have thought this through, the more intellectually-serious and -coherent atheists have (e.g. the twentieth century British philosopher Bertrand Russell, as I discussed in this post).
On the other hand, the Judeo-Christian account of reality says that yes, my life has meaning, every circumstance I encounter has meaning… indeed, everything in existence has meaning.
Instead of living either a lie — pretending there is meaning where there isn’t — or a life of “heroic despair” — acknowledging there is no meaning and soldiering on anyway — I get to live an adventure: first, discovering the meaning of my life, and then living it to the fullest.
I’ll take the latter option, and twice on Sundays, thank you very much.
So… what’s the meaning of your life?