If you’ve ever wondered… #themeaningoflife part 2
When asked the question: “What is the meaning of life?” I find that it immediately begs another question. To ask what the meaning of life is, is to assume that life has a meaning.
It’s a loaded question, one step ahead of where the argument should perhaps start.
“Does life have a meaning?” should, I suggest, be the first question.
So, does life have a meaning? Either it does, or it doesn’t – surely? *Sidesteps ‘mystery’ for a moment* Is there a point or is it pointless?
Meaning is a funny thing – and a lot of it is to do with perception. There may be a series of events upon which a human mind can impose a narrative with a point. Wayhey: meaning! To another, the series of events are not seen as a series. Just events, with no links or purpose.
If you were to hand me a story written in Hindi, to me it would be meaningless. To another person it would be filled with meaning. I just can’t read it. But I can still acknowledge that there is meaning, even if I don’t know what it is.
When we look at life and it looks like chaos – is that because it is chaos, or because we can’t read it? – We can’t see the point of it – from where we are standing with the knowledge we have. This doesn’t preclude the existence of the meaning itself.
If life has a meaning it isn’t necessarily the case that we can know what it is. But if there is one – a fixed and absolute meaning that is unknown or known – it does require there to be a God. For life to have a specific meaning that is common to all and undisputable – an omnipotent deity is the only means by which such a “meaning” could come into being, which is why the question, “What is the meaning of life?” assumes an absolute.
To take God out of the equation, we are left with human meaning. These require us to superimpose sense and meaning on the experiences we have.
When tragedy, suffering or disappointment strike, the human may cope or not cope. They can make/see/generate meanings or fail to make/see/generate meanings.
They may channel their grief and frustration positively to generate a better future for themselves or others. They may see ways that doors being closed lead to other doors being opened and they can remain optimistic. At the same time, another person may go through the same trials and be dragged down and become pessimistic at the futility of it all.
People can and do find meaning in their lives. Maybe “find” is the wrong word. People can and do see meaning in life.
But – like the reverse analogy of the book written in a different language – I can read life and think I understand it and think I know what it means– but it doesn’t mean I’ve got it right…