POC Blog

The random technotheolosophical blogging of Reid S. Monaghan

A Hitchhiker's Guide to the Question of God - Part IV

…continued from Part III


Is life meaningless?  Much of 20th century thought has tended in this direction. From Beckett’s Waiting for Godot or Jean Paul Sartre’s Nausea or No Exit to Douglas Adam’s  A Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy paint a pretty empty picture for the meaning of life.  The Hitchiker’s of the galaxy learn that the world has no real meaning and perhaps the universe is just a game being run by a couple of mice.  It is really funny if you “get” British comedy. So the universe is a funny place, but when you think about it, meaninglessness is pretty depressing.

Listen to the words of Jean Paul Sartre, one of the great prophets of meaninglessness

I was true, I had always realized it - I hadn’t any “right” to exist at all.  I had appeared by chance, I existed like a stone, a plant, a microbe. I could feel nothing to myself but an inconsequential buzzing. I was thinking…that here we are eating and drinking, to preserve our precious existence, and that there’s nothing, nothing, absolutely no reason for existing.[1]

The modern world has left us simply trying to construct meaning within a universe that has no overarching, higher purpose.  The brave peddlers of meaningless life tell us that there is simply no big purpose out there and you would be wise to get over it and maybe fill your meaningless lives with local meaning.  Local meaning is sexy of course because you can create it for yourself.  You can find meaning in sex, love or video games, just do whatever works for you and try to make yourself happy.  Of course our own meaning might infringe on someone else’s meaning so we are left scratching our heads for a way forward.  We might say we should live for “the common good” but this is no good if we have no good in common.  This seems to be the history of humanity; everyone looking to do good which seems to involve blowing other people up. 

Whether we do it for religious reasons (think jihads, crusades, emperor worship) or so called secular reasons (think Stalin and Mao - wonderful benevolent atheists) our meanings in life tend not to stay local.  This does not even mention all the pain and contortion that happen in everyday lives as we sexually abuse one another, steal from one another, lie to one another or simply ignore one another into an abyss of loneliness.  It seems all of this life on earth does mean something…it does seem to have some purpose as we seem to recognize when it is not being lived out. So here we stand dangling between hope and despair. You can choose hope and risk being thought naive or you can embrace despair, get over it and try to find a life. If you want to choose hope we must look for meaning and purpose in our existence.  Here are a few simple clues in that search.

Now whether we give love a bad name or not I will leave up to the prophet Bon Jovi, but whether love is a good thing I will simply go on the line for the affirmative.  It seems we are made for relationship, we are made to love and be loved, even by our Creator.  But let me take it one step further, it seems we were made to worship.  After all, we do all worship something - fans of sports teams, fans of money, fans of certain women/men, rock stars, movie stars etc.  We all do it you know; I don’t think we can help it.  We are made to worship and this is a great clue to the meaning of our existence.   The question of whom or what we worship is perhaps one of the questions in life.  God seems much better to adore and worship than Paris Hilton.  Our longing for meaning seems to find its home in a relationship or worship; one only a real God and a real relationship can satisfy.

…continued in Part V - Moral Reality


[1] Timothy J. Keller, The Reason for God : Belief in an Age of Skepticism (New York: Dutton, 2008), 127. It seems Keller has redacted several quotes from this work into this one selection.  See source material in Jean-Paul Sartre, Nausea ([Norfolk, Conn.]: New Directions, 1964), 84, 112.