Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On The Meaning Of Life

A Conversation with Myself as an Introduction

Well Steve, this time you have really bitten off more than you can chew. The meaning of life! Why not pick a more difficult topic! Softening it by locating that preposition in the front won’t help. Who do you think you are? Augustine?

Well Steve, it doesn’t matter who I am as long as I am an honest person. That thing that matters is what I have seen and heard – what I’ve experienced. I can only discover what is already there. If life has meaning, it is not up to me to determine that meaning. So who I am is not the point.

But how can you say that? You can only say what it means to you. Meaning is not a fact that all can verify, it is a value judgment – that’s all. Life just is.

Seems like all the folks who write and edit dictionaries would want to quibble with you. Words mean things. Signs mean things. Actions mean things. If a plant dies it means something. It may mean that there is a lack of water, too much sun, or not the right soil – it is for the searcher to discover the meaning, not arbitrarily determine what is the meaning. Meaning is not created, it is found.

If I am an artist, the painting I make or may not have one meaning for me, and still have yet another meaning for those who contemplate it. That is the beauty of life. It is like a diamond that refracts and reflects light back and forth between its facets. Life without a multiplicity of viewpoints – the reflection and refraction – would be without beauty. And like beauty, meaning is in the eye of the beholder. Another way to say it is like when 6 blind folks met something in their path. One said it was a wall, another a tree, another a rope, still another a fan, another a snake, and yet another a spear. It took all of these disparate views together to understand that what they found was an elephant. So too what one person understands is only relatively true. It can never be the whole.

Your own examples betray you. Only an objective viewer could tell it was a jewel or an elephant. Those within the examples could never know if there were yet more unknown views which would modify their understanding of the whole. Only an objective view of reality can provide meaning for the whole and thereby meaning for the individual observers. You are right in that we, as individual observers, cannot have that objective view. I am only saying that I have met the “storyteller” and have been taught the meaning of the whole.

To say that your experience, and thereby your individual viewpoint, is the one, true, objective view is the height of arrogance!

You misunderstand me. I am not saying that I have the true, objective viewpoint. I am as blind as the next guy. I am saying that I have met the one who is the creator, the architect of life, and that this is the one and only one who has the right to determine the meaning of life. I can only relate to you what I have learned, what I have seen and heard, from this one who made it all. You can see for yourself how faithfully or not faithfully I have relayed the meaning of life by learning from the same one I have learned.

So I invite you to look over my shoulder and see if I have interpreted what I have seen and heard correctly.

1 comment:

Steven Ganz said...

I sometimes fear that we have so redefined conversion in terms of human decisions and have so removed any necessity of the experience of God's Spirit, that many people think they are saved when in fact they only have Christian ideas in their head not spiritual power in their heart. - John Piper