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The Meaning of Life vs. God

August 15, 2013

“Do you believe in God?”

I can’t tell you how many times I was asked this question in my youth. It may have been that my sister and I were the clear outsiders in the Catholic school we attended; or maybe everyone goes through this phase and my experience was nothing extraordinary. In either case, the question was posed enough times to motivate me to come up with an answer.

The problem was, I didn’t know what I believed. My parents had given me the freedom to come to my own conclusions about religion and philosophy. But I didn’t have much in the way of information about this God I was supposed to either believe in or not. All I knew was that the world hosted a number of mutually-exclusive religions, and – logically – they couldn’t all be true.

It wasn’t until years later, when I started to read science-fiction, that I learned of the concept of one God with a billion different names. By that point, however, the question didn’t pique my curiosity in the same way. I’d been asked another.

What’s the meaning of life?

Now there’s a worthy question! No simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answers. No cultural assumptions warping your thoughts. Seven billion perspectives.

No way of knowing if you’re right or wrong.

Over the years I’ve heard – and come up with – some good answers: the meaning of life is to make it worth living; to have fun; to evolve your consciousness. We’re here to find meaning within our lives; there is no meaning but what you make of it.

I’ve heard some silly ones too, ranging from simple biological imperatives to the ubiquitous 42, as popularized by Douglas Adams. But I’ve never heard an answer that could be universally applied.

Today I view the questions on even footing. They’re koans for kids. Thought experiments without definitive answers. Their value is in mind-expansion; even if the only conclusion you reach is that the questions are poorly shaped, they’ve done their work. You just performed a piece of critical analysis.

Don’t you love irony? Just as science-fiction has helped clarify my viewpoint about Godhood, I’ve begun reading the Bible in the hopes of learning more about the meaning of life. So far it’s raising more questions than answers. For example, I find it strange that nothing worth mentioning happened between Creation and Original Sin.

What does that say about humanity?

Don’t worry; I’m not expecting any definitive answers.

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