What If UR Wrong

“The meaning of life consists in the fact that it makes no sense to say that life has no meaning.” 

 Niels Bohr

The Meaning of Life Apologetics

THE MEANING OF LIFE

by Mark Karapetyan

A few months ago, while I was speaking in Chantilly, Virginia, a young Asian girl named Grace raised her hand and asked me a startling question: “What’s the point of all this? What if there is no meaning to all of this? What if there is no meaning to life itself?”

Honestly, I was caught by surprise since I didn’t anticipate a deep, complex, difficult question from such a young girl. Nevertheless, it was a brilliant and a necessary question.

I thought about the answer for a few quick seconds and then responded: “You raise a great point. It would be unfair for me to claim that I can answer you in a few short sentences, but I will do my best. You see, the moment you raise the question of whether life is meaningful or not, you are actually looking for a meaningful answer and not a meaningless one. You want me to give you a meaningful answer that you can actually understand and relate to. If I answer your question meaninglessly, you will immediately demand a better and more coherent answer. Why? Because you want me to explain meaninglessness meaningfully, and only with a meaningful answer you will comprehend and analyze meaninglessness, which tells me that something in life must be meaningful first before we can even understand its opposite.”

With a smirk on her face, Grace looked directly at me and nervously asked: “It makes a little sense, but what is the meaning of life?”

Before I tell you what my answer to Grace was, I would like to explain something to you first (I promise that later I’ll tell you what my answer was).

To those of you who believe that life is meaningless, I ask you to consider this: Have you ever wondered why is it only you and me (human beings) who are able to even question life and its meaning? Why can’t bananas, Michelin tires, flashlights, and porcupines reflect upon life to try to uncover its mysteries? 

It is crucial to remember that every time the question of life and its meaning is raised, it is ALWAYS raised by a person with a mind who is able to freely think and process the realities of life. If the world is meaningless as some people claim, why do they meaningfully affirm its meaninglessness? That is similar to saying “oxygen doesn’t exist,” meanwhile breathing oxygen to deny its existence; it is self-defeating…you can’t escape it!

To claim that life is meaningless, you must first know what a meaningful life is before you can deny it, and if a meaningful life must exist before it is denied, then how can anyone claim that life is meaningless?

In case you haven’t noticed, everything in this world that is designed has a purpose. Everything that we humans have designed, we designed for a reason. Airplanes, cars, and ships were designed to make travel easier and faster; watches were designed to tell us the time; clothes were designed to clothe us and keep us warm; eyeglasses were designed to enable us to see and read better; umbrellas were designed to protect us from sun and rain. You get my point- there is meaning and purpose to all designed things. To assume otherwise is unwise and unreasonable. No one believes that nothing can design something. We all know that only intelligent minds have the capacity to design and build. If any of you hold fast to the idea that nothing can design something, then provide me with a single example.

You can look at a rock and assume no meaning, but then, the moment you stare at a Picasso painting, you find it meaningful. What changed? Your perception of the reality of the rock and of the painting changed. One signifies nothing, and you know it since it is meaningless; the other exudes beauty and reflects meaning because it has a purpose.

 It is only humans with minds who are able to admire a Picasso portrait and disregard a meaningless rock. Objects without minds CANNOT tell the difference between the two. If rocks and stones cannot appreciate or even understand a simple Picasso piece, how can they create human life and produce minds? If rocks and stones can never understand love, loyalty, courage, and integrity, how can they create them? How can they blindly and meaninglessly create these meaningful realities?    

Next time someone tells you that life is meaningless, tell them that their statement too is meaningless, and then, take it a step further, and inform them that their love for their children and the vows they gave their partners on their wedding day are also meaningless because they are equal to a pile of rubbish, and see how quickly they understand the meaning of what you just said.  

Having said that, humor me for a moment and consider this analogy: Most of you are familiar with soccer. You all agree with me that although the soccer field is designed and did not somehow build itself, it would be meaningless to build a soccer field if there were no humans to play the game. What would be the point?

Suppose that one day aliens land at an abandoned soccer stadium somewhere in Brazil. At first, they are confused and puzzled. They stare at the empty goals, they observe the thousands of empty seats, they walk over the field full of dead grass, and they even find an old, deflated soccer ball.

After hours of careful observation, they are able to put the puzzle pieces together and have some idea of how the game is played. They have a basic understanding and some knowledge in regards to the game, but they will never fully understand the meaning of the game unless they understand the rules first.

The moment they comprehend the rules of the game, it is only then that they can fully understand the meaning of everything. The rules of the game will explain the reason for the goals, the empty seats, and the ball. Without these rules, the aliens will never find the true purpose or the full meaning of the soccer stadium.    

Just like the soccer field, planet Earth also has its goals, seats, and balls. It has the oceans, the forests, the plants, and the animals. If a simple soccer field was designed to host a game, how much more, then, was planet Earth designed with its complex elements to host life? Without humans, what would be the point of having a planet? Furthermore, what would be the point of having a planet to begin with?

If the aliens conclude that the empty soccer stadium must have come from a source that knows meaning, a source that has the intellectual capacity to measure, build, and design, how can anyone believe that planet earth, which is far more complex than the soccer field, is meaningless and that it just popped into existence out of nothing? 

Just like the soccer field, planet Earth has specific measurements, dimensions, temperatures, shapes, forms, and sizes. These factors were taken into consideration when the planet was formed.  Nothingness cannot take such factors into consideration.   

Some of you might disagree with me and say: “So what? There are billions and billions of inhabitable planets in the universe that are just there; no purpose or meaning is necessary for their existence!” But that’s exactly my point. Even if  that’s true, doesn’t it make you wonder why is it that out of billions and billions of planets, earth alone is full of life?    

If our alien friends scoped the entire universe, and out of the billions and billions of empty stadiums, they eventually stumbled upon on one stadium that alone was full of fans who were watching a live game, wouldn’t that make the aliens wonder why one stadium out of billions is hosting a game, but not the others?

To understand where that one single soccer field out of billions and billions of fields came from, all the aliens have to do is find the builder of the field;  only then they will fully understand why the field was built…the same applies to our planet. Find its builder!

Again, let’s suppose that the aliens decided to sit and watch the entire game. If they wish to understand the rules of the game, all they have to do is go back to the law giver, the highest governing body of the game, and read about these rules. That way, they will better understand the meaning of the game because the rules will explain the details and the nature of the game.

If humans wish to understand the meaning of their game (their lives on planet earth), all they should do is go back to the law giver, the highest governing body, to fully comprehend their purpose on this planet. Regretfully, the majority don’t.

Those who bring up the question of “what is the meaning of life?” are usually the ones who refuse to consider the rules of life, given to them by God, the highest governing body. They avoid God, the ultimate law giver, neglect his laws and commands, but then wonder why their lives are meaningless and empty. So, they start fabricating and creating a new self-made set of rules to live their lives by in order to find meaning (imagine soccer players following their own self-made rules during a 90- minutes game, then try to think about people who live with their own self-made, idiotic rules for their entire lives).

A wealthy friend of mine once told me: “Mark, I have a beautiful family; I have the career of my dreams. I’m a very successful attorney; I fly all around the world in private jets, and stay in top-class, five-star hotels. I own a gorgeous house in Switzerland and another in Venice. I make lots of money. I’ve achieved all my goals and ambitions, but I feel empty inside as if there has to be more to life than this. What’s wrong with me? I can’t believe that anyone else who is as successful as me could feel this way. What can I do?”

Millions of people around the world are like my friend in many ways. They endlessly search for and crave that one thing that can give meaning to everything. Unfortunately, they look in the wrong places. It doesn’t matter how hard and how long you look for your lost keys if you are looking in the wrong places, you will never find them.

When our alien buddies try to find the meaning of a soccer game in a book that explains the rules of basketball, or in a cook book, they will instantly be disappointed, and perhaps even more confused. To understand the meaning of something, you must go to the source. If you wish to understand the meaning of anything, always revert back to its original cause, because that’s where the answer lies.  

Millions of people who look for meaning and purpose fail to go to the source. Instead of looking in the right places, they waste their lives travelling the wrong paths. They try new and different things in the hopes that things will eventually make sense to them. Instead of directly going to the only true God, they find other religions and faith systems. They follow idols and man-made gods. They take short cuts and follow self-made realities to make sense of their meaninglessness. They begin to experiment with what the world offers. They change jobs, they learn new hobbies, they travel the world, they get into new romantic relationships, they go back to earn higher degrees, and they try new spiritual paths. They kick truth in the face, follow their emotions and go after what makes them temporarily feel good and happy thinking that they have finally found meaning.    

However, by doing these things, they deceive themselves. They soon realize that the worldly solutions they thought were going to revive their squashed spirits, actually left them even emptier than ever before. Those who have had the most success will attest to this.  I have read numerous stories about wealthy entrepreneurs, talented athletes, genius philosophers and thinkers, even kings and emperors who had it all, but lacked the one thing that gave meaning to it all. Those people lived life, but did not know the meaning of life, because they never knew God, the giver of life and its meaning. (For your own research, I recommend you read about these world famous personals who had everything in life, but lacked meaning: Blaze Pascal, Boris Becker, Michael Phelps, Robin Williams, Prince Gaetan, Count of Girgenti, Princess Sophie, and Otto Weininger).

Remember, if the purpose of life is to become successful, wealthy, or famous, there would be no purpose after achieving these things.  

Out of all the different faith leaders in the world, Jesus is the only person that defined life and gave it meaning. Others have tried, but failed miserably.  It is only through the lens of a Christian God that life makes sense and has ultimate meaning. Christianity alone explains the problem of human sin and the meaning of life by providing adequate, logical, and coherent answers to the questions of origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. Every other faith system fails in these departments.

How can an atheist explain the meaning of life? If life is the product of blind chance, plus a slime of soup, what meaning is there to sacrifice, integrity, and ambition?  Why does it matter to care for the needy? Why not just kill whomever you don’t like? After all, isn’t that what Hitler, Stalin, and other evil dictators did?

Buddhists and Hindus have a similar difficulty explaining the meaning of life. If everything is an illusion, and there is no meaning, what then is the meaning of that illusion? Is it a meaningful illusion or a meaningless one? If reality is an illusion, why do Buddhists and Hindus find meaning in their realities? If there is no meaning to anything, why are they Buddhists and Hindus, rather than French novelists or car mechanics?

They stick to Buddhism and Hinduism because it is in those belief systems alone, and not in others, that they find meaning.

In Islam, the whole purpose of life on earth is “ibada” or worshiping Allah and accepting his will. The purpose of life, as understood by a Muslim, can be stated in only two words: Know Allah and obey him.

Among many propositions that are illogical, incoherent, and non-factual about the Islamic faith, I find it odd and unexplainable that Muslims actually tell me that unless I read the Quran in Arabic, it doesn’t count because I will not understand it!

According to Muslims, the Quran teaches that  Allah sent down his revelations in  Arabic (Quran 12:2, 43:3), and he demands people to pray to him in Arabic only (Quran 2:37).

Isn’t it odd and puzzling that a supposed creator like Allah sends revelations to his people in a specific language only (Arabic), which excludes billions and billions of his creation from understanding it?   

Shouldn’t an all knowing, all merciful God give everyone an equal opportunity to know him? Why favor only those who read and understand Arabic?  How can those who are unfamiliar with the Arabic language obey Allah when it is not even their fault that they don’t comprehend the Arabic language?  What’s the point of giving instructions to people when more than half of them can’t even understand what you want them to do?

Jesus, on the other hand, welcomes everyone from everywhere, no exceptions. He told us that “He is the life,” and backed it up by showing us how to live. He taught us that love is the most noble of all the virtues, and lived his last three years on earth demonstrating that.

Learn from Jesus…if you wish to know the meaning of life and your purpose in this world, then ask the person who said He is the giver of life, and then watch Him work in your life.

Do you want to know the meaning of life? Then serve others without expecting anything in return, love others, even those who hate you, give to those who can’t give back to you, help people who can’t help you. Do these things and I promise you that you will soon feel a kind of joy in your heart that you have never felt before.

Life becomes meaningful not when you change your life, but when you change other’s lives. Everything Jesus did, including offering Himself on the cross, was free of charge-He did not demand anything in return. He offered Himself so that you and I can live, and live abundantly. 

If the life giver Himself told us that the meaning of life is to love and serve others, why are you still wondering what your purpose in life is?  

Before I end this, if you remember, I promised earlier that I was going to tell you what my answer to Grace’s question was. 

I showed her the picture on top of this page of the man sitting alone under the giant tree to think, and then asked her: “If a picture of a tree and a man who is thinking about the meaning of life is meaningful to me and you, how can a real tree and a real man in real life asking the same question be meaningless?”

 Fyodor Dostoyevsky once famously said that “the mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.”

If you want to know the meaning of your life, then figure out who you are living for- God or the world? 

 

 

 

A man said to the universe:  “Sir, I exist!”

 “However,” replied the universe, “The fact has not created in me a sense of obligation.” 

Stephen Crane

 

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mark@whatifurwrong.com

 

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