B: So to recap from last time, we established that there is no reliable way to prove to everybody the existence or non-existence of God. The general public’s knowledge concerning Deity therefore remains at the same impasse it has been stymied by for thousands of years, or, actually, for the entire existence of man.
I say, however, that we may as well believe in God.
To see my explanation for this assertion, let’s start by supposing that there is no God, and assume that there is no life after death. What is the purpose of this life, then? Well, how can there be any purpose? We pursue our own version of happiness for the duration of our own survival and then we die. What was the point of even bothering to survive as long as possible, if in the end we were still going to die? An argument could be made that we have the opportunity to make the world and the people in it a better place, but what difference does that make if everyone and everything, including the world itself, will eventually disappear?
There could therefore be no purpose to any living thing, since its purpose will end with its death and the deaths of those it affects. But suppose its influence is perpetuated throughout endless generations. What difference does that influence make? Whether it is there or is gone, whether the universe survives or is destroyed – what difference does that make? Is it necessarily better, one way or the other? Consider this quote:
What a plight! The entire human race in free fall—every man, woman, and child in it physically tumbling toward permanent death, spiritually plunging toward eternal anguish. Is that what life was meant to be? Is this the grand finale of the human experience? Are we all just hanging in a cold canyon somewhere in an indifferent universe, each of us searching for a toehold, each of us seeking for something to grip—with nothing but the feeling of sand sliding under our fingers, nothing to save us, nothing to hold on to, much less anything to hold on to us? Is our only purpose in life an empty existential exercise—simply to leap as high as we can, hang on for our prescribed three score years and ten, then fail and fall, and keep falling forever?
Heck: what would be the purpose of anything that happens in your life? You live your life, going through all kinds of pleasant and difficult experiences, a few diets, and at the end of all of it you die. What was it all for?
A: If you’d ever give me an opportunity to answer, dagnab it, I might say something like – for me to pursue my own happiness; for me to make a difference in somebody else’s life; for me to perpetuate society.
B: Well sure, you can go ahead and define a purpose if you like, just as anyone can, but is that what the purpose actually is? How could we possibly determine that? Nobody nor anything could dictate or determine the purpose of life, in the absence of a Supreme Being or law. In any case, that purpose ceases to exist when you die after a finite time, in which case you may as well have had no purpose.
Sure! Pursue your own happiness! But what’s the point of it? You die after a few years anyway! Even if you were to live forever, what would be the purpose of your existence? What would you be more than a vegetable absorbing your various indulgences to keep satisfied?
Sure! Make a difference in somebody else’s life! But they die in a few years too! What’s the point of their existence, or of the difference you made in that person’s life?
Sure! Perpetuate society! But what is it all for? Everyone eventually dies, but even if they were to live forever, wouldn’t they just be veritable vegetables themselves?
And by the way: if there is no existence after this life, how do you even know that non-existence would be any worse, or less purposeful, than existence?
I conveniently left off the exciting conclusion to the quote I made before. Remember all the questions he was asking? Well, here’s the answer:
If there is a God, and He is our creator, or is in some way safeguarding us – or perhaps has control over us to some degree, in some way – He must have a purpose for us and for our lives.
A: But couldn’t I ask the same thing about whatever purpose God has to all of His works? That is, what is it all for?
B: Darn good question. One I’ll have to address in more detail in some of our future discussions.
B: Oh yeah? And just what would that be, son?
A: Whatever makes me happy!
B: And what happens if it stops making you happy?
A: Then I’ll just change the purpose of my life! Really not that hard, ya goob.
B: Let’s suppose you could live forever, without ever growing old. Perhaps every so often you change the purpose to your life. After a while you take a look back on your life and think of all those changes to your purpose that you’ve made, and you realize that you’ve always just been poking around in the dark looking for some kind of happiness that will last forever.
A: Or I could just go back and forth between purposes, depending on what suits me for the time being. I’ll betcha I’d be satisfied with that.
B: Unless you eventually get sick of both of them.
A: That’d never happen. I’d always find something to entertain me.
B: I think we’re missing the point here. The point is not whether we can remain entertained for eternity. The point is that eventually you may find that you’re not satisfied to be merely a creature who is constantly fed entertainment, and otherwise may as well not exist. It seems otherwise at times, but we don’t actually know if the finite list of things that entertain us will continue to satisfy us forever. Eventually we may tire of feeling worthless. We need a purpose. Otherwise, ultimately we may find ourselves forever miserable.
A: Well, see, there’s no way for me to know that ahead of time.
B: Exactly. This is why I say you may as well believe in God, an omniscient God, Who knows everything that will make you happy, and if you would just heed what He asks you to do, you will find that elusive eternal happiness, and in the most efficient way possible besides.
If you go out just fulfilling your own desires all the time, you’ll find life to be purposeless. Do you remember how in the movie “Groundhog Day,” once Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors discovers that he lives the same day repeatedly, he proceeds to indulge in whatever excesses he pleases? And what does he try next after that? Suicide. It seems a natural recourse when one feels one’s life is purposeless.