Friday, January 17, 2014

Your Life is Not That Imporant

What is the meaning of life? The big philosophical question that everyone asks themselves at one point or another in their life. Before we even begin to try to answer this question, it is important to first ask ourselves what the question is really asking. Ask yourself what you think the question means, and then ask yourself what the question could mean. Language is confusing and this sentence like many in the English language is ambiguous. 

This sentence is asking either:

1. What actually defines life?  ---> What is the meaning of life?
2. What is the purpose of life? ---> What is the meaning of life?

Most times when people ask what is the meaning of life, they are seeking answers to the second question. This is a crucial difference because we already know all the answer to the first question. The answers you hear all the time include: life is about survival, making children, being happy, or evolution. These are all things that are apart of life and define it, they are not things that give life greater meaning or purpose. I realize this is a confusing topic to both explain and understand so let me explain using another example. I have to give credit to C.S. Lewis who uses the analogy of a football game in his book Mere Christianity but I hope to expand on it further.

Lets compare the questions what is the meaning of life to what is the meaning of football. Much as saying in order to score goals does not explain the meaning of football or give it meaning because that is a part of the game itself would be comparative to saying that the meaning of life is to survive or evolve. Scoring points is how you play the game, not something that gives it meaning. Comparatively, survival is more of a how to live, not why to live. In fact the definition of meaning is ‘for which something exists’. Only when you step outside of the game, when you compare it to something bigger than the game does it ‘mean’ something.

It is only when the creator defines the purpose of the game will it have an intended meaning. This intended meaning is the one that captures the big picture of the game. If the creator of the game were a coalition of high schools who formed a state championship competition in order to determine highest level of skill, then the intended objective meaning of the game would be one where the first place winner determines the most skilled team. There is a reality and it is defined by a creator. 

It is noble when the players create their own meanings such as, I want to win the game for my sick brother or I want to have the most tackles or quite rarely but still possible, I want to lose the game. There is nobody or no thing that can take away from someone's personal meaning because it is theirs to keep. Just because someone has their own subjective meaning to the game, it does not make it any less real then the intended meaning. However, that is a very small picture view of things. The reality is you are not the only player on the field, and if you play by your own rules then it will most definitely conflict with another persons game and the purpose that the creator made the game for. You cannot have a functional team where one person is trying to win and another person is trying to lose. That is why we look to the big scheme of things, to the bigger picture to see how to truly play the game. It is fine and natural to develop our own sense of meaning but it is also important to realize there is something bigger than ourselves and we should harmonize our life with what the creator intended for us. 

As Louis CK put it, “It’s not your life, it’s life. Life is bigger than you. Life isn’t something that you possess, it’s something that you take part in and you witness.” As much as we may think we can play our own game in football, it is a team sport. The game will continue without you, and no matter what meaning you derive from it the game, it has its own purpose. Of course I am talking about life as well. 

Now if you don't believe in God you probably don't believe in a creator. You may believe that life just happened by chance. But if life really is without a creator then how can there be a greater purpose to life? Life would simply be a game of football, where all the players have their own idea of how the game should be played. Some are trying to win the game, some are trying to hurt the other team, and some might be sabotaging the game because of a bribe. There would be no right or wrong, because there is no standard put into place by a creator. If that is what you truly believe then that is that. As for me, I believe in a God, that there is a right and wrong and that life has a bigger purpose that I need to follow. 

Your life is precious, but no more than the next persons. You can live by your own rules if you want but there are consequences, because just like in a game of football you are on a team. Align your goals with the team goals. 

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