The meaning of life in one post
#1
Can anyone succinctly put their own vision of what the meaning of life is, in a single post? And I don't just mean an individual life, but the whole species itself. Come at it from your unique personal standpoint, as you are and who you are.

It may help someone who is struggling very deeply with the meaning of human history and our part in this vast Cosmos.  :)

Even if you think it's a vain question with no general answer, input is definitely appreciated.
Reply
#2
To know, love, and serve God with all your heart, mind, and soul.
Reply
#3
(08-13-2016, 11:21 PM)Sequentia Wrote: To know, love, and serve God with all your heart, mind, and soul.

Thank you...

Is it illegitimate to ask why that has intrinsic meaning for the single soul faced with all the long ages of the Universe, as opposed to not knowing, loving, or serving God?
Reply
#4
To love God and to love my neighbor as myself.
Reply
#5
To know, love, and serve God in this life and to be happy with Him in the next.
:) :) :) 
Reply
#6
I'm currently reading a book called Before the Dawn.  It traces the human genome, archaeology and anthropology to establish a history of the human species from the common human-chimp ancestor all the way down to the beginnings of recorded history.  If true, it definitely throws a monkey wrench into the idea of original sin, as many things that we associate with sin can be observed in the behaviors of other apes, and certainly in humanity prior to the time that humans would have been given a rational soul, if lined up with Judeo-Christian ideas.  For example, war and cannibalism can be observed not only in chimpanzees, but also anatomically modern humans prior to becoming behaviorally modern humans (BMH being likely what would have been the start of rationally-ensouled humans). 

I've also been watching some videos of Fr. Mike Schmitz for Ascension Press.  One video I watched recently was about the laws of the Old Testament and if they still apply.  This has been an issue for me because I see a lot of the OT as describing a cruel, vindictive God who commanded and demanded genocide, wiped out all of humanity, demanded Abraham sacrifice Isaac, etc.  In this video, Fr. Mike explains that the reason the OT laws no longer apply to Christians is because many of those laws were specifically for the Kingdom of Israel.  The Kingdom of Israel, as a political entity, no longer exists, so those laws no longer apply, just in the same way as the laws of the Holy Roman Empire no longer apply.  But he also explained the seeming roughness of OT law as a gradual way of drawing people to the ideal God has for us.  We no longer have an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth anymore.  But Fr. Mike suggests that this was necessary during the Bronze Age because people at that time could not have accepted forgiveness as Christ taught.  He referenced the educational "+1" theory, whereby people can understand what they know and the next level beyond it, but not two or three levels beyond.  So the goal of educating is to take what a person knows and then take them just a little bit further, and once they have that, just a little bit further.  So, it would have been too much for these Bronze Age peoples to handle forgiveness as Christ preached.  People lived in societies that were very cruel by modern standards, where theft of a small item could mean amputation of a limb, or killing of a neighbor's cow could have meant your own death in retribution.  By teaching an eye for an eye, at that time, God was tempering the barbaric societies of the time so that later they could move even closer towards what God asks of us.  This all reminded me of something that my mother once said to me that has stuck with me.  She believes that the OT is basically elementary school religion, and that the NT is the religion the people have when they graduate from the OT.  Kind of the same idea, that one isn't ready for the NT until they've successfully mastered the goals of the OT.

At any rate, going back to this book, it got me thinking that all of these evolutions and adaptations that have taken place in early human history, when warfare, cannibalism and other things that we consider mortally sinful today were vitally necessary for their survival, what if they aren't sin in the way we understand it per se?  Chimpanzees war with each other, they massacre rival groups, taking no prisoners and almost gleefully murder other chimpanzees in an effort to protect the land where their females feed and protect their young.  It certainly isn't sinful to these animals, yet we consider it to be disgusting, abhorrent behavior in humans, even though this is the history of our species as well.  Assuming the evolutionary model is more or less accurate, what if religion, from the beginning of God making us aware of his existence, has been just one step in a long progression of God slowly drawing us towards perfection?  So, for example, warfare was both common and necessary to early humans, but it became less so as hunter-gather societies coalesced into sedentary societies.  Perhaps these things that were necessary in our history tens of thousands of years ago have become obsolete for our survival, and morality as we understand it is God drawing us towards greater perfection with our current mode of existence. 
Reply
#7
Most certainly this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.


But please be aware, for Conan the Barbarian and others of his ilk it's this:
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.
Reply
#8
I have to admit that, without intending to hurt or insult anyone, I like Melkite's "searching" answer more than the pious, Catechism-like responses. No doubt the latter are genuine, but they seem somewhat recycled or stale to me. That's just me, though. I stress that I don't dislike or disapprove of them, just that they don't seem to be enough. Perhaps that's because, in my doubts about meaning, the words of a doubter about meaning are more meaningful than the lack of doubt expressed by meaning-filled believers.

(08-14-2016, 08:49 AM)AugustineNYC Wrote: Most certainly this:
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, love your neighbor as yourself.

But please be aware, for Conan the Barbarian and others of his ilk it's this:
To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.

That reminds me of the difference between the Good Shepherd (who gently leads his sheep into and out of pasture) vs. the Butcher (who hits and abuses them so they will be cajoled into their pens).

The one question I'd have for all who gave the short, slick, "catechism" answers that are expected, is: what does it mean to love & serve God? Neighbour? Why does that have meaning? How do you know God exists and has commanded those things, apart from other people telling you?

It's not as if we see God, or are able to know from Him the true meaning of things -- unless we are visionaries, schizophrenics, or liars. Perhaps that's cynical of me. I'm just tired of hoaxes that are created by desperate people seeking attention, or in order to inject meaning into their lives. It's not as if we often find true fulfillment in loving our neighbour, either. There is nothing in this world that gives real meaning, in of itself, I find.

As for me, I believe the only meaningful thing there is for us is Union with God. So far I find this is not possible in this life, and I do not understand why.
Reply
#9
(08-14-2016, 10:48 AM)Heorot Wrote: The one question I'd have for all who gave the short, slick, "catechism" answers that are expected, is: what does it mean to love & serve God? Neighbour? Why does that have meaning? How do you know God exists and has commanded those things, apart from other people telling you?

It's not as if we see God, or are able to know from Him the true meaning of things -- unless we are visionaries, schizophrenics, or liars. Perhaps that's cynical of me. I'm just tired of hoaxes that are created by desperate people seeking attention, or in order to inject meaning into their lives. It's not as if we often find true fulfillment in loving our neighbour, either. There is nothing in this world that gives real meaning, in of itself, I find.

As for me, I believe the only meaningful thing there is for us is Union with God. So far I find this is not possible in this life, and I do not understand why.

Me, I have to go with the short, sweet "Catechism answer" because I believe it is true. But if you're not at the point of believing in God, believing that He's revealed Himself and set up a Church, etc., then of course that answer will do nothing for you. But you asked the question on a Catholic forum, so the answers you're likely to get are from those who do believe that He is, that He's revealed Himself and set up a Church, and so on. Doesn't make those "Catechism answers" cop-outs in any way whatsoever, however; it's simply the answer that follows from accepted premises.

What it means to "love God and love one's neighbor," to those who accept the aforementioned premises, is to trust that He is, that He is Love, and that He commands us to use our will for the good of others (the Catholic definition of "Love"). That, of course, raises the question, "what is the Good?" -- but all of those sorts of answers refer back to those original premises that you don't seem to accept as yet.

So, my two cents:  focus on the premises, the questions behind the questions you asked:  Does God exist? How do we know? How can we know Him and what He wants of us (i.e., did He set up a Church or not?)?

Until those questions are answered, you won't get answers that satisfy you here, because the answers you'll get on a Catholic forum are answers from people who believe that God exists and that He set up a Church to teach, guide, and sanctify us. I recommend starting a separate thread in order to ask people why they believe God exists. Then, after that, set up a thread asking why people believe in revelation. Then a thread about why we believe God set up a Church.
Reply
#10
Thanks Vox. :) A bit of a beat-down, but a well-placed and right one.

You can close this thread if you'd like.
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)