January 19, 2005
The Meaning of life
What is the meaning of life. The meaning of our lives, the purpose, and the dreams both dashed and realized, and the expectations forced upon us by others. In other words how do you "translate" what life is? "Translation" means to explain in simple terms. What is it supposed to be about? There are different answers for different people at different times in their lives. A person's lifetime is filled with self-examination. Why am I here? What am I doing? Is this as good as it gets? You have a beginning. You're in the middle, and your story hasn't ended yet. If one would recognize the greatest things we have in life, they would not be asking this question. These great things are faith, hope, and love. Faith is the one that can keep one from asking questions. If God wanted us to know something, then we would know it. In most religions, Christian ones in particular, the question of meaning in life is inextricably wrapped up in a relationship with God. Living in, for, with, and through him. Therefore, how one answers the meaning of life question bears directly the existence of God. Soren Kierkegaard said to be the "father" of existentialism maintains that there are three basic answers to the question of the meaning of life. He called these "stages" of life, because he believed that people "progressed" from one stage to the next. Whether or not that is true, there do seem to be at least three fundamental outlooks on life. One is a life devoted to pleasure. This value perspective can be shown by a person whose only concern is for what they are doing now. They would rather gain from pleasures in life without any regards to how they might affect their future. Another stage is those choosing ethical and moral paths. People who are honest and loyal demonstrate this in their everyday lives. Finally, there is a live religiously. This has been the popular way of life for many of us. It is going to church and practicing your faith Stace argues, the present age has begun to weaken faith in God. The concept of a supernatural person has begun to seem unlikely to many people. The Bible no longer seems as respected for many Catholics. While many people say they believe in God they are beginning question whether faith and God are the answer to the meaning of life. Most of us whether we choose to admit it or not show that material things are what we base our lives around. These ideas are at the heart of existentialism, which is a view of life that says that human beings are the creators of their own sense of meaning or purpose. The most famous existentialist, John Paul Sartre in his books and novels developed several themes that portray existentialism. The first is the notion that "existence precedes essence." A legacy of traditional philosophy has been that we have a fixed human nature. Sartre challenged that we have no such set purpose or meaning. Our real meaning or who we are is a result of our decisions. We are what we decide. The second associated concept is the importance of human freedom. Sartre believed that every human being has the freedom to live life as we choose to. He believed that we are often terrified by our freedom, and in fact frequently do not want to take responsibility for our own actions. This attitude Sartre called "bad faith." Bad faith is an act of self-deception in which we rationalize our actions as being caused by circumstances instead of being self-caused. Basically blaming others for our own deceptions and mistakes. The third major concept of existentialism is the idea of the Absurd. The philosopher Albert Camus popularized this concept. The concept of the absurd is promoted by atheistic existentialist, such as Sartre and Camus. The similarity between Christian and atheistic existentialist is the significance of human freedom and the belief that we are the makers of our own lives One of the most significant pieces of the decline of religious...
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