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What is the Meaning of Life

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Lesson 18 of 208
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Is God a Personal Being?

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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 18 Is God a Personal Being? by Ernest O’Neill

What is the meaning of life? What we’ve been saying is that there must be meaning in life, because there is so much meaning in our natural world that surrounds us. You get up at a certain time each morning because the sun rises at a certain time each morning, and all our business activities, and our vocational and professional activities are based on the fact that sunlight will come at a certain time in the winter and a certain time in the summer and that we will be able to do certain things. All our street lighting is based on the fact that we are able to foretell when we will need the lights on in the streets, and when we won’t.

But beyond that, you and I are such intricate, complex mechanisms ourselves. Our bodies are amazing combinations of over 500 muscles that operate in perfect harmony through each other, and over each other and across each other to achieve the computerized, complex activities that we perform every day. When you examine the complex activity of muscle that is needed just to pick up a pencil, you realize that the computerized calculations that are needed to bring that off would baffle even our best microcomputers.

So, wherever we look in our world, we see that there is evidence of meaning and purpose and design. Any mumbling of generalizations about laws of gravity or survival of the fittest, or evolution simply beg the question, “Who, or what or what force or what power originally designed these laws and programmed these things so that they operate in such a complicated, and yet such an orderly fashion?”

Of course, what we’ve been saying is that the greatest intellects of our generation feel the same way. Einstein himself said that he regarded the great Intellect behind the universe as the God that he worshiped — the great Intellect that produced the design that he is able to perceive with his “frail and feeble mind”.

Darwin himself ended “The Origin of Species” by saying, “There is a grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms, or into one.” Our great intellects down through the years have all come to the same conclusion: this thing did not come about by chance. This was not the result of time plus chance. This was not the result of some unplanned, undirected explosion. This whole universe and we ourselves are the product of a mind and an intellect like our own. In other words, they’ve said if a billiard ball is rolling across the billiard table, you have to search for the cue that struck it to cause its momentum. Or, you have to search for the other billiard ball that struck it, to cause its momentum. But there has to be a cause.

There has to be a cause to produce the effect that we see. In other words, if you see somebody catapulting out of a door, you immediately think to yourself, somebody must have thrown him pretty forcefully through that door. We immediately look for a cause to explain each effect. Now that’s the way our normal world works and we cannot stop thinking that way when we come to consider the most important of all cosmic questions; that is, “Where did the world come from?”

The mind naturally concludes that there had to be a sufficient cause for this complicated, carefully designed order that we see in our universe. Some people have said, “Well, I mean there can be an infinite regression of causes.” Well, the mind just boggles at that. The mind tends to respond, “Forget that, buddy! Infinite regression of causes…” What I’m saying is that there has to be a first cause. There has to be some first cause that originally thought the whole thing out. There must be some cause that created the infinite series of causes, if you like, and all the second causes, all the secondary causes and the third causes. There must be some first cause that originated

the whole thing. Of course, your mind and mine naturally think that way.

When we see a piece of writing on a sheet of paper, we immediately think, “That had to be produced by somebody who could think, and who could spell and who could direct their fingers or their typewriter to write, or to type.” We automatically connect the cause up with the effect of the cause. We put it often in those terms. We say, “There has to be a cause sufficient to explain this effect.”

That’s what we say in regard to this universe. There has to be a cause sufficient to explain the effects that we see around us. The effect we see around us is a complex series of planets and stars orbiting each other in regular patterns, for centuries and centuries with absolutely miniscule timing and incredibly, infinitesimally small gradations in time. That has to be the result of some reasoning mind like our own.

Now, if you say, “Well, why do you say it has to be a mind?” Because we cannot think of a force, an impersonal force, an “Elan Vitale” as having mind. Normally forces are things like electricity or the mechanical forces that we talk about on the lever principle. Forces are things that are impersonal. They cannot normally think or direct themselves. When we talk about “smart robots” today, we’re not even talking about thinking robots, but we are saying that we can invent robots that appear to have artificial intellect.

They appear to be able to analyze a series of criteria and to draw some conclusions, but they actually can’t. We simply teach them to categorize things and we build into them artificial reflex reactions which they cannot themselves modify. We modify them with our programs. So, even though we talk about “smart robots” today, we know fine well that forces themselves do not have minds. Minds are something that seem to belong to what we know as persons.

That’s why we tend to think of intellect or a reasoning power as connected up with a mind, and a mind with a creature. That’s why we say, “Well, surely this cause, this first cause of the universe, has to be a mind like our own. If we are able to perceive order, then the mind must be the same as our own and is able to create that kind of order.”

If you say, “Well, why does it have to be a personal mind?” we look at ourselves. We admit that there may be super-personalities. They may be far more personable personalities than we have ourselves, but we say that the mind behind the universe has to be at least as personable as us in order to create us. In other words, you don’t look at your little dog, your little Yorkshire terrier, and say, “How would you like to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth?” He’ll just glare at you, loving you as always, but he’ll glare at you with a blank stare, because he doesn’t appreciate Beethoven’s Fifth. I mean, he might like some of the heavy passages, but he really doesn’t understand it.

Or, if you ask him, “Would you like to hear me read ‘Paradise Lost’”? he looks at you and always wants you to feel good about yourself and probably give you a lick, but he really doesn’t understand “Paradise Lost”. He probably would get the same thrill out of just hearing your voice repeating “Mary had a little lamb.” In other words, a dog is not capable of the things that a human being is capable of.

If you say to me, “Could a dog make a man?”, I automatically respond, “No, he couldn’t, because a man is a higher kind of life form than a dog, and a dog can’t make a life form that is higher than itself.” That’s why we tend to say the mind, or the reasoning power or the intellect behind the universe has to be at least as personable as we ourselves are in order to create us. He or she might well be more personable than us, but the power or the mind or the intellect behind our universe has to be at least as personable as we are.

Is there meaning behind the universe? What is the meaning of life? Well, when you look at life itself, you are

drawn to the conclusion that there must be a power behind it. There must be a mind, and an intellect behind it. And, that mind and intellect must be at least as personable as we are ourselves.


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