What is the Meaning of Life
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WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE? Program 84 Is Jesus Divine? by Ernest O’Neill
What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? That’s what we’re discussing on this program. We have been discussing it for several months now. We’re trying to tackle that question from an intellectual viewpoint, not highly esoteric, but simply with common sense as far as we’re able. What I’ve been trying to do is present one possible approach to the answer of this question, so that you yourself will be challenged and stimulated to work out your own philosophy of life.
Because I think all of us have often used that phrase, a “philosophy of life”, we know that it is important to have a “philosophy of life”. Yet, the world is, as one of the old modern poets, you remember, Louis McKee said, “The world is so plural. It is incorrigibly plural”, he said in one of his poems. In other words, everything is so diverse. There is such a fragmentation of knowledge in our day. It’s very difficult to work out a philosophy of life now.
Some of you may be like me. You think you will do it when you’re an eight-year-old or fifteen years of age. Then maybe at twenty you think maybe it’s possible. Then after a few more years, you begin to see how incredibly difficult it is to synthesize everything in such a way that it makes complete sense to you. Yet, it is vital to do it. That’s the irony of our present situation in a life that is becoming more and more diverse. In a world that is becoming more and more complex, it is becoming increasingly important that you and I work out a philosophy of life.
Otherwise, we will be dragged in all kinds of directions. Indeed, many of us probably are being dragged in all kinds of directions. You probably feel like many of us now in the world. You feel that you’re dragged by this demand and that demand. You’re driven by this need and that need. You’re pulled in this direction and that direction by obligations that you have to your business colleagues, to your associates, to your friends, to your family, to yourself, to the need for physical exercise, to the need for cultural experience. Never ending it seems. Or, all the demands that pull us in all kinds of directions.
So, it has never been more necessary than it is today to work out a philosophy of life. We started by pointing out that it was very difficult to find anyone who had any kind of superior authority on this issue of the meaning of life, or what was the purpose of it at all, or why did we ever come into existence. You remember how we looked at people like Muhammad and Buddha, and how we looked at Confucius and some of the Hindu theorists.
We concluded that they were all men like we were, ordinary human beings who had never been outside the goldfish bowl of this world and who really had no more information than was available to us ourselves. That is, all except one remarkable being that lived about 1,950 years ago here on our earth. He is the one man that seems to have been able to leave the earth in a way that convinces us that He did really leave the earth and that He was not just some kind of counterfeiting guru who would hold his breath for a long time.
He seemed to be a man that had actually left the earth and come back to it. He seemed to be able to give us a confidence that he did in fact know the being that was behind the universe, the Supreme Being. Of course, that man was Jesus of Nazareth. Many of us have thought of Him as a religious figure, or a face that we have seen on stained glass windows in churches, or a person whose story is told to children to encourage them to be ethical.
It’s a very different story when we begin to examine the records of His life, and the documentary evidence that lies behind those records. Of course, we discovered that documentary evidence in the form of ancient manuscripts was far more reliable than any similar evidence we had for people like Julius Caesar or Plato, all whose existence we never questioned.
So, we started to see that He was in fact a historical figure, that He was not only a human being, but that He did seem to have the power to destroy death, to go through death and keep on living. So, that’s why we have become interested in His explanation of the meaning of life. So, that’s why we’re discussing that.
We’re not discussing it because it’s in an old book called the Bible. We’re not discussing it because it was for years the accepted explanation. We’re discussing it because it seems the only intellectually satisfying and historically substantiated explanation of the meaning of life that we have in our universe. That’s why we have begun to get on to examining the explanation of the origin of life as it’s told by a man that this person Jesus actually believed.
He believed that Moses did live, as the Jewish nation believes, of course, as we have much historical and much material evidence for believing. He believed that Moses did live and he was in fact the recipient of communications from the Supreme Being behind the universe. So, that’s why we’re discussing a book that Moses wrote that we have in fact in the group of books called “Ta Bibla” in Greek which is “The Books”. “Ta Biblia” of course, became in our English language, the Bible.
That’s why we’re examining what that amazing book recorded as happening at the very beginning of creation. You remember, we dealt with the old chestnuts that we all learned at school, “Oh, how could this account of the origin of man ever come into our possession?” Well, obviously the Creator Himself revealed it to either the first man, the first woman or somebody down the line a bit.
In fact, they wrote what He had revealed to them. That’s how we know of it because obviously there was no other way. I mean, you weren’t sitting in the Garden of Eden nor was I hiding behind a tree at the time. We had no tape recorders to record it all. We are dependent on the Supreme Being giving us an explanation of it.
What I would encourage you to do is examine this intellectually and to see to what extent it matches our own experience of life. To what extent does this explain some of the things in our lives? If you say to me, “Oh, you’re trying to prove it true by proving it is useful.” No. No. I’m just saying that if it is true then it will be useful. It would be useful to find out in our own minds, does this explanation of the origin of life, and the purpose of life match our own present experience of life?
If it does begin to explain some of the things that we have difficulties with, if it begins to make sense to us in the light of what we have observed as the present situation of the world, then, there is extra reason for us beginning to take seriously the documentary and historical evidence that shows that this is in fact, true, and real and actually did happen in those years so many centuries ago.
So, that’s the approach we’re taking. Please don’t be super skeptical and throw the baby out with the bath water. I’ll agree with any of you who say, “Isn’t religion rather a mess?” I’m with you, it is rather a mess. If you say, “Isn’t evangelism and all that kind of stuff rather a mess?” I agree with you, it’s rather a mess. If you say, “Aren’t there a lot of stuffed shirts who are trying to pretend they’re priests and ministers?” I agree with you. But that does not mean that the origin of the whole truth is Himself suspect.
It is simply proof of the fact that we human beings are pretty poor clowns. We make all kinds of errors and
all kinds of mistakes. The important thing you and I have to do is try to look beneath the surface, and examine the explanation of the origin of life, and the meaning and purpose of life that is presented in this old book called the Bible. Examine it from an intellectual viewpoint and see — is there any truth or reality in it? So, that’s where we’re coming from.
So, I invite you to join us tomorrow. I’d like to go a little further in our study of the origin of life and the reason for life that we have presented in those early books of the Bible.