“I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
From The Christian Church in the Last Days
No writer in the history of literature has ever attempted to create a fictional character absolutely devoid of purpose. Like reaching absolute zero temperature, creating an absolute vacuum, or producing the conditions for motion having zero friction, humans cannot conceive of a literary character having absolute zero purpose. A person without purpose is a fiction beyond our imagination. Every human being on the planet cares about someone or something, to some extent. This aspect of our world, in which every person has some measure of purpose, whatever its direction or quality, should come as a surprise to us. But this is another of the many features of our present reality that we just accept and take totally for granted.
This reality regarding purpose can be used as an apologetic argument for the existence of God. Acknowledge even the smallest quantity of purpose in the recipe for meaningful human life, and this then requires a reasonably plausible explanation for where purpose comes from. This is one of the philosophical inconsistencies inherent in skeptical unbelief.
But purpose and meaning in life go much deeper than this. The old proverb “Do as I say, not as I do” reveals an inconsistency in all human behavior. A common notion among many people is that we typically live around 75 or 80 years, then die, are buried, and this covers all there is to reality. But if this were true in a purely absolute sense, if taken to its logical extreme, then people would live in total detachment and disinterest about anyone or anything. If we are made up solely of atoms, molecules, and quantum energy, then existence should be a cold, empty, emotionless, absolute zero-purpose reality having no caring, no passion, and no meaning.
The one thing that is absolutely consistent about the application of purpose in our lives is that none of us are absolutely consistent. Christians are criticized by the skeptical world of unbelief for not living up to the high standards of Christ. Admittedly, Christians do not practice what they preach perfectly. But neither does anyone else. Some people say they do not believe in God, and do not believe in anything transcendent beyond this present life in the here and now. But the inconsistency of their verbally stated belief system is betrayed by their fully engaged and sometimes active passion for social and political reforms, their insistence upon personal integrity in their lives, their solid endorsement of the standards and laws that govern society, and their unabashed enthusiasm for the welfare of their children and grandchildren. This clear and unwavering preference for high standards and commendable outcomes in life has no place in a world having zero purpose or meaning. Actions here shout louder than words, and in everyday practice self-refute the theoretical foundation for the purely absolute, naturalistic worldview.
If all we do is live, die, and are buried, then why care deeply and passionately about anyone or anything? What would be the point? Is someone keeping score? Doing the right thing and caring about others becomes absolutely meaningless. Making our mark in life and leaving behind us a better world for posterity becomes absolutely meaningless. Things like friendship, loyalty, honor, character, and self-sacrifice not only become meaningless…they do not even exist. Even caring only about ourselves becomes meaningless in a world having no real purpose beyond atoms and molecules.
In my view, some people incorrectly use the argument that evil exists in the world, which greatly disrupts our good order and well-being, as evidence that God does not exist. The presumption here is that a wise and caring God would not create such a beautiful and orderly world as this, yet allow evil to mar its existence. But we have to search in an entirely different area than purpose for an explanation for the existence of evil in our world. If a brilliant craftsman God did not create within us this facility for purpose and meaning in life, then no one would care about the issue of the existence of evil in the first place. We would not possess the capacity to care about anything. The inability to be absolutely detached and disinterested in terms of purpose and meaning in life to the point of not even being able to imagine such an extreme purposeless condition devoid of any appreciation of justice, fairness, and equity, severely undermines a materialistic explanation of reality based solely on atoms, electrons, and the physical elements.
Every single human being is covered by the broad brush-stroke of hypocritical inconsistency in this area of the gap between what we say verbally and what we actually do in practice. Christians and non-Christians alike are merely at different points on the same spectrum graph-line of purpose in life. No one escapes this issue of hypocritical inconsistency. Christians aspire to moral perfection, but don’t quite get there. Skeptical unbelievers aspire to a totally rational and intellectual existence consistent with a materialistic worldview, devoid of any transcendent purpose or meaning, but don’t quite get there. Although everyone has purpose of one sort or another, everyone falls short of absolute purity in the application of their particular worldview.