Posts tagged ‘purpose’
As mentioned in my previous post, God, Zombies, and the Meaning of Life, when I was in the long process of leaving Christianity, one of the most overriding questions on my mind was this: if there is no God, what meaning is there in life? Christianity, as we all know, teaches that the saved are integral players in a grand cosmic drama, the unfolding of the telos of all Creation. Giving up on that illusion is, to say the least, jarring. It cannot help but leave one wondering how one’s life can have meaning at all, if it is not given from on high.
More psychologically minded individuals may reflect on a deeper way in which Christianity seems to provide the meaning in life. Children learn that they are important, that they matter, just by being seen – i.e., acknowledged and attended to – by their parents. Hopefully, of course, that attention will be loving and positive. But even if the attention is negative, critical, or even abusive, it is, from the child’s point of view, usually better than being ignored. Children will almost invariably prefer any attention to no attention, because that says that they are at least worth criticizing. So it is not hard to imagine how simply being seen by God is enough, in and of itself, to infuse one’s life with meaning and a sense of worth. It’s how many people support their feeling that they are valuable: you matter because God takes note of you. Giving up God, then, is clearly – viewed from this additional perspective – a powerful loss…
I recently finished two books that I have been unable to stop thinking about. One was World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks; the second was The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Both of these books involve, in different ways, a global catastrophe and the varying responses to it of the characters in each story. Now, you may be asking yourself what, in Darwin’s name, this might have to do with de-conversion, but hear me out! The issues they raise address (though perhaps in an unexpected way) some profound questions we have to struggle with as part of leaving our faith.
The first, World War Z, chronicles an outbreak of zombies (yes, zombies), as it spreads from the first few, sporadic cases into a rapidly engulfing worldwide plague, nearly pushing the human race to extinction as social order and entire societies collapse. Though I had never before heard the term “zombie apocalypse”, as this sub-genre’ of fiction is apparently called, I was nonetheless hooked. I couldn’t get this book out of my head. I found it to be surprisingly, even strikingly, evocative – of a strange admixture of despair and poignancy. Which seemed a odd response to have to a book about zombies. I found myself wondering: why?…
An anonymous poster asked this question on one of my blogs:
What do you think our purpose in life is then?
Many Christians believe there is no purpose without God. Of course, one of the most quoted Old Testament verse is:
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Who would not want to believe that the Creator of the universe cares enough about them to have a great plan for their life? In fact, when witnessing to a non-believer, one of the favorite phrases used is “God has a plan for your life.” Really now?
If you read further in Jeremiah 29, you will discover these verses:
17 yes, this is what the LORD Almighty says: “I will send the sword, famine and plague against them and I will make them like poor figs that are so bad they cannot be eaten. 18 I will pursue them with the sword, famine and plague and will make them abhorrent to all the kingdoms of the earth and an object of cursing and horror, of scorn and reproach, among all the nations where I drive them.
Ok. Does God have a good plan for my life or will he send the sword, famine and plagues against me?…