|Behold, I am scary-smart.|
Science tells us a lot about how something works, what it does or what physical attributes it has. The scientific method is frustrated, however, by questions related to “meaning”. Galileo hinted at this when he said, "Religion tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go." As a result, a secular answer to the question, “What is the meaning of life?” might be, “We make our own meaning.”
If you think about it, we really don’t understand what something is unless we know its purpose. Imagine you were to stumble upon a razor, but didn’t know what it was for. You will notice that it is very sharp. Let’s say YOU decide the purpose of the razor is to cut wood; what will happen? You will not cut wood very well and you will destroy the razor. Why? Because you did not know what the razor was really for. You did not know the intended purpose of its existence.
Professor Ratzinger addresses the question of “meaning” in the first chapter of his book, Introduction to Christianity. Here are some highlights paraphrased a bit:
Ø Meaning is the bread on which man subsists. Everyone knows the situation of “not being able to go on” in the midst of outward abundance. How many have plenty in terms of health, food, clothing and shelter, but live quiet (or not so quiet) lives of desperation. It’s a problem related to “meaning”.
Ø He goes on about two kinds of thought. Calculating thought is concerned with “make-ability”; reflective thought is concerned with “meaning”. We need both. In an age in which calculating thought is celebrating amazing triumphs, we are all threatened by thoughtlessness, a flight from reflective thought.
Ø Meaning is not manufactured from knowledge. We can study the physical attributes of a razor for an eternity and never grasp its true meaning. Meaning, that is, the ground on which our existence as a totality can stand and live, cannot be made, but only received. Meaning that is self-made is in the last analysis no meaning.
Ø The good professor also gives a clever analogy to self-made meaning; imagine a man trying to pull himself out of a bog by his own hair. This is the absurdity of the statement, “We make our own meaning.”
|Why am I not being uplifted?!?!|
A very simple, but very good answer to life’s meaning can still be found in the Baltimore Catechism. Why did God make us? God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him forever in heaven. Theologian Frank J. Sheed said it in a simple way too; why did God make us?.......because we should like it.
“Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man, what things God has prepared for those who love him.” (I Corinthians 2:9)