“Who am I? Why am I here?”
As I was putting together ideas for this blog it seemed right to have at least one post that focuses on the basic question of “Why am I here”. Whenever I think of that question I laugh because it reminds me of the 1992 vice-presidential debate when the unknown running mate of Ross Perot, General Stockdale, used his opening statement to address these questions:
I don’t know why that clip hits my funny bone but it gets me every time!
But seriously, I think the “Why am I here?” question is the big question in life.
Some scientists make the claim that our existence is just a random by-product of the universe. They would contend that there isn’t enough scientific evidence to prove that there is any sort of intelligent designer responsible for the universes’ existence.
Furthermore, some scientists would claim that our emotions, thoughts, and very consciousness, is really nothing special at all. That our existence is just an evolutionary based orchestration of bio-electric chemical reactions happening in the brain.
ONE POSSIBLE ANSWER
Why are we here? The scientific community offers this answer:
We are here for no reason other then random chance. There isn’t a grand intention or purpose for humans coming into existence. We are just here. The universe just came in to being by chance through a big bang, tiny atoms eventually coalesced and formed the universe, and the arise of life as we know it was just just random causality.
Some scientists than continue to assert, and rightly so when using methods of observational science alone, that we can actually predict the end of our human existence. The sun in our galaxy will eventually swell up (and probably swallow the earth with it’s size or boil off every living thing off it) and then we all die. Then perhaps the universe will contract again into a super condensed ball of matter and another big bang will happen and the process will cycle through again over and over for infinity.
Is this the grand purpose of life? All humanity just burns up and dies?
Could be…But this is not how I see it. Everything in me tells me there is more.
I have no problem admitting that I have a intrinsic bias on this question. In my early childhood I was a very spiritually inquisitive boy. I have been all my life. Growing up my parents were subject to my barrage of questions relating to human existence, life, death, and purpose. (read more about my childhood with God). During childhood I encountered what I believe to be genuine experiences with a Creator and haven’t really deviated from my Creator based world view paradigm since. I’ve definitely gone off course with many personal failures and blemishes, and also sought understanding from other spiritual perspectives, but I’ve never believed anything else about the origins of our existence. Specifically, I believe in the God as revealed in the Christian Bible to be the creator of the universe. And ever since I was a boy I’ve been trying to figure out what this Bible says about God and what He does want from us.
WHAT ANSWER THE BIBLE OFFERS
The Bible claims that God created the world intentionally, with a purpose in mind. And the Bible further puts forth that of creation mankind is God’s crowing jewel, His finest work. So much to the extent that it is said that humans are solely unique in that we are actually made in His very image (Genesis 1:26).
So then, what does this Christian God want with humans? Why are we here? Why did He make us?
The overall message of that I see from the Bible is that our Creator wants to be in relationship with His people, both as a one-on-one relationship and also equally through a dynamic family of His people. And the relationship He desires isn’t meant to be just an superficial awareness, or mere acknowledgment of His existence, but rather a deep, minute to minute, intimate kind of knowing. Although He didn’t need us for Him to exist, He chose to make us so we could be objects of His love. Our purpose is to receive the everlasting depth of love He has for us, experienced both individually and collectively, and then to share His love back to Him and with His people.
I believe that the entire physical world, and our meta-physical conscience experience of it, is both for our enjoyment and also to bring us into a deeper understanding of Him. We are filled with a wondrous awe seen in His vastness of the created world and simultaneously we are humbled by His deep personal and collective love for us which compels us to love and worship Him back. He intends for us to experience His goodness which deepens our appreciation and affection for who He is.
Those two paragraphs for me are the main message of the Bible and explain God’s intention in creating humans and the natural world.
Using that as a my definition of God’s purpose for our existence, I then try to understand everything in the Bible, and everything in life, in context of that purpose. The Bible is then both the story of God’s passion for us and as well as an instruction book for how to bring about His end goal – which is having people in relationship with Him. I try to balance everything I see, hear, and understand in the world within His ultimate reason in creating human beings.
And specifically, God chose to have us know Him by us coming into a relationship with His Son Jesus through His Holy Spirit. So, the most accurate way I would describe the Bible would be a collection of God inspired books that helps us know and bring humanity into a intimate relationship with the person of Jesus.
This is RIDICULOUS
Now on one hand, for the atheist the idea of having a deep intimate relationship with a deity is literally madness. On the other hand, for the agnostic, it is certainly plausible – but as agnostic one would stop short in saying that “God” is something you could know personally. it there is a God there’s no way to know.
Herein lies the vast contrast between unbelievers and believers in Jesus: one side says there is no God to know (atheist), or at least that God is unable known (agnostic), and the other saying that yes, not only is there a God but yes you actually CAN know Him intimately and have a bi-directional relationship with Him.
However, I’m not about to try to make an argument in order to compel an atheist to believe in a God, or to try convince an agnostic to agree with me that God can be known. I just wanted to highlight how different those views are. But I can see if from their perspective….it must seem utterly ridiculous to believe in a God who you can have a relationship with.
IS THIS IS ALL JUST A CHEMICAL REACTION?
The vast majority of people still believe that there is at least “something” out there – whether they call it “God” or not. For me it comes down to this: I believe that I am more than the sum of a bunch of electrical impulses rushing trough my brain and all the emotions that I feel are more than just chemical reactions.
For example, I have an intense love for my daughter. She’s the best. But if my love for her is just a chemical reaction then there is nothing special about that love. Nothing transcendent. There’s no heart or reality behind the feeling. The emotion of love has no meaning or purpose other than it is just bio-chemical means of initiating the propagation of our species. I am not special and she is not special. We are just random heaps of water based carbon. This leaves me sad and empty. There must be more than that.
Or if I take the idea that all of the universe is random and the eventuality of all life is to burn up in the sun, and we all die, my life is quite meaningless in the grand scheme of existence. I might as well just serve myself as much as I can, and take whatever I can get out of life, because we are all going to die anyways. This leave me sad and empty too. There must be more than that.
I know I’ve gone way too existential on this post, but hopefully you can see where I’m coming from. Again, I admit I have a bias. I didn’t come to originally believe in God because I was searching for unanswered questions to my existence, or felling a need to fill a void, but rather because God was always there from the beginning for me as modeled through my parents. The concept of a loving God just made sense to me as a kid. So now, I have to look backwards on this question and try to see it from a place to where I’ve never lived.
Truthfully, as I think most people of faith would agree, I’ve had my doubts in my faith along the way just like any person of faith does. There’s plenty of stuff in this world that could lead one to believe that there isn’t a God, or at least not one that cares about us. Some of the writings of Mother Theresa that were found after her death showed that even she had doubts from time to time. But regardless of all my doubting moments I’ve always come back to the place where everything in my being tells me that there is more. I’m sure I could mention something of the anthropic principle here but I’d probably misquote/misuse it. 🙂
HE TAKES PLEASURE IN US
My personal truth is that I find all of my life experiences are best interpreted in a view that points to a loving God that wants me to know Him. And in the Bible I see a God that has shown Himself as Jesus who is inviting me into a relationship with Him. A relationship that both explains the world around me in a loving, “makes sense” kind of way, and one that draws back the curtain to the ultimate source and intention behind all creation.
Here is what I believe the Bible tells us about His intention for us being here: we are here to be in a deep, intimate, loving back and forth relationship with our Creator. And I believe He created us because He takes pleasure in this relationship and wants us to be free-will objects for His amazing love.
One of my favorite bible verses is Revelation 4:11 from the King James Version. It says, ” for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” [emphasis mine]. Just as we love seeing our kids being happy and just simply enjoying the world that we brought them into I also think that God receives the same pleasure. God enjoys us enjoying what He made for us, which at the end of the day leads us to enjoy Him personally.
So there it is. That is my answer to the big question, “Why am I here?”. We are here to have relationship with our Creator which brings us joy and in turn brings Him joy.
WHY ALL THE CRAP?
The next question that arises for me out of my conclusion is, “So why then all the crap?”, or to put in other words, “Why does life suck sometimes?” If I’ve been created to bring God pleasure then why do bad things happen? Why is there so much S%#! in the world? Does He not care for us? Or maybe He lets this happen because He is like an evil scientist and takes pleasure in our pain?? Maybe all this crap is ordained of God as Holy – so that would be holy crap then! (pun intended)
Speaking of holy crap, I never meant to go down this road. I could ruffle a few feathers here if we start talking about the problem of evil intersecting with a loving God. But while I’m here I might as well go there and get all my cards out onto the table. I’m actually pretty opinionated on the subject. So in my next post I will give my reasoning for explaining the contraction of God’s apparent love for us in the midst of a world that is filled with evil. I think I’ll call that one, “Why does life suck sometimes?”
*As always, I’d love to hear what’s on your mind so please drop your thoughts in the comments section below!