Why God Matters: What Gives Life Meaning?
Whether you believe in God or not, we all have to grapple with the question: is there meaning in life?
Why is it so difficult to write about God? You would think that with monotheism being the mainstay of Judaism, this topic would be a shoo-in, but it’s a real challenge to talk about an abstract infinite being in a way that resonates with Jews from all walks of life. God is not a trending topic. The fact that we are stuck in a finite world means that we cannot really understand the nature of Infinity, so the conversation can get frustrating.
Nevertheless, I will try. After all, monotheism was the revolutionary discovery Abraham brought to the world that paved the way for the covenant relationship between God and his offspring.
Knowing that God exists is the first of the Ten Commandments. As Maimonides writes in the opening chapter of Mishneh Torah, his codification of Jewish law, “The foundation of all foundations and the pillar of all wisdom is knowing that there is a Primary Being who gave birth to all existence. All beings of heaven, earth, and what is between them is born only from the truth of his being … Knowing this concept is a positive commandment, such as (implied by Exodus 20: 2): “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, the house of slavery. . “
What real difference does God make in my life?
What is the significance of the existence of God? What difference does it make in my life?
A complete answer to this question would require a book. This article will present a consequence, and it is the one that forced me to leave my non-religious education in Toronto and go to Israel to explore the question of the existence of God.
Everyone needs meaning in life. Sense is what allows us to get out of bed and take on the challenges of the day. As Nietzsche put it succinctly, “He who has a why to live can endure almost any how.”
This was one of the major conclusions of Viktor Frankl, the author of The search for meaning of man and founder of logotherapy. As an inmate in a Nazi concentration camp, he witnessed those who survived clung to some type of purpose in order to continue living. Whether it is to testify, publish a manuscript, find their family, their search for meaning has enabled them to survive. Those who lost all hope and meaning were more likely to perish.
If life is meaningless, there are only a limited number of parties, distractions, and escapes that a person can use to numb existential pain and suffering before deciding it is not worth it. just not worth it and chooses to opt out completely. After all, if life does indeed make absolutely no sense, what difference does it ultimately make to be dead or alive?
But is there a meaning in life? How to satisfy this primary need?
This is a question that all human beings, whether you believe in God or not, must grapple with. The need for a goal is so great that it demands to be appeased, either by genuine satiety or by evasion and amazement.
If there is no God, what creates meaning?
According to this worldview, life is a random accident. There is no goal in existence. The formation of life from atoms and electrons rushing through space for millennia was without design or intention.
So, what is it that curbs the thirst for meaning in humans? In a nutshell, existential thought says that we create our meaning. As Jean Paul Sartre said: “Thus, there is no human nature, because there is no God to have a conception of it. Man is simply … Man is nothing other than what he makes of himself. This is the first principle of existentialism. . “
We create our meaning.
Finding meaning in something that doesn’t exist objectively doesn’t make it meaningful. This is called the illusion.
But there is a fundamental problem with this solution. Finding meaning in something that doesn’t exist objectively doesn’t make it meaningful. This is called the illusion.
For example, someone calls their mother and she sounds different, more passionate and lively. “Mom, you look different today.”
“Oh I am, honey! I woke up today and I’m Angelina Jolie! I’m rich, famous and beautiful! Life has never been better!”
If this happened to you, how would you react? Would you be happy for your mother who never looked so happy, or would her delusions and hallucinations be a devastating blow?
The illusion, the belief in a meaning that does not exist, functions as a loophole, bypassing the enigma of the existentialist’s suicide, but do not confuse it for real sense. The harsh reality in a world where there is no God is that all of life is a meaningless accident.
The existence of God resolves the question of meaning. Life was created, by design, with purpose and intention. The meaning is not imaginary; it is true.
A profound consequence of the existence of God is that the meaning and purpose we seek in life are very real.
The only thing I knew as a young man searching for meaning before I became a practicing Jew was that the moments of meaning I had experienced and longed for with my whole being were not there. no illusions. Quite the contrary: those were the times when I felt most connected to what is really real.
I believe most people have a hunch about this. Do you think the meaning you get from your marriage, parenting, work, and acts of kindness are mere illusions that we use to deceive ourselves, or something deep and real?
A profound consequence of the existence of God is that the meaning and purpose we seek in life are very real. We don’t need to resort to bogus surrogates to bide our time before falling into oblivion. The meaning is real, and we have a limited time in this world to reach it.
Explore more of these questions in Rabbi Coopersmith’s Who Is God and Why Should I Care? Click here for more information.
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