Last week I talked about the main reasons that convinced me that there is a God and that I wanted to become a Christian. There were seven reasons, and I would like to expand on the last of them. One of the reasons that I became a Christian was that I had always had in my mind a desire to find a purpose to life, and something or somewhere that was kinder & purer than everyday life on planet Earth. I was convinced that I had found it in the Gospel. Technically speaking, this is called the Anthropological Argument.
Within every thinking human being there is, at times, a longing for purpose or meaning to life. There is also a sense that everything is not right with the world and “surely there must be something better than this”. The question that then comes to us is this: Why, if the universe is simply a random chance event, and we are just random chance events, are we looking for meaning, morality and consciousness that isn’t there?
Greg Boyd in his book “Letters from a Sceptic” puts it like this:
“The essence of the argument is this: we as human beings are personal beings. This means that we are constituted by a mind which is self-aware and is rational, a heart which is free and can love and which is therefore morally responsible, and a soul which longs for meaning and significance. Consciousness, rationality, love, morality, and meaning: these constitute the essence of what it is to be a person in the full sense of the term.
The dilemma we face is this: either we exist in an environment which is compatible with these attributes, or we do not. Either our environment is congruous with these attributes-it renders them intelligible and answers them-or it does not. To illustrate, we hunger, and behold, there is food. We thirst, and behold, there is water. We have sex drives, and behold, there is sex. Our environment, then, is congruous with our natural hunger, thirst and sex drive. And given the kind of world we live in, we can understand why we hunger, thirst, and have sex drives. Our cosmic environment ‘answers’ our natural dries and thereby makes sense of them.
Does our cosmic environment answer to the basic features of our personhood outlined above? Unless our environment is ultimately itself personal, rational, loving, moral, and purposeful, then our cosmic environment does not at all answer to our personhood. Unless there is a personal God who is the ultimate reality within which we exist, then we humans can only be viewed as absurd, tortured, freaks of nature; for everything that is essential to us is utterly out of place in this universe. This, on the other hand, renders human nature completely unexplainable. How could brute nature itself evolve something so out of sync with itself? And, on the other hand, it means that human existence, if we face up to our real situation, is extremely painful. We are the product of a cruel, sick, cosmic, joke. “
Why do we long for something that isn’t there? Why do we think there is right and wrong – if such concepts have no meaning? Why do we believe that love is the greatest thing to live and die for, if in fact ‘love’ is just a bundle of colliding chemicals? Why do we invest so much in looking for meaning & purpose if any meaning is destroyed by death? As Tolstoy put it in his “Confession” – “Is there meaning in my life that will not be destroyed by the inevitability of the death that awaits me?”
But if our longings, hopes, morality, consciousness, love point to a universe that is at least as personal as we are – then the logical conclusion is that there is someone or something that has all these attributes lying behind the universe – otherwise these aspects of what it is to be human are unexplainable and hard to swallow.
I, like most people, was aware of these thoughts and longings, and when I came across Jesus, as described in the gospels, the lights came on and I knew I had found what I was looking for – love, purpose, purity and truth .