Ten Key Questions About Life
This study is dedicated to developing a Biblical world view by "girding up" or sharpening our minds with ten key questions about life. These are: What is man?; What is the real meaning of life?; How am I to make moral choices?; What is truth?; What is love and where can it be found?; Why is there suffering and how can we live with it?; What is death?; What hope is there for the human race?; What is real?; Is there any hope in fighting evil and injustice?
What Is Man?
What Is The Meaning Of Life?
How Are We To Make Moral Choices?
Is It Possible To Know The Truth About Ourselves And The Universe?
What Is Love And Where Can It Be Found?
Why Is There Suffering And How Can We Live With It?
What Is Death And How Are We To Face It?
What Hope Is There For The Human Race?
What Is Real?
Can Evil Be Defeated?
What Hope Is There
by: Allan Turner
If you have an atheistic world view, then you must accept the position that ultimately there is no hope for the human race. The atheistic world view teaches that man is matter in motion. He has no immortal soul. There is no mind apart from man's brain; nor is there a soul independent of man's body. According to this position, man's ultimate destiny is death, which is understood to be a ceasing to exist. One of the greatest of atheists, Robert Ingersoll, said it this way: “Life is a narrow veil between the cold and barren peaks of two eternities. We strive in vain to look beyond the heights. We cry aloud, and the only answer is the echo of our wailing cry.” Bertrand Russell, another well-known atheist, said it this way: “That man is the product of causes which have no prevision of the end they are achieving: that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried underneath the debris of a universe in ruins. Only on the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul's habitation be safely built.”
Such unyielding despair (the philosophical term is “nihilism”) sometimes tries to sound hopeful. In Humanist Manifesto I and II, Paul Kurtz says, “No deity will save us; we must save ourselves” (p. 16). How does he suggest man can “save” himself? “Using technology wisely, we can control our environment, conquer poverty, markedly reduce disease, extend our life-span, significantly modify our behavior, alter the course of human evolution and cultural development, unlock vast new powers, and provide humankind with unparalleled opportunity for achieving an abundant and meaningful life” (p. 14). Of course, all this is ultimately for nought, because mankind itself, like man himself, eventually ceases to exist. Atheistic humanism does its level best to install man as lord of the universe, but the whole process is nothing more than a cruel joke. If man is “destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system,” and “the whole temple of man's achievement must inevitably be buried underneath the debris of a universe in ruins,” then man, the lord of the universe, finds himself the lord of nothing.
If you hold to a pantheistic world view, as represented by philosophical Hinduism, you must eventually admit that there is very little hope of ever getting off the wheel of transmigration or samasara, which is, for all practical purposes, an endless succession of rebirths. Each new rebirth depends on the karma (i.e., the moral law of cause and effect) that one had in preceding lives. There is a chance held out to the adherents of this world view for “salvation,” which is suppose to happen when one breaks away from the wheel of transmigration. This breaking away is called moksha or mukti and occurs when the individual soul (Atman) realizes it is identical with the universal soul (Brahman) or “God.” When this happens, one has become one with the universe, and there is no longer any individual consciousness. “One is ALL and all is ONE!,” as they say. It is beyond us how anyone can get excited or hopeful about becoming nothing. Why do we say nothing? Because, if one is not something, then one is nothing; and if one is nothing, then he is not something. This nothingness (i.e., oneness with the impersonal absolute) to which the Hindu seeks is called samadhi or nirvana. But, “How about this material world you were a part of before you reached nirvana?,” we ask. The reply: This world with all its pleasures and pains, its rights and wrongs, is all an illusion (maya) because everything is Brahman, which is one absolute thing. But, “Why does it appear to be real before it is realized that it is not real?,” we ask again. The answer: It is lila, a great game played by Brahman; it is the cosmic dance of the divine. Pantheism is simply cosmic, spiritualized humanism. If man were ever to become Brahman or the Absolute One, just as we concluded in our look at atheism, he would be lord of nothing (i.e., an illusion). In reality, there is not one thing the least bit hopeful about pantheism.
In addition to offering mankind no hope, atheism and pantheism provide man with no reason for living. On the other hand, a Biblical world view provides both hope and a reason for living. In his first letter to the Corinthians, the apostle Paul identified the gospel or good news as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15:1-7). He goes on to say that if it is only in this life that we have hope in Christ, then we are miserable and pitiable men who actually have no real hope at all (verses 12-19). Christ, of course, is the “firstfruits,” if you will, of those who will be resurrected to eternal life at His second coming (verses 20-26). If Jesus Christ was resurrected from the dead, and the evidence for just such an event is overwhelming, then we have a “living hope” that we, too, will one day be resurrected from the dead “to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven...” (I Peter 1:3,4). “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast...” (Hebrews 6:19) Now, friend, that's hope!
But, there is more. Not only does a Biblical world view provide us with the living hope of life eternal, it also provides us a reason for being. Non-Biblical world views collapse on the issue of personal meaning and purpose. Nevertheless, the yearning in our hearts drives us to seek a meaning for our existence. A wise man once said, “I think the meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected” (Victor E. Frankl, Man's Search For Meaning, p. 157). This, we believe, is a correct assessment. This meaning is discovered in a Biblical world view, which says we have been made by God and for God (Colossians 1:16). Consequently, man's whole duty or sole purpose for being here is to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). This realization gives us purpose and meaning, and motivates us to serve God in all holiness (Romans 12:1-2). Once we realize this, all our decisions and actions are subordinated to pleasing God, and with the Psalmist we pray, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my redeemer” (Psalm 19:14).
The distress, restlessness, and anxiety that besiege unenlightened and unredeemed men have manifested themselves in the addictions to success, sensuality, and drugs that we see all around us today. In his ensuing neurosis, man feels alienated from God, alienated from other human beings, and alienated from himself. On the other hand, in Christ, and with a Biblical world view guiding us, the Christian is at peace with God (Romans 5:1), others (Galatians 5:22; Ephesians 2:14-17, 4:3), and himself (Romans 14:17, 15:13). He has the satisfaction of knowing where he came from, why he is here, and where he is going. He has the consolation of knowing that this world is not the way God wanted it to be—sin has corrupted it. The Christian has the comfort of knowing that there is a great day coming when everything will be set right, when truth will reign, and when the final enemy, death, will be destroyed (I Corinthians 15:26). The Christian knows that his ultimate future is an existence with God beyond the grave for an eternity (Matthew 25:34,46; I Thessalonians 4:17); he knows there is a final solution to man's predicament in this present world—all of which have an incredibly soothing affect on the heart and mind (cf. Philippians 4:7).