Does our existence have meaning without God?



“NOTHING HAPPENS, nobody comes … it’s awful!”

Depicting the disheartening condition of man if there were no God, this quotation comes from Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Godot in which two characters carry on an insignificant dialogue while waiting for someone to arrive, who never does. Man’s life, in an atheistic worldview, is virtually like that: he just kills time in waiting—for what, he doesn’t really know. Indeed, if there were no God who created us for a purpose, life essentially would just be a period of waiting that is more irritating and dreadful than waiting for buses, elevators, traffic lights, or one’s turn in a counter at the end of a very long queue.

If there were no hope of eternal life and no God to give us one, our life would lead only to the grave. And as all matter in the universe, according to scientists, will in time collapse into dead stars and black holes, resulting in the absence of light, heat, and life as the expanding universe grows colder and colder and its energy is used up, the entire human race, too, is necessarily doomed to death and extinction. So, if the human race, which was non-existent before, were just doomed to be lost without any hope of coming back—like a spark that appears, flickers for a fleeting moment in the infinite expanse of time, and dies forever—then, we may rhetorically ask, what ultimate difference would it make supposing we had never existed at all? As admitted by a well-known atheist French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre, atheism necessarily implies that “All existing things are born for no reason, continue through weakness and die by accident… It is meaningless that we are born; it is meaningless that we die.”

Since anybody’s life is devoid of ultimate significance in the world without God, then the deeds we fill our lives with would be all pointless too. The sleepless nights and investments we spend to advance human knowledge and find cure to ailments and suffering, the risks we take to secure peace and harmony, the sacrifices we dedicate for the welfare of others, what we perceive as quality time we spend with our loved ones and friends, the warm hugs we give to and get from our chuckling kids or grandchildren, the hearty laughs, the tears we shed, and the love we share with people dear to us — all these, in the final analysis, would simply be meaningless. If life were doomed to end only in death, then, as the Bible also conveys its necessary implication—happiness, power, wealth, recognition, education, honor, and any accomplishment would be nothing but, “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.” And if the ultimate end of man were just to return to dust, then our race would be no more significant than a swarm of insects or any kind of animal.

Notice that even if we could exist eternally, but if there were no God, our existence would still have no ultimate significance. As one author illustrates it, the scenario is like having drunk a potion for immortality, if there were one, but being deserted on a sterile lump of rock lost in outer space. Eternal life then would not be a ‘blessing’ but a ‘curse’—a curse to live a meaningless, unending life alone. Without God, man’s life could go on and on and still be ultimately without meaning—an unimaginably agonizing and wearisome life-long waiting for nothing really significant.

So we must thank the Lord that this dreadful nightmare suggested by atheism is not real—God does not simply exist but He lives and cares for His creation. Since He exists and we’ve been created in His image, it’s understandable that we feel an obligation to defend life and human dignity, and there’s real reason to stand up for the powerless and marginalized. Because God exists, our life has a purpose—we are far more than an assemblage of organic materials that accidentally evolved into humanity, we’re here for a very significant reason instead, our life is full of value, our accomplishments are significant, and our worth is marvellous. Since God lives, then there’s hope for the future, this world isn’t all there is, and death isn’t the end for there’s an eternity waiting for us. As such, our short years on earth are but a brief prelude to an unending glorious life.

Blessed therefore are we, people in God’s nation, for the Bible ascertains that it is His people who can really wait and hope for God’s salvation. By having faith in Christ, entering the Church that He built, and constantly submitting to God’s will, we were graced with the right to meet His Son on His Second Coming to receive eternal life. Being mortal we may die, but we will surely be resurrected to live eternally with the Lord. Our lives thus are not without meaning and direction for we “will also possess with Christ what God has kept for him”.

Inside the true Church, waiting therefore is not nonsense but full of meaning. While we wait inside this Church, something happens, for whatever service we do for the Lord in this earthly sojourn matters, and we know that we’re not hoping for nothing—the Lord Jesus Christ will surely come to give us “life” for the good things we’ve done. Waiting inside this Church even serves as an ingredient in our spiritual maturity as it builds into our characters significant traits such as patience, meekness, self-control, and endurance. Therefore, waiting here becomes an expression of trust in God who is “good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him” and who strengthens the hearts of those who wait on Him.

So when we, God’s children, feel weary, pale, and exhausted, as we encounter afflictions while waiting for Christ to come; when our spiritual energy has become almost depleted like a burnout victim, let us heed to the counsel from the Bible, that we should never give up, but instead “Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him … Trust also in Him, And He shall bring it to pass”. We, God’s peoplein these last days, are thus expected to always renew our strength by waiting still, as God Himself orders us, “Look to Me, and be saved, All you ends of the earth!...”

So, waiting, after all, can be meaningful and thus fun. You just have to be in the right place where you can have the right and privilege to meet Him whose most sought-after advent is a sure one! (Copyright 2013 by JDGM)




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