Man, I tell you what, Hank, ’bout there-that dang ol’ meaning o’ life, man. It’s like this, man. You like a butterfly flappin’ its wings deep-down in that forest, man. It gon’ cause a tree fall like five thousand miles away, man. If-an ain’t nobody see it, nobody don-doesn’t even happen, you know. If da baby born into this world, if it no ain’t got no God dang friends, it got no nothin’ but to come in and to find out all about ’em ol’ evil, man. Man, see, like, you don’t even know, man. What you gon’ – it’s like you born into this world, man, and you got like – it’s like this, man. Dust in the wind, man. Or like a dang ol’ candle in the wind, man. You gon’ – it don’t matter, man. It’s not the old oldies all how, man. You know what I think, man? It’s like the dang ol’ I think therefore you are, man.
Here’s a remix of the same:
1. This seems to be a mishmash of popular philosophical clichés. The philosophical clichés touch on topics ranging from the butterfly effect, chaos theory, free will vs. predestination, the problem of evil, the impermanence of life, the foundation for knowledge, among others.
2. Similarly it echoes questions like “What is the meaning of life?”, “Who am I?” or “Who are we?”, “What is our purpose?”, “Why are we here?”, “Is there a God?”, “What is good?”, “Why is there evil?”, and others. These are questions most of us have asked since we were children.
3. However, left to our own devices, what would we really know? Could we ever find the answers to these questions? Are there even answers in the first place?
a. We’re finite beings. We’re not omniscient or omnipotent. We don’t have access to everything all at once. We can’t even see past the known universe.
b. Logic and reason have their limitations. They can only get us so far.
c. Likewise math and science, which presume logic and reason, as well as make other assumptions like the uniformity of nature.
d. Science and math are descriptive, not prescriptive.
e. Our greatest intellects and geniuses say things like: “I know that I know nothing” (Socrates) and “I was born not knowing and have only had a little time to change that here and there” (Richard Feynman).
f. In short, we can’t answer the most basic questions children ask. At best we’d have to guess about the meaning of it all. Some of our guesswork might be reasonable, some of it might be unreasonable. Some of it might be true, some of it might not.
4. I think we could be able to reason to a God like the God of classical theism, but I don’t see how we would get much further. We’d be largely ignorant about God.
However, reasoning to the God of classical theism, or something like the God of classical theism, isn’t nothing. For example, it means reasoning to an omnipotent and omniscient creator who created all things including the universe in which we live and including ourselves. It means reasoning to a transcendent yet personal God. It means reasoning to a good God.
That’s about as far as we might be able to go on our own, but at least it’s something.
5. At the same time, I don’t see any way out of our conundrum. We could reason to classical theism, but we probably couldn’t go much further. Not on our own. We would need this God to reveal himself and explain the meaning of it all to us.
6. It would make sense such a God would want to reveal himself to us. After all, if the God of classical theism exists, then it stands to reason this God is good, not evil. Likewise, though there’s certainly much evil, we likewise see many evidences of good in life. Why wouldn’t a good, omnipotent, omniscient, transcendent, and personal God who created us wish to reveal himself to us, at least to some degree?
7. Yet there are only a handful of religions which (a) believe in a God like the God of classical theism and (b) claim this God has revealed himself to us. Namely: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
The Eastern religions are by and large pantheism or atheistic. But these quite arguably fall apart logically, in my view. I’ve talked about how so in the past (e.g. the pantheism of Hinduism is impersonal, but how can the personal arise from the impersonal?).
In this respect, we have our choices narrowed down for us. It must be the God of the Abrahamic religions. But which one?
8. In brief, as Steve Hays has put it: “The dilemma for the Muslim is that Muhammad presents himself as a successor to the Biblical prophets. So Islam can’t be true unless the Judeo-Christian tradition is true. If, however, Islam contradicts the Judeo-Christian tradition, then Islam is falsified by the Judeo-Christian benchmark.”
Indeed, there’s much evidence Islam contradicts the Bible. There are too many examples to list, but some obvious ones center on Jesus. For instance, Islam believes Jesus is not the Son of God, and in fact that it would be wrong to say God has any “son”, but Christianity does teach this. Islam teaches Jesus is a prophet, not God incarnate. Moreover Islam does not believe Jesus died on the cross, while Christians do. Christianity and Islam can’t both be right about Jesus. This is just the tip of the iceberg too.
So it’s really a choice between Judaism and Christianity. The key question (among many questions) is who is Jesus? Is Jesus the promised Messiah? Jews say no, Christians say yes. In fact, the first Christians were Jews who argued yes. Christian simply means “little follower of Christ” and “Christ” is the Greek term for “Messiah”. So Christians are “Messiah followers”.
The New Testament supplies answers and arguments as to why Jesus is the Messiah. The One to come. The One predicted from ages past who would come and save the world and restore it to Edenic paradise after all his people are gathered in.
9. So, if anyone wants answers, I’d say pick up and read the Bible, along with a book like The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Tom Schreiner), which shows one how the biblical storyline fits together and unfolds. You don’t have to agree with the Bible, but reason and honesty do require understanding the Bible on its own terms rather than on our terms.