Why do we search for meaning to life?

Why do we, as human beings, seek meaning and purpose for our lives. The Monty Python explanation aside, seriously, why do we contemplate our “being?” Why do we ask, “Why am I here?” Why won’t this question ever go away? 

And why do we search for answers when tragedy strikes? What is it about us that won’t rest until we find this closure? If we’re here just to exist, why do we look for meaning to life? Why do we wonder?

And why is it that, as far as we know, only humans ask these questions? For example, our pets don’t wonder about the meaning of life; despite our anthropomorphic imaginations about what they may be thinking, they just exist and survive and respond to stimuli.

Why must we express these ponderings in art, poetry, literature, and music? Why is the most popular subject about romantic love? Why isn’t it just about responding to our sexual animal instincts so we can pass on our genes to the next generation?

It seems, for most people, finding ultimate meaning to their lives has nothing to do with science. As Jose Ortega y Gasset said:

Any philosophy of life, any way of thinking about the questions that really matter will thus end up going beyond science—not because there is anything wrong with science, but precisely because its intellectual virtues are won at a price: science works so well because it is so focused and specific in its methods. Scientific truth is characterized by its precision and the certainty of its predictions. But science achieves these admirable qualities at the cost of remaining secondary concerns, leaving ultimate and decisive questions untouched.” (Ortega, “El origen deportivo del estado,” quoted from McGrath, “The Big Question…”, p.4)

Despite the concerted efforts of extreme antitheist polemicists like Richard Dawkins and those who have followed in his footsteps, the percentage of Americans who are spiritual is going up (Pew 2017 – people are also getting less religious, but I would include myself there). The point here is, people intuitively know that our lives cannot be defined by or reduced to our biology.

Theologian, N.T. Wright shared his thoughts on the meaning of life, that we sense that we were made for something more than what we can see and observe. And that there’ve been profound intuitions about the metaphysical reality going back to the beginning of time.

As Ortega said, this is why science can only answer secondary concerns. The big picture questions remain untouched. And as Nobel Prize winning biologist Sir Peter Medawar said, these are “questions that science cannot answer and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer.” (“The Limits of Science,” p.66)

MIT professor Rosalind Picard is also an active inventor with multiple patents, including wearable and non-contact sensors, algorithms, and systems for sensing, recognizing, and responding respectfully to human affective information. Her inventions have applications in autism, epilepsy, depression, PTSD, and many others. In spite of all her accomplishments, she shares how she found real meaning to her life in this short clip:

According to Dr. Ravi Zacharias, it seems there are four rudimentary components that brings meaning to our lives. The four come together as a composite and cannot stand in isolation.

  1. Wonder (a sense of awe, enchantment, transcendence)
  2. Truth (about our true identity, worth, destiny)
  3. Love (to be loved for your own sake and nothing else)
  4. Security (that death is not the end)

Dr. Zacharias shares an amazing story about a Vietnamese man put in prison after the war finding meaning in discarded pages of the Bible (used for toilet paper) in spite of having atheist Marxism pounded into his head by his captors.

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Act 17:24-28 NIV)

About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 40 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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51 Responses to Why do we search for meaning to life?

  1. misterkiddo456 says:

    Reblogged this on The Life of Living Above.

  2. misterkiddo456 says:

    He sure is amazing. 🙂

  3. Nan says:

    You wrote, people intuitively know that our lives cannot be defined by or reduced to our biology.. Intuitively know? IMO, you’re making a rather broad statement here. If a person spends any time at all thinking about it, I’d be more inclined to say s/he would wonder about it.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I would agree that they may not consciously think of it in these terms but, nonetheless, what’s important to them cannot be reduced to their biology. And the wondering is there, even though they may not spend a lot of time actually pondering it.

  4. David Robertson says:

    I think above all other factors, it was these “big” questions that led me away from atheism. Great article

  5. john zande says:

    1) Why do we look for meaning to life?
    2) Why do we wonder?
    3) And why is it that, as far as we know, only humans ask these questions?

    1&2. Mortality salience/Existential death anxiety/Terror Management (Theory)
    3. A melon sized brain (with a huge frontal cortex) capable of abstract and predictive thought coupled to the invention of symbolic language.

    Two questions for you:

    1) ~100,000 years ago, Palaeolithic clans started burying their dead with grave goods; instruments of impossible value and scarcity, including tools and weapons and jewellery… instruments only useful to the living. Why?

    2) Since Kenneth Arnold’s famed 1947 spotting of “flying disks” over the Cascade Mountains, virtually every new religion registered on earth has been a UFO religion. Why?

    • Mel Wild says:

      1&2. Mortality salience/Existential death anxiety/Terror Management (Theory)
      3. A melon sized brain (with a huge frontal cortex) capable of abstract and predictive thought coupled to the invention of symbolic language.

      Yes, but why do we have this kind of brain? What’s the purpose if there’s nothing outside of the material world? Why the terror management if there’s nothing more that what we see? Why do we continue to theorize and obsess over something that’s not possible? Why don’t we just exist, reproduce, and die? Why do we have to “invent” religion and symbolism at all? Your reductionist dismissal doesn’t answer the these kinds of questions.

      • john zande says:

        I answered your questions, and if I may say so, they’re questions only the incurious ask.

        The very fact that your post did not even scratch at mortality salience, existential death anxiety, Terror Management Theory, and the advent of symbolic language (the byproduct of the frontal cortex in modern humans) demonstrates to me that your post is, essentially, a facade… a phantom piece pretending to be something far more than what it actually is.

        If you wish to peel open and explore (honestly explore) the library I have shown you then by all means do so, I hope you do, and once you’ve familiarised yourself with the content of this library, I suspect you’ll be in a position to ask pertinent and directed and meaningful questions… Questions that lead to actual, tangible answers.

        Now, I asked you two question. Could you address them, please….

        • Mel Wild says:

          No, John, you didn’t even touch my questions. And the fact that you cannot admit that science has limits (and always will have limits) shows that you fully embrace scientism, not actual science. Your worldview is just the flip side of anti-science religious fundamentalism.

        • john zande says:

          And so begins The-Great-Mel-Wild-Diversionary-Song-and-Dance-Routine.

          I don’t have time for this nonsense.

          You have my questions.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And here comes John with this totally irrelevant red herrings so he can twist it back at me in accusation. The subject is WHY do we look for meaning to life? Is it possible for you to actually stick to the subject for once? Just wondering? Because your questions have nothing to do with this post.

          You have my relevant questions. Stop avoiding them with your dismissive diversions. Your irrelevant questions will be ignored.

          And I also want you to tell me what you think are the limits of science on explaining reality. If you dismiss it again with instrumentation, we have no reason to continue. I won’t be able to have a rational conversation with you.

        • john zande says:

          1) Why do we look for meaning to life?
          2) Why do we wonder?
          3) And why is it that, as far as we know, only humans ask these questions?

          1.&2. Mortality salience/Existential death anxiety/Terror Management (Theory)
          3. A melon sized brain (with frontal cortex) capable of abstract and predictive thought coupled to the invention of symbolic language.

          Two questions for you:

          1) ~100,000 years ago, Palaeolithic clans started burying their dead with grave goods; instruments of impossible value and scarcity, including tools and weapons and jewellery… instruments only useful to the living. Why?

          2) Since Kenneth Arnold’s famed 1947 spotting of “flying disks” over the Cascade Mountains, virtually every new religion registered on earth has been a UFO religion. Why?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Repeating your comments verbatim doesn’t answer the question any better, John. WHY do we think about mortality or have anxiety about these things? Why should they matter to us? And telling me about the physical makeup of the brain doesn’t answer the question. Why do we have this type of brain to think these kinds of thoughts? You’re still not addressing the questions.

          Again, your two questions are totally irrelevant and will be ignored. Please stick to the subject.

        • john zande says:

          You are doing nothing, Mel, but demonstrating your steadfast desire to remain ignorant.

          If you’d bothered to spend a moment actually looking into my answers, and less time fighting shadow-ghouls, you would see just how on-the-mark they are to your questions.

          And, if you’d bothered to spend a moment actually looking into my answers, and less time demonstrating your rage-filled bitterness, you would see just how on-topic my two questions are.

          My advice, drop your attitude and spend a moment actually looking at my answers. Educate yourself. Ignorance is not attractive.

          After familiarising yourself with the subjects, you will understand the cogency of these two questions to your post:

          1) ~100,000 years ago, Palaeolithic clans started burying their dead with grave goods; instruments of impossible value and scarcity, including tools and weapons and jewellery… instruments only useful to the living. Why?

          2) Since Kenneth Arnold’s famed 1947 spotting of “flying disks” over the Cascade Mountains, virtually every new religion registered on earth has been a UFO religion. Why?

        • Mel Wild says:

          And your ignoring the subject and my questions.

        • john zande says:

          Oh, but I’m not ignoring anything. I’m right on subject, and you saying I’m not simply demonstrates your ignorance.

          But OK, I see it’s just going to be another case of The-Great-Mel-Wild-Diversionary-Song-and-Dance-Routine.

          You have my answers.

          You have my questions.

          When you want to behave like an adult, let me know.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Okay, my answer to your two irrelevant question is I don’t care. So what, John? Go talk to someone in that field who actually cares about that stuff. I’m done here. You are being ridiculous.
          And that’s how an adult would handle your childish playground taunts. Good-bye.

        • john zande says:

          Curious. If you don’t care about “that stuff,” why, then, did you write a post on “that stuff”?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Curious. If you don’t care about “that stuff,” why, then, did you write a post on “that stuff”?

          What does Paleolithic clans burying their dead with grave goods and UFO religions have to do with answering the question WHY people seek meaning to their lives?

        • john zande says:

          What does Paleolithic clans burying their dead with grave goods and UFO religions have to do with answering the question WHY people seek meaning to their lives?

          And there it is. You have absolutely no idea whatsoever as to the meat behind your questions. And you don’t even care.

          So, tell me, Mel: Why are my questions irrelevant? Be specific. You levelled the charge, you made the accusation, so tell me, what do my questions even pertain to?

        • Mel Wild says:

          You still haven’t told me why this is relevant to WHY we wonder about the meaning of life. So, your question is STILL irrelevant. This is why…

          You are just giving examples of people who seek meaning in various ways but you’re not addressing the question. Why would they do this in the first place?

        • john zande says:

          Why are my questions irrelevant? Be specific. What do they even pertain to?

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why don’t you understand this, John? Your questions are not relevant because they do not address WHY people do what they do to find meaning to their lives. This post is NOT abut what people do. You’re not explaining why we do these kinds of things in the first place. In other words, why do humans do this at all if there’s no possibility of an afterlife? And why does this need for transcendent meaning persist even with advancement in science? And why do top scientists like Francis Collins and others I posted here leave their atheism for theism in spite of the notion that science will make religion obsolete? Your examples do not address this at all.

        • john zande says:

          And how, exactly, can you say they’re irrelevant to your questions if you don’t even understand what they pertain to?

          Your defense of your own ignorance is quite remarkable, Mel.

          So, how about you just try to answer the two questions. They’re not going to bite. They’re not tricks. I’m not expecting you to give an academic answer, there is no real right or wrong. If you try to answer them, and drop this evasive song and dance routine for a second, then you will see how relevant they are.

        • Mel Wild says:

          My only ignorance here is because you have yet to explain their relevance to me. So, enlighten me as to how they explain WHY people want meaning to their lives. I told I personally don’t care about your questions, one way or the other. Ask someone who is in the field (or cares) if you need answers.

        • john zande says:

          And there, again, is The-Great-Mel-Wild-Diversionary-Song-and-Dance-Routine.

          Enjoy your state of perpetual ignorance, Mel.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Since you won’t explain yourself I guess I will remain ignorant of any point you’re trying to make. Good-bye then.

        • john zande says:

          Why do you write public posts that ask questions if you have no intention whatsoever of learning anything?

          Evolution answers your questions.

          Why does man build? Physiologically speaking, because he has a brain capable of planning and an opposable thumb, which means he can hold and manipulate a tool. Before that physical evolutionary quirk, building was impossible.

          The same applies to your so-called ‘existential’ questions…. Thoughts based on nothing but human imagination.

          Somewhere between 200,000 and 100,000 years ago, the human frontal cortex reached its current (proportionately colossal) size. And when it did, we, quite literally, became modern “Humans.”

          The frontal cortex is responsible for imagination, predictive and abstract thought, planning, language, personality, long-term emotional memories. It is where superstitions are born, which are nothing but blunders in causal association. The frontal cortex is where children dream up imaginary friends. Today, somewhere between half and three-quarters of all 4 year olds have imaginary friends. The remainder all have the capacity to dream up companions but for one reason or another simply don’t, or just don’t say. For children the belief that some form of life apart from that experienced in a body can exist is the default setting, a Palaeolithic artefact, and those who dream up friends are found to be more creative and socially advanced. They use more complex sentence structure, have more diverse and richer vocabularies, and get along better with classmates. The explanation arrived at by Evan Kidd of Melbourne’s La Trobe Universe is that children who create imaginary companions – an activity centered in the frontal cortex – give themselves a chance to practice both sides of the conversation. They try on different roles, wear different hats, think abstractly, and by doing so tease out more original ideas.

          Think about that.

          Before the frontal cortex, none of those things (like thinking about the future, about death, about our own death) were possible. None.

          “Imagination allows us to escape our current time, place, or perspective in favor of an alternative context, whether that may be fanciful or mundane. So imagination is a mechanism for specifying and maintaining a context that differs from our more immediate and stimulus-driven experiences or contexts”

          The first Palaeolithic burials with grave goods coincide perfectly with the growing of the frontal cortex, which in-turn coincides with the advent of symbolic language, and language dragged into existence an entirely new evolutionary paradigm where genes were replaced by memes. In this new landscape, ideas, like some genetic mutation, could compete in a marketplace of ideas, and if beneficial, selected and spread.

          What was the meme that Palaeolithic burials with grave goods suggests?

          It points directly to mortality salience, and once seen it cannot be unseen. This leads to existential death anxiety, and existential death anxiety leads directly to Terror Management Theory, which asserts that the conflict between the desire to survive and an individual’s inevitable death gives rise to—and drives—virtually every human activity. Indeed, according to TMT, mortality salience is so strong, so pervasive, so energetic and compelling that it works retroactively, reaching back into the heart of what it means to be human, precipitating the very development of symbolic language in the first instance.

          That is to say, existential death anxiety birthed human culture: birthed the fantastic world of memes. It drove it from within, pushing it out, dressing what it means to be ‘human’ in evermore elaborate mechanisms of denial.

          “True existentialism,” wrote Colin Wilson, “is the dramatic investigation of human nature through the medium of art.”

          Think about that.

          Prior to the invention of language it is held, and persuasively so, that this uniquely human psychological maelstrom (a fractious, unrestrained fear of dying ignited by the awareness that all natural life must end) did not exist (see “Death anxiety and the emotion-processing mind,”Psychoanalytic Psychology, vol. 21, no.1, 31-53; Langs, R. 2004). Without symbolic language, it could not exist. It had no means to exist.

          You see, you’re asking the wrong question, Mel.

          Palaeolithic burials with grave goods are the first indications that human imagination had dreamed of some “solution” to death; a world outside reality. Why else, after all, would a clan 100,000 years ago include instruments of impossible value and scarcity (tools and weapons and jewellery) in the graves of the dead if they had not first imagined the dead having some use for these possessions in some other existence, some life after life?

          The lie was sweet, and the meme was selected.

          From an evolutionary perspective, these carefully shaped falsehoods have proved so beneficial to the success of the species that the human brain has bent itself in remarkable ways, adapting and physically rearranging itself over some 6,600 generations to make this gorgeous self-deception easier (See Neil Garret, et al., 2016, The brain adapts to dishonesty, Nature Neuroscience, 27 September). Indeed, a large body of research demonstrates that the more we lie, and the more we are exposed to the ever-so-delicious lies of others, the uneasiness felt by us in the face of deception weakens.

          In a sentence, nature beatified our newly acquired ability for imaginiative self-deception. It is a remarkable adaption, the unearthly trick of all earthly tricks, and there are real benefits.

          The frontal cortex, mortality salience, existential death anxiety, and Terror Management Theory. These things have driven the memes you’re trying to draw attention to.

          Why do we fear death? That answer is found in the most ancient recesses of evolution… all the way back to the first proto-cells, long before DNA, in the RNA World.

          Homeostasis (the tendency to equilibrium through physiological processes) is the basal program which says “maintain yourself.”

          Apart from being physiologically disposed to finding solutions to death, there is also a human neurological development explanation for why we ask “existential” questions.

          Laurence McKinney argued that although we are born with nearly every neuron we will ever have – trillions of them – we enter this world “not at once, but by degrees,” and what’s left after this three or so year-long introduction is a sort of inescapable super massive cognitive black hole that not only drives our curiosity but draws us onto a shadowy landscape where questions of being reside.

          Much unlike a Christmas tree, 23,000,000,000 cerebral neurons (85,000,000,000 throughout the entire nervous system) don’t just come online all at once. Neurologically speaking it takes ten months, give or take, for a newborn to even discover that it is separate from its environment. It takes another twenty-four months for that same infant to get a fair handle on that environment, and most importantly, themselves. Before that moment, for the first three years of our lives, our brains are busy in a process called aborization, meaning tree, where oceans of bulbous neurons and their branchlike axons spur on the growth and subdivision of an expanding universe of twiglike dendrites to make contact with up to 50,000 paths each to form a nearly unimaginably complex storage, retrieval, and sequential image processing apparatus. Before this process is complete, for those first 36 months, we do not participate in conscious life as we adults understand it. It’s rather the case that we enter it by increments; small baby steps as connection after connection is made and the brain literally hooks itself up.

          It is only toward or just after our 36th month does the frantic process of aborization settle down meaning memories are no longer misshaped by brain growth; they can be encoded, associated, retrieved, and reread whenever needed marking a shift in consciousness where we quite literally leave behind the childlike perspective of cascading surprise and enter a world where events are ordered in time. This gap between birth and cognitive recognition of our lives, however, remains and persists as an unchanging memoryless darkness; a gigantic blind spot in our experienced lives from which McKinney and others since have argued tough, taxing and altogether obnoxiously nagging philosophical questions such as “where did I come from” and “where does it all go” originate.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Why do you write public posts that ask questions if you have no intention whatsoever of learning anything?
          Evolution answers your questions.

          John, you could’ve just said this up front instead of playing your accusing games and wasting my time. These are all compelling reasons that explain the development of our brain over time. And, yes, evolution can explain the process. Two quick things in response to that.

          First, the hypotheses about death anxiety and what humans were actually thinking and such are mixing actual scientific data with speculation and you know it. That’s why it’s debatable. There are other scientists who say your version of scientism is overreaching and interjecting their own metaphysical naturalist worldview into their conclusions to fill in the blanks.

          Second, if we stick to actual science, it still doesn’t address WHY our brain developed this way. Why should it? Other animal’s brains didn’t develop this way. We’re the only ones who ask these kinds of questions, come up with philosophies, make laboratories to test things, or have conferences to debate it.

          And, in the end, we’re still just talking about “process” here and not the ultimate “why.” In other words, I might be able to precisely describe the behavior of what something does but I still have not addressed why they do in the first place. Or why we look for meaning in the first place. There are a lot of reasons I could give besides this, but it will have to do for now.

        • john zande says:

          Don’t try and blame your diversionary song and dance routine on me.

          First, the hypotheses about death anxiety and what humans were actually thinking and such are mixing actual scientific data with speculation and you know it.

          Far more than speculation. We can deduce it with a great level of confidence from the burials with grave goods and fossil records recording the growth of the frontal cortex. The two events line up perfectly in time. The explanation for the shift in behaviour is widely, if not universally, accepted.

          The causal relation is solid.

          But of course, you’re free to posit an alternative hypothesis, with supporting evidence.

          Can you?

          What is you alternative hypothesis?

          WHY our brain developed this way.

          Cooked meat, that’s why. All mammals have frontal cortex’s. Cooked meat produced more calories without increasing stomach size, and the smarter amongst our ancestors (those who could predict future events better) were, for obvious reasons, “selected.”

          Evolution in action.

          Why should it?

          Better survival through planning and behaviour directed by prediction. Spending less rtime being prey, and more time altering our environment. A shared belief system would have also forged stronger bonds between clan members. Stronger clans were more likely to survive thereby reinforcing the behaviour and encouraging its development even further. The practice would have also put immense strain on available language, demanding the invention of new words to both identify the act of burial and begin to explain this fantastic new notion of some form of life after death. Greater language capacity also increases survivability. A more robust lexicon enables more complex thoughts to be shared.

          And, in the end, we’re still just talking about “process” here and not the ultimate “why.”

          Oh for fucks sake! Are you serious? Are you actually serious?

          Mortality salience, Existential Death Anxiety, and Terror Management Theory

        • Mel Wild says:

          John, you are still not addressing my actual question. I know you think you are but you’re not. I will let geneticist, Francisco J. Ayala, explain it better than I can. You are free to disagree.

        • john zande says:

          Mortality salience, Existential Death Anxiety, and Terror Management Theory.

          If you have an alternative hypothesis, then show me it, with whatever supporting evidence you have.

        • john zande says:

          *Apart from being neurologically disposed…

        • Nan says:

          I’m not John ( 😉 ) but I’d be curious to know your answers to the questions you asked of him re: mortality, anxiety, and why it matters. And I’d also like to know if you can answer them without referencing a supreme creator (since there’s no solid evidence that one exists). IOW, try remaining totally neutral in your answers … if you can.

        • Mel Wild says:

          I’d be curious to know your answers to the questions you asked of him re: mortality, anxiety, and why it matters.

          As N.T. Wright said in the video, when we see death something doesn’t sit right with us. There’s a natural abhorrence to death. There’s an injustice about it. And we want closure when tragedy strikes. And because we wonder in the first place about things. I mean, why do we do science at all? Why do we care? Why must we figure things out? Animals don’t do this. And we have a natural instinct or intuition that there’s got to be something more. I want to be part of something bigger than myself. We look up in the sky and marvel. Children do these things naturally because these are things that seem to be inherent in human beings. And we find that these non-scientific questions are the most meaningful questions of all. When we get to the end of our life we won’t care a hoot about how our biology works, or inflation, the big bang, or quantum vacuums. We will want to know if our life had meaning and purpose. And we will want to know that we are not alone, that we are loved for our own sakes, and that we matter. Of course, none of this proves God or no God, but science will never answer these questions either, so we must go beyond science to talk about these things. In the end, we must go with what makes sense of things for us.

          Even Bertrand Russell had to admit, “I cannot live by the logical outworking’s of what I’m saying, so in some cases I’ll have to act as if God actually exists.”

        • Nan says:

          Thanks for your response, Mel, but I don’t really feel you answered the question you asked of John (and I asked of you), i.e., “WHY do we think about mortality or have anxiety about these things?”

          To me, considering whether our life had meaning or purpose or to know we were loved has little to no weight when we think about mortality. IMO, we think about it because we don’t like the idea of our life ending. And we have anxiety because we know everything we are or have been means nothing when death is standing at the door. (I do agree with you that science won’t enter the picture at that moment either.)

          You also asked, why do these things matter to us? Why do they matter, Mel? Isn’t it more because of what I just said … that we will no longer be around to enjoy life and all that entails?

          I know most all religions include some type of “hope” that life doesn’t really end at our final breath. And I’m sure that helps to overcome the anxiety we all feel, but it is a false hope. It is hanging onto a gossamer thread.

        • Mel Wild says:

          And I’m sure that helps to overcome the anxiety we all feel, but it is a false hope. It is hanging onto a gossamer thread.

          Now I’m curious. How you know it’s a false hope?

        • Nan says:

          Mel, I think you pretty much know how I’m going to answer your question so I can’t help but wonder why you ask. Nonetheless …

          There are certain things in this life that simply cannot be validated. We either believe something ,.. or we don’t. In regards to an afterlife — and I almost hate to say this because it’s often so contentious — there is simply NO evidence. It doesn’t matter whether one believes in reincarnation or simply that the soul/spirit exists beyond death, it is a false hope because it is “not in accordance with fact, reality or actuality.”

          Certainly the idea that we exist beyond the grave is comforting. And if it helps some people get through this life … or face the end of this life … then I see no harm. But, to my way of thinking, that’s all it is. A comforting thought.

        • Mel Wild says:

          Thanks for clarifying, Nan. I hope you understand that your statement, “there is simply NO evidence” is a biased statement. We must ask, what do you mean by “evidence?” Certainly, if we are talking about something that exists outside of the material world, it cannot be material evidence and will never be verified by scientific method. This is the same argument against miracles but it’s circular reasoning because we’re saying we don’t believe in something outside of the material world because it cannot be proven in the material world. But we do have other kinds of experiential evidence that cannot just dismissed (just because it cannot be scientifically proven.)

          Again, this doesn’t prove God or even the afterlife. But the preponderance of this kind of “evidence” is compelling if you’re open to the possibility. So, I and millions of others would say it’s more than just a comforting thought.

        • Nan says:

          But Mel … surely you must admit it’s really nothing more than hope.

          It’s apparent from your perspective on life that you want to believe in “spiritual” things … and that’s fine. We all have our individual paths to follow through this life. But to constantly downgrade the idea of proof (since this is pretty much what substantiates our existence) is rather vacuous. In fact, I can’t help but wonder why it’s so important to you that others see the “possibility” of “this kind” of evidence … ?? Those that do … do. Those that don’t … don’t. Must everyone be on “your side”?

        • Mel Wild says:

          But Mel … surely you must admit it’s really nothing more than hope.
          It’s apparent from your perspective on life that you want to believe in “spiritual” things … and that’s fine.

          Yes, it is hope. But hope (in a biblical sense) is not wishful thinking with no knowledge. It’s confidence in the promises of God. And I personally have ongoing experiential knowledge of my relationship with God. So, it’s more than just a “want.” I personally have more confidence in God than I have for most things in life. My relationship with God is just as real to me as my relationship with my wife (although not in a physical sense). The question of God is not even debatable for me personally. I just can’t prove it to you with material evidence.

          It’s important to me because it not only makes the most sense of things that science cannot explain but it’s transformational for me as a human being. It has changed everything in my life. As C.S. Lewis once said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”

  6. David Robertson says:

    Too me, the persistence of these questions in itself is subtle evidence for something greater than the material universe

  7. Nan says:

    Hi Mel … starting a new thread. Hope that’s OK.

    You wrote, “And I personally have ongoing experiential knowledge of my relationship with God. Would you be willing to elaborate?

    • Mel Wild says:

      I can but it will have to wait. I won’t be at my computer for awhile.

      • Nan says:

        Still waiting …

        • john zande says:

          I’m still waiting, too…

        • Mel Wild says:

          Still waiting …

          Again, I cannot prove experiential knowledge, so I’m not sure my answer will satisfy you.

          First, the most common experience is the constant sense of well-being I have in my ongoing relationship with Christ. I can feel His presence and this relationship has totally transformed my thinking. I’m a very different person than I was before I began to participate in His life. The change was instantaneous (38 years ago), but the transformation is ongoing. I feel the Father’s love for me as His son. The inner turmoil of having to find meaning, be affirmed, have value, my identity, have all been answered. I don’t have to prove myself anymore. I am more free today that I’ve ever been because I know who I am and why I exist. I am free to walk in ever increasing grace and love unconditionally because I am loved. And because I am loved, I can freely give it away. I never have to worry about someone taking this away from me because He is the one holding my heart. Therefore, I’m free to love my wife, my kids, my friends, neighbors, everyone fully and without reserve. As you probably know, Scripture calls this the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. That’s the true evidence of following Christ. It doesn’t matter if people reject me, I am accepted, and I walk in that state 24/7. His perfect love has cast out my orphan-hearted fear.

          But I’ve also had experiences with God that you probably will not accept. These are the supernatural kind. I will just share the ones I’ve had personal experience with. I’ve had visions and words given to me that have been confirmed by other people when I shared them, probably hundreds of these kinds of occurrences over the years. I’ve been given words that were confirmed in me by people who had no prior knowledge of these things. I’ve seen hundreds of people healed, many instantly. My sister-in-law was instantly healed of severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (chronic). It was so bad that narcotics did not help the pain anymore and her feet were swollen. The pain instantly went away and swelling gone within 24 hours. That was over 5 years ago with no relapse or pain since. We prayed for a man in our church who was in the ICU with a brain tumor. The doctors said he would die within 24 hours. After praying for him in the ICU, he began to recover and is now in full health. The doctors themselves called it a miracle. That was 11 years ago. Since then, he’s been to China twice, Israel twice, and all over Europe (for his business). We’ve also had many people healed of cancer, broken bones, etc.

          I could go on and on, but the point is, God is more real to me than most things, just not in a naturalistic way. And it’s not just my imagination (or hallucinations). Again, I don’t expect you to believe me, but you asked. 🙂 But you will also never convince me otherwise. An argument didn’t talk me into a relationship with Christ and an argument won’t talk me out of it. And even without these ongoing “realities” in my life, just on a logical level, I could never be an atheist. It’s a totally irrational position to me. These apologetic posts are only arguing on natural grounds because I cannot prove the supernatural to you. But it is just as real to me as the natural realm.

        • Nan says:

          Thank you, Mel. I appreciate you taking the time to share and I’m hoping you won’t get “attacked” for what you’ve written.

          I do understand where you’re coming from because, as I’ve previously indicated, I’ve been there, done that. I was as “convinced” as you are that there was a supernatural power at work — not only in my life, but in the lives of others. But as I wrote in my book — there came a day when the authenticity of my Christian experience began to dwindle away. Of course it didn’t happen overnight, but eventually I became deeply aware there was so much more to LIFE than anything Christianity could offer. And in the process, I also saw that “life happens” — whether it’s illness, hard luck, death, tragedy … whatever. It is what it is. And I’m OK with that because I’ve learned everything will all work out eventually … without any “divine help.”

          As for the “healings” you speak of … perhaps there are “miracles.” But as defined, miracles are simply … “Any amazing or wonderful occurrence.” And that’s the way I choose to see them.

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