Mortality and the Illusion of Meaning

My friend Norm passed on New Year’s Day. He’d made a surprising comeback from my original post to the point where he had a fantastic Christmas with his family, then took a sudden turn the next day and was gone within one week.

In the same time, several of my musical heroes–Lemmy, David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and Dale Griffin–passed in rapid succession, further reminding me how short life is.

While my grandparents were still alive, the end of my life was not tangible. But since my dad’s death nearly four years ago, and as more of my parents’ generation passes, I have become acutely aware of how little time I have remaining.

As the eventuality of my own death becomes more real, my awareness of the lack of true meaning of life grows. Fool yourself all you want, but unless there is a supernatural being(s) who can provide purpose to our existence, the answer, as Douglas Adams wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, becomes the only plausible response: “42.” That is, life is meaningless if this is all there is. Search all you want, but in a wholly naturalistic universe, there is no significance to our existence apart from the illusions we create to fill our desire to have meaning.

That is why I believe in God. I would rather have the hope of having purpose that only a supernatural being could provide than to live out what’s left of my mortal existence knowing that life is meaningless and hope is an illusion.


What is Peace?

Driving through Seattle yesterday, I saw another sign proclaiming a desire for peace on earth. A worthy desire, but not likely, outside of a new Pax Romana that is enforced by a power brutal enough to deal with all opposition.

Then I asked myself, what sort of peace do we desire? It seems that most of the clamor for peace that I see in Western civilization, or at least in the U.S., is a call for external peace, that is, a lack of strife and suffering.

I do see some who are wise enough to recognize that there is a greater peace to be had that is internal, but again, what does that sort of peace look like?

Is it a life that has ample money and other goods to lack want? Is it a life where all my family members act happy if not 100% of the time, at least 95%, and hide the other 5% so I’m not bothered by it?

Security and felicity do provide a sense of safety and prosperity, and that is peace of a sort, but does it eliminate strife with my neighbor or my kid who has a different opinion than me?

I have the feeling that real peace–that is, internal peace–is something different entirely, something that is tied to being content with my lot in life no matter the circumstances I currently face.

If this is the case, then Lord help me, because I don’t know if that kind of peace is humanly possible.