Reality and Eternity

My last post talked about the “why” questions in life, in the sense that the avoidance of such questions leaves out discussion on some important things with huge implications. This post is about those implications.

The main implication I want to discuss involves eternal life. This term simply means a life that lasts forever (into eternity) rather than ending at a certain point in time.

I think consideration of this topic is important in part because of the reality we live in. And that reality is you are going to die. To many death seems like a casual thing that appears in movies and news reports constantly. But people do not think of the point from a first person perpective – “I am going to die” – nearly as much. And not only that, but you never know when this event is going to happen. You could get into a car accident tomorrow and cease to live.

With that in mind, questions like “why do humans exist?” become more important and urgent. What if there is an answer to that question, say a particular purpose for human life, and you are not adhering to that purpose? You would not be living to your full potential as a human.

Many people think that there is not only one true purpose to live, but instead an individual makes his own purpose. Purpose can come through things like hobbies, work, humanitarian efforts, and the impact made on society through what you do on Earth.

 However, even if this viewpoint is true, the problem of ultimate annihilation still remains. At some point, life on Earth will cease to exist, whether it is through the explosion of the sun or by other means. Any advances in society and humanity will come to an abrupt end. Looking at the world from this super long-term perspective, life seems to not have ultimate meaning overall, even if there is some relative (i.e. human-determined) purpose in it.

The book of Ecclesiastes (which many think the king Solomon wrote) in the Bible discusses this idea. The book kicks off with a quotation:

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”

The author then explains the things he pursued in life – wisdom, pleasure, and riches – and his conclusion that these things are a “chasing after the wind”, or pointless in the end. Death is imminent, and all those things he accomplished will largely be forgotten.

This passage is not necessarily saying that everything people do is pointless. If that were the case, the author would not have much of a point in writing those words! Instead, the passage describes these things more as “temporal”. Desires and life itself will cease, whether there is some meaning in those things or not.

That long-term perspective brings me back to my main point. I think there is a very big reason why questions like “Why do humans exist?”, “What is the purpose of life?”, and “Does God exist?” are some of the most important questions to ask. And that is, if there is any potential that there is eternal life beyond death, those types of questions have heavier implications than any other we can ask. The answers to those questions may reveal truth about life beyond death, and about an eternal being or entity. 

With the long-term outlook I discussed above, these eternal things do have ultimate meaning, and create a foundation for “temporal” things to have meaning as well. For example, those temporal things could change the reality of what happens into eternity. If  life does not continue into eternity, then when all life ends, everything will truly be meaningless (if there is anything in the first place!)

I am not using this point as an argument for the existence of God or the truth of an eternal life. It could be true that all life will one day cease to exist, even if it implies that life ultimately has no meaning. However, I am saying that some questions are more worth considering, putting time into, and coming to a reasonable conclusion about than others. And these questions with eternal implications top the list.

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One Response to Reality and Eternity

  1. Pingback: My Year in Song – 2015 Edition | Viewing Out

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