In approaching the meaning of life we have to examine the nature of meaning itself. Meaning is by definition the point, or the intended goal. Consider the point of humans and the universe as seen from monotheistic religion. If life and the universe is some sort of toy or form of entertainment for some prime mover, his point, his own entertainment, would then be the meaning of humans and the universe. Consider the goals of the deities of various cultures. Some strive for a balance between the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’. This balance seems to simply be a choice of the deity, the way he thinks it ought to be.
The concept of a prime mover as a source of the meaning of life is flawed, because in talking about an actual point to absolutely everything, we are simply considering the goals of a being more powerful than ourselves who has chosen one of many possible goals that humans can conceive of. This is to say that, if a god like this exists, his goal for life and the universe is not necessarily valid as a meaning of life, the universe, and himself. For instance, the Bible claims that the Christian deity created the universe and placed humans in it that they might be in awe of his power.
If this is so, why is worship the correct response? The meaning of the universe as created by God is the entertainment of God, but what is the meaning of the larger system containing God and his creations? We could conceive of an even ‘primer’ mover, but that simply takes us all the way back into the wall of infinite regression. When I first read the Bible, it struck me as neutral on the idea of worship. The Bible flat out tells you that God created humans so that they would be in awe of him, which amounts to saying God created us to inflate his ego.
We are to God as our pets are to ourselves, sources of nconditional love. In the book of Job, God essentially makes a gentleman’s bet with Satan that Job’s worship is genuine and not inspired by God’s kindness. In other words, you throw a rock at my dog and I’ll swing my arm so it looks I threw it, and we’ll see if he still comes when I call him. In the end, Job is not simply the dog, because he questions God’s throwing of the rock. God’s response is consistent with his goal of inspiring awe. Even though the idea of a bet with Satan is well within Job’s grasp, God claims that his purpose was inconceivable to Job.
God is simply fortifying the concept that is critical to he continuance of human worship: that with inconceivable power comes incredible intelligence and unknowable purpose. The narrator of the Bible, which is supposedly God himself, speaking through humans, never directly says that he should be worshipped. This is merely the interpretation of humans, who may be created in God’s image with one crucial difference, the need to worship. Perhaps then, God is after the meaning of life. Imagine a being so powerful as to be able to create and mould the universe, who, like Roman and Greek gods, is only marginally more intelligent than his creations.
Perhaps God, in all his ridiculous power, cannot change himself. In order to find the meaning of his own existence he creates the human race so that we might evolve to an intelligence greater than his own, in much the same way that a computer programmer wishes to create true AI, an intelligence greater than human, which might ‘evolve’ within a computer. We are given the title of pet and the instinct of worship while the creator waits for a companion in the search for meaning. Of course this is wrong, or I would have been struck by a lightning bolt during that last sentence nd brought to God’s side.
Or perhaps God is not aware of his own success yet, or perhaps I am not the first to uncover God’s purpose, and my predecessor is debating meaning with God as we speak. Or perhaps I am intended to continue to search from the perspective that has proved so useful. In any case, this may amount to Christianity being a giant misunderstanding. At the very least, it means I can walk up to a Christian, tell him I believe in God and everything in the Bible, and ask him what the candles and the cathedrals are for.
Back again o the one and only point: if a meaning exists it is not necessarily the purpose of our creation or existence. It has a larger scope, and can refer to the meaning of the existence of the being or force creating us, if such a force exists. This whole essay may seem simply a chance to bash Christianity and give intelligence even more of a right to inspire ego. Yet is not the egotism that is present in celebrating the most Godlike trait in man, his intelligence, more forgivable and less blinding than the egotism of equating the meaning of ourselves to the meaning of the universe?