I was reflecting on what it must be like to be a fully intelligent, free-willing being in a place other than earth, let's say heaven for example. In my reflection, I first pondered on the purpose of humanity and the meaning of existence. I realized that in life, we are preoccupied with items and cares, which on one hand define our living—for these items we live for (e.g. family, health, education, religion, charity, etc.). On the other hand, these very items, some more than others, consume our being until the day we are rendered fully inconsumable in death and are emptied of life (i.e. physical, emotional, temporal). For a lifetime, however long that might be, we toil in the establishments and maintenance of romantic and familial relationships, personal health and well-being, intellectual and career pursuits, religious activities, charity towards our fellow humans and society, and many more. In one sense, we spend our humanity in these life items and activities— placing our affections, hopes, and energies in these activities more than we would like to admit. In the other sense, and ironically, we are spent by these very items as they draw out all of our affections, hopes, and energies. I will come back to that point later. But before I do, I will mention one important point. If we lived in a perfect world, we would find the pursuit of those life actives and the results thereof to be perfectly satisfying and perhaps less painful, less disappointing, easier to achieve, requiring less of our energy, and delivering more of the happiness we hoped for. We are continually disappointed, in some life activities more than others.
One of the reasons we come short of our expected joys and satisfaction is simply because the natural life system is imperfect as we all know and experience on a daily basis. By imperfect, I mean, very imperfect; or let’s say very broken. Consider what is going on around the world and in your society today and then consider your own journey to where you are and that of the people around you. If it has been a simple joyous ride, you might be of or on another planet. In conclusion, for this first reason, the promises of joy and satisfaction are disappointed with the brokeness of the life system we hope in. This brokeness is the result of the interplay and conflicts between the individual, social, and physical/natural world entities, with the individual having the greater responsibility for this corruption due to his/her own selfishness. It’s easy to point the finger to Hitler, the rapist, pedophile, or murderer not understanding that these people are extreme versions of us. We are made of the same junk, and are capable of the same atrocities, by our own free-will--for we are by nature and by personal will consciously and subconsciously full of all sorts of messed up desires. Evil doesn't just happen to us, we make it happen. And this is humanity.
The other reason we come short of our expected joys and satisfaction is because there is nothing in this natural life that can satisfy the human engine, soul, intellect, and joy apart from God. I would love to explain that statement but we would need enough space for a book. I recommend a book already written called The Bible or perhaps read a more “intellectual” book by C.S. Lewis called Surprised by Joy. Or you can experiment with your own life to find joy in anything else (I strongly don’t recommend the latter). In other words, there is absolutely nothing about humanity that completes and satisfies the human. The ultimate purpose of life and being human is not to simply live in the aforementioned mundane activities of life. Even the very life that we live, with its joyous and sometimes sorrowful experiences, ends. In others words, even the fullness of natural life itself is not enough for the natural human heart. This explains why at the end of life, we are in one sense spent more than we think we spent on things that we placed our affections, hopes, and energies in. The things we indulged in actually spent us, because our natural selves could not be satisfied with the joys of the things we spent our energies on. In many cases, the sorrows outweighed the joys and so we toiled (overworked) to ever-increasing expectation of joy and satisfaction in these things. Even the natural body and mind could no longer keep up and so every cell of your body literally wears out and disintegrates to the death of the whole organism along with its intellectual, emotional, and psychological qualities.
Two points of conclusion:
- This death is a result of an imperfect life (psuche in Greek) BUT this “psuche” life is part of a bigger and more holistic eternal life (zoe in Greek, since the English word “life” does not suffice in description). This is by design!!! A book is needed to explain this design, although explanation doesn’t promise understanding or belief (see books mentioned above).
- For anyone with an incline towards taking scientific knowledge as absolute knowledge, remember science alone is not enough to explain anything in life, including your 24 hours of life today or even the next 5 minutes. Science is human knowledge at its best, so strong yet so weak to generate absolute knowledge and meaning with the smallest unit of life (such as the next 5 minutes of your life). Science is simply beautiful, but yet extremely limited. Human knowledge has a huge limit, and the moment you realize that, the greater the chance your thinking and living might start to expand.
In the next blog post, I will (make an attempt) to continue with this thought on what it is to be human and contrast it to a life (zoe) where the cares, worries, and even half-empty joys of life are non-existent. What happens when you remove the “imperfection” in the natural human life? What about the “noise” that so fills our daily living experiences. Why are we so worried, distracted, anxious, sinful and unlawful in natural desires and fail to admit so? Why do we hurt and hurt others? Why do we continually pursue empty promises of joy? Why do we have such a huge moral and sometimes intellectual problem with an idea of a perfectly intelligent, purposeful, and loving designer who orchestrates both the psuche and zoe into a holistic eternal living experience? What about the interplay of free-will choice into this greater design? What about the redemptive design through Jesus Christ? What happens when the vanities of life are done away with, what then becomes the meaning of existence?