Answering The Big Questions
David W. Hegg
Every year as the “spring break” scene is played out with unfettered passion on the breaches of Florida we are treated to news footage of college students throwing caution – and restraint – to the wind. All week they act out their core ethic, believing the best life is one without care or constraint.
This idea that freedom is best understood as unrestrained self-expression through self-gratification, is becoming the primary ethic of too many in our society. And there is a reason. The underlying ethic of such behavior is the belief our existence is the result of a random set of chemical processes whereby an exotic set of atoms have come together to produce you and me. Consequently, we are here by chance, without any overarching purpose or goal. Life is short and then you die. This recognition that life is ultimately inconsequential except for a short span of years means we better “go for it” as often as possible.
Without realizing it, those who subscribe to this ethical stance have answered the three most basic questions of life from the standpoint of despair. “Who am I? Just a randomly produced organism that is neither unique nor noble. Why am I here? I am here struggling against the brokenness of this world to find some purpose and happiness before death takes me. Where am I going? I’m going to die and that’s the end.”
But it doesn’t have to be this way. In fact, none of the above paragraph’s answers are true. As Thomas Nagel, a professor of philosophy of science and an avowed atheist, has shown, there is no way the evolutionary theory of materialistic naturalism can explain the non-physical part of us. We are conscious of our consciousness, and such a phenomenon can’t be produced by purely physical processes. Like it or not, we all have an immaterial, spiritual component to our personhood.
Further, if who we are cannot be explained by natural selection then there is reason to believe in God. And if we explore the option that God is responsible for our existence in some way, then intellectual honesty suggests we at least explore the biblical account of God and the biblical answers to the three great questions.
If we do, here’s what we’ll find. “Who am I? I am a uniquely created person, made as God’s image bearer, and endowed with nobility not found elsewhere in creation. But I am also broken, and unable to live up to my own standards, much less God’s expectations of me. Why am I here? I am not here for myself, but to honor God in all things, beginning with entrusting my life to Jesus. Where am I going? When this life ends, another begins, and all who have found forgiveness in Jesus will spend eternity knowing life as God always intended it.
Centuries ago the Apostle Paul was invited to lecture before one of the most intellectually prestigious groups of his day. While in Athens, the local philosophical society asked him to explain his worldview. He noticed they had numerous altars dedicated to their pantheon of gods. Just in case they had missed a god of importance, they even had one dedicated to the “unknown god”. You can read about it in Acts 17 in the Bible.
Paul started off saying he would inform them about this unknown god. In fact, he is the God who both created everything, and continues to give life and breath to all. He doesn’t need a house because he has built all things for us. He doesn’t need to be fed and kept for his is the one who feeds and cares for us. As he ended, Paul declared this God of all asks only one thing: the we all repent of our sinfulness and selfishness, because one day he is going to judge us all for the way we have lived. Paul’s big finish was his statement that God had given evidence of himself, his sovereignty, and his intention to judge all for the way they have lived, by raising Jesus from the dead.
Imagine! The resurrection of Jesus – the very thing we celebrate this Easter weekend! – is the proof God exists, and that one day we’ll all stand before him. That’s actually good news! It means our lives do matter, and have purpose, and can be deeply satisfying, if we’ll only humble ourselves and commit our lives to follow God the Son, Jesus Christ. He is risen! He is risen indeed!