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Finding Meaning in a Chaotic World

When President Bill Clinton occupied the Whitehouse, he participated in a press conference aired on MTV. It was intended to be light and funny as he interacted with teens. You may recall, Clinton was asked humorous, trivial questions such as, “What is your favorite rock group? What kind of underwear; boxers or briefs?”

But, out of the blue, 17-year-old Dalia Schweitzer dared to ask a more thought-provoking question:

Mr. President, it seems to me that Kurt Cobain’s (lead singer of the rock group Nirvana) recent suicide exemplified the emptiness that many in our generation feel. What would you say to our generation about this?

President Clinton was visibly floored and did not know how to respond. He finally found an answer he thought suitable and basically told the young girl that everyone is important to each other in this life.

So, there Sweiter stood, asking the president of the United States to comment on the emptiness and meaninglessness of life that her generation faced, and one of the most influential men in the world did not have an answer.

I believe there is something terribly wrong in our culture, because people do not understand the reason for their earthly existence.

One of my favorite authors is Dr. Peter Kreeft. He is 79 years of age and still teaches philosophy at Boston College. He has written 48 books, with one of them stating:

“We are the first civilization that does not know why we exist. Every past civilization has had some religious answer to that question. The essence of modernity is the abandonment of that religious foundation.”

In essence, Kreeft is explaining why modern people find life to be empty and meaningless. If there is no God that stands behind our earthly existence, life is pointless.

All great atheist thinkers will tell you that since there is no God and no designer who brought life into being,

  1. There is no grand purpose.
  2. Life is ultimately meaningless.
  3. We are all alone in this vast universe.
  4. When we die, we go into everlasting nothingness.

If you are honest, you have to admit this is a bleak way of looking at life.

British novelist C.S. Lewis expressed that the pessimism and gloom he experienced the first 31 years of his life was clearly related to his atheistic worldview. His life as a Christian was full of joy and vibrancy because his life had meaning and purpose.

A week before he died, Lewis declared, “I have done all that I was sent in the world to do, and I am ready to go.”

What a stark contrast to Woody Allen, who many consider to be the greatest movie director of all time.

In a recent interview with The New York Times, Allen said, “I still lie awake at night terrified of the void.” He is speaking of the difficulty he has reconciling his strident atheism with all that he observes in the real world.

Allen admits, “I make movies not to make any type of grand statement, but simply to take my mind off the existential horror of being alive.”

As depressing as this sounds, it is the natural outworking of a godless view of life.

You may be thinking this does not apply to you because you believe in God. However, in this secular age that we live in, a majority of people believe in God and the spiritual world, but He is irrelevant to our day-to-day living, and He does not impact our view of life and our search for meaning.

It has been said that “we are predominately a nation of practical atheists, in that, we believe in God, but live as if He does not exist.”

A good question we should all stop and consider:

“Does God play a role in helping me find purpose and meaning in life?”

What I have learned is that many of us are like Woody Allen, who finds diversion in movie making to keep himself from having to think about all of this.

I consider this to be true for many of us, as well. We seek to divert our minds with work and the pleasures of life, to keep us from having to think about the emptiness of life, and that one day this is all going to end.

When we connect with God vertically, we find meaning horizontally in the world in which we live. As the Apostle Paul states: “In Christ we are made complete.”


This post comes from Richard’s latest book, Wisdom: Life’s Great Treasure.

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