Monday, February 27, 2006

Does Life Have Meaning Without a God?

Over at Integral Options Café, William Harryman has written another beautiful entry, this time expressing his “existential angst” over feeling crushingly insignificant in the cosmic scheme of things if not for his Kierkegaardian (see picture above) “leap of faith” that life is not absurd but has meaning because it’s one “with an intelligence as vast as that whole amazing Kosmos…[an] intelligence [that] is in no way male, female, or anthropoid; that said intelligence is compassionate and loving--the embodiment of a divine Eros--rather than vengeful and motivated by jealousy and power.”

This is how I replied to him:

Is life truly "absurd" unless one believes in a loving and compassionate intelligence as vast as the Kosmos? I don't believe in such an intelligence, but I don't find life absurd. I DO believe in an Ultimate Reality, but It is simply the unified totality of existence--a Thich Nhat Hanhian "Interbeing" with conscious aspects--and not a kind of all-pervasive intelligence that cares what happens to me or this planet. Would I find life absurd without this belief? I don't think so. I think I would still find joy and meaning in everyday living and loving and in the quest to learn as much about this world and universe as I could, even if there were no heaven or nirvana at the end of my earthly existence.

William replied that he was referring to an intelligence not unlike the “unified totality of existence” to which I alluded and that, while he was expressing his feelings of the moment, he couldn’t be sure what or how he would feel in the future. I think I understand where he’s coming from. I too have sometimes felt the need to believe in a more personal divinity that actually gives a damn about me and the rest of humanity, even if it’s not “out there” but, instead, comprises the deepest essence of my own being. And I’ve tried like hell at times to embrace this belief. Today I happen not to feel it necessary to believe this way. But who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow or next month or next year, especially if I or my loved ones face extreme hardship. Besides, enough people, including some I respect a great deal, appear to believe in a benign Kosmic intelligence that I should not be too quick or decisive in dismissing the possibility of its existence.

Yet, how do I keep my mind open enough to perceive this intelligence if it actually exists without making myself too gullible to falsehood?

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