Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

-Ecclesiastes 12:13

Consider for a moment, the above passage. Is this the true meaning of life? Is the purpose of man to simply serve God? I would like to perform a thought experiment as we try and flesh out exactly what it is that drives us as human beings.

Let’s presume for a moment that there is no God. The universe and everything within it, including human beings, are just the mere product of chance. We will suppose that everything occurred naturally without a cause and we are merely a collection of atoms that experience consciousness. This means that everything we experience in our lives, our friendships, our accomplishments, it all ends when we die. If we are remembered, we are forgotten eventually, once enough time has passed. To top it off, modern science has concluded that the universe and all life in it will end. If this is the case, is it safe to presume that there is no meaning to life?

Some people might argue that our purpose in life is whatever we choose. I believe that this is a fallacy. If the universe will end, if our lives are merely the result of chance, there can be no meaning. It’s like flipping a coin and after it has landed deciding what it means if it landed on heads.

Suppose that you discovered that the whole world would blink out of existence moments after your death. Would this fact change your priorities in life? Would you be able to form meaningful relationships? Would you have children knowing that they would die the moment that you did? Would you spend your life working for a company that would no longer exist after you die? Or write novels, create art, study the universe, knowing that none of it would remain once you were gone?

Take a few moments to reflect on the paragraph above. Now ask yourself if it would change anything if the universe would end one year after you died? 10 years? 100? At what point would there be enough time left after you died for you to feel like your life had meaning? Would a world like this change your current goals? This is precisely the world described by modern thinkers. The universe will end at some point in the future and all of our accomplishments, relationships, and history will have meant nothing.

Now I would like to propose one simple change to the scenario. Let’s take the same beginning scenario, the universe will end at the moment you die but in this version God exists and has promised that those who follow Him will not only continue to survive beyond the end of the world (your death), but they will thrive and be happy. Would that change your goals in life? Would you spend your years waiting to die and finding what little pleasure you could knowing that those around you will die the moment your life ended, or would you try to save them by following God and adhering to His commandments?

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.

-Ecclesiastes 12:13

In this scenario, Ecclesiastes 12:13 has become the complete purpose of humanity on earth. Of course, it does not have to be your purpose. You are still free to choose any purpose you wish to pursue in life, but if any other purpose would surely be inherently meaningless. In light of that, let’s take the first scenario I described, and add this single message from God:

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

-John 3:16

Here it is guaranteed that our lives won’t end without meaning so long as we trust and believe in God.

If given the choice, out of the above two scenarios, which one would you choose? Let me know on Twitter @DusenberyJames.

Written by James Dusenbery

I am the Founder/Lead Editor at CanonOfReason.com. I do not claim to be an "expert" at anything, although the title is afforded to me quite often. I simply want to spread understanding of different Biblical positions and shine some light on the versatility and brilliance of the Bible. You can follow me on Twitter (@JamesDusenbery) and Instagram (@CanonOfReason).

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