Life Does Have a Purpose
HOW good it is to be alive, to feel that you are accomplishing something and that your life has real meaning! Nobody really enjoys an aimless life—a life without a purpose.
2 Around the earth, millions of persons are working hard and trying to find happiness in living. Yet there comes a time when people stop and ask, Where am I really going? It may seem that life is merely a matter of living a few short years, raising children to carry on the family name, and then the children in turn repeat the same cycle. Is there no greater purpose in it all?
3, 4. (a) What things can quickly change the whole plan of our lives? (Psalm 90:10) (b) If we want something that will give more meaning to our lives, what question faces us for an answer?
3 Also, people know that, all too often, an economic upset, a war or some other calamity may wipe out a whole lifetime of effort. More sadly, to lose a dearly loved one because of sickness, accident or crime can make life suddenly seem terribly empty, aimless. Even at best, life seems so short. Compared to the ageless universe around us, a human lifetime is like the mere tick of a clock.
4 Surely there is something better in store for mankind, something that can give true meaning to our lives. If so, what is it? To answer this question we must first get the answer to an even more basic question: Is this universe and all life in it the product of a “Master Architect,” namely, God?
IS THERE A MASTER ARCHITECT WITH A PURPOSE?
5. What effect can uncertainty or doubt as to whether there is a Creator have on our lives and on the lives of those around us?
5 Our viewpoint on the origin of things can have a far stronger influence on the way we look at life, and on our attitude toward those around us, than many people realize. Uncertainty as to whether there is a universal Creator can make us uncertain about any definite purpose to life. It can also make us doubtful about what our true obligations are toward other humans. What happens then? Well, if we are unsure we just have to pattern our lives according to whatever each of us thinks best. That means our having no clear standard of right and wrong, no real sense of responsibility toward other people. It is not hard to see how many problems this could bring and how damaging it could be to the enjoyment of life.
6, 7. (a) Why do some people conclude there is no Creator, yet what may they be overlooking? (b) What conclusions as to a Creator might be logically drawn by comparing the universe to a watch? (Isaiah 40:26)
6 What reason is there for believing in a Master Architect, a God of purpose? Seeing so much injustice and suffering, some conclude that there is no Creator. But they may overlook the fact that there are many things that can be explained in no other way than by creation. If a person is shown a watch and told that the watch had no maker, he will not believe it, will he? He will probably acknowledge that this timekeeping instrument serves a definite purpose, which shows, additionally, that its maker had a purpose. What, then, will we say of the infinitely more complex and awesome universe around us? Perhaps the problem lies in not understanding what the Creator’s purpose is. Let us consider a few evidences that a purposeful Creator must exist.
7 The heavenly bodies have revolved in their vast orbits at tremendous speeds, with astounding precision, for untold millions of years. Planets orbit the sun in orderly fashion; the countless stars and other heavenly bodies are organized into galaxies and even clusters of galaxies. Their huge size and amazing accuracy of movement make the finest watch seem very crude by comparison. Are we not forced to ask ourselves, How could the watch have required a maker but not the far more awesome and precise universe? Further, could anything so intricate and accurate be without purpose?
8. Why is it contrary to the evidence to say that the universe is a product of chance or blind forces? (Hebrews 3:4)
8 To say that all this precision and order came about through chance or blind forces would go against all the evidence. Do we know of anything orderly that ever came about by mere chance? No matter what we think of—a machine, a production line, a house or even a simple broom—each had a designer: man. Inanimate matter never arranges itself by chance into some orderly product or process. Regardless of how much time you allow, blowing winds or moving waters will never assemble matter to produce even the simplest machine. Everything that is made to serve a purpose requires an intelligent organizer and maker.
9. How do radioactive materials provide evidence that matter has not always existed?
9 Suppose we were to take the position that there is no Creator. Then we would be obliged to say that the universe has always existed, that the matter in it is eternal. Yet clear evidence shows that matter has not always existed. For example, we know that some elements of the earth are unstable, that is, they are radioactive. Uranium, for example, keeps giving off radioactive particles until it eventually turns into lead. But if matter had always existed there would be no radioactive elements left today. The radioactivity would have all ‘run out’ long ago, even as water eventually runs completely out of a leaking barrel.
10. How does the existence of different temperatures indicate that the universe had a beginning?
10 Another evidence is the different temperatures found in the universe, from the blazing heat of the sun to the frigid cold of outer space. The scientifically accepted laws as to the way heat operates (called the laws of thermodynamics) state that heat always flows from a hot body to a cooler one until both are at the same temperature. Now, if the universe and the matter in it had existed eternally, there would be (according to “thermodynamics”) the same temperature everywhere, and a very cold one at that! But, thankfully, that is not the case. Our sun keeps on pouring out heat and energy, as do myriads of other stars. This proves that the universe, and the matter composing it, had a beginning.
11, 12. To what conclusion does a study of the atom bring us?
11 When scientists study matter, particularly the atom, they find evidence that all matter is the product of energy—enormous quantities of it. They once thought the atom was the simplest form of matter, the indivisible building block of all matter. But after years of study they find that the atom’s structure is so complex that they are still unable to unlock all its secrets. Obviously, the source of tremendous energy that formed the atom, and all matter, and that set the universe in motion must be a person, with a mind far superior to man’s, Yes, these things are powerful, factual evidences that the universe did actually originate at some definite time in the past. It was created.
12 And what about the planet we humans live on, this earth? What evidence of intelligent, purposeful design does its ability to sustain life reveal?
SUN AND EARTH—A PRECISE RELATIONSHIP
13, 14. How does the sun give evidence of a powerful, benevolent Master Architect? (Psalm 74:16)
13 Men have made atomic powerhouses—thermonuclear reactors—and their output of energy is greater than that by any other means. But they have to be monitored constantly for fear of a devastating explosion. Even so, some accidents have already happened. Now, the man-made reactors are puny, insignificant, compared to our sun. If the mighty, explosive processes in the sun were to go out of control, the earth could be burned up in an instant. Yet for billions of years, with apparently little or no change, the sun has steadily produced light and heat. It has been calculated that the conversion of only one percent of the sun’s mass into energy would maintain its present intensity of light for at least a billion years.
14 How reasonable is it, then, to conclude that man-made reactors required intelligent design, but that the vastly greater and far more dependable solar reactor, the sun, came into existence by mere chance? Should we not instead give the credit to a benevolent Master Architect for designing a solar “reactor” that safely transmits just the right amount of its enormous energy through some 93,000,000 miles (150,000,000 kilometers) of space to our earth?
15. How is purposeful design shown in the earth’s distance from the sun?
15 Let us consider more closely the factors that make it possible for the earth to utilize the sun’s energy in a way that ensures the continuance of life. Earth’s distance from the sun is just right. If the sun were any closer the earth would be too hot for life; if farther away it would be too cold.
16. (a) What does the turning of the earth on its axis have to do with providing food for mankind and animals? (Psalm 104:14, 19-22) (b) What purpose is served, for our benefit, by the tilt of the earth’s axis in its orbit around the sun? (Genesis 1:14; 8:22)
16 Earth’s rate of rotation provides the whole earth with alternate day and night periods of the proper length for plant growth. Plants, utilizing sun power, change water and carbon dioxide into sugars. This process, known as photosynthesis, is vital in producing food for animals and man. (Genesis 1:29, 30) The tilt of the earth’s axis in a fixed direction at an angle of about 23 1⁄2 degrees from an upright position brings about the seasons. The time the earth takes for a trip around the sun makes the seasons just the proper length. While lengths of day and season vary somewhat in different parts of the earth, the abundant varieties of vegetation, nevertheless, get the required energy for growth.
OUR ATMOSPHERE—IDEAL MEDIUM IN WHICH TO LIVE
17. How do the sun and the earth’s atmosphere work together to provide protection from a deadly feature of the sun’s radiation?
17 If any of the aforementioned features were significantly changed, it would mean disaster to life on earth. Yet they are only a fraction of the things essential for life. In fact, without an atmosphere surrounding our earth, the sun’s light and energy would be useless, even dangerous. The earth’s extensive atmosphere shields life from deadly rays. And the sun’s radiation itself helps the atmosphere to produce a layer of ozone, a form of oxygen that filters out death-dealing ultraviolet rays.
18. Does it just “happen” that there is plenty of oxygen in earth’s atmosphere and that it is highly diluted with nitrogen? Explain.
18 The makeup of earth’s atmosphere is also very important if life is to continue. For example, we humans cannot live without oxygen. When deprived of it for just a few minutes, the brain is severely damaged. Usually death ensues. Is it not a very fine thing that oxygen exists in plentiful amounts in the atmosphere? But, then, oxygen is also what makes fire possible. So the vast quantity of this gas all around us could be destructive to life; we could be in danger of burning up. Why does this not happen? Because the oxygen in our atmosphere is greatly diluted with nitrogen, a relatively inactive gas.
19. What conclusions may we reach from a comparison of the atmosphere of the sun with that of the earth?
19 Furthermore, the atmosphere has been prepared just as by a fine “recipe,” with other essential ingredients in the right proportions—carbon dioxide, water vapor, and so forth. On the sun an atmosphere made up mainly of hydrogen is necessary, but in earth’s atmosphere hydrogen, because of its explosive properties, would be a constant menace. Unless there is a Master Architect with a purpose, why would such a balance, a “cooperation,” as it were, come about in the atmospheres of both sun and earth, so that the earth is so admirably fitted for life, while the sun, so far away, is equipped to sustain that life?
20, 21. (a) Earth is unique among the planets in that it has great quantities of what vital substance? (b) What are some valuable purposes served by the mighty oceans?
20 Besides an atmosphere with just the right mixture of gases, water in its normal liquid form—lots of it—is essential for physical life. Of all the planets, earth is unique in this respect. The enormous volume of the oceans is the basis for the rain cycle, which makes plant growth possible. The oceans also prevent extreme temperature fluctuation.
21 Without the oceans another cycle—the oxygen and carbon-dioxide cycle—would fail. Oxygen is used by animal life, carbon dioxide by plant life. The oceans absorb and release billions of tons of carbon dioxide as needed to keep the supply balanced at all times. Of course, the oceans are also a source of abundant mineral and animal wealth.—Deuteronomy 33:19.
22. Why is water so valuable for the nourishment of plant and animal life?
22 Water is a unique, almost “miraculous” fluid. It has the greatest solvent power of any liquid. For this reason it can store the chemical compounds needed to support plant life. Water penetrates the soil and dissolves the life-sustaining chemicals found there. It then carries these nutrients as it circulates to the various parts of the plants. (Isaiah 55:10) Water is the primary constituent of blood that carries life-giving nourishment to human and animal body cells. Our bodies are, in fact, about 70 percent water.
23. Why is water’s stability as a liquid under a wide range of temperatures important to our lives?
23 Remarkable, too, is the fact that water remains liquid under a wide range of normal temperatures. If it evaporated faster, rain could not stay on or in the ground to dissolve the minerals and transport these to the plants. Vegetation would lose its moisture too rapidly, and large areas would become desert land. If the boiling point of water were much lower than it is now, there would be the danger that our blood would boil when we were exposed to the hot sun. If water froze or solidified too readily, rainfall would be negligible and plants would die.
24. What purposes are served by water’s unusual property of expansion when freezing?
24 Additionally, water expands slightly on becoming ice, therefore floating instead of sinking to the bottom. This prevents lakes and other large bodies of water from freezing solid, with consequent damage to life. This property of expansion plays a part in soil making, for water runs into cracks and crevices in rocks, then expands as it freezes, breaking the rocks into fine, tillable soil—all of this without man having to be concerned about it.
25. If we reason on the fact that the earth has such an abundant supply of water, what conclusion are we moved to reach? (Jeremiah 10:12, 13)
25 How does it happen that, of all liquids, there is so much of this valuable water on earth? Surely it did not just happen. Its provision must be the work of a Master Architect—one who really cares for his living creation on earth!
THE EVIDENCE IS UNMISTAKABLE
26. Though God is invisible to human eyes, how can we know that such a Master Designer and Creator exists?
26 Truly, the person who takes a penetrating look at the visible evidence around him can see that there must be a supremely intelligent Personality, a Master Designer and Creator. Though this benevolent Designer cannot be seen with natural eyes, “his invisible qualities are clearly seen from the world’s creation onward, because they are perceived by the things made, even his eternal power and Godship.”—Romans 1:20.
27. Why is it not reasonable that we should demand to see God to believe that he exists?
27 Some demand to see God before they will believe that he exists. But does it make sense to expect to see the One who created all these marvelous things? We can hardly bear to look directly at the sun, and certainly would be blinded and burned up if some of the larger suns were as close to earth as ours is. Then, what brilliance the Creator of these suns would display if he should reveal himself to human eyes! To Moses, who asked to see His glory, God replied: “You are not able to see my face, because no man may see me and yet live.”—Exodus 33:20.
28. In harmony with Romans 1:20, how can we see evidences of a Master Architect of love and care as we observe the universe?
28 However, if we use our powers of reason, we can see, in creation, an expression of unlimited power and control. Chance or blind forces cannot exercise purposeful control, or establish any laws. Law and control are evidences of the invisible qualities of a Master Architect. Also, the care with which the universe (including our solar system and planet earth) is put together, providing every good thing for the life of humankind, indicates great love and great concern. These are traits that can belong only to an intelligent and compassionate personality.
29. Having concluded that there is a Creator, what questions deserve our next consideration?
29 But does God care for his creation in our day? Having designed and brought forth the universe, does he have further interest in dealing with it? Is there, in the mind of God, a future for man and a purpose toward every person who lives, or has lived?
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A watch has a maker . . .
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. . . What, then, of the awesome universe?
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Man can hardly bear to look directly at the sun. Should he expect to gaze on its awesome Creator?
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How does it happen that on earth there is such an abundance of this liquid that is so essential for physical life?