The Creator Can Add Meaning to Your Life
“Let them praise the name of Jehovah; for he himself commanded, and they were created.”—PSALM 148:5.
1, 2. (a) What question should we consider? (b) How is creation involved in Isaiah’s question?
“HAVE you not come to know?” That may sound like just a leading question, moving many to respond, ‘Come to know what?’ But it is a serious question. And we can best appreciate the answer by noting its setting—the 40th chapter of the Bible book of Isaiah. An ancient Hebrew, Isaiah, wrote it, so the question is an old one. Yet, it is also very modern, relating to the core meaning of your life.
2 Being that important, the question at Isaiah 40:28 merits our serious attention: “Have you not come to know or have you not heard? Jehovah, the Creator of the extremities of the earth, is a God to time indefinite.” So the ‘coming to know’ involved earth’s Creator, and the context shows that more than the earth is included. Two verses earlier Isaiah wrote about the stars: “Raise your eyes high up and see. Who has created these things? It is the One who is bringing forth the army of them even by number . . . Due to the abundance of dynamic energy, he also being vigorous in power, not one of them is missing.”
3. Even if you know much about the Creator, why should you want to know more?
3 Yes, the question “Have you not come to know?” is actually about the Creator of our universe. You personally may be convinced that Jehovah God is “the Creator of the extremities of the earth.” You also may know much about his personality and his ways. But what if you meet a man or a woman who doubts that there is a Creator and clearly does not know what he is like? Such an encounter should not be a surprise because there are millions upon millions who do not know of or believe in the Creator.—Psalm 14:1; 53:1.
4. (a) Why is considering the Creator appropriate at this time? (b) What answers can science not provide?
4 Schools turn out many skeptics who feel that science has (or will find) answers to questions about the origin of the universe and life. In The Origin of Life (original French title: Aux Origines de la Vie) authors Hagene and Lenay note: “The origin of life is still debated at the beginning of the twenty-first century. This problem, so difficult to resolve, requires investigations in all fields, from the immensity of space to the infinite smallness of matter.” Still, the last chapter, “The Question Remains Alive,” admits: “We have explored some scientific answers to the question, How did life on earth appear? But why did life appear? Does life have a goal? These questions science cannot answer. It merely searches for the ‘how’ of things. ‘How’ and ‘why’ are two completely different questions. . . . As to the question of ‘why,’ philosophy, religion, and—above all—each one of us must find the answer.”
Finding Answers and Meaning
5. What sort of people may especially be benefited from learning more about the Creator?
5 Yes, we want to understand why life exists—and especially why we are here. Moreover, we should be interested in people who have not yet concluded that there is a Creator and certainly know little about his ways. Or think of those whose background involves a concept of God very different from what the Bible presents. Billions have grown up in the Orient or in other places where most people do not think of a personal God, a real being with an appealing personality. To them the word “god” may evoke an impression of a vague force or an abstract cause. They have not ‘come to know the Creator’ or his ways. If they, or millions with similar views, could become convinced that the Creator exists, what benefits they could receive, including everlasting prospects! They could also gain something that is rare indeed—real meaning, real purpose and peace of mind, in life.
6. How do the lives of many today bear a similarity to the experience of Paul Gauguin and to one of his paintings?
6 To illustrate: In 1891, French artist Paul Gauguin went to find a fulfilling life in French Polynesia, in a virtual paradise. But his dissolute past soon brought disease to himself and others. As he felt death approaching, he painted a large canvas in which he seemed to ‘interpret life as a great mystery.’ Do you know what Gauguin named that painting? “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” You may have heard others ask similar questions. Many do. But when they find no satisfying answers—no real meaning in life—where can they go? They may conclude that their life differs little from that of the animals.—2 Peter 2:12.*
7, 8. Why are the investigations of science not adequate in themselves?
7 You can thus understand why someone like professor of physics Freeman Dyson could write: “I stand in good company when I ask again the questions Job asked. Why do we suffer? Why is the world so unjust? What is the purpose of pain and tragedy?” (Job 3:20, 21; 10:2, 18; 21:7) As mentioned, many people turn to science for answers instead of to God. Biologists, oceanographers, and others are adding to the knowledge about our globe and life on it. Searching in another direction, astronomers and physicists are learning ever more about our solar system, the stars, even distant galaxies. (Compare Genesis 11:6.) To what reasonable conclusions can such facts point?
8 Some scientists speak of the “mind” of God or the “handwriting” revealed in the universe. But might that miss the key point? Science magazine observed: “When researchers say cosmology reveals the ‘mind’ or ‘handwriting’ of God, they are ascribing to the divine what ultimately may be the lesser aspect of the universe—its physical structure.” In fact, Nobel laureate physicist Steven Weinberg wrote: “The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless.”
9. What evidence can help us and others to learn about the Creator?
9 Still, you may be among the millions who have seriously studied the matter and who grasp that real meaning in life relates to knowing the Creator. Recall what the apostle Paul wrote: “Men cannot say they do not know about God. From the beginning of the world, men could see what God is like through the things He has made. This shows His power that lasts forever. It shows that He is God.” (Romans 1:20, Holy Bible, New Life Version) Yes, there are facts about our world and about us that can help people to recognize the Creator and to find meaning in connection with him. Consider three aspects of this: the universe around us, the origin of life, and our own mental abilities.
Reasons to Believe
10 How did our universe get here? You may know from reports about space telescopes and probes that most scientists realize that our universe did not always exist. It had a beginning, and it is expanding. What does this imply? Listen to astronomer Sir Bernard Lovell: “If at some point in the past, the Universe was once close to a singular state of infinitely small size and infinite density, we have to ask what was there before . . . We have to face the problem of a Beginning.”
11. (a) How vast is the universe? (b) What does the precision in the universe suggest?
11 The makeup of the universe, including our earth, reflects amazing fine-tuning. For example, two remarkable qualities of our sun and other stars are long-term efficiency and stability. Current estimates of the number of galaxies in the visible universe range from 50 billion (50,000,000,000) to 125 billion. And our Milky Way galaxy has billions upon billions of stars in it. Now consider: We know that an automobile engine requires a critical ratio of fuel and air. If you own a car, you may hire a trained mechanic to tune its engine, so that your car will run smoother, more efficiently. If such precision is important with a mere engine, what of our efficiently “burning” sun, for example? Clearly, the key forces involved are precisely tuned for life to exist on earth. Did that just happen? Job of old was asked: “Did you proclaim the rules that govern the heavens, or determine the laws of nature on earth?” (Job 38:33, The New English Bible) No human did. So from whence came the precision?—Psalm 19:1.
12. Why is it not unreasonable to consider that a powerful Intelligence is behind creation?
12 Might it be from some thing or from some One that cannot be seen with human eyes? Consider this question in the light of modern science. Most astronomers now accept that there are very powerful heavenly bodies—black holes. These black holes cannot be seen, yet experts are convinced that they exist. Comparably, the Bible reports that in another realm there exist powerful creatures that cannot be seen—spirit creatures. If such powerful, invisible beings exist, is it not plausible that the precision revealed throughout the universe originated with a powerful Intelligence?—Nehemiah 9:6.
13, 14. (a) What has science actually established about the origin of life? (b) To what does the existence of life on earth point?
13 A second line of evidence that can help people to acknowledge a Creator involves the origin of life. Since the time of experiments by Louis Pasteur, it has been accepted that life does not spring into existence out of nothing by spontaneous generation. So how did earthly life originate? In the 1950’s, scientists tried to prove that it could have developed slowly in some early ocean when a primitive atmosphere was constantly being hit by lightning. More recent evidence shows, however, that such an origin of terrestrial life is improbable because that sort of atmosphere never existed. Consequently, some scientists are searching for a less flawed explanation. But are they also missing the point?
14 After spending decades studying the universe and life in it, British scientist Sir Fred Hoyle commented: “Rather than accept the fantastically small probability of life having arisen through the blind forces of nature, it seemed better to suppose that the origin of life was a deliberate intellectual act.” Yes, the more we learn about the wonders of life, the more logical it is that it came from one intelligent Source.—Job 33:4; Psalm 8:3, 4; 36:9; Acts 17:28.
15. Why can it be said that you are unique?
15 So a first line of reasoning involves the universe, and a second, the origin of life on earth. Note a third—our uniqueness. In many ways all humans are unique, so that means that you are too. How so? You have probably heard that the brain has been compared to a powerful computer. Really, though, recent discoveries show that this comparison falls far short. A scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said: “Today’s computers are not even close to a 4-year-old human in their ability to see, talk, move, or use common sense. . . . It has been estimated that the information processing capacity of even the most powerful supercomputer is equal to the nervous system of a snail—a tiny fraction of the power available to the supercomputer inside [your] skull.”
16. Your language ability points to what?
16 Language is an ability that you have because of your brain. Some people speak two, three, or more languages, yet the ability to speak even one marks us as unique. (Isaiah 36:11; Acts 21:37-40) Professors R. S. and D. H. Fouts asked: “Is only man . . . capable of communicating by language? . . . All the higher animals certainly communicate with . . . gestures, odours, calls, cries and songs, and even the dance of the bees. Yet animals other than man do not appear to have structured grammatical language. And animals do not, which may be highly significant, draw representational pictures. At best they only doodle.” Truly, only humans can use the brain to speak a language and draw meaningful pictures.—Compare Isaiah 8:1; 30:8; Luke 1:3.
17. What is a fundamental difference between an animal’s looking in a mirror and a human’s doing so?
17 Moreover, you have an awareness of self; you are conscious of you. (Proverbs 14:10) Have you watched a bird, dog, or cat look into a mirror and then peck, growl, or attack? It thinks it sees another animal, not recognizing itself. In contrast, when you look into a mirror, you know it is you. (James 1:23, 24) You may check your appearance or wonder what you will look like in a few years. Animals do not do that. Yes, your brain makes you unique. To where does the credit go? How did your brain come to be, if not from God?
18. What mental capacities set you apart from animals?
18 Your brain also allows you to appreciate art and music as well as to have a moral sense. (Exodus 15:20; Judges 11:34; 1 Kings 6:1, 29-35; Matthew 11:16, 17) Why you and not the animals? They use their brains primarily to care for immediate needs—getting food, finding a mate, or making a nest. Only humans think beyond the short term. Some even think about how their actions will affect the environment or their descendants long into the future. Why? Ecclesiastes 3:11 says of humans: “Even time indefinite [the Creator] has put in their heart.” Yes, your capacity for considering the meaning of time indefinite or for imagining endless life is special.
Let the Creator Add Meaning
19. What three-part line of reasoning might you use in helping others to think about the Creator?
19 We have touched on just three areas: the precision seen in the vast universe, the origin of life on earth, and the undeniable uniqueness of the human brain, with its varied capacities. To what do these three point? Here is a line of reasoning that you could use in helping others reach a conclusion. You could first ask: Did the universe have a beginning? Most would agree that it did. Then ask: Was that beginning without any cause, or was it caused? Most people sense that the beginning of the universe was caused. This leads to the final question: Was the beginning caused by some thing eternal or by some One eternal? With the issues thus presented clearly and logically, many can be led to conclude: There must be a Creator! That being so, should not meaning in life be possible?
20, 21. Why is knowing the Creator essential to our having meaning in life?
20 Our whole existence, including our sense of morality and the morality itself should be connected with the Creator. Dr. Rollo May once wrote: “The only adequate structure for morality is that based upon the ultimate meaning of life.” Where is that to be found? He continued: “The ultimate structure is the nature of God. The principles of God are the principles which underlie life from the beginning of creation to the end.”
21 We can well understand, then, why the psalmist was displaying both humility and wisdom when he begged the Creator: “Make me know your own ways, O Jehovah; teach me your own paths. Make me walk in your truth and teach me, for you are my God of salvation.” (Psalm 25:4, 5) As he came to know the Creator better, the psalmist’s life certainly would have had more meaning, purpose, and direction. The same can be so with each of us.—Exodus 33:13.
22. What is involved in coming to know the Creator’s ways?
22 Coming to know the Creator’s “own ways” includes coming to know even better what he is like, both his personality and his ways. But since the Creator is invisible and awesomely powerful, how can we get to know him better? The next article will consider this.
Drawing on experiences in Nazi concentration camps, Dr. Viktor E. Frankl realized: “Man’s search for meaning is a primary force in his life and not a ‘secondary rationalization’ of instinctual drives,” such as animals have. He added that decades after the second world war, a survey in France “showed that 89% of the people polled admitted that man needs ‘something’ for the sake of which to live.”
How Would You Respond?
□ Why do we need to go beyond getting scientific information about our universe?
□ In helping others to think about the Creator, to what might you point?
□ Why is knowing the Creator a key to having satisfying meaning in life?
[Diagram/Picture on page 18]
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What Is Your Conclusion?
Had No Had a
Without Cause Was Caused
By Some THING By Some ONE
[Picture on page 15]
The vastness and precision manifest in the universe have led many to think about the Creator
Pages 15 and 18: Jeff Hester (Arizona State University) and NASA