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Author Topic: The Purpose of Life
Member # 5492

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No, not the Question of Life, the Universe and Everything. Not everything has to be a joke. I think.

I want to know what the people here think about the actual Purpose of Life. I am mostly interested in hearing religious people talk about why they think God (or whoever) created mankind. Why, exactly, do we exist? What was God's purpose in creating us? I am asking this question here because of the abundance of intelligent and thoughtful people of many different faiths. (Not to exclude those of no particular religion.)

As a Mormon, I know that we have a specific doctrine about this, but I have always wondered what other faiths believe, particularly since almost none of them believe in a pre-existence of Man. I have had a remarkably difficult time finding the answers, though.

[ March 19, 2004, 03:11 PM: Message edited by: UofUlawguy ]

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Well, a lot of people have thought about it and come up with no definite answers, so they may not have much to say.

I grew up hearing in church that humanity (and everything else) was created, simply, for the "glory of God". I honestly never could make sense of that. I mean, if nothing else existed, to whom is God trying to glorify himself?

For my own part, I have considered (and not yet rejected) the possibility that God simply desired...for lack of a better word...companionship. I have heard it claimed that this is incompatible with God not needing anything, but one could as easily interpret that as "whatever he needs, he just makes it himself".

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I tend to think that the purpose of life is something for each individual to choose for him or herself. If you want to exist to glorify god, more power to you. If you want to exist to glorify Greenpeace, that's fine too.
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Happy Camper
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Well, as a person of no particular religion, and therefore no faith whatsoever, I would have different responses with relation to any assumptions that you might tell me to work off of.

1. Assumption: There is a god, and he/she/it created us.
Response: Companionship, entertainment, who can really tell the will of a god?

2. Assumption: There is a whole society/race of gods (for lack of a better word), and one of them created us.
Response: Competition. Status among the other gods.

3. Assumption: There is a whole society/race of gods, and they collaborated to create us.
Response: Hard to say, maybe they see us as their offspring. Maybe their race is in jeopardy and we are thier legacy.

4. Assumption: There is a god, and he/she/it created the universe, but not humans specifically.
Response: Entertainment. He/She/It wanted to see what would happen if he/she/it created a universe.

5. Assumption: There is no god.
Response: We are here to survive or die as our particular genetic makeup dictates.

Of course keep in mind that any of these responses are based entirely on my own personal views of the universe and the attitudes I see in the people around me. I have personified any assumed gods for comprehension.

My personal leanings are toward numbers 4 or 5.

[ March 19, 2004, 07:19 PM: Message edited by: Happy Camper ]

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Member # 4774

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The point of life is to experience life, especially the brightness and the beauty.
And to let our souls shine brightly and purely...
At least that is part of my view.

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A Rat Named Dog
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Mormons do have specific doctrine that addresses this question, but really, there are so many different ways to look at it, and so many layers of purpose, it's hard to nail down a definitive answer.

What is our purpose in life? To learn. To grow and mature. To become the best we can be.

Another answer? This is a test, to see how we will handle difficult moral situations.

What is the final purpose? To achieve all we can, and rejoin God in all His glory.

But what underlying value drives all of these purposes? Joy. Achieving and spreading everlasting joy is the final goal. We seek to better ourselves, prove ourselves, and live worthy of God's presence because of the promise of personal joy, and the eternal ability to spread joy to others.

That is God's purpose as well. He takes us from a sort of bland non-existence, and gives us the freedom and power to attain the kind of joy that He experiences.

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Member # 5492

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That's right, Geoff. That's what I believe. BUT it only works if you believe in a pre-existence, like we LDS folk do.
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I've actually been studying with the Jehovah's witnesses, and it seems their view is that the purpose of life is to wait for the return of Jehovah, when the earth will be made like the Garden of Eden. The purpose of the earth, in their view as I understand, is to have been paradise but the sin of Adam frustrated that. Of course there lies behind that another "why", at least from my point of view. I suppose looking at LDS doctrine, ours ends in yet another "why".

Sorry if there are any Jehovah's Witnesses on the board and I spoke out of turn.

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In the Idiot, Prince Myshkin talks about the feelings of a condemned man in the last few minutes of his life. Dostoyevsky was actually in that situation once, having been led out to be shot by a firing squad, and then having the sentence commuted at the last minute to hard labor in Siberia. And he said that each instant of life was a tremendous joy. That he told himself when he found out he would live after all, that he would live every moment of his life that way ever after. He didn't, of course. He soon settled down and took life for granted again as we all do. Yet he never forgot that feeling. He never forgot that he had forgotten, so to speak. [Smile]

Being alive is wonderously joyful, every instant. The taste of air, the colors of sight, of sunlight and moonlight, the taste of saliva, the feel of movement, of muscles working, your tongue on your teeth, sunburn, tiredness, sleep. All these things are magnificently sensuously joyful, yet we always forget that fact. Isn't that the oddest thing?

[ March 19, 2004, 10:51 PM: Message edited by: aka ]

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Perhaps, if we treated every moment of living like a complete joy, it would weary us. Is it possible, day after day, months into years, to revel in everything, even pain? Would it be possible to have something terrible happen and say to yourself "I'm so lucky to be able to feel this anguish?" Maybe for a moment, but you'd have to give in, eventually.
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I dunno why "God" created us.

I'm not sure I even got the beauty and need of creation during pregnancy. It only sort of clicked during Nathan's first two weeks of life.

But the next few weeks, spent hovering over a baby incubator and desparately pleading for whatever "God" there was to spare this infant certainly woke something up in me.

Life is precious and it really doesn't matter who made it, why it is there or what it's "purpose" is. Merely the act of "being" - of living - is a miracle. Every breath, every flicker of an eyelash, every smile, every tear - is a miracle.

And really - whether you have "faith" or not, isn't "God" a sort of miracle?

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