One of my greatest passions is the acquisition of knowledge. I just love knowing stuff. I love diving down a rabbit hole and exploring a topic until I’m bored with it. I enjoy searching for the right book or books on a topic and reading them from cover to cover, trying to figure out what the heck is really going on with the subject at hand.
And I have enough interests to keep me on my toes for the rest of my life.
The Philosophical Conundrum
But recently I’ve been consumed with a philosophical conundrum. It’s hardly unique, and it goes way beyond my love of reading and exploring.
What’s the point of any of this?
And I don’t know how to find an answer that satisfies me.
If the world is godless, and we just one day die and it all ends there, any knowledge aquired along the way dies with you. You could, of course, pass the knowledge along to others. But then you can just say it will die with them as well. And it’s just endless cyclical logic. I’d be aquiring knowledge for the sake of passing it to others… so they could pass it to others. But it never finds a home where meaning is created.
And if at any point along the way, the knowledge isn’t passed along or it’s disproven, the endeavor would retroactively cease to be important anyway.
Perhaps there is evidence in this that the goal shouldn’t be knowledge, but rather generational wealth.
But how would that work?
You earn capital, in order to live the life you want to live, and pass that on to those who come after, and hopefully to as many future generations as well.
But to what end?
Is comfort and financial satisfaction the be-all and end-all of life’s goals? Perhaps. But I would like to think that there’s more out there. For all of us.
And it feels so flawed.
What if I start the next Apple, and live in utter comfort for the rest of my years in this world? And my children are all set, and they live out their days in peace and prosperity. Can it last forever? Is there even such a thing?
The company could go belly up in a generation or two, leaving my descendants with nothing but the hardships of picking up the pieces of a lost business. And even if they have enough to be comfortable for a while, they are now left with no guarantee for their descendants, and thus everyone’s back where they started.
Not to mention the fact that it’s very hard for me to believe that meaning in this world is created through acquiring things. Our purpose here on God’s green earth is… to have the nicest cars and televisions, and to spend our time with the wealthiest friends we can find.
I would like to believe the world desires more from us than this.
The Desire for Knowledge and Wealth
And yet I seek both knowledge and generational wealth. I want to know literature, languages, and history. And I want to live in comfort, never worried about where my next day’s meal will come from. And I want to pass the desire for knowledge and the serenity that comes with prosperity on to as many future generations as possible.
And I want to be able to do this for as long as possible, hence an oftentimes seemingly futile search for perfect health.
It feels futile for two reasons:
First, no matter how hard you try, it never seems to work. I mean, I exercise and eat well, and I’ve worked really hard to conquer a number of lingering health issues. But it’s like playing Wack-A-Mole with the body. Every time you think you’re making progress, another thing pops up to cause you grief and frustration.
Even as I write this, I feel a sharp pain in my calf that just started this morning. Will I be able to walk my dog later or go to the gym? Or has my whole day just been overturned, despite all my efforts to always maintain some level of optimum health?
Health… to What End?
But much more than that, what’s the ultimate goal? Even if you are the healthiest version of yourself, the best you can hope to eke out is an additional ten years or so. And that’s assuming you don’t just get smacked with bad luck. Cancer or a car accident can take you out, no matter how many push-ups you do or how much broccoli you consume.
And in the words of Ricky Gervais, “Yeah, but those are the worst years.” He quips about how he has no interest in extending the “bad years” of his life… but would glady enjoy another round of his twenties.
So there’s more wheel spinning.
We work day and night to earn money to pay bills and to hopefully pass it on to others so they can start the cycle again. We read and absorb wisdom to watch it die along with us. And we labor relentlessly to hopefully extend the experience for as long as possible.
But no matter what way I look at things, whether they be my pursuits or the pursuits of others, I can’t seem to escape the logic that it all seems to be for nothing.
Animals and the Creator
Animals don’t have these philophical conundrums. They find food and eat it. And they do it all day long, and then start over the next day.
The possibility exists that we’re just a more sophisticated version. Our worldy pleasures extend far beyond just eating scraps off the floor. On top of every worldy comfort that exists, we also seek meaning.
I believe in God. I always have, despite an ever-changing view of what that means, and how deeply it affects my life. But I can’t help but think how important a deep faith could be when faced with questions like mine. Perhaps God’s existence can answer all of these problems.
What if all words and actions throughout our lives served one straightforward purpose, to serve a Creator? And thus meaning can easily be applied to everything, positive or negative, in answer to one simple question: Does what I’m doing accomplish this goal, serving God?
On paper, it’s conceptually so simple. In reality, nothing can be harder. One cannot feign belief. Nor can one bolster belief without massive contemplation and life circumstances pointing in that direction.One cannot feign belief. Click To Tweet
And I’d like to think all these questions have answers even without placing a deity over oneself. Why shouldn’t meaning and purpose be part of our lives without something supernatural telling us what we’re supposed to do?
Perhaps I’ll never find answers to my questions. Perhaps they don’t even exist.
But in a world filled with ever-present problems, from bills to bumps and bruises, philosophical pain was certainly not on my to-do list.