Faithlife Sermons

The Cosmic Lottery

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Is there a purpose to life? I know as soon as I use the word 'purpose' that I've made a mistake - I've fallen into the trap of using the concept of 'intention' which suggests volition or some kind of aim on the part of matter. That is wrong. It is a religious philosophical idea based on the concept of direction or heavenly plan. Why are we here? Again, the use of the word 'Why?' is a semantic snare, for there doesn't need to be a reason. It is purposeless to question purposelessness. Simply - We're here! If I am to use a question-word, let it be 'how?'

Putting it bluntly - the human race - just like everything else - just happened, evolving by chance from some primeval slime. We're nothing more than a random collection of atoms flung together over millions of years, finally becoming human. It is all a huge accident. Random chromosomatic numbers spat out by chance by the great cosmic lottery-wheel - the whole of our lives - our very existence - a gigantic fluke.

Thinkers down the ages have expressed this meaninglessness, which they've had to agree, is the logical conclusion after considering all the evidence. I pick up the book of philosophy and place it on my knee. Let me quote you some passages.

Listen to the great French philosopher Baron Montesquieu writing in the eighteenth century. " We should weep for men at their birth, not at their death!" What he is saying is that we should pity everyone whom has to go through this experience. This is what Mark Twain wrote, and you can feel the pain from the sense of futility and uselessness that he underwent. 'Men are born, they labour and sweat and struggle; they squabble and scold and fight, those they love are taken away from them, and the joy of life is turned to aching grief. The release comes at last and they vanish from a world where they where of no consequence... a world which will lament them a day and forget them forever. My friend - I do hope that I am not depressing you with all this talk of meaninglessness and death? I hope not, but I'll continue till I get to the end of my train of thought! The French existentialist philosopher Jean Paul Satre wrote:

"This world is not the product of intelligence. It meets our gaze as would a crumpled piece of paper..."

All these men saw the logical conclusion Atheism - that life was absurd and meaningless. This fact is extremely difficult to live with.

My natural reaction is to try and hold on to some kind of an illusion of meaning - simply to make life more bearable for me. If I dwell on the stark, logical reality of the coldness and impartial purposelessness of the universe, then despair and inconsolable grief would overwhelm me. It is a fact that we all have a deep inner need to have a fulfillment beyond ourselves. It is hard to find a race of people who don't have this desire in some form or other. This need is found in every continent, and in every country among millions of ordinary people. If there's a God - then this need to find him is the only need amongst all of our needs, which for me at least, is unfulfilled.

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