There are two ways to interpret life and to some extent its meaning. The first is to believe that there is a god or some other supernatural equivalent. That in the end, there is some sort of cosmic judge keeping score and what we do on this earth matters if nothing else toward the next iteration of our immortality. For some religions this is heaven or hell, others something in between, and for some, simply what we reincarnate as.
Another view of course is there is no god, godlike creatures, or even overall meaning. There will be no tally of our deeds, no comeuppance, no positive or negative repercussions whatever we do. In that case, despite whatever alternative emotional response we might feel, it doesn’t matter – the fact that one has a good life, a shitty life, or are evil or good ultimately has no bearing on oneself beyond whatever “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short” existence one may have. All the drama of romance, war, and politics will ultimately be lost in the tide of the infinite, or near infinite, history of the universe. To quote one of my favorite movies:
“All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.”
But what if there is a God? For simplicity I will stick to the singular that us westerners are most familiar. What if he does exist and there is some grand plan? Does it even matter then?
I cannot argue that in the long game perhaps it does, the unknowable is the unknowable, but if one looks at the shorter game, the one we call “life”, it’s hard to believe it does in fact matter.
Why? Because at this very moment, a 100 children will die innocently of some horror to which they had no “free will” in. Thousands of adults will come to timely and untimely ends, whether quietly going into that night, or through some great horror never expected nor wished.
The “good guys”, us Americans for instance, routinely commit to wars that while one can debate their ultimate morality or not, one cannot deny bring terrors never dreamed before upon hundreds of thousands (Iraq) if not millions (Vietnam) of both innocent (mostly) and guilty (the few) victims.
In this physical world the bad routinely win, the good routinely lose. The evil live in riches while the good live in poverty (though, not to be too pessimistic, undoubtedly on occasion the reverse as well).
Tornadoes hit, hurricanes batter, earthquakes and landslides bury, planes crash, cancer claims, disease comes and cares not about the character of the victim.
The point being, if God has a plan, that plan doesn’t seem to much care about the characters, much less their worthiness, of those playing upon it’s stage. It takes a great deal of self-delusion to not see that any justice doled out within one’s lifetime is ultimately arbitrary. It is true that in the increasing Ayn Rand-ian worldview (ie: Social Darwinism in another suit), that we believe that the winners win because they are deserving (and such a worldview is certainly convenient to those who are winning, who I will note, generally through money, influence, and literal ownership of the media have the loudest voices). Still, any objective analysis shows otherwise – the winners win at least equally for brutality, hubris, the ability to ignore what others’ consciences would arrest, pure luck (whether of birth or circumstance), and a host of other not even slightly flattering characteristics. Even our heroes, when one fully and honestly analyzes their acts, are often monsters.
In short, if there is a plan relating to ultimate goodness, that plan is not the least reflected in this physical world we live in. What we see looks no less arbitrary than if there were no plan, and no God, at all. In that regard, per the title, there is no apparent meaning.
I suppose some will read this and say this is of no fault of God, or rather, it would look very different if God did not grant us “free will” and we did not exercise that will for evil. But even that falls flat on its face. Again, how many children die of and in horrible circumstances that have nothing to do with human influence? Leukemia, natural disasters, heart defects, you name it. Children that didn’t even have time, nor the capability, to exercise anything resembling “free will”, and that does not even include the millions if not billions of worthy adults who fall to the same.
My point is, there may be some grand scheme where this all has some great and glorious meaning, but if there is, in the here and now of this physical planet, there is no discernable difference from the alternative.
You may have your God, and you may be right that there is some ultimate unknowable glue to it all, but it seems even within the rules of that deity has given, with the absolute anarchy of it all (natural or otherwise), trying to enforce some order seems a fool’s errand. If order on this plane of existence matters, it certainly does not seem seem to be reflected by the ultimate plan, nor does it feel that it matters to the God who created it.