Why does life exist?

Life is not meaningless.  And life is not an accident.

Christians believe that God created the universe, the earth and all that lives on it.  Planet Earth is unique, statistically improbable and very different to the rest of the known universe.  It is a planet very specifically designed for life.  Six hundred or more years before Jesus, the prophet and poet Isaiah wrote:  ‘[God] did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited.’

Science can take our understanding only so far, as scientists themselves make clear.  Science tells us what exists and how, but not why it exists or what it all means.  Paul Davies, professor of physics at Arizona University, writes:  ‘We now know that the secret of life lies not with the chemical ingredients as such, but with the logical structure and organisational arrangement of the molecules  …  Like a supercomputer, life is an information processing system  …  It is the software of the living cell that is the real mystery, not the hardware.  How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software? … Nobody knows.’

It is known that nothing in the universe exists as an isolated or independent entity.  The universe is a continuum of matter and energy in space and time, but it has not always existed.  It had a start, but the cause of the start is unknown.  Scientists know that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, but can not identify the action that caused the existence of the universe.

Christians identify God as that cause.  But God is more than an impersonal force creating a universe.  God created human beings in order for them to share in his own existence.  Human beings and all of creation, exist to show God’s glory.

The Bible describes human beings as singled out for special status.  It describes humans as made ‘in the image of God’.  It is not in any sense a physical likeness, but a capacity to engage in life mentally, morally, creatively, socially and spiritually.  Among the unforgettable images in the Bible is God breathing his own life into the prototype human, Adam.  The ‘image of God’ distinguishes humans from the remainder of the animal, mineral and vegetable world and enables them to enter an active relationship with their maker.

The whole Bible tells the story of God’s relationship of love with his creation.  Jesus Christ spoke of the overwhelming significance of love when he was asked to say which was the most important of God’s commandments.  He selected two – to love God and to love other people.  Everything that gives life meaning follows from those.  The reason for and the fulfilment of our existence is love.

What the Bible says about it

An extract from the Bible:

An expert in the Law tested him with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’  Jesus replied: ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.”  All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’

Where to find it:

Matthew 22:35-40

About these words:

Jesus spoke these words in the days before his death in Jerusalem.  He taught that the most important things in life are relationships with God and with each other.

And they said…

Mark Twain, writer, 1835-1910:

The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why.

Vivienne Westwood, designer:

I was anti-religious at one time.  I’m not any more.  The concept of God and the divine is very important.  Human beings have the potential to evolve and become more and more wonderful because they are aiming at that perfection.

Francis Bacon, 1561-1626, scientist and statesman:

It is true that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism.  But depth in philosophy bringeth men’s minds about the religion.

Doctor Who to baby Alfie in ‘Closing Time’ (series 6 episode 12):

Stop crying!  You’ve got a lot to look forward to.  A normal human life on earth: mortgage repayments, the nine to five, a persistent nagging sense of spiritual emptiness.  Save the tears for later, boyo!

Max Planck, physicist and founder of quantum theory, 1858-1947:

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force … We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind.  This Mind is the matrix of all matter.

Benjamin Disraeli, British prime minister, 1804-1881:

We are all born for love.  It is the principle of existence and its only end.

Erich Fromm, psychologist and philosopher, 1900-1980:

Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve.  Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.

Friedrich Nietzsche, philosopher, 1844-1900:

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.