Simple answers

I had been frustratedly ranting to Mark — in a sort of existential crisis-esque fashion — about not knowing why people exist, about the nature of tragedy, about our role in perpetuating evil, about whether the existence of evil is necessary to God’s glory.

“I’m uncertain that God’s glory is dependent on us,” Mark said at one point, with which I agreed, and followed up with a repetition of the question, “So why do we exist?”

“I’m just guessing here,” Mark answered, “but my best guess is God likes us.”

There was more that followed, but I was struck by the simplicity of that answer, and simultaneously, by its trueness. I wouldn’t say that it comprehensively addresses all the nuances of my question; I think, though, to use Mark’s own words, that it gets at the heart of the matter.

How often do our attempts to grandly theologize and philosophize end up convoluting truths that, when stripped down to their essence, are so simple?

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Simple answers

10 thoughts on “Simple answers

    1. Rachel says:

      Maybe we exist because God wants to be known, and it’s not like fish or birds are capable of being aware of God in the same way we are. My dad always tells me that the meaning of our life is to know God, so that’s why I would guess that.

  1. It could be true that, as one digs deeper and deeper into Christ and His wisdom, there are simple truths and then there are layers of understanding to that truth. I believe you’ve stated a simple truth. The beginning of the Shorter Westminster Catechism asks “what is the chief end of man?” and the answer is “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” So it’s true, in a simple sense, what you’re saying. Yet, to stick up for Philosophers everywhere, there are probably much deeper and more complex reasons as to why we exist, why God exists, and why evil exists. Understanding the simple is the first step, but I encourage you to never stop going further up and further in towards the truth.

    1. gopherwood says:

      For the record, I don’t disagree . . . I just get annoyed by philosophers who completely miss the forest for the trees, which happens on a fairly regular basis. Aquinas spends a good sixty pages talking about whether or not we’ll have hair and fingernails at the resurrection, and what will happen to food that was in the process of digestion when we died.

  2. That Westminster bit did actually come up in the conversation! Also, I’m definitely not settling for simple INSTEAD of deeper truths — the point of the post was realizing that while my tendency is actually to always look for the more complex answer (a good thing, in most cases is good), we academic sorts, Torrey students being no exception, often fail to appreciate that sometimes the truth is simpler than we realize.

  3. B. Miller I hear what your saying, and while I kinda agree I think that, given the complexity of this world, we do well to think “like Torrey kids,” in fact I’d be alright with saying a large portion of Torrey kids ought to think more complexly than they do. Although, as the previous poster noted, one might miss the forest for the trees, I think most people miss the trees for the forest. Plus I’m pretty sure Aquinas did neither of those things.

    1. gopherwood says:

      That is a fair point, and generally speaking I agree with you. I think that “normal” people have a tendency to miss the trees for the forest, and I think that “deep thinkers” have a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. While both are bad, ultimately I think I’d say that it’s better to know the big truths and not understand every little complex detail than the converse, but that’s just my opinion.

      And yes, Aquinas most definitely did do those things. Not to toot my own horn, but I did read the entire Summa last semester. (This is Mark Harbison, incidentally, if you didn’t know. I didn’t realize I was posting with a screenname until after I’d submitted the post.)

  4. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16

    I read this blog this afternoon, and I read that passage just now. We were created by him and for him. We exist because he wants us. What exactly that means kind of depends on how you personally see that statement, but I definitely found it worth considering.

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