Rev. Nov. 1, 2006
A Prayer of Jesus I thank thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hidden these things from the wise
and understanding and revealed them to babes; yea, Father, for such was thy gracious will.
WHY DO WE EXIST?
BY EDGAR JONES
Inspired by the teaching of Jesus, I have derived a reason for our existence that is both intellectually satisfying and supportive of faith. I prove nothing; to the contrary, I show why proof in not possible. As a bonus we also derive the purpose for the existence of the universe. The purpose for our existence is surprisingly simple, as it must be if it is to be compatible with Jesus’ word of thanksgiving to the Father:
I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes1.
The fact is that the answer is couched in the familiar parent/child terms that a child can understand. To a profound question we find a profoundly simple answer.
My approach to the question is also simple. First I will propose a set of four assumptions, three that are fundamental and one derivative; then I will propose a set of conditions that satisfy the assumptions. Then I will show that human beings satisfy the assumptions and conditions as required for explaining the reason for the existence of humans and the universe and for the real conditions under which we exist. There are significant implications that I list next. Finally, I will show how the teachings of Jesus support the assumptions, implications and conditions.
- 1. A personal God exists who is loving, eternal, having freewill and dwelling in heaven.
- 2. God wills to be the Father of children sharing His heavenly glory.
These are the fundamental assumptions. We see immediately that they impose a dilemma. Being like God, the children must have freewill as the Father has freewill. This must produce disagreements such as would destroy the harmony of heaven, for surely the children would sometimes be in conflict with each other and in rebellion against the Father as wills collide. Our experiences with child-parent relationships suggest the possibilities. Assumption No. 3 does not permit this.
- 3. Heaven is and must remain a state of glory and perfect harmony.
The problem arises because the children would be in heaven according to God’s will and without any consideration for their will. Clearly, God cannot consult them prior to begetting them. If their desires are predictable and therefore predetermined, they have no free will. This last statement is debatable, but for present purposes I take it to be true. Even God cannot have foreknowledge of the choices of a will that is truly free because, if a choice is foreknown, the will is obligated to produce it. Therefore even God can have no precognition of the choices of a true freewill entity. So, how can He protect the harmony of heaven from the conflicts of multiple free wills?
Love alone is not the answer. The children in God’s likeness will be capable of love, and mutual love produces harmony. But if they are capable of love they must also be capable of hate. They must have a choice! The decision must be theirs and those who choose to hate will destroy the harmony of heaven. Otherwise, again, they have no free will.
Consider this also. God cannot even predetermine that a single one of them will choose to love. Every one might choose to hate – every last one; in which case the divine project would terminate in failure. But if every one of them chose to hate, would not this mean that they were predisposed to hate and therefore without free will?
No. Consider that all except one have thus chosen, and that one is yet undecided. If that one does not also have the option of hating, there is no free will. Then that one chooses hate also, on the basis of free will, and every one has then chosen hate. That all make the same choice does not mean that the choices were predetermined.
Is the entire project then impossible? No. The assumptions may be valid, but we must amend them so as to give the children complete freedom to choose to be or not to be with the Father in heaven under the circumstances of harmony that must prevail there. Therefore, before they arrive in heaven, that must also be their will, and it must be freely chosen. There will therefore be only one qualification for entering heaven – the desire to be there under the circumstances determined by the will of the Father. There can be only one disqualification – the desire not to be there, but to remain elsewhere. We must therefore provide a fourth assumption as follows:
What must be the conditions of P?
- 4. There must be a place, P, outside of heaven, where the child-candidates exist in the freedom of the will and where they may or may not choose to conform to God’s will.
CONDITIONS OF P
1. P must be a far place, remote from heaven, such that it will be impossible for any creature it contains to pass over to heaven contrary to the will of the Father. Otherwise the purpose in creating P would be voided as free-will creatures pass over on their own volition. Indeed, such creatures must, in general, be treated by heaven as though infected by a deadly disease. P and all its contents must be quarantined lest heaven become infected by rebellion.
2. P must have an end. Since God cannot know the outcome of P in that it depends upon free will, he will not know beforehand when its purpose will have been fulfilled. Therefore P must include the provision for a limited duration. Like a candle set aflame, it must have an end that is established by processes arising at the beginning. Therefore God must provide P with rules, R, by which it both exists and ceases to exist and by which it is isolated from heaven. Neither P nor anything in P will be able to alter R.
3. P must be entirely self contained. If God enters into it, tweaking and adjusting, His presence must have determinative effects. In that the very essence of P is freewill, God must do nothing determinative in P. He must give it existence under the administration of the rules, R, then stand off and let it do its thing. It must therefore be such as to maximize the probability for success. It must be immense by comparison with its smallest parts. Its duration must also be immense by comparison with its smallest units of time. R must includes a law or laws of probability.
4. Both R and P must be such as to admit the spontaneous appearance within P of individual candidates, C, for the divine childhood. God cannot enter into P so as to create them in his presence without compromising the freedom of the will as stated in 3. Further, to maximize the probability that C will come to exist in P, P must also provide immense numbers of possible pathways to C. In addition some means must be provided to maximize the survivability of those pathways most likely to lead to C. Finally, R must include provisions for selective transfer of individuals from P to heaven.
5. Choice is essential to freewill. This requires that C be intelligent. That is, individuals in C must be capable of gathering data for evaluation of options. They must have memory in which to store the data. They must have the rational ability to recall and evaluate the data. They must have self-consciousness and a set of values by which to gauge the data in a manner favorable to their survival and happiness. Those who have made the choice most conducive to survival must have the means to communicate it to others who will similarly benefit.
6. There must be options within P to educate C and to give individuals of C the experience of evaluating and choosing. From the perspective of God, C must also become aware of at least one option outside of P, that is, heaven. Obviously, if individuals in C are not aware of heaven or of God, they cannot choose to go to heaven in submission to God’s will. But here we encounter a caution. Heaven is eternal, and its conditions all blessed ones. But P is temporal, with the seeds of its destruction built in. Individuals in C will be of limited duration; yet to maximize their possibilities, they will learn to value survival and fear their individual terminations. If they have certain knowledge of the blessedness of heaven, and of their eternal duration should they choose heaven, they would by comparison hate P and its terminal conditions and reach out to heaven from pure self-interest. But would this be a true choice in which the glory of heaven enters in and overwhelms their values in P? No. They must have awareness of heaven if they are ever to choose heaven, but their awareness must be limited so as not to crush the freedom of the will.
For the same reason, awareness of their prospects in P must also be tempered. They must be aware of the possibilities, either of a happy existence (long of short) that terminates painlessly, or of a miserable existence, long or short, that terminates in great suffering, or of some other combination; but they cannot know before hand which is their lot. For this reason I prefer to use the term "awareness" rather than "knowledge." In this awareness, any choice they make, either of P or of heaven, must be driven by hope fueled by faith. They cannot be able to foresee their own futures in P, but they will be aware of the possibilities from the observation of the experience of those who have gone before them.
It may appear that the direct experience of P will have a much more powerful influence than the option of heaven of which individuals in C are only aware but of which they have no direct experience. This would be true, except that this imbalance will be addressed by the fact that they, in God’s likeness, will be fitted for eternity. The conditions for their appearance as C in P will insure that this will be the case, because they, as suggested above, will be motivated to survive. Therefore they will, by nature, aspire for an existence where there is no termination as they see to be their lot in P. They must, again like God, have eternity in their hearts, which will motivate them to seek an eternal existence.
7. P must contain patterns of the heavenly existence that is the will of God for His children as necessary to provide for informed choices in the context of freewill. How can one choose to become a child of God if one has no experience of childhood? How can one choose to become a member of the Father’s family if there is no experience of family in P? How can one choose God as Father if one has no experience of fatherhood? So, the patterns of existence of C in P must mimic the realities of existence in heaven.
8. The previous seven conditions are primary; yet to maximize the probability for the success of this project, God must add one more. There must be, in the experience of C in P, a way-shower, W, sent from the Father, that will teach and show the will of the Father and the way to the Father. W is as essential to the divine project as any of the things listed above because individuals in C must have a leader on the way to heaven. W will be effective at recruiting followers only if he arises from within C.
THE FAR PLACE
Now we turn out attention to the reality that satisfies the assumptions and conditions listed above. The universe and in particular the earth as one of its component parts, will be shown to satisfy all. Reread the above and in every place where P appears, substitute "earth." Where R appears, substitute "laws of physics." Where C appears, substitute "human beings." Where W appears, substitute "Jesus." Where "spontaneous appearance" appears, read "evolution." You may make other appropriate substitutions.
The objection, that all of the above is meaningless because I, from my experience in the world, have obviously selected assumptions and conditions such that only the world can fulfill them, is not justified. Experience certainly was useful, but that is in fact not how I arrived at the picture that I am portraying here. Jesus taught me this set of relationships as I listened to his words from the gospels. I would never have conceived them apart from his teaching; indeed, my experience of the world long delayed my enlightenment because of the radical implications. Furthermore, the assumptions listed above are not mandated by the experience of the world. Multitudes experience the world without believing that God exists, or that he has free will, or that he is love, or that he is eternal, or that he is responsible for the creation of the world, or that he desires to be the father of many children, or that human beings are in the likeness of God. Indeed, multitudes of rational human beings experience the world without being compelled to accept a single one of the primary assumptions.
There are several radical implications of the above relationships. I mention only nine here for the sake of brevity, but the reader can readily conceive of others.
1. In so far as human beings are concerned, the will of God is one thing absolutely exclusive of all other things: "Come home to me!" But we cannot go until that is also our will. The choice is ours. That, and whatever contributes to it, is God’s only will for human beings. The will of God is done on earth only when a human being desires, out of the love of God, to transfer to heaven.
2. Life is the term used to define our individual experience of the world. Most human beings have a love of life, interpreted to mean that they do not want to lose life. This is the desire for survival or self-preservation. Defining "evil" as whatever opposes the will of God, then the love of life in this world is the essence of evil. If we define sin as whatever we do that opposes the will of God, then the love of life is the essence of sin. All violence, including war and oppression springs directly from the love of life as human beings respond to threats.
3. The love of God is the supremely radical idea. Human beings do not love God until they desire in their hearts to go to him where he is. Human beings who love God do not want to remain in the world, and thus can be said to hate the life in this world. We are not justified in God’s sight until we desire to go to him. Only that human being is righteous who truly desires from the heart to go to the Father. He awaits our free choice.
4. If we define a kingdom as the realm where the will of a king is done, it follows that the kingdom of God is come on earth only when the will of God is done on earth. This occurs only when a human being on the earth desires to go to God in love, that being God’s only will for human beings. When this is first done by a leader whom others follow in the Way, then it can be said that God rules the earth and his kingdom has come finally and completely, solely because the world is fulfilling His purpose in creating it. This has no essential reference to conditions on the earth, whether peace or war, or famine or feast.
5. The patterns of the world correspond to the realities of heaven, and compete with heaven for the devotion of the individual. Devotion to these patterns that include family, race and state are contrary to the will of the Father and are rooted in evil.
6. There is no glorious future for the world or anything in it, including the earth. All things will pass away. The belief in and desire for a glorious future for the earth is indicative of attachment to the earth – to the love of life on the earth – and therefore comes from evil.
7. It is and must remain impossible to prove the existence of God, heaven, and eternal life. Such a proof would work to coerce the freedom of the will and make void the purpose of God. The continuing hiddenness of both God and heaven are of the essence.
8. It is easily seen that the world and all it contains stands over against the will of God as an object of devotion even when fulfilling His purpose. It is therefore a "necessary evil" in its totality. Life on earth – the totality of earthly existence – is for human beings the evil option because it is not what God desires. The essential choices therefore are all either/or, never both/and.
9. There must be a continuous chain of witnesses in the world who will proclaim the truth to their fellows after having chosen the Way. Therefore each individual must remain in the world until his time before going to the Father. Suicide as a means to the Father is not appropriate, as it is a testing of God’s willingness to receive us.
This requirement was satisfied by the appearance of Jesus of Nazareth and by the perpetuation of his message as it appears in the four gospels of the New Testament. He laid claim to this function when he said,
I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father but by me.2
He laid claim to being our only legitimate leader, and commanded human beings to follow him in his way. He said,
Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple3.
He bore his cross as we must bear ours. He called for a specific attitude to life consistent with all of the above. He said,
He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.4
His death on the cross, experienced by his own choice so that he might go to God, was a vivid example. He said it:
No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord,5
But now (Father) I am coming to you.6
It is for this reason that he said,
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.7
It is only those human beings so disposed who can reasonably be expected to love their enemies, turn the other cheek and resist not evil as commanded in the Sermon on the Mount.
Call no man your Father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven11.
He denied the normal relationships to Mary and his siblings. When they sought to approach him, he said to the others gathered around him:
Who is my mother and who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother, and sister, and mother12.
All valid family relationships are therefore dictated by the will of God as defined above – not by genetics. For this reason he insisted that every human being that follows him as a disciple must take a negative stance towards those relationships so as to replace them with the heavenly ones. He said,
If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple13.
This will result in divisions within households, communities, and states. He said,
Do you think that I came to send peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for henceforth in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law14.
The Father will not accept, as his children, those human beings that lay claim to earthly fathers.
This all produces a simple conclusion. Those whose relatives, attachments, and values are earthly ones established by genetics have no place in heaven. The hearts of human beings must, as an act of free will, be focussed in heaven before they are acceptable to God. Therefore Jesus said,
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth . . . but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven . . . for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also15.
In every case where Jesus calls for such decisions, it is a call for a radical, either/or denial of the worldly so as to appropriate the heavenly. To love the worldly is to be disqualified for the heavenly. Thus he said of his disciples:
They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world16.
It follows that all merely human values and endeavors are contrary to the will of God for his children. Therefore Jesus said,
What is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God17.
Jesus summed his philosophy in the Parable of the Prodigal Son. There, the father is God, his house is heaven, the far country is the world, the Prodigal is any human being and Jesus is the elder son. God only requires human beings to freely repent and will only to go to Him as does the Prodigal Son. Thus we explain the existence of both human beings and the world. God has never required atonement and propitiation, and the crucifixion was not a sacrifice. Again, Jesus said it:
I desire mercy, and not sacrifice18.
He also ruled out the suicide option when, tempted to cast himself down from a high place, he responded,
It is written, you shall not tempt the Lord your God19.
1 Matthew 11:25
3 Luke 14:27
4 John 12:25
5 John 10:18
6 John 17:13
7 Matthew 10:28
8 John 8:58
9 Matthew 22:45
10 Luke 2:48,49
11 Matthew 23:9
12 Matthew 12:48-50
13 Luke 14:26
14 Luke 12:51-53
15 Matthew 6:19-21
16 John 17:16
17 Luke 16:15
18 Hosea 6:6, Matthew 9:13, 12:7
19 Deuteronomy 6:16, Matthew 4:7
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