The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.
— Carl Sagan
The above quote illustrates the main tenet of materialism: This is all there is to life. This means that the Cosmos is the end of all things. There is no greater purpose, no telos. You may wonder, “Well, what difference does that make?” Rest assured that the assertion that we have no meaning makes a monumental difference in the way we live our lives.
Materialism, the belief that there is no such thing as the immaterial—no spirit, no soul, no anything—must go somewhere. So then the question is, where?
Imagine you’ve been given a screwdriver. What is your first thought? If you’re like me, and I suspect you may be, your first course of action is to look at the end of that screwdriver to determine what sort of screw it was made to drive. Upon inspection, you deduce that the screwdriver was made for a flathead screw. And now, imagine being told that the screwdriver had no purpose. Such an assertion is outright bonkers! Of course the screwdriver was created with a purpose in mind!
Similarly, people are told that they have been created with no purpose in mind. People have been told by Carl Sagan and those like him that, in fact, they amount to nothing more than bags of protoplasm. “You’re just floating through space on the back of a large piece of dust.”
And what is the result of this? People, quite naturally, become nihilists. Nihilism is the belief that nothing matters and you mean nothing. Eventually, the whole universe will come to nothing so all of our endeavors, joys, pleasures, and attempts at living are pointless. I’m sure you see where this is headed. If we deny people their purpose in life, we open the door for suicide. If there is no such thing as a flathead screw, what’s the point of the screwdriver existing? There is none.
The natural next question, then would be, “What is our flathead screw? That is, what were we created for?” This is answered quite beautifully in the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Question 1 reads: What is the chief end of man? Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever. That is the screwdriver we were created to turn. It is ours to glorify our Creator. When we do so, we find fulfillment in ourselves and joy in God. This is the point of living. This is the point of the bills, heartache, long hours, et al. You are going through it all for the purpose of glorifying God! That is the end goal!
So I ask, are you actively trying to glorify God in all that you do? Are you enjoying him as you do? If not, then I’d wager you’re living a quite unfulfilled life. Your eyes are on low and far too achievable goals. Live for God. Live for Christ! May you be fulfilled in your life, because otherwise, if we have no purpose, then we have no reason to live.
John 17:3 (ESV)
3 And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.
Soli Deo Gloria.