Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The three existential problems of life: alienation, meaninglessness and purposelessness


Christianity is, so far as I know, the only system on offer which claims to solve all the three main existential problems of life:

1. Alienation - feeling detached from the world, that the world is just objective fact and that I have no relationship with the sun, moon, stars, plants, animals, landscape or anything else.

2. Meaninglessness - that the decisions and occurrences of life are devoid of any real significance - any sensation of meaning being at most a useful delusion.

3. Purposelessness - that there is no direction or goal in life, that life is just one thing after another and then death (and oblivion, or misery).


1. Alienation is not a problem for hunter-gatherer animists, nor for young children - who are 'animists' and see nature as alive, and they are in communication an in relationship with it.

However, there is no real significance or goal to life for animists: life simply cycles round-and-round, transforming, but in total the same forever. Individuality is transformed into something else, or reabsorbed into the energies of the universe. This is common to most or all types of animism, totemism, paganism.

Christianity solves alienation by adoption of the believer into the family of God and by awareness of the presence of unseen intelligences (angels and demons) peopling this world.


2. Pure monotheisms offer a weighty sense of the significance of behaviours and occurrences in this world - these are all known and 'recorded' by the one God. There is also the presence of angels and demons - so Man is not alone.

However,of monotheisms, only Trinitarian Christianity also addresses the alienation problem - only Christianity promises that the believer becomes a Son of God via death, purification and resurrection in the perfection of 'a god' (infinitely below the one creator God, but above the angels).


3. Purposelessness. To my understanding, all religions except Christianity lack a sense of purpose; since impersonal participation in the energies of the universe, or some cyclical process is not purpose; neither is endlessly-more-of-the-same-kind-of-stuff  but only including the pleasures (i.e. eternity in 'paradise') any real answer to anything.

Paradise it is merely an eternity of euphoria - much the same as a permanent orgasm, drug trip, or a good dream. This is indistinguishable from a state of cheerful delusion; and in fact a species of nihilism. The promise of eternity in paradise is actually an horrific threat.

By contrast, Christianity promises a future state in which - on the one hand - we retain our individuality, our personality, our distinctiveness: we are still ourselves. Yet on the other hand this self is purified and perfected (resurrected) and in the best imaginable situation of living in the presence of Christ.

This is not, of course, an exact or comprehensible promise (at least not to normal everyday consciousness); but my point is that Christianity recognizes that any future which involves annihilation, destruction of the self, or eternity of our unchanged selves is nothing more than a nightmare.

Christianity alone recognizes what sort of circumstances would need to prevail for eternity to be not just bearable but blissful.


The greatest recent triumph of Satan has perhaps been to obscure this fact from the mass of people; the fact that if we believe Christianity to be true, then Christianity is not merely the best offer on the table: it is the only offer on the table that is not in reality some kind of nihilistic horror or everlasting nightmare - even if the horrors and nightmares be disguised with a sugar-coating.

Indeed, more than this, Christianity represents (so far as I know) the only desirable interpretation of the world which takes into account the reality of the world as we experience it, the only one which denies nothing.

It is Christianity or nothing: it is our only hope. And this is not a matter of opinion, but a matter of whether you know enough to understand and understand enough to acknowledge.


You may think Christianity is false, or be uncertain whether it is true - that is a different matter.

But you ought to recognize, to acknowledge, that Christianity is the only religion which you would both want to be true and which could in principle be true.

If you have not yet reached that point, you have work to do.