To Be or Not to Be

In the prologue of John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, the poet seeks the Spirit’s help to aid him in his effort to “justify the ways of God to men.”

The poem begins,

Of Man’s first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woes
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat…”

A very different book written by the existential philosopher, Albert Camus, begins on a very different note. The opening article in a collection of articles, The Myth of Sisyphus, begins on this sober note:

There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.

The difference between the two authors is that the first appeals to biblical narrative to make sense of life. The second author makes his appeal to the absurdity of life, as he sees it. The first author argues from the vantage point of purpose; the second from the vantage point of no purpose.

That there is a God who made man for His purpose gives life dignity. So, the purpose of life can be assessed from this vantage point. The answer to Camus’ question about whether life is worth living or not worth living is answered through revelation, the Bible.


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