What Is The Purpose Of Life ? They say that a fool lives to eat and a wise man eats to live. But then the question remains: for what purpose does the wise man live? Living is not an end by itself. There has to be a purpose for man to live for. So what is this purpose? Where from? Where to? And Why? Any ignorance, however great, could be forgiven except for man to be ignorant about the secret of his existence, his aim in life and what will be his outcome after death. Some thinkers express these questions in simple words: where from? Where to? And why? Meaning: where did I come from? Where am I going? And why am I here? Those who only believe in the material world and who do not believe in a Creator- the atheists- only believe in sensory data. They say that this universe and everything in it came by itself. All its order is simply due to blind coincidence. They say that man is simply like an animal or a plant and that he will exist for a short period and then end like any other animal or plant. An Arab Poet, Elya Abu Madhi (a born-Christian), not long ago expressed his uncertainty about the purpose of life in his Arabic poem Al-Talasim, meaning “puzzles,” which I have translated into English. He says in his poem: I came not knowing from where, but I came. And I saw a pathway in front of me, so I walked. And I will remain walking, whether I want this or not. How did I come? How did I see my pathway? I do not know! Am I new or am I old in this existence? Am I free and unrestrained, or do I walk in chains? Do I lead myself in my life, or am I being led? I wish I know, but… I do not know! And my path, oh what is my path? Is it long or is it short? Am I ascending in it, or am I going down and sinking? Am I the one who is walking on the road, or is it the road that is moving? Or are we both standing, but it is the time that is running? I do not know! Before I became a full human, do you see if I were nothing, impossible? Or do you see that I was something? Is there an answer to this puzzle, or will it remain eternal? I do not know ... and why do I not know?? I do not know! This feeling of doubt and confusion about the presence of a Creator and whether He sent messengers and prophets to guide mankind must be quite painful because it deprives the Atheist and the Agnostic of tranquility, security and peace of mind. The unbelievers do not have credible answers to the purpose of one’s existence. And thus they say that man lives for himself and for the pleasures of this life. So what happens when life turns sour? What happens when one goes through hardships? It is no coincidence then that the largest number of suicides takes place amongst Atheists, Agnostics and people who do not know their purpose in life. Do you know which country has the largest number of suicides? It’s Japan. In the year ending March 2000, there were 33,000 suicides in Japan. That is 91 suicides per day or 1 suicide every 15 minutes! This despite Japan being the second largest economy in the world wherein people do not have to worry about providing a roof over their heads or about food or medical care. What if you find a Watch in the Sand? To the Atheist and the Agnostic the Muslim says: “Suppose you find a watch in the middle of a desert. What would you conclude? Would you think that someone dropped this watch? Or would you suppose that the watch came by itself? Of course no sane person would say that the watch just happened to emerge from the sand. All the intricate working parts could not simply develop from the metals that lay buried in the earth. The watch must have a manufacturer. If a watch tells accurate time we expect the manufacturer must be intelligent. Blind chance cannot produce a working watch. But what else tells accurate time? Consider the sunrise and sunset. Their timings are so strictly regulated that scientists can publish in advance the sunrise and sunset times in your daily newspapers. But who regulates the timings of sunrise and sunset? If a watch cannot work without an intelligent maker, how can the sun appear to rise and set with such clockwork regularity? Could this occur by itself? Consider also that we benefit from the sun only because it remains at a safe distance from the earth, a distance that averages 93 million miles. If it got much closer, the earth would burn up. And if it got too far away, the earth would turn into an i planet making human life here impossible. Who decided in advance that this was the right distance? Could it just happen by chance? Without the sun, plants would not grow. Then animals and humans would starve. Did the sun just decide to be there for us? The rays of the sun would be dangerous for us had it not been for the protective ozone layer in our atmosphere. The atmosphere around the earth keeps the harmful ultraviolet rays from reaching us. Who was it that placed this shield around us? We need to experience sunrise. We need the sun’s energy and its light to see our way during the day. But we also need sunset. We need a break from the heat, we need the cool of night and we need the lights to go out so we may sleep. Who regulated this process to provide what we need? Moreover, if we had only the warmth of the sun and the protection of the atmosphere we would want something more - beauty. Our clothes provide warmth and protection, yet we design them to also look beautiful. Knowing our need for beauty, the designer of sunrise and sunset also made the view of them to be simply breathtaking. The creator who gave us light, energy, protection and beauty deserves our thanks. Yet some people insist that he does not exist. What would they think if they found a watch in the desert? An accurate, working watch? A beautifully designed watch? Would they not conclude that there does exist a watchmaker? An intelligent watchmaker? One who appreciates beauty? Such is God who made us.” Did people always believe in a Creator? It is a fact that throughout history and throughout the world, man had been found to worship and to believe in a Creator. Specialists in Anthropology, Civilizations and History are unanimous on this. This led one of the great historians to say: “History shows that there had been cities without palaces, without factories and without fortresses, but there has never been cities without houses of worship.” Since time immemorial, man believed that he was not created simply for this life, for this short period, and he knew that he would ultimately depart to another resting-place. We see this evidence with the early Egyptians, thousands of years ago, when they mummified their dead and built great pyramids (as graves) and even placed the treasures of the dead in their graves in addition to drinks and mummified food! From the earliest recorded history, mankind had been unanimous, with very few exceptions, that there is a Creator and that there is life after death. However, they differed about the essence of this Creator, how to worship Him and the description of the life after death. For example, Hindus believe in reincarnation and that after death one’s soul would then go into a human body or an animal, depending on whether one did good or bad in his life, and that this process would continue without end until the soul reaches perfection and unites into one with its Creator. People of other religions like Jews, Christians and Muslims also believe in life after death, but not in reincarnation like the Hindus. All three - Jews, Christians and Muslims -however have different views about what happens to the soul after one’s death. The fact that all nations and communities throughout history believed in a Creator (with the exception of insignificant few) made the mission of all prophets in all ages concentrate on guiding their people away from the worship of creations to the worship of the one and only Creator God, i.e. rather than having to prove His existence. Why did People turn away from God? The situation now in the world is different because there are now a very large number of people who do not believe in a Creator or in life after death - for example two surveys in the Czech Republic in 2000 found in one only 13% believe in life after death and in the other only 17% believe in God. A major reason for this in the last century was the so-called theory of evolution by Darwin (other reasons include the impact of totalitarian communism rule on people’s faith.) The theory of evolution says that man evolved from the ape, rather than being created by a Creator. Although this theory has no academic or scientific substance, it gained favor with so many people because it appealed to the doubts they had about the God that they were told to believe in. This is not surprising. If you give an educated person a description of a Creator that is illogical and unreasonable and then ask that person to believe in Him as his God, he would refuse. This unfortunately is the situation right now, especially in the west. The Christian Doctrines advocate the trinity, that God manifests Himself in three distinct and equal persons, and that God came down to earth in the form of a man (that is Jesus) and that He was crucified and died as a vicarious sacrifice for the so-called sin of man. So the Christians believe that Jesus was God in human form, God-incarnate. But how can the Creator die? Some of the most important doctrines of Christianity - the doctrines of the Trinity, the Divinity of Jesus, the Divine-Sonship of Jesus, the Original Sin and the Atonement are neither rational nor in conformity with the teachings of Jesus. These dogmas took shape long after Jesus, as a result of old pagan influence. For example we find in Hinduism, the “Triad” (the trinity): there is Brahma, the creator god, Vishnu, the preserver god, and Shiva, the god of destruction. Modern Hindus take Krishna the son of Divachi, the virgin, as Vishnu incarnate. Krishna is the savior who as a sacrifice for their sin, had to suffer. He was crucified, died and then was raised from death. In Buddhism we find the Buddhist gods: Guatama (the holy spirit), Maya (the virgin mother) and Buddha, the son (who was conceived when Maya was filled by the holy spirit) and who is the savior who died and was raised from death. It may be interesting to mention that the 25th of December is not the birthday of Jesus. It is the birthday of Krishna in Hinduism, and of Nimrod, the divine son (a Babylonian god), and of Mithra, the god of light (one of the gods of the Greeks and the Romans)! The religion revealed to the prophets of various nations was the same, but in the course of time it had been misinterpreted and become mixed up with superstitions and degenerated into magical practices and meaningless rituals. The concept of God, the very core of religion, had become debased by (a) the anthropomorphic tenden of making God into a being with a human shape, needs and human deficiencies, (b) the association of other persons with the one and only God in His Godhead (as in Hinduism and Christianity), (c) by the deification of the angels (e.g., the Devas in Hinduism, the Yazatas in Zoroastrianism and, perhaps also, the Holy Spirit in Christianity), (d) by making the Prophets into Avatars or incarnations of God (e.g., Jesus Christ in Christianity, the Buddha in Mahayana Buddhism, and Krishna and Rama in Hinduism), and (e) by the personification of the attributes of God into separate Divine Persons (e.g., the Christian Trinity of the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost, the Hindu Timurtri of Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, and the Amesha Spentas of Zoroastrianism). Due to major religions distorting the oneness and essence of God, pupils in the West are now being taught in schools to accept, as fact, Darwin’s theory of evo1ution. As a result, more and more students of school and university age are now Atheists. They even ridicule those who believe in God saying: “they are either stupid or lack confidence and so need something to give them security!” I was recently attending a lecture in a Western country given by a Muslim to a group of retired men and women - more than 65 years of age. The lecturer in the beginning asked the group: which of you believe in God? They all raised their hands except two men. Then the lecturer asked: which of you do not believe in God? The remaining two elderly men then raised their hands. However, one of them paused and immediately interrupted the lecturer. He said: “Tell me what do you mean by God so that I can answer you!” After the session, I said to the lecturer: this man is intelligent because at first he said he did not believe in God, most probably because of the Christian concept of God, but then he was willing to have an open mind and rethink his position based on the concept of God that could be presented by the Muslim. Why are we created? Those who believe in the Creator can answer the questions: where from? And where to? They know that they have come into existence by being created by the Creator and they also know that there is an eternal life after death. But what about the answer to the third question, that is: why have we been created? If we had been created by the Creator, shouldn’t we expect that He would tell us the purpose of our creation? Shouldn’t He tell us on what basis He is going to judge us on the Day of Judgment?