© Nancy Bauer/Shutterstock
Yule Blog
Personal Meaning

Theists and atheists are different. While both groups think life means something, they understand that meaning in different ways.

Published on: December 30, 2013
show comments
  • Anthony

    “Love is the weapon which Omnipotence reserved to conquer rebel man when all the rest had failed. Reason he parries, fear he answers blow for blow; future interests he meets with present pleasure, but love….” Personal Meaning Christian Love WRM brings to mind “the letter killeth, the spirit giveth life”. Again, thanks.

  • Boritz

    Love is here, love is real, love rules. That is what Christmas means to Christians. -TAI
    Yes. Just think how an ordinary task like commuting to work would be different if everyone on the road embraced this.

  • Walter, these posts you’ve made are some of the most profound and beautifully written essays on belief I’ve ever read. Thank you and well done!

  • maxdi

    Belief in a Personal God (as opposed to an unfathomable force-spirit of inscrutability) is simply narcissistic. You are not that special. If you are, please explain why better people than you suffer & die before you do of starvation, disease, accidents, warfare, etc. Please don’t push the It’s-A-Mystery button. That’s a dodge, not an explanation.

    • Flatley

      Because the world sucks; that’s never been a mystery. Christians believe in a God that exists for all of humanity, so I am unclear on where this notion of a “Personal God” comes from, it’s certainly not the concept being discussed above.

      • maxdi

        ahem….please read paragraphs 15–17. It’s right there. It’s a mysterious God-friend (as opposed to an unfathomable force-spirit of inscrutability…like quantum mechanics and brain cells) that makes itself a subject of so much discord and inconsistency of thought & behavior. ps: “the world sucks” is no better than “It’s a mystery.” Your God-friend makes the world suck?

  • Lushlife

    I find this an incredibly weak, and yet very helpful argument. Here we have the entire life force of the Universe — so incredibly vast and unknowable that we cannot and will never be able to tell where it begins or ends: in other words, God — reduced to just another needy, neurotic, emotionally stunted actor in yet another dysfunctional family drama. It certainly helps explain the appeal to many Christians of the kind of personally-involved God who selects favorites among races, thinks gays and lesbians should be forced to reject their own innate romantic and erotic orientations, and would probably agree that the Palins are just the kind of family that this country needs in the White House. God is not the mercurial stranger on the road, the ‘still, small voice,’ the angel grappling on the mountain, the burning bush, the giver of visions — poets and mystics need not apply. No, God is a needy infant on whom were are free to project our own psychic traumas and dramas. So when good Christians insist that gay families should be torn apart, or that women should be forced to bear children into lives of abject misery, or that poor people deserve to suffer, that’s just a reflection God’s wondrous ‘love.’

    • Flatley

      The type of “good Christian” you describe, (In order: racist, homophobic, ignorant, sexist, callous to the needy) is not a “good” Christian at all, (hardly a “Christian” at all, in fact) but merely a hypocrite couching their hatred or fear in the Bible. This person’s existence, or lack thereof, really has no bearing on the conversation Meade is trying to have here, and your invocation of such well-worn stereotypes misses the point entirely – this is a philosophical essay, not political.

      As to the philosophy of the matter, when you refer to God (in human form, as Jesus) as “just another needy, neurotic, emotionally stunted actor in yet another dysfunctional family drama,” to what excerpt in the essay are you referring to? How could you possibly have read through the closing paragraphs, where Meade writes:

      “That baby in the manger isn’t just the center of a circle of affection that includes his family and the adoring shepherds; he is the king and lord of the universe. Meaning lives and meaning loves and meaning rules.”

      And then go on to suggest that the importance of the Christmas story resides in the “dysfunctional family drama” surrounding his birth? There’s no support for that statement from the text.

      I don’t even think that forms the core of the argument, though. For me, what stood out was a more fundamental question, raised earlier: Is meaning inherent in the universe, or do our hopes and feelings arise from mere biological mechanics? It’s easy to discount the existence of a Jesus or an Allah or a Yawheh, but the point of the essay was to trace back to the root of our beliefs, and search for the fundamental divide between Theist and Atheist thought. I think, in that regard, it was well-done.

  • Jack


© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service
We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.