Inherent meanings – not created

By Dave Henning / February 17, 2024

“Traditional belief in God was the basis for discovered, objective meaning — meaning that is there, apart from your inner feelings or interpretations.  If we were made by God for certain purposes, then there are inherent meanings we must accept.  The meanings that secular people have are not discovered but rather created.  They are no objectively ‘there’.  They are subjective and wholly dependent on our feelings.”- Timothy Keller

As Timothy Keller moves on in Chapter 3 of Making Sense of God, he notes the unwillingness of secular people to recognize this significant difference.  The contrast between inherent and assigned (created) meanings.  Above all, Pastor Keller argues, created or assigned meanings are much more fragile and thin than discovered meanings.  In addition, Timothy finds discovered or inherent meanings more rational, communal, and durable than created meanings.

However, the author acknowledges, it sounds strange to describe the Christian faith as more rational when it comes to meaning in life.  Thus, he applies this to sustaining the meaning of life on a practical level.  To find meaning in an activity, we must answer the question What is it all for?

But one problem keeps coming up again and again.  Because as we move up the chain, we find the answers to that question harder and harder to find.  And if you believe this life is all there is, in the end what you do will make no difference whatsoever.  As a result, you must stop thinking about the importance of your beliefs to find peace and meaning for this daily life.

Most significantly, as C. S. Lewis wrote in “On Living in an Atomic Age,” good times come with limits.  Hence, Lewis asserts:

“You might decide to simply have as good a time as possible.  The universe is a universe of nonsense, but since you are here, grab what you can. . . .  You may still, in the lowest sense, have a ‘good time,’ but just in so far as it becomes very good, just in so far as it ever threatens to push you on from cold sensuality into real warmth and enthusiasm and joy, so far you will be forced to feel the  hopeless disharmony between your own emotions and the universe in which you [think you] really live.”

Today’s question: What inherent meanings about the Christian faith do you accept?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The Logos – a person to be learned”

About the author

Dave Henning

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