Sunday, October 18, 2009

Life's Purpose: Where Do We Find a Shared Vision? A Secular vs. Faith Approach

 I would like to reproduce here some thoughts I initially put down in the comments section over at The Linde (see this post), the blog of The Personalist Project. This pertains to the subject of what is needed for a human culture to be truly human. How do we keep society from degenerating in a downward spiral? Is there a difference between secular humanism and faith-inspired personalism? These thoughts relate closely to my previous post about the myth of utopia.

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Human beings need to understand our common human purpose from a source higher than ourselves. We need our true end to be revealed to us from above. This begins with pre-Christian religious sensibilities and conscience (placed in our nature by God) and culminates in Christ. Without this, we only have our independent, human and worldly ideas about the purpose of human life. Without a source greater than ourselves we are left with a struggle for power as the only way to ultimately settle the problem of which ideas about life should be placed above others.

And again, it could be said this way: there is no “ought” without an “is.” In other words, if we do not have a shared understanding of our own human nature (which comes from God whether we explicitly acknowledge this or not), we cannot come to a peaceable agreement on how we ought to live. And this lack of some minimum shared vision of our nature necessarily devolves into a struggle for power. For unless we have a common “is” we have no rational means by which to unite in common moral obligations.

It goes perhaps without saying that having a shared vision about the purpose and nature of human life does not require explicit faith. It does require good will and openness to what life teaches and openness to one’s conscience and to the innate religiosity within us.

But of course, the highest possible perfection of human society in this world could only happen after the revelation of Christ and the new availability of the New Covenant graces which were unleashed into the world by His passion and resurrection.

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