Astronomical odds of success may provide great story plots for movies or books, but for the most part have no place in reality. When faced with a one-in-a-billion chance of something working out according to hopes, prudence and sanity would dictate that we adjust our outlook. Because a mathematical odd may be calculable, being really close to zero is, well, zero.
Granted, sometimes in the most extreme situations, that chance has to be taken because that is all that is left. While there are a few instances scattered throughout history where it paid off, failure usually happens, and thinking otherwise is a lesson in futility. In fact, when confronted with futility, the general question that gets raised is What does it all really mean anyway? A risk gets taken because some purpose is acknowledged as being worth the risk; but there’s a fine line between determining when risk trumps the purpose, versus when purpose trumps the risk.
In our enlightened modern age, many souls wander without any real sense of ultimate purpose. The prevailing darkness of popular cinema and music reflect that. Many youth are adversely impacted, angered over being sold a bill of goods about the meaning of life. Having been led to believe holy religion as inept and stupid, they don’t know where to look. So they align themselves with party lines with no understanding of history, all the while drowning in virtual worlds to distract themselves from being one day closer to death and soften the ever-lurking sentiment of discouragement and futility. Sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll, in whatever form they take, become a way of life.
Tell a lie a thousand times and it becomes the truth. “Almighty Science” has infallibly declared and repeated ad nauseum that humanity is a product of evolutionary chance. While there are pockets of rightful and most necessary challenge to this, it’s the running narrative now and is at the fundamental core of humanity’s demise.
In being a product of chance, the atheism of such a destructive premise is evident. We are here today, gone tomorrow, and most are forgotten soon afterwards. Why should there be rules, and laws, and order then? Why behave, unless to only secure some sense of freedom while we are here? What’s the point of suffering? Why labor for justice? Ultimately, what does life mean if I am just a chance occurrence that could have easily not occurred?
Utter poison to the mind and the human psyche. Frank Sheed explains it quite well:
[T]he universe would have been an accident that happened to happen, and man a byproduct of the accident – with no meaning and no purpose. All would have to exist in a context of meaninglessness, and meaninglessness would have the last word – the last word on men, certainly, billions of them emerging unmeant from an unmeant universe and doomed in their billions to sink back into it. It is hard to see what value such a being could have; we might still tell ourselves that all men are equal, but we should have to admit that if so, they are all equal to nothing much (Christ in Eclipse, ch. 4).
But much to the contrary, what happens if we are products of intentionality? In other words, my existence was actually willed, where chance plays no part. The impossible human odds of where, when, and how I came to be (should someone care to work the math) are trumped by an eternal divine intention. Instead of chance, there is a precision beyond measure.
What if that would again become the more universally realized basis upon which to find the meaning of life? Sheed continues in the same breath:
To the whole human race and not only its religious section, it is of measureless importance to have been “meant” and not merely to have happened. Nothing could do more for human relations than to take for a fact of life that every man is made by God in His own image and so is of value simply as a man. It is not easy for us to see this, because of the mess we have all made of ourselves by our sins and the mess other men have made of us by their injustices. But if we had the basic fact built into our awareness, every instinct would make us want to heal the mess – in ourselves, in others – rather than to enjoy it in ourselves and exploit it in others. (ibid.)
We all carry a sentiment of isolation and inadequacy within that mess we suffer; after all, humanity attempted to orphan itself by sin, to kill God and subsequently the whole meaning for its existence. But God was not prepared to let things end that way.
He went searching for man despite impossible odds. Before I formed thee in the womb of thy mother, I knew thee (Jer. 1:5). Lots of meaning there. He loved us first and so sent His Son to be a propitiation for our sins (1 Jn. 4:10). Even more meaning.
Then humanity made a second and even bolder attempt to orphan itself with the Crucifixion, and find meaning without God. But even that did not stop Him from returning again by His Resurrection. What are the odds of that? And now it tries again by committing everything to chance; and while God’s Presence continues to abide in His Church, He will come again at the end of time.
But by that point, we would have run out of chances.
God evidently takes meaning quite seriously, so there is no such thing really as a “chance occurrence.” It is hard to argue that life – and each individual life – has no meaning and purpose after having been created, sought after, and died for by God Himself.
It requires the response Sheed suggests.
Let us therefore love God, for God has first loved us (1 Jn. 4:19).
March 12, 2021