On Meaning in Life: Part 5, Faith and Meaning

So, meaning in life is a cord woven from three threads. Coherence. Purpose. Mattering. Our life has a story, a story that matters and is going somewhere.

But where does this meaning come from? More importantly, in the midst of shame and failure where does a conviction that we matter originate? 

It's here where we turn to one of the most consistent, durable and replicated findings in positive psychology: Faith is highly predictive of meaning in life. And it's not hard to see why.

For example, as I describe in Hunting Magic Eels, mattering, as a metaphysical conviction, comes to us as an experience of grace. Mattering isn't something I can reliably conjure up for myself, like popping some popcorn when I'm hungry. That's the whole power of mattering, that I need it when I'm struggling to convince myself of my significance. In the midst of failure and shame my significance is something I'm doubting. So mattering has to come to us externally, as a gift. As something beyond and more real than your doubts and questions. Mattering isn't constructed, it's accepted. Mattering isn't a prize you win, it's a truth to be received. Mattering is like gravity. Questioning its existence is possible but pointless. Similarly, mattering can't be questioned, otherwise it wouldn't be mattering. Sure, you might doubt it, but still, you matter. Mattering is simply the truth.

The same goes for coherence and purpose. Faith gives us a story, a drama for our life. And it's a story with purpose, direction, and hope. 

Now, does the fact that faith confers meaning imply that God exists? Of course not. There's no metaphysical proof here. But the data is clear that humans flourish best with transcendence. Faith is good for you, there's no question about that. That association between faith and happiness is a well-documented finding. And while the link between meaning and faith is no proof of God, it does make one wonder why consciousness seeks and rests in transcendence, why peace is found in God, why our "operating software" is optimized by faith.

Skeptics might question, Why would anyone believe in God? There is no evidence. To which I'd say, Really? No evidence?

No evidence but coherence, purpose, and mattering. No evidence but a life of meaning, grace, and joy.

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