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The Purpose of Creation (part 1 of 3): An Introduction

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Description: An introduction to the most puzzling question of human history, and a discussion about the sources which can be used to find the answer.  Part 1: The source for the answer.

  • By Dr. Bilal Philips
  • Published on 13 Feb 2006
  • Last modified on 12 Mar 2006
  • Printed: 1756
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Introduction

The purpose of creation is a topic that puzzles every human being at some point in his or her lifetime.  Everybody at some time or another asks themselves the question “Why do I exist?”  or “For what purpose am I here on earth?”

The variety and complexity of the intricate systems which constitute the fabric of both human beings and the world in which they exist indicate that there must have been a Supreme Being who created them.  Design indicates a designer.  When human beings come across footprints on a beach, they immediately conclude that a human being had walked by there some time previously.  No one imagines that the waves from the sea settled in the sand and by chance produced a depression looking exactly like human footprints.  Nor do humans instinctively conclude that they were brought into existence without a purpose.  Since purposeful action is a natural product of human intelligence, humans conclude that the Supreme Intelligent Being who created them must have done so for a specific purpose.  Therefore, human beings need to know the purpose for their existence in order to make sense of this life and to do what is ultimately beneficial for them.

Throughout the ages, however, there has been a minority among humans who have denied the existence of God.  Matter, in their opinion, is eternal and mankind is merely a chance product of accidental combinations of its elements.  Consequently, to them, the question “Why did God create man?”  had and still has no answer.  According to them, there simply is no purpose to existence.  However, the vast majority of humankind over the ages have believed and continue to believe in the existence of a Supreme Being who created this world with a purpose.  For them it was, and still is, important to know about the Creator and the purpose for which He created human beings.

The Answer

To answer the question “Why did God create man?”  it must first be determined from which perspective the question is being asked.  From the point of view of God it would mean, “What caused God to create human beings?”  while from the human point of view it would mean “For what purpose did God create humans?”  Both points of view represent aspects of the intriguing question “Why do I exist?” ...both aspects of the question will be explored based on the clear picture painted by divine revelation.  This is not a topic for human speculation, because human guesswork cannot possibly produce the whole truth in this matter.  How can human beings intellectually deduce the reality of their existence when they can hardly understand how their own brain or its higher entity, the mind, functions?  Consequently, the many philosophers who have speculated on this question down through the ages have come up with innumerable answers, all of which are based on assumptions which cannot be proven.  Questions on this topic have even led a number of philosophers to claim that we do not really exist and that the whole world is imaginary.  For example, the Greek philosopher Plato (428-348 BC) argued that the everyday world of changeable things, which man comes to know by the use of his senses, is not the primary reality, but is a shadow world of appearances.  Many others, as was previously mentioned, claimed and continue to claim that there is no purpose for the creation of humans at all.  According to them, human existence is merely a product of chance.  There can be no purpose if life evolved from inanimate matter which only became animate by pure luck.  Humankind’s supposed ‘cousins,’ the monkey and apes are not bothered with questions of existence, so why should human beings be bothered with them?

Although most people put the question of why we are created aside after occasional brief reflection, it is extremely critical for human beings to know the answer.  Without knowledge of the correct answer, human beings become indistinguishable from the other animals around them.  The animal necessities and desires of eating, drinking and procreating become the purpose of human existence by default, and human effort is then focused in this limited sphere.  When material satisfaction develops into the most important goal in life, human existence becomes even more degraded than that of the lowest of animals.  Human beings will consistently misuse their God-given intelligence when they lack knowledge of their purpose of existence.  The degraded human mind uses its abilities to create drugs and bombs and becomes engrossed in fornication, pornography, homosexuality, fortunetelling, suicide, etc.  Without knowledge of the purpose of life, human existence loses all meaning and is consequently wasted, and the reward of an eternal life of happiness in the hereafter is completely destroyed.  Therefore, it is of the utmost importance that human beings correctly answer the question “Why are we here?”

Humans most often turn to other human beings like themselves for the answers.  However, the only place that clear and precise answers to these questions can be found is in the books of divine revelation.  It was necessary that God reveal the purpose to man through His prophets, because human beings are incapable of arriving at the correct answers by themselves.  All of the prophets of God taught their followers the answers to the question “Why did God create man?”

 

 

The Purpose of Creation (part 2 of 3): The Judeo-Christian Answer

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Description: An introduction to the most puzzling question of human history, and a discussion about the sources which can be used to find the answer.  Part 2: A look into the bible and Christian belief about this subject.

  • By Dr. Bilal Philips
  • Published on 13 Feb 2006
  • Last modified on 20 Feb 2006
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Judeo-Christian Scriptures

A survey of the Bible leaves the honest seeker of truth lost.  The Old Testament seems more concerned with laws and the history of early man and the Jewish people than with answering the vital question concerning humanity’s creation.  In Genesis, God creates the world and Adam and Eve in six days and ‘rests’ from His work on the seventh.  Adam and Eve disobey God and are punished and their son Cain kills their other son Abel and goes to live in the land of Nod.  And God was ‘sorry’ that he had made man!  Why are the answers not there in clear and unmistakable terms?  Why is so much of the language symbolic, leaving the reader to guess at its meanings?  For example, in Genesis 6:6 it is stated:

“When men began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were fair; and they took to wife such of them as they chose.”

Who are these ‘sons of God?’  Each Jewish sect and each of the many Christian sects who followed them have their own explanations.  Which is the correct interpretation?  The truth is that the purpose of man’s creation was taught by the prophets of old, however, some of their followers - in collusion with the devils - later changed the scriptures.  The answers became vague and much of the revelation was hidden in symbolic language.  When God sent Jesus Christ to the Jews, he overturned the tables of those merchants who had set up businesses inside the temple, and he preached against the ritualistic interpretation of the law practiced by the Jewish rabbis.  He reaffirmed the law of Prophet Moses and revived it.  He taught the purpose of life to his disciples and demonstrated how to fulfill it until his last moments in this world.  However, after his departure from this world, his message was also distorted by some who claimed to be among his followers.  The clear truth which he brought became vague, like the messages of the prophets before him.  Symbolism was introduced, especially through the “Revelations” of John, and the Gospel which was revealed to Jesus was lost.  Four other gospels composed by men were chosen by Athanasius, a fourth century bishop, to replace the lost Gospel of Jesus Christ.  And the 23 books of writings of Paul and others included in the New Testament outnumbered even the four versions of the gospel.  As a result, New Testament readers cannot find precise answers to the question “Why did God create man?”  And one is forced to blindly follow the contrived dogmas of whatever sect they happen to belong to or adopt.  The gospels are interpreted according to each sect’s beliefs, and the seeker of truth is again left wondering, which one is correct?

The Incarnation of God

Perhaps the only common concept to most Christian sects regarding the purpose of mankind’s creation is that God became man so that He could die at the hands of men to cleanse them of sin inherited from Adam and his descendants.  According to them, this sin had become so great that no human act of atonement or repentance could erase it.  God is so good that sinful man cannot stand before Him.  Consequently, only God’s sacrifice of Himself could save humankind from sin.

Belief in this man-made myth became the only source for salvation, according to the Church.  Consequently, the Christian purpose of creation became the recognition of the ‘divine sacrifice’ and the acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Lord God.  This may be deduced from the following words attributed to Jesus in the Gospel according to John:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

However, if this is the purpose of creation and the prerequisite for everlasting life, why was it not taught by all the prophets?  Why did God not become man in the time of Adam and his offspring so that all mankind would have an equal chance to fulfill their purpose for existence and attain everlasting life.  Or did those before Jesus’ time have another purpose for existence?  All people today whom God has destined never to hear of Jesus also have no chance to fulfill their supposed purpose of creation.  Such a purpose, is obviously too limited to fit the need of humankind.

 

 

The Purpose of Creation (part 3 of 3): The Hindu Tradition

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Description: An introduction to the most puzzling question of human history, and a discussion about the sources which can be used to find the answer.  Part 3: A look into the Hindu Scriptures, and a conclusion to the subject.

  • By Dr. Bilal Philips
  • Published on 13 Feb 2006
  • Last modified on 20 Feb 2006
  • Printed: 1621
  • Viewed: 43405 (daily average: 10)
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Everything is God

The Hindu scriptures teach that there are many gods, incarnations of gods, persons of God and that everything is God, Brahman.  In spite of the belief that the self (atman) of all living beings is actually Brahman, an oppressive caste system evolved in which the Brahmans, the priestly caste, possess spiritual supremacy by birth.  They are the teachers of the Vedas and represent the ideal of ritual purity and social prestige.  On the other hand, the Sudra caste are excluded from religious status and their sole duty in life is “to serve meekly” the other three castes and their thousands of subcastes.

According to Hindu monist philosophers, humankind’s purpose is the realization of their divinity and -following a path (marga) to emancipation (moksha) from the wheel of rebirth - the reabsorbtion of the human soul (atman) into the ultimate reality, Brahman.  For those following the bhakti path, the purpose is to love God because God created humankind to “enjoy a relationship - as a father enjoys his children” (Srimad Bhagwatam).  For the ordinary Hindu, the main aim of worldly life lies in conforming to social and ritual duties, to the traditional rules of conduct for one’s caste - the karma path.

Although most of the religion of the Vedic texts, which revolves around rituals of fire sacrifice, has been eclipsed by Hindu doctrines and practices found in other texts, the absolute authority and sacredness of the Veda remains a central tenet of virtually all Hindu sects and traditions.  The Veda is composed of four collections, the oldest of which is the Rigveda (“Wisdom of the Verses”).  In these texts, God is described in the most confusing terms.  The religion reflected in the Rigveda is a polytheism mainly concerned with appeasing deities associated with the sky and the atmosphere, the most important of which were Indra (god of the heavens and rain), Baruna (guardian of the cosmic order), Agni (the sacrificial fire), and Surya (the Sun).  In later Vedic texts, interest in the early Rigvedic gods declines, and polytheism begins to be replaced by a sacrificial pantheism to Prajapati (“Lord of Creatures”), who is the All.  In the Upanishads (secret teachings concerning cosmic equations), Prajapati merges with the concept of Brahman, the supreme reality and substance of the universe, replacing any specific personification, thus transforming the mythology into abstract philosophy.  If the contents of these scriptures were all that human beings had to choose from for guidance, one would have to conclude that God hid both Himself and the purpose of creation from humankind.

God is not the author of confusion, nor does He wish difficulty for mankind.  Consequently, when He revealed His final communication to humankind one thousand four hundred years ago, He ensured that it was perfectly preserved for all of the generations of human beings to come.  In that final scripture, the Quran (Koran), God revealed His purpose for creating mankind and, through His last prophet, He clarified all of the details which man could comprehend.  It is on the basis of this revelation and the prophetic explanations that we [must] analyze the precise answers to the question “Why did God create man?”...

 

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