Paradise Green: Letters to My Dad
Author: Scott Cherry

Chapter 3
November 28, 2008

November 28, 2008




Hi Pops,


Today is Christmas Eve day.  (I hope you had a splendid Christmas.)  I actually wrote this a few weeks ago, but I didn’t get around to printing it til today. I also wanted to give it some time to simmer, then edit it.  This time I wrote more than what I’ve sent in this mailing, but I don’t want to overwhelm you with too much.  I want you to read these letters thoughtfully, if for no other reason than because they’re from your son.






It’s the day after Thanksgiving and I’m sitting in the Arab-American Museum.  I thought about calling you but I remembered that you were in California and Arizona (thanks for calling me while you were there).  I hope you and Lou had a meaningful time with Era and your other relatives, as well as your time in Arizona—especially the Grand Canyon.  In one of these letters I may write something about that natural wonder.


I’m taking a day off today, and I set aside some time work on this letter #2 in the series I’ve begun to write to you.  Of course I have no idea what you thought of the first letter I sent in October because I told you that you didn’t have to respond (I know you don’t like to talk about this kind of stuff).  But I told you I would expand on that later.  The subject was purpose, was it not?  Yes, that was it.  So allow me to continue…


I wrote in the last letter that “the creation account in Genesis 1-2 is the only view that adequately explains the way things are and have always been as far back as we can see and gather evidence.  The non-theistic, [naturalistic] evolutionary view can offer none.”  Remember?  That is to say that evolution gives you one sort of explanation for the origins of life, but it is inadequate because it offers no explanation for many things that are inherent and self-evident in human life.  The universal human need for a sense of purpose is one good example, very closely related to the need for meaning in life, or significance.  Do you have a sense of purpose, Dad? Why?  What is it?  How and where did you find it?  I said last time that a lot of people are searching for their life’s purpose; some believe they have found it, but many do not/have not. Still, everyone is searching, or has searched—until they find it or give up.  Everyone has a strong urge to know their life matters, that they have a niche, a path, a unique role in life, a life’s goal that matters, not just to them but also to others.  Those who think they have found it are always happier than those who have not.  I doubt there are any exceptions. It’s a self-evident truth. Do you agree?


At the risk of being redundant I am restating some of the things I said in the last letter because it was a while ago, and I don’t know how much you recall from it. Who knows, maybe you threw it away…or lost it?  If not, you might find it helpful to refer back to it.  Another important thing I said was that “The Bible states that God created humans with both a purpose and an unquenchable need to pursue it; and, if possible, to know it and live out that purpose.”  Only this brings fulfillment in life.  As long as I’ve known you, Dad, you and I have never had these kinds of discussions, so I hardly know anything about your search for a sense of purpose.  But I know you are human.  As a human, you cannot be unlike me and billions of other people in our pursuit of purpose, meaning, and many other things.  It sometimes surprises me when I meet people who say that life has no purpose; nobody I know actually lives their life like that.  On the other hand, if you believe in evolution-without-God there’s not much alternative.  People like this have to try to define themselves and prescribe their own purpose.  But that’s hard to do, and it it’s usually not anchored in a higher reality, one that’s bigger than humanity. (Another thing that people long for is a feeling that their life is part of a “grand story”).  Still, the point is that they cannot escape the lifelong quest for purpose.  This reality points us to God, because if we were not created with divine purpose than we would not exhaust all our life’s energy and resources to obtain an awareness of it. God made us this way.  There is no other explanation for our nearly insatiable yearnings.


As I said before, the Bible tells us that we do have a purpose.  And it comes from the ultimate Source of purpose and meaning.  Therefore it’s bigger than you and me, and we don’t have to invent it for ourselves.  If you read Genesis 1 last time as I suggested you read the following in verses 26-31:


Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."


 27 So God created man in his own image,
       in the image of God he created him;
       male and female he created them.


 28 God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground."


 29 Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. …And it was so.


 31 …God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.


So here it says that God made us to rule over everything, to be fruitful and increase in number, to fill the earth, and to subdue it, that is, to cultivate and develop it.  This is sometimes called the “cultural mandate”.  What it expresses to us is that God created humanity with purpose—to rule over God’s creation and manage it as vice-regents, if you will.  We are to accomplish this under his authority.  That is, we were given power and authority to achieve this—he shares his authority with us. And to carry this out we have been given a superior design, one that in certain ways bares the image of God. 


First, we humans were created as sentient beings, the only one of all other living things on earth (insofar as we have any evidence to the contrary).  This includes a higher consciousness, with an acute sense of self awareness and a capacity for deep spiritual awareness.  With these it also includes an exceptional intellect with the power of reason and logic; an incredibly sophisticated language capacity; the power to create and design amazing things from existing materials; the capacity to appreciate and produce beauty, such as art, music, and pristine golf courses; and the capacity to experience pleasure when we encounter such beauty; and above all, the power of love—both to give and receive love.  These are some of the good things that are inherent to the human condition (though there are bad things too). These create needs and desires to express and satisfy them—very powerful ones.  If they are frustrated, we take measures to overcome these frustrations as much as is it in our power to so.  And our whole lives are spent in the pursuit of doing exactly this. 


This should point us to God.  I’m not saying that it provides unmitigated proof for God.  But I am saying that it is pretty strong evidence, just as the needle of compass pointing north is evidence for the magnetic north pole.


These qualities enable us to enjoy this good world that God created, and to enter into deep and purposeful relationships with other people, which most of us feel that we need to be happy, such as friendships and marriages. This enables us to form and live within very complex social structures, or communities, such as families, affinity groups and every other imaginable kind of social network.  Personally, this amazes me. Yes, many species of animals have a complex social dynamic as well, but hardly comparable to that of humans.  These unique attributes drive us toward each other into interactive relationships from the simplest to the most complex kinds.  But really, even the simplest relationships are hardly simple.  Even these require all the aforementioned qualities that come with the human packageThis reality points to God also.  You see, humans are social because God is social.  So every relationship and social grouping within which we function should cause us to recognize God’s design and purpose for humanity.  


Some would argue that we form these social groups merely for survival, such as many animals do, but I think it’s deeper than that.  We form them because of the God-given need and desire for purpose, and we can really only find purpose in relation to other people.  I’m sure that I’m leaving out something, but you get the point.  Animals were given some of these things in limited measure, of course, but they don’t even come close to the powers that humans possess.  All these were given to us by God to fulfill the purpose—and the sense of purpose--we have been “programmed” with.  Science can provide no plausible explanations for these god-like powers.  Other parts of the Bible help to flesh-out our understanding of these things.  All of them point to a created order that is saturated with a God-given purpose that gives meaning to our lives and enable us to find satisfaction in God and the world in which he placed us. 


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