If we can think about life from a lofty perspective it might look like a story chronicled in a collection of books. Imagine those volumes, arranged in order, detailing every event that has taken place from the dawn of the universe to its final sunset. At the beginning and ending of that series sit bookends that provide the setting for the story. What comes before the first page and what follows the last page is all-important for understanding the story’s meaning.
What is the context for this great story? In what setting does it take place? What exists beyond the bookends that gives the story meaning?
The Bible says that God provides the context for the story of life. He was there before it began and He will be there at its conclusion.
I am God, there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning
What exactly is God referring to here? He is declaring the end from the beginning, but the end from the beginning of what? Those are chronological terms that do not apply to God since He is the Creator of time. He is eternal and therefore has no beginning and no ending. God is declaring the end from the beginning of history itself – the great timeline recorded in the books and held together by the bookends! In essence, God is saying that He is the bookends that hold the whole of history together. If that is true, how should it affect the way we read the story?
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end – Jesus Christ
Of course not everyone takes God at His word and some invent other bookends to replace God in an attempt to change the context for the story of life. For example, some have proposed that there is nothing beyond the bookends. Nothingness is the context for life from a naturalistic perspective in which an accidental big bang produced a random universe that incidentally supported and sprang forth with life and will one day disappear into the nothing from whence it came.
Another example of a bookend replacement is the theory that everything is beyond the bookends. By everything I mean the multiverse, an endless supply of alternate universes that transforms our extremely unique and masterfully designed universe into nothing but a lucky lottery ticket among billions. With billions of other stories outside of our own, we can no longer claim a privileged status. Here is another way to look at it; If I authored the only book that was available on Amazon it would no doubt be very popular. Now, that doesn’t mean all the reviews would be positive – but it would certainly be a best-seller. How that changes with millions of other titles available! My title goes from being literally one-of-a-kind to just a needle in ten-thousand haystacks!
Either everything in life is meaningful or everything in life is meaningless – and it is all determined by what is found beyond the bookends!
Why does it matter if we live within a context of nothingness? Because if that is true then not one of the -isms found in science, religion, or philosophy can provide the slightest sense of meaning or hope because ultimately, according to the bookends, from nothing we came and to nothing we go. No matter how convincing or coherent your philosophy may be, it is meaningless if we are nothing more than a small blip in the darkness that is nothingness.
And what about the multiverse? How does it change the way we view life? Instead of telling us that we are not special because we came from nowhere, the multiverse tells us that we are not special because we are nobody. Because there is an infinite number of other realities outside our own and probably many that support life, we are not special or unique. Once again, the privileged status of a universe designed by a Creator is undermined and any hope for purpose in our lives is lost. (As a theory, the multiverse seems a bit far-fetched as there is basically no evidence for it nor an explanation for where this endless supply of universes came from.)
This blog is about viewing life from a wide-angle perspective. Often times we focus so much on the books, the stories of life, that we fail to consider the context of the story as a whole. For example, some focus so much on the material world because of its order and laws that they forget to consider the source of those things. We can easily become so focused on the trees that we lose site of the forest.
In future posts, I will always be pushing the argument back to the bookends and how they affect any -ism, idea, or controversy we discuss. All ideas about this life must be placed in context – and the bookends define that context. My persuasion is that the only context that adequately explains everything we see and experience in life is the Christian worldview. I look forward to encouraging you in your faith or defending my position as we pursue
Christian Thought on Beginnings, Endings, and the Story In Between.