Tag Archives: meaning

The Great Debate – What is Life?

[HT Uncommon Descent]


G.K. Chesterton on progressivism

In Heretics pg. 16-17 G.K. Chesterton writes:

Nobody has any business to use the word “progress” unless he has a definite creed and a cast-iron code of morals. Nobody can be progressive without being doctrinal; I might almost say that nobody can be progressive without being infallible at any rate, without believing in some infallibility. For progress by its very name indicates a direction; and the moment we are in the least doubtful about the direction, we become in the same degree doubtful about the progress. Never perhaps since the beginning of the world has there been an age that had less right to use the word “progress” than we. In the Catholic twelfth century, in the philosophic eighteenth century, the direction may have been a good or a bad one, men may have differed more or less about how far they went, and in what direction, but about the direction they did in the main agree, and consequently they had the genuine sensation of progress. But it is precisely about the direction that we disagree. Whether the future excellence lies in more law or less law, in more liberty or less liberty; whether property will be finally concentrated or finally cut up; whether sexual passion will reach its sanest in an almost virgin intellectualism or in a full animal freedom; whether we should love everybody with Tolstoy, or spare nobody with Nietzsche;—these are the things about which we are actually fighting most. It is not merely true that the age which has settled least what is progress is this “progressive” age. It is, moreover, true that the people who have settled least what is progress are the most “progressive” people in it. The ordinary mass, the men who have never troubled about progress, might be trusted perhaps to progress. The particular individuals who talk about progress would certainly fly to the four winds of heaven when the pistol-shot started the race. I do not, therefore, say that the word “progress” is unmeaning; I say it is unmeaning without the previous definition of a moral doctrine, and that it can only be applied to groups of persons who hold that doctrine in common. Progress is not an illegitimate word, but it is logically evident that it is illegitimate for us. It is a sacred word, a word which could only rightly be used by rigid believers and in the ages of faith.

I believe Mr Chesterton’s words are just as true today as they were nearly a century ago.


Toy Story as worldview

I’ve been watching Disney’s Toy Story trilogy with my kids recently and something has occurred to me. They all deal with the question of eternal destiny.

Toy Story 1

In Toy Story 1 we get a glimpse of hell with Sid’s room and treatment of his toys vs heaven with Andy’s room. The story begins and ends with the notion that a loving family (loosely speaking) is the best place for any toy to be. Meaning and purpose are seen to derive from their owner.

There are various other sub-plots, like Woody’s jealousy of the newcomer Buzz, and those also provide rich parallels with Biblical parables and concepts. But ultimately these plots are only valid with regard to the central existential question of meaning and purpose.

This movie ends with Woody and Buzz reconciling to live in harmony with each other and their owner in a quasi-family.

Toy Story 2

In Toy Story 2 Woody faces a dilemma of whether to stay with Andy or whether to join the collector’s toy set. In the beginning Woody’s arm is ripped causing Woody to face is own finiteness. After being discovered in a yard sale by someone who recognizes his intrinsic value, Woody is given the opportunity to be preserved, in pristine condition, in a museum in Japan.

During the course of the movie we learn that Stinky Pete will do anything, including threaten the lives of other toys, because he does not believe that lasting love is possible.

This movie ends with the quasi toy family being expanded to include two of the toys who were going to be preserved along with Woody.

Toy Story 3

In Toy Story 3 all the toys are confronted with their finiteness of purpose.

Andy is grown up and can seemingly grant them no more purpose (which, for a toy, is to be played with). So the toys speculate as to their fate. Their choices appear to be

  1. The landfill (nihilism)
  2. The attic (eternal bliss devoid of purpose)
  3. Playschool (eternal bliss of fulfilled purpose)

After narrowly dodging option 1, which all consider to be undesirable, the group heads for option 3. However the playschool, as they soon find out, contains both a heaven and a hell and they, being newcomers, are relegated to hell.

In the course of escaping from “hell” the toys decide that they prefer option 4 which is eternal bliss of fulfilled purpose with love.


I think the writers of the Toy Story trilogy displayed amazing insight when it comes to the meaning and purpose of life. We are made for community, specifically we are designed to be part of a family. Our meaning and purpose are derived from our owner.

If we trace the ownership of the toys in Toy Story we can form a rather interesting picture.

Toy Story 1 begins with the toys being owned by Andy. Then Woody and Buzz become the property of Sid1. At the end of the movie they are safely “at home” with Andy.

Toy Story 2 begins with the toys being owned by Andy. Then Andy’s mother mistakenly sells Woody to Al McWiggin (Big Al’s Toy Barn). At the end of the movie the toys are safely “at home” with Andy.

Toy Story 3 begins with the toys being owned by Andy. Then the Toys are donated to the Sunshine Academy (meaning they are effectively owner-less). The toys make their way back to Andy who, at the end of this movie gives them to Bonnie with the stipulation that she love them as he did/does.

I’ve mentioned some of these concepts to my kids. Being 5 years old and under I have my work cut out for me. However the main concept I want them to take away from these movies is this:

Ownership matters.

It offends many in our culture greatly to think that we, as contingent beings, owe our existence to any other being. Christopher Hitchens considers this notion to be a form of slavery. However the fact remains that just as we had no say with regards to our coming into existence, we will likely have little say with regards to the options of our eternal state.

Choose wisely.

  1. From a legal standpoint one could argue that Sid never actually owned, but was merely in custody of the toys for a period of time []

How does the younger generation view marriage? And what does that say about our society’s future?

At a wedding the other night I wittnessed an event that charactarized the state of marriage in America.

This event ocurred when it came time to throw the bouquet and fling the garder belt, a tradition which supposedly determines or indicates who is the next to be married.

First the women

When the bride went to throw her bouquet the single ladies dutifully lined up. Their attitude was less than enthusiastic. They reluctantly shuffled over to the area where the bride was to throw the bouquet. And when it came time, the bouquet was begrudgingly caught by the woman it hit.

Now for the men

Likewise, the men were not enthusiastic about catching the garter belt. However when it came time to catch the garter belt a strange thing happened. No one caught it. Not only were the men not enthusiastic about catching the garter belt, they were actively opposed to the very idea! After hitting one of the men in the chest with the garter belt, the groom walked over and shoved the garter belt into the hands of the man he had hit. None of the men wanted the garter belt!

And their attitude was not mere apathy. I can fully understand not being overly enthusiastic about something that takes a lot of hard work to produce so little personal pleasure. What struck me was how openly hostile the men were to the very notion of marriage.


Marriage is an unpopular endeavor to say the least. Having fun with a member of the opposite sex is desired, but making the tough decision to build a life with someone is not. Even after deciding to get married, the decision to have children is generally held off (if nature does not interrupt the couple’s plans that is) until the woman decides she wants to accept the role she was designed for.

Among young adults today, marriage and children are not seen as logical next-steps on the road to maturity. In fact, outside of attaining gainful employment (and for some even that is a stretch) there appears to be a great lack of ultimate goals being aimed at.

Perhaps that’s why one of the biggest problems we face today is a failure to launch. Why bother to launch when you haven’t yet decided on the destination?


Debate: Does the Universe have a purpose?


On counseling

At the core, all counseling is religious or, at the least, pseudo religious. Counseling, by its very nature, deals with ultimate purpose and teleological design so that any advice one gives a person in a counseling setting is necessarily moving them towards what they believe to be the ultimate meaning and/or purpose in life. -Wes Widner