Originally Posted by Frans
Your goal is to become happy.
I used to believe this, but I'm not so sure anymore. Happiness is a very subjective feeling largely based on the experience of "unhappiness".
Since happiness has a polar opposite in unhappiness, I do not believe it to be the meaning of life, but rather a tool God can use to point us in the direction of the meaning of life.
Meaning, happiness/unhappiness, pleasure/pain, are just tools of the body to teach us whether we are on the right track. Burning your hands on fire causes pain, so we don't do that. Having sex feels good, so we do that. It's like we are pre-built with a set of indicators which tell us whether what we're doing is good or bad. If it makes us feel like crap, it's bad, don't do it. If it brings us pleasure, it's good, so keep doing it.
Imagine if everyone in life got rid of fears and focused their lives on doing what brings them the most pleasure. Builders built, artists created art, teachers taught, cooks cooked etc. We would have a society of perfect happiness.
However, this just brings harmony to humanity, but it doesn't explain what the purpose of the harmony is in the first place.
For example, lets say that God's purpose was to build a massive planetary network of 1,000 planets, but it required everyone to work in unison to do this and Earth is the first of those 1,000 planets. Our building speed at which we accomplish this task is related to how closely we live life according to God's plan, experiencing pleasure/happiness when we're "doing his work" and feeling like crap when we stray away from "his work". If we all just focus on what we're "supposed" to do, we can build this planetary network in 500 years lets say, but since we're all riddled with fear and doubt and stuff, it's probably going to take us 5,000 years (as an example).
If this was true, it would mean that pleasure and pain are just tools of God to tell us whether we are doing what he wants us to do, but they in themselves would not be the meanings behind life. Building the planetary network would be the real meaning, or the meaning behind the planetary network would be the meaning.
I guess it boils down to the means to an end vs the end. I believe happiness is a means to an end. It brings us in congruency with experiencing the meaning, but what is that meaning?
If experiencing a range of human emotions is the real meaning behind why God created this, then we don't stand a chance of achieving a world of perfect happiness, because that wouldn't allow God to experience the full range. If pain/pleasure and all the derivatives of it have nothing to do with God, where he doesn't give a crap if we are in pain or pleasure, he simply uses them to guide us in the right direction then we technically could end all suffering on earth and just have pleasant feelings eventually, but then the existance of life coudln't be for God to experience himself in all the range of human emotion.
Pretend that instead of pleasure/pain, you just had two lights affixed to your arm. When you are doing something harmful that God doesn't want, the RED light goes on. When you are doing something beneficial, that God does want you to do, the GREEN light goes on. The futher away from doing bad stuff you get the darker the red light gets and the brighter the green light gets. This is fine, but then we can't say that the meaning of life is for us to keep the green light on throughout our lives. That would be the thing we DO in order to experience the meaning of life, but it wouldn't BE the meaning.
Also, in the above example, why would God create us just so that he could experience seeing a red light and a green light and all the variations in between.
I'm really having a hard time trying to explain what I mean here, but it just seems to me that happiness can't be the meaning behind life, it's simply an indicator we are on the right track. Also, experiencing happiness through billions of different human beings can't be the reason God created this world either, but rather a process by which to fulfill the meaning.