Sunday, December 21, 2014

When was Revelation Written

When was Revelation Written
Arguments for an earlier date of Revelation.

Many within the Evangelical community promote a late date for the writing of the Revelation. Usually early to mid 90 AD. This late date is based primarily on a quote by Irenaeus from his work "Against Heresies." This quote from "...Heresies" is cited by early church historian Eusebius, who was a late date advocate. 

This isolated quote has played a primary role in advancing a late date view. As a result, many subsequent late date advocates base their view of the dating of the Revelation on this one isolated quote. Some consider Irenaeus’s quote so significant they cite him as their
 only authority for a late date.

Since Irenaeus is the most highly regarded and earliest (DOB of Irenaeus is approximately 130 AD) “late date advocate", it is understandable why others would look to him exclusively.

Basing one’s position of a late date on such slim evidence makes a closer look at the quote necessary and even vital. If it can be demonstrated the common interpretation of this sole quote is a completely inadequate argument, it makes a late date totally unnecessary if not virtually impossible. 

The primary part of the quote cited to prove a late date is as follows:

“…For that was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.” 

When one first realizes this isolated quote is what late date advocates look to, it may be a bit surprising. Alone it does not tell us much. Isolated, the meaning is confusing at best.

The common interpretation of this quote among late date advocates is the word “that” (underlined above) is referring to The Revelation (the book itself) received and written by John. If  “The Revelation” was received towards the end of Domitian’s reign in 96AD that would date the Revelation somewhere near the early to mid 90’s. Many therefore put the date of its writing between 90 and 94 AD as a result. If this is so, the book could not have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD some 20 to 25 years prior which early date advocates of The Revelation argue for.

Irenuaeus being Greek and Greek being the common language of his day, we will make a simple and brief comment on a key aspect of this quote in the original language.

On closer review of the Greek, the translation of the word “that” is inconclusive due to specific characteristics of Greek grammar. The word “that” is not the required translation at all. The word “that” could just as easily be translated “he” (i.e. John) or “it” as well as “that” (Revelation). Therefore translating the original as “that” is a 50/50 proposition at best and far from conclusive. In light of this very inconclusive information we must go elsewhere to determine its meaning.

We will now look at the context of the quote to see if this sheds any light.

The entire quote is taken from chapter XXX of Irenaeus’s book “Against Heresies.” It is important to point out that the topic of focus in this entire chapter the quote is taken from is how to determine the name of the beast and not the date of the writing of the Revelation. This is also indicated in the heading below. Emphasis added.


We will now look at the entire text this quote is taken form.

“Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number (i.e. 666) being found in all the most approved and ancient copies(3) [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; (i.e. that indeed the number 666 is in all approved copies of Revelation) while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six…”

What Irenaeus is saying is since the number 666 is in the oldest and most recognized copies of Revelation, and the number is also confirmed by those who meet John himself, it is within reason to use this number to determine the actual name of the Antichrist by properly calculating (according to a common Greek mode of calculation) the verbal equivalent of the number itself (numbers in those days had specific alphabetical values assigned to them). Indeed what Irenaeus is wrestling with in the entire chapter is the specific name of the beast and the means or method by which to best determine that name.

Again, it is important to note there is no comment or concern throughout this entire chapter over the date of the book itself. The only question being discussed is how to determine the name of the beast.

Irenaeus continues his argument regarding the beasts name:

"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him who beheld the Revelation (i.e. John the Apostle). "For 'that' was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3)

You may read the chapter by Irenaeus in its entirety at  "Against Heresies."

Again we see the focus of the discussion continues on how to best determine the 
specific name of the “Antichrist.” After Irenaeus decides he has a reasonable way to determine the name (i.e. by calculating the verbal equivalent of the number 666), he checks himself and in essence says, there is no reason to take the chance of trying to guess the actual name of the Antichrist through calculating the alphabetical equivalent of the number 666. This is simply because determining the name could have been easily accomplished by simply asking John himself since he was seen not long ago, in fact, almost in our own day near the end of Domitan’s reign. (It is accepted by both sides of this discussion that John lived up until this time). If  knowing the name was that important, we simply could have asked him and John could have told us himself.

Irenaeus concludes since the specific name was not given by John but could have been asked directly of him, Irenaeus determines it is not worth speculating. He reasons that just as John, the author of Revelation confirmed that the number 666 was in the original text we could have known with equal certainly the name of the Antichrist if John wanted us to, so there’s no point in guessing i.e. it’s apparently not that critical to know, or meant to be or John would have told us.

Given the whole context of this quote, using “John” or “him” in the place of “that” makes far more sense then the commonly held interpretation of “that” referring to the entire book itself. 

Here it is again with "that" substituted with "John." 

"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him (John) who beheld the Revelation. "For 'he' (i.e. John) was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign. (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3)

Again, the context of the entire quote clearly shows that the focus of this discussion is
the date of origin for the Revelation but rather the name of Antichrist and how the name could have been determined.

Also when you consider the sentence just before the infamous quote is talking about how “he (i.e. John) who beheld the Revelation” could have given the specific name if it were necessary; it makes perfect sense that this quote would continue along this same line of reasoning. Especially considering the specific quote in question begins with “for” indicating a direct tie to the preceding sentence i.e. Irenaeus is reasoning that the name could have easily been obtained from the author himself “for” it wasn’t that long ago that John had been seen. To interject an entirely different line of reasoning regarding the date of the writing The Revelation does not fit the line of reasoning in the previous sentence nor the context of the entire quote.

Below is the entire quote without any emphasis except that “he” is put in place of “that.” Since the Greek clearly allows for this interpretation and it also fits the context of the overall quote we offer this alternate interpretation to demonstrate its logic. The primary quote cited as proof for a late date is highlighted in yellow.

“Such, then, being the state of the case, and this number being found in all the most approved and ancient copies(3) [of the Apocalypse], and those men who saw John face to face bearing their testimony [to it]; (i.e. that indeed the number 666 is in all approved copies of Revelation) while reason also leads us to conclude that the number of the name of the beast, [if reckoned] according to the Greek mode of calculation by the [value of] the letters contained in it, will amount to six hundred and sixty and six…”

"We will not, however, incur the risk of pronouncing positively as to the name of Antichrist; for if it were necessary that his name should be distinctly revealed in this present time, it would have been announced by him (John) who beheld the Revelation.  For he (John) was seen not very long time since, but almost in our day, towards the end of Domitian's reign.” (Irenaeus, Against Heresies 5:30:3)

As we can see, the highlighted quote fits the discussion regarding the antichrist and how to determine who he is and not at all with the very separate topic of dating the book.

In conclusion, it is worth pointing out that to my knowledge Irenaeus himself never directly indicated in any of his writings either way what his view was concerning the 
date of the book. It is simply not discussed in "Against Heresies" or anything else written by him. It appears it is only advocated by others, citing this quote as proof that he held to a late date but does not appear to actually be the view of Irenaeus based on any of his writings. It is clearly evident this quote has nothing to do with the date of the writing of the Revelation.

On a side note, it is interesting that there would be such intense discussion of what the name of antichrist was, unless they believed the party in question would be someone 
living among them in their day, who they would recognize. It is not likely they would be occupied with knowing the name of someone in the far off distant future if they believed the book was intended for an audience in the distant future. What would be the point of knowing the name of someone in the distant future they would never meet? Such a name would be meaningless to them even if known or at least would not likely create such earnest curiosity.

The only other external evidence offered for a late date is a reference to Hegesippus 
made by church historian Eusebius. There is no actual quote by Hegesippus supporting a late date but simply a dubious and highly speculative reference to Hegesippus that is so obscure it is rarely discussed much less considered as having any real weight in support of a late date.

Though the weight of this secondary reference is marginal at best, if you wish to see some discussion on Hegesippus both pro and con, I offer the following links for your consideration.


(the above link is an archive of the original link )

Are there any sources or people in the early church that clearly held to an early date?
  •      The Syriac Version of the New Testament (dated back into the second century) places the date of Revelation in the period of Nero who reign between 64 and 68 AD. It has a superscription which reads: "The Revelation which was made by God to John the Evangelist in the Island of Patmos to which he was banished by Nero the Emperor."
  •       Epiphanies (who wrote ca 315-403) believed Revelation to be written at the time of Nero, ca 65-68 AD (Heresies 51:12).
  •      The Muratorian Canon (which was a collection of New Testament books in about 170 AD) says that the book was written in the days of Nero as well.
  •        Clement of Alexandria who wrote in 150-215 AD believed that all the books of the New Testament were written by Nero's reign. He said, "For the teaching of our Lord at His advent, beginning with Augustus and Tiberius, was completed in the middle of the times of Tiberius. And that of the apostles, embracing the ministry of Paul, end with Nero." (Miscellanies 7.17)
So where does that leave us? If the external evidence is unclear in support of a late date at best and not at all conclusive, where else can we turn to determine the date of Revelation? We would need to look at internal evidence within the book as well as the rest of scripture. Are there any hints of an early date? There are several worth considering.

1.   (Rev 1:1)  The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon (tachos) take place
2.     (Rev 1:3) … for the time is near (eggus).
3.     Rev 2:16 Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon (tachu) and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
4.     Rev 3:11 I am coming soon (tachu). Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
5.     Rev 22:6 And he said to me, "These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon (tachu) take place."
6.    Rev 22:7 “And behold, I am coming soon (tachu). Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book."
7.    Rev 22:10 And he said to me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near (eggus)..

Particularly note the contrast of the above reference in Revelation with Dan 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end…” The events of that particular vision given to Daniel were far away yet, therefore Daniel was told to seal it up. This is important considering both Dispensationalists and Preterists alike believe Daniel and Revelation are dealing with the same events. However the instructions given to Daniel are the opposite of those given to John in The Revelation time wise but virtually identical subject wise. John was told near the very end of the book not to seal it up “for the time is near” i.e. get the word out. Something important is about to happen! The chorus of that famous Temptations song of the 70’s “Get ready, cause here I come…” would be an appropriate contemporary example of what Revelation is saying. If Revelation was addressing a distant future event like Daniel it only makes sense it would also use the same time language as that of Daniel i.e. seal up the words until the time of the end...

Both commands come at the end of each book but unlike Daniel which was dealing with the distant future, The Revelation was addressing that which would happen soon, i.e. the time was near.

John also stresses the benefits of reading the book now when he said in Rev 1:3 Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near.” Why are they blessed? The verse clearly states because the time for the events covered was near. Therefore heeding what was written would give them advanced warning and therefore the opportunity to prepare, to not be surprised at what was coming and act accordingly before these events happen. This fits with the warnings and promises Christ also gave in Mat 24:4, 6, and 13,16,25,44.

8.   Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming soon (tachu), bringing my recompense with me, to repay everyone for what he has done.
9.   Rev 22:20 He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon (tachu)." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

So do these “soon” and “near” references prove an early date. They don’t directly but if the coming event referred to in the book is the wrapping up of the Old Covenant via the coming judgment of the unfaithful bride/harlot i.e. Israel and the beginning of the New Covenant and marriage to the new faithful bride, the church, the best historical event around John’s life that fits is the event of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD.

10. In Rev 11:1 the temple is mentioned, however it was destroyed in 70AD and no longer around in the 90’s. If the book was written after the temple was destroyed why this reference to it as if it still stood. I realize some say this is referring to a future temple that will some day be rebuilt but in light of everything else, it simply doesn’t need to be in the future.
11. Reference to the birth of Christ in Rev 12 and all events in that chapter occurring around or near that time of birth and not in the far off future.
12. Every reference to “earth” is the word “gē” and every reference to “world” is oikoumenē throughout Revelation giving strong indication the events throughout the book are local or regional not global.

Earth - γῆ, gē, ghay
Contracted from a primary word; soil; by extension a region, or the solid part or the whole of the terrene globe (including the occupants in each application): - country, earth (-ly), ground, land, world.

World - οἰκουμένη, oikoumenē, oy-kou-men'-ay
Feminine participle present passive of G3611 (as noun, by implication of G1093); land, that is, the (terrene part of the) globe; specifically the Roman empire: - earth, world.

Even though use of the word gē, ghay would allow for a possible world wide event, it certainly does not require this interpretation. Coupling its use alongside the word oikoumene minimizes the likelihood of such an interpretation. It is far more likely referring to a local event. Reference to those in Judea fleeing on
 the Sabbath would also support the idea of a local, Jewish event and not a world wide event. 

13.  Many within the Nation of Israel that were alive during the crucifixion would no doubt still be around in 70AD.

Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes (phulē - that is, race or clan) of the earth “gē will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen. This is a case where literally some of those who actually pierced Christ would still be alive in A.D. 70. Yet in this case Dispensationalist’s abandon their “literal” hermeneutic.

14. Tribes appear to be reference to Israel not all peoples of the global world. Rev 21:12 “It had a great, high wall, with twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and on the gates the names of the twelve tribes (phulē - that is, race or clan) of the sons of Israel were inscribed…” When revelation refers to Gentiles, it uses nations and not      tribes and is often preceded with “every.”
15. The letter is clearly addressing 7 contemporary churches at the time of the book’s writing which is indication that the rest of the book was also dealing with contemporary events and not events in the distant future.

This list of internal evidence certainly gives clear indication and support to an early date.  

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Dilemma of Finiteness

The Dilemma of Finiteness

In order for the mind (us) to decide and choose the most favorable course of action we must assess the environment via the senses (sight, hearing, smelling etc). But this assumes 3 things.

1.      The mind is unlimited in its ability to make a complete and accurate assessment of what is out there in order to make that right choice.

2.     We are only material and the observable material world is the only reality we need to explore. Therefore our physical senses are all that is needed to make an accurate assessment.

3.     There are several possible choices that may be beneficial instead of only one “best choice” in any given decision made (i.e. there are no absolutes). Therefore making the “right” choice is not necessary or even possible. So just make the most of it (if it feels good do it) and do the best you can. This in essence is at the heart of existentialism. 

However regarding the first assumption, our mind (you or I) is finite. We are not all knowing, all seeing, or everywhere present at the same time. So how can we, with our mind unaided, know with certainty we are pursuing what is the most favorable option. We can not. There may be reality/truth out there needed (and available) to determine the most favorable course to pursue, that we do not have access to via our limited senses, which contradicts the course we have chosen. Due to our finiteness, we can not make that determination unaided i.e. alone.

(Admittedly I am assuming (presupposing) two things. There are absolutes i.e. the universe has design and operates best when operating according to that design. If we operate outside of that design we do not function properly. Also, there is someone other than us that has infinite, absolute and perfect knowledge. Since we do not have this, we must confide in whoever has this to know it ourselves. But we all must start somewhere precisely because we are finite. Every system posits certain presuppositions. I simply choose to start with belief that there is a God and therefore design and by definition He is the first cause of all things. But I don't take that position out of the air. I think there is objective evidence to back it, more so than not...which is an entirely different discussion. One I allude to throughout many of my posts and touch on some here. I might blog on this more at some point) 

Also because we are spiritually inert (though some deny that we even have a spiritual dimension to our being. For more on this separate discussion click here) and are only left to depend on our physical senses and the physical world/universe to observe (or so we believe), we dismiss potentially a whole realm of reality that may exist and be crucial i.e. the metaphysical or reality beyond the physical. It’s the admission that we are spiritual and not just physical as well as being spiritually inert that we, in our postmodern world, have a hard time acknowledging. 

If we are a product of time plus chance, there is no absolute right or best way (except maybe "survival of the fittest" has resulted in some sort of consistency in how things operate. However evolution is always progressing so in this sense it can't be absolute). This is the assumption we are only material and there is no other reality. But if we are the product of design, there is a designer who made things to operate according to design i.e. a specific purpose. That includes you and I.

Some go to the other end of the spectrum and say we are only spiritual and the material world is basically an allusion. This in essence is Neoplatonism. This is a separate issue not addressed in this post. We have not written on this yet but plan to in the near future. 

I propose there are 3 significant realities many by and large deny that we must acknowledge if we are to make an accurate assessment of what is truth and therefore the best course of action to take (At least practically if not intellectually).

1.      We are finite (few will deny we are physically unable to travel a million light years and back in the blink of an eye. Some may argue this is an unrealistic standard, however this is actually as close as we can get to what God claims of himself i.e. omnipresence. If there is such a being, than this would be the standard by which we define being finite or infinite). 
2.     We are not just material. There is more to reality then just the material world e.g. what is love and where does it come from.
3.     We are created, not a product of chance and therefore are designed with a purpose.

Since we are finite (something few would deny by the definition I have offered) and not just material (at least I am posing this for consideration) and assuming (for sake of discussion) we are also the product of creation/design, yet do not acknowledge these things, our understanding of the world can not be rooted in reality. If so, this prevents us from making an accurate assessment of what is best (i.e. what is true). In other words we believe we can unaided (as if we are infinite) make an accurate assessment of what is the best course of action to take, and that belief itself hinders us from making an accurate assessment. To say it another way, if we believe there is nothing outside of or beyond the physical we won't look or consider there is anything beyond the physical for the realities that might be there that are vital to making an accurate assessment of things/truth.

Because man is finite, he must always operate out of trust i.e. no one, including the atheist lives without faith; without trusting something or someone in order to function in the world with some level of direction, meaning and purpose (whether that is subjective and created meaning as with existentialism or objective meaning).

Yet, if we believe we are a product of time plus chance, there is no absolute purpose or meaning to our existence (objectively anyway. We have to create meaning, which is the essence of existentialism). 

Also if we believe we can make an accurate assessment of reality on our own, we will not be open to or interested in looking outside of ourselves for information that may be vital to making that accurate assessment and will therefore be unable to make the best choice i.e. a choice rooted in the reality of who we are and the world we find ourselves in.

So we have a dilemma. In order to know with certainty we are pursuing what is the most favorable course of action we must assess all possible options. To make that assessment we must have access to all possible facts/reality i.e. we must have infinite knowledge of all realms, spiritual as well as physical. This requires our being everywhere, at all times in all realms, with an infinite capacity to take in all that we observe at any (or even every) given moment.

But how can we if we are finite? We can not be everywhere to assess everything in order to know with absolute certainty we are pursuing the best course. Nor can we be certain in our current state that the material universe is all there is, so what do we do? We must trust. When all is said and done, no matter what view you take, you must place your faith in something or someone, whether that be in yourself (with your limited ability to observe), other finite men/women or a supreme Creator i.e. God, who by definition knows everything, is everywhere present and is obviously powerful. He did after all make everything.

Since all of us are finite we can never know for sure if we are making an accurate assessment of things and therefore whether our trust in ourselves or our fellow finite humans will lead to an accurate understanding of reality. We must look outside ourselves and depend on another. No matter which direction we go, we must trust by mere fact that we are not infinite but limited. Either we trust in ourselves and there is no reality out there that contradicts our conclusions (and hope we have it right) or we must find someone else we decide to trust in, count on etc.

Of course the best person to count on would be someone who does have complete knowledge (unlike us) of every possible reality (who must be everywhere present to do so) and has complete understanding of who we are (all knowing) and what is best for us and is totally committed (all loving) to what is best for us as well as the complete ability to give us what is best (all powerful). Only than would we have any possibility of finding the truth or the best course to take. 
Side note: Christ also experienced this dilemma of being limited during His incarnation. He didn’t have infinite knowledge or power to know or take the best course of action (at least not solely within himself as a man. He did have access to all of this in his Father however). For the first time, He had to completely depend on someone other then Himself. He had to depend on His Father in a way He never experienced before. But what was different about Christ compared to us or even Adam was in each instance He trusted His Fathers assessment and direction completely, even to the point of letting it kill him (how God would be loving and good in doing this is another discussion that has to do with man's rebellion. For more on that discussion click here and here). He believed His Father always directed Him with complete love, wisdom and power on the best possible course to take. And His trust proved to be well placed. When it was all said and done, He was resurrected to new life by His Father.
The only way the mind can know for sure what is the most favorable course to take is to seek the direction and help of someone who, unlike us, does have infinite knowledge not only about what is out there but about us. Someone who knows what it is we most need that is most favorable to our well being, as well as the ability to obtain or provide it. We normally assume that person is us, but how can it be in light of our limited ability. 

The irony is many unbelievers assert the belief that there is nothing beyond this life i.e. we don't live forever, we come to an end, we are finite. While at the same time taking a position that a finite mind can somehow come to a place of absolute certainty (i.e. requiring infinite knowledge) i.e. the finite can make an infinite determination unaided by the infinite. So we contradict ourselves. We believe we are finite in saying life ends once we die while at the same time making this assertion that requires infinite knowledge. 

Even when the agnostic says we can not know anything with certainly, he or she is making an absolute statement i.e. a statement of certainty. Maybe we can in fact know enough to know we are living based on truth/reality. It's just not knowledge we can arrive at and determine unaided. Nevertheless this too is a position of faith (in someone outside of ourselves). Only the object has changed. 

Vital to our trust in someone else is knowing they care about us and have our best interest at heart at all times and in all circumstances as well as the ability to provide that best (usually we believe this is us). And who would know better then the infinite Creator who made us. But if we do not acknowledge or believe there is such a being, we are alone to sort things out and can only hope we get it right at best. Otherwise there simply is no point to existence at all.

A Shift…but related

This raises even more basic questions. Why do we choose or feel the necessity to choose at all. What is the end we are seeking in our choosing? Why do we even seek anything and what exactly is it we are seeking? What is it about us that drives us to seek and choose one direction over another.

If we are a product of time and chance (the atheistic evolutionist model), there is no explanation or point to our existence much less these longings for meaning/purpose i.e. our coming into existence was an accident at best and not deliberate, intentional or with purpose, therefore it is meaningless. 

Yet everything about us says the opposite and cries out for understanding of why we exist (Is this not the primary quest of science or space exploration). 

What is love, for example and why do we enjoy loving and being loved. Where does that come from if we are a product of time and chance?

We are "haunted" by the question of why are we here. But why are we even haunted? 

There is something about our makeup that cries out for meaning and purpose. In fact studies have show that a newborns growth is stunted both physically and emotionally (and even death can occur) if an infant does not receive adequate attention (i.e. emotional support) through physical contact. Not unlike it would also physically suffer if it didn't have basic physical needs meet, such as food, shelter, water and air. Certainly an infant isn't this way due to an errant or misplaced belief system. This occurs before they have completely developed cognitively. This occurs on an "emotional" or dare I say spiritual level and not an intellectual/rational level. 

This drive for meaning and the desire to choose or to understand what is the best course of action belies the assertion that we are merely physical and a product of time plus change. It belies the assertion that life is meaningless and pointless. Where does this longing and drive for meaning come from?

Simply stated the best explanation for why we seek these things is because we are not a product of time and chance as the atheistic, evolutionist model suggests but we are the product of a real and personal being who created us to have a real and personal relationship (i.e. love) by and with him. And this is a being who not only made everything but on whom everything depends on for their day to day existence and operation. This means this being is of infinite value for without Him nothing would be that is; no air, no sun, no earth, no plants, no animals or no breath, no eyes, ears, touch, taste or smell to enjoy these external things. No loved ones, no love, no relationships. In short no “us” or anything else that we enjoy.

Some reject this notion of a Supreme Being/Creator outright and most reject it practically i.e. the majority live as if this is not true even when they give lip service to it (as is the case with a majority of those who self identify as Christians). However if they do reject this idea of a Creator, they again are left with the uncertainly of why they exist.

They also must deal with the enigma of why they even care about why they exist. Why do we feel this gnawing need to answer the question at all? (Of course many never even consider this question with any seriousness until they are facing the prospect of their life ending). 

If we are an accident i.e. the product of time and chance, we shouldn't even be asking the question much less wondering or caring what the answer is. The very desire to know the answer to the question betrays the assertion that we are the result of impersonal time and chance or that we just are for a time and eventually cease to be. That’s it. There is no point to our existence, therefore stop asking the question and just either get on with your meaningless and pointless life the best you can or end it.

This is at the heart of existentialism. Since there is no meaning objectively i.e. there is nothing “out there” that explains or gives meaning to our existence, we are only left to create meaning subjectively. However, this again begs the question. Why do we feel the need to find and create meaning at all, so much so that we must create it when it doesn’t objectively exist according to our belief system? This is also why some existentialist suggest suicide is the only logical conclusion to their understanding of themselves and the world. There is no actual point to our existence, so why keep existing/living. We all die anyway so why prolong the misery; just end it.

But isn’t it ironic that our need for meaning is such that once one concludes there isn’t any; we feel compelled to end our life to put us out of the pain of a meaningless and pointless existence. Why do we feel pain at all? Where does pain come from? That very compulsion to find meaning and avoid pain contradicts the conclusion that life is pointless and meaningless and screams we are designed to have meaning and if we can’t get it, then we feel compelled to just end our lives.

For a further discussion of pain you may find the following worthwhile. 

Glossary of basic terms and concepts touched on above:

 - a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:
1.      "What is there?"
2.     "What is it like?"

Ontology - the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence, or reality. It is part of the major branch of philosophy known as metaphysics, that
addresses questions concerning what entities exist or can be said to exist.

Cosmology - the philosophical study to understand the origin, progression, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large and of us as individuals.

Epistemology - the study of knowledge

·        What is knowledge?
·        How is knowledge acquired?
·        To what extent is it possible for a given subject or entity to be known?