Skip to content
Home > Blog > Where the Meaning Comes From

Where the Meaning Comes From

  • by

Greek mythology tells of three fates, sisters: Clotho (spinner), Lachesis (allotter) and Atropos (inflexible). You get the picture: one sister spins the thread; one sister measures the length; one sister cuts the thread.

That’s your life: spun, allotted, cut.

The Greeks weren’t the only ones. Once upon a time many people believed in an ironclad and unavoidable fate that revealed itself as human beings watched helplessly.

Snip: dead.

Once upon a time many people believed that the universe had a will and that will was the will of the gods or god. Anthropomorphism at its finest.

Deus vult! “God wills it!”

Many, many people still believe one or the other of those two, or both.

Some of us don’t.

Yet, after we have removed implacable fate and the transcendent, anthropomorphic god, does the immanent cosmos have a will? Or, if not a will per se, at least a direction, and point to it all — a telos?

Many people think so. Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin imagined the Omega Point.

Some of us don’t think that’s true either.

We ask, Why would the universe have an end or direction that is understandable to human beings? One that even mirrors our wish that reality has a purpose and meaning? What makes sense about the cosmos making sense?

Let’s face it: nobody knows for sure. Yet I for one think that it’s important to have a metaphysics in mind — a view of how the cosmos works — that we can believe in: if you’re convinced there’s meaning and purpose built into the universe, there are consequences to that belief.

If you believe there isn’t in non-human meaning and purpose, there are consequences to that as well.

Then where does meaning come from? Us. Ourselves. We the people. Human beings live in a human reality, sometimes understandable to us, and often not. The narratives we create for ourselves, the stories, make sense of things. I’m sure the ancient Greeks got some meaning, perhaps even comfort, from their explanation of the three sisters and how fate operated.

Any way we see things, it’s going to work out the same for all of us. Not bad, as stories go.


First Unitarian Society of Minneapolis

Din of Conversation


Share this...