Year 11 General Unit 1, Mod 1 - Meaning and Purpose in Life

Searching for meaning and finding answers through religion

Searching for Meaning


Important life events or other experiences can lead people to question the meaning and purpose of their life.

People search for meaning in many ways;

  • through personal mystery,
  • creation and
  • their relationships with others.

Many people search for meaning through religion.

Being Religious

When people seek, search and think about the meaning of life and the reality of God they are being religious. Indeed, such questioning may lead a person to follow a particular religion.

I don’t know about you, but I keep looking for him. I know it’s crazy but I expect any minute to take a call from him or see his face pop around the corner. Is this what we call spirit? If so, then his spirit is still with me. And I hope it never leaves … I walked to the middle of the SCG … I stood there at the wicket, I knelt down and touched the grass. I swear he was with me … Is this what indigenous Australians believe about a person’s spirit being connected with the land upon which they walk? If so, I know they are right about the SCG.

Michael Clarke, Captain of the Australian Cricket Team, speaking at the funeral of friend and team mate Phillip Hughes.

Experiences of Personal Mystery

The most significant of all human experiences can be mysterious. They are experiences that people can never fully understand and find difficult to explain.

Experiences of birth, death, marriage and growing up into adulthood are mysteries that stir questions about existence. For example:

  • The birth of a child can lead to questions about the wonder of life, feelings of joy, family and reasons for being.
  • The death of a loved one can lead to questions about why people have to die, what death is like, is their life after death and what makes a good life.
  • The development into adulthood can lead to questions about responsibility, personal identity and vocation.
  • Two people marrying can lead to questions about attraction, love, commitment and sharing of lives.

Experiences of Creation

Experiences of creation can prompt people to ask questions like; how and why did things come to be? What is the source of such beauty?

On the first day of my Theology course, I used to give the students some homework. I told them, “On the first clear night go out into the yard and lie on your back and contemplate the night sky and think about all that you can’t see as you look at what you can see and reflect on the God who is at the heart of all of that.” Archbishop of Perth, Timothy Costelloe SDB

Experiences of Others and Relationships

Through relationships with others, people can discover their own dignity and ask questions like; why are people good? Loving? Forgiving? Heroic?

On the other hand, experiences of sickness, violence and destruction can lead to questions about why there is evil and suffering in the world.