“I deserve” is one of the most powerful phrases in the English language. It is a concept used by marketers, self-help gurus, diet doctors and politicians more than practically any other motivator.
The basic message of this phrase is that people deserve happiness. Politicians tell us that we deserve affordable medical care. Why? Billions of people don’t have it. Why do we deserve it? Because without it, we’ll be unhappy. Marketers tell us that we deserve a vacation. We deserve a thinner look. We deserve respect. And so forth. People can be powerfully motivated to support some cause, to buy some product, in order to chase the dream that they will gain what they deserve, what has been withheld from them by chance or evil men.
But the concept of deserving something implies purpose. If I say I deserve a raise at my job, presumably it is because I feel that I am fulfilling the purpose for which I am employed. If I say I deserve a raise because I am such a good typist, but my job is to dig ditches, then my statement makes no sense, because typing does not fulfill the purpose for which I am employed. As another example, if I say I deserve fruit from a particular tree, because I planted that tree in my yard, then I would be correct, but if I said I deserve fruit from a tree that I simply stumbled across while walking through the forest, then my statement makes no sense. I don’t deserve anything from something that has no purpose.
Therefore, if I make a broad claim to deserve happiness from my life, this implies that my life has a purpose, and that the purpose is for me to be happy. And the next question becomes, why do I think that my life has a purpose? Purpose requires intelligence, as we have seen. If I think that my life has a purpose, then that implies that I think that an intelligence put me here for that purpose. Otherwise, any statement about purpose, what I “deserve”, is nonsensical.
Therefore, there should be no talk from any materialist, any naturalist, anyone who denies the active role of any intelligence in the universe or even the existence of such an intelligence, about purpose or meaning in life. Likewise, there should never be any talk from such a person about what they deserve, in any ultimate sense. It is foolish to talk about deserving anything from an uncaring universe.
The next step of the discussion becomes whether it makes sense to say that an intelligence, let’s call it “God”, actually did put me here for the purpose of being happy. If God did in fact do such a thing, a number of questions pop into my head right away. Did he have such a purpose in mind for only me, or for all people on earth? If only me, what makes me better or more important than everyone else? Such a conclusion is irrational. If God created me for a purpose, there is no reason to believe that he did not create everyone else with the same purpose. What makes me different than everyone else? The conclusion must be rejected. If God made me for the purpose of being happy, then God made everyone for the purpose of being happy.
The first and most obvious conclusion that answer leads to is, if God created everyone on earth to be happy, then God did an extremely poor job. God is a very foolish God, to have so completely failed to create more than a very small percentage of the whole human race in anything approaching a state of happiness. It is obvious simply by looking around oneself, that most people are not happy. A large number of people live in total misery. So if God created me for happiness, then God’s plan is a failure, and we must again abandon any talk of purpose, any talk of what we deserve. We are completely on our own, if that is the case.
But if it is true that God did create us for a purpose, then it must also be true that God created the world for the same purpose. Otherwise it would not be in God’s power to fulfill his purpose. There would simply be too many factors outside his control. And if we are comfortable saying God created us, then why not the rest of the universe as well? A human being is an incredibly complex thing, and if he could create me and billions others like me, then he could create everything else too.
Any being who is capable of creating me and all other human beings and everything else that exists, is clearly neither weak nor foolish. It makes no sense to say that a God who was powerful and wise enough to accomplish such an amazing thing as the creation of everything that exists failed so completely at achieving the purpose for which he created everything. If God was capable of creating all of this, then he was and is also capable of ensuring that his purpose for doing so is fulfilled.
But this leads us to an inescapable conclusion. We are not here to be happy. Our purpose, the reason for which we exist, must be something other than our own benefit. And since God created us, that purpose must be God’s purpose. We must exist to serve some purpose that God had in mind. And if all this is true, two conclusions must also be true:
1. We must immediately stop talking about what we deserve, our rights, our happiness. It is clearly false that we deserve such happiness, for this implies a purpose, the existence of which we have no evidence for, other than our fervent desire that it be true.
2. We must immediately start attempting to discover what the true purpose for which we exist actually is. Self-interest and wishful thinking has led us badly astray on this point, and we must therefore discard self-interest as an unreliable source for this information.
A great deal of suffering and pain is caused in the world by this belief, that the world owes me happiness. Basically all crimes and wrongs committed by one man against another can be traced to this lie. It must be abandoned.
The truth must be found, and it can only be found in one place. If I want to know what the purpose of something is, the very best place to find that purpose is to ask the person who made that something. If we want to know our purpose, we must ask the one who made us. We must find this purpose from God.
When we find this purpose, we will also find the answer to a question that we desperately want to avoid:
If it is true that we don’t deserve happiness, what is it that we actually do deserve?
One thought on ““I Deserve””
Hamlet said, “Use every man after his own deserts, and who would ‘scape whipping.” At least Shakespeare understood human depravity, unlike the modern self-esteemers.