Big-Screen Philosophy

‘The Matrix’ reveals how to lead a meaningful life.

Everyone struggles to finding meaning in life. To some, meaning is doing well in school, and to others, meaning is just chilling out. But in order for life to be meaningful, you need to form a relationship with God. This is an important message for any young adult, and the movie, “The Matrix,” illustrates it.

Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, had control over what he was doing, but everything he did was inside of a computer simulation. The simulation was made by machines to keep humans at bay. After realizing that his world wasn’t what he thinks it was, Neo chooses to leave the matrix and find truth.

Do the lives of the people in “The Matrix” contain meaning? Before we answer the question, let’s analyze two belief systems. One is post-modernism. This is the belief that humans are the product of millions of highly improbable mutations. God could exist to the post-modernists, but God has no influence on the universe.

The other system believes that God embedded something in the nature of our universe that led to the creation of intelligent life. We’ll call this the belief in a personal and caring God. According to this theory, the evolution of animals to human beings was planned by God.

If you follow post-modernism, then a meaningful life is one that’s self-generated. You, the individual, create all your meaning. For example, someone can eat a steak and experience pleasure from the texture and taste of the meat. This experience could be satisfying, but it is flawed. Any form of meaning that is self-generated, with no external influence, is incomplete, which is proven by Gödel’s Theorem.

The only way for anyone to acquire meaning in his or her life is to form a relationship with God. By acknowledging this fact as true, a person begins to find meaning in his or her life. As Jews, we can do mitzvot and study Torah to strengthen our relationship and come as close to God as possible.

We find clear evidence that God shaped the universe for intelligent life through a theory called convergent evolution. This theory supports the belief in a personal and caring God. Convergent evolution states that despite all odds, certain mutations occur throughout the world. For example, different species, such as  birds, bugs and bats have wings, but how is it possible that these species acquired the same feature when they never mated or interacted with each other? The probability of acquiring the same, highly improbable mutation is impossible. Convergent evolution is proof that the hand of God is present in our universe. 

Now, to answer the question about whether people’s lives in the matrix have meaning. According to the post-modernist, it doesn’t matter if you live in a computer-simulated world or a real place, your meaning will be self-generated. You create purpose in life wherever you live. In “The Matrix,” different groups of people found different types of meaning. Some lived their lives and died. Others, like Neo, sought truth outside of their world; they resemble the people in our world who seek truth or God. These people came as close to the truth as possible and it led to their salvation. They were freed from the matrix and entered the real world.

God is the ultimate truth — because he is existence itself — and forming a relationship with him is the only way we can acquire meaning in our universe. It is imperative for Jewish teens to form a relationship with God and practice Judaism. Judaism is the only way that anyone can form an existential meaning, which is the only meaning that has value. Sometimes I think about how people just live their lives and die, and I realize how depressing that must be to think that nothing exists in the after-life.

Just acknowledging that my life has more meaning than I can understand now, comforts me. Studying Torah brings meaning to my life. I enjoy discovering the Torah’s connection to science and our universe. For example, making the connection between convergent evolution and God. When I realize how Torah is connected to everything, Torah seems to make more sense and Judaism seems so necessary. Although finding meaning in your life could be extremely hard to achieve, everyone must strive to find meaning through a relationship with God, and that is what I’m trying to do, because without God, we are nothing.
 

author's bio: 
Abie Tawil is a sophomore at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn.