Manvotional: Man’s Chief Purpose

by Brett & Kate McKay on December 7, 2013 · 58 comments

in A Man's Life, Manvotionals


From Faith for Living, 1940
By Lewis Mumford

Man’s chief purpose…is the creation and preservation of values, that is what gives meaning to our civilization, and the participation in this is what gives significance, ultimately, to the individual human life…

The individual contribution, the work of any single generation, is infinitesimal; the power and glory belong to human society at large, and are the long result of selection, conservation, sacrifice, creation, and renewal — the outcome of endless brave efforts to conserve values and ideas, and to hand them on to posterity, along with physical life itself. Each person is a temporary focus of forces, vitalities, and values that carry back into an immemorial past and that reach forward into an unthinkable future.


{ 58 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Ethan December 8, 2013 at 12:58 am

Thank you for this. I had just come over here after watching this video that really depressed me about my peers (I’m in college too):

Thank you for putting together one of the few things on the internet that has actually helped me understand what values society needs and inspired me to try to play a role in reviving and perpetuating those values. It’s so needed.

2 Bryan December 8, 2013 at 4:04 am

Man’s chief purpose: purpose implies that someone appointed that as man’s purpose. Who? Lewis Mumford? And who determines what values should be preserved, and which discarded? And who determines that this is man’s purpose? Does he decide it for himself? Can each man determine his own purpose? Or should he go with what society says? What if society is wrong? (and how many times has it really been right?)

If you want man’s chief purpose, you have to first say whether or not there is a Creator. If there is, then man’s chief purpose is to do whatever that Creator put him here to do. If there’s no Creator, then, simply put, there is no overarching “chief purpose.” Each man’s purpose can be whatever is right in his eyes.

3 Andreas Hagnos December 8, 2013 at 4:16 am

You seem to think that the glory of having done it — just because — is enough to fight eons of this mess. Is it? I don’t know how much others have gone through on this site but as someone who has lived a semi-nightmarish life I have to say : Striving to live virtuously merely to leave a legacy of some sort of “good” behind sometimes even seems to be too much.

I don’t know how much context is being worked with here on Art of Manliness. I’m sure plenty of people have “considered the realities”… but how many have *felt* them? When dying seems like the best (as in, not ONLY the easiest) option, how are you still a man’s man?

4 John December 8, 2013 at 4:24 am

We keep looking for answers to our very existence and our purpose here on earth when the answer is and always has been right under our nose… The Bible..

5 Stuart December 8, 2013 at 4:27 am

You’re wrong. Meditate on these quotations:

Man’s chief End is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.

To become like Christ is the only thing in the world worth caring for, the thing before which every ambition of man is folly, and all lower achievement vain.

6 Cocktailsfor2 December 8, 2013 at 7:28 am

Inevitably, this comment section will end up being a “God” vs. “No God” miasma…

The takeaway of this piece is included in the first sentence: “…the creation and preservation of values, …”

Whether one attributes ‘values’ as being “Man-driven” or “God-driven,” the intent is the same: leave the world a better place than you found it.

Calling someone’s beliefs “wrong” is a sure-fire way to end any possible dialogue.

7 Lee December 8, 2013 at 7:48 am

I would disagree where you say that “Man’s chief purpose…is the creation and preservation of values”. It is Man’s chief purpose to discover and preserve values, not to create them.

Truth is something we discover, not something we create.

8 James Kennedy December 8, 2013 at 8:11 am

Here’s a much better quote, in my humble opinion:

“Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.” (Ps. 86:9; Isa. 60:21; Rom. 11:36; I Cor. 6:20; 10:31; Rev. 4:11; Ps. 16:5-11; 144:15; Isa. 12:2; Luke 2:10; Phil. 4:4; Rev. 21:3-4; The Westminster Shorter Catechism, 1647)

9 Jerrod December 8, 2013 at 8:39 am

Man doing what he thinks is right in his own eyes is why this culture and society has gotten in the shape it’s in. This idea of “what’s right to you, might not be what’s right to me” is an extremely flawed way of thinking and living life. What’s sin to you, might not be sin at all to me. What’s immoral to you, might not even bother my conscience. Man does have a purpose, and it’s what James Kennedy posted. It amazes me how people say there is no Creator or no proof of a Creator. It’s extremely arrogant. Just because you say “there’s no God,” He all of a sudden doesn’t exist. To believe that I came from a random explosion, goo from a rock, and evolved from an ape is far more naive to me than believing I came from a Creator. We spend more time trying to disprove, mock, or discredit God than searching after Him or trying to find truth. All atheists I know know absolutely everything about atheism arguments, facts, etc.; but they know nothing about creationism, Christianity, or anything other than what they believe. They just feed off of their own agenda. Look up creationism vs. evolution, there are a lot of facts out there that completely contradict atheism or shows it’s holes that prove it can’t be true. Sorry for ranting a little, in conclusion, man has a purpose, and there’s a manual that tells you all about it. I’ve never talked to anyone that gave their life to Christ or taken biblical advice and said that their life had gone downhill or that the Bible steered them wrong…just saying.

10 Mills December 8, 2013 at 8:46 am

:) I would offer that manly men can express themselves in a fashion without denigrating anothers belief.

The quotation is valuable for what it makes us think about how we view the world. once we can articulate our argument we can sally forth prepared to offer and hone our beliefs.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.
“As iron sharpens iron so one man sharpens another” Proverbs 27:17

11 TinMan December 8, 2013 at 9:01 am

Well said, Mills………. May we all learn and adhere to this

12 Kevin December 8, 2013 at 9:14 am

I hope those quoting the Bible as the be all, end all of direction in life realize it wasn’t some magical book that was found in the woods. It was heavily edited throughout the beginning of Christianity, with its contents cherry picked to reflect the particular view of Christianity the Church wanted presented to the people. On top of that, all of the books in the Bible were written by men, the same people you attribute to being so misguided that they ruin the world because of inherent flaws.

And as a side note, evolution does not equal atheist. There are many prominent scientists who believe devoutly in a religious doctrine and of a creator, but who also realize the vast mountain of evidence in favor of evolution. When there is clearly demonstrable and repeatable evidence of a higher power, who also made the world in 7 days time, then Creationists would have something to talk about to back up their view point. Until then, work on getting another source outside of the Bible.

13 James Kennedy December 8, 2013 at 9:29 am

I would like to add that I visit this site often and have read a great many of the articles. And while I don’t agree with many things posted, I still learn a lot, and think that Brett and his wife do great work. I graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2008 (after several years of being out of school, working), enjoy history, and had some interest in law school for a while, so maybe feel a little affinity with Brett. Keep up the good work!

Concerning this post, while I believe that Christians should “proclaim the gospel to all creation” (Mark 16:15) even more should “live Christ” (Philippians 1:21), to me it is not that helpful to argue and debate over the existence of God or doctrinal points, at least in my experience (and I typically enjoy debating). However, a dialogue to seek after truth is very helpful, for those who have a heart to do so (although I might add that I have read about and met many people who found truth when they weren’t seeking it, when Truth found them). Behavioral modification, character development and improvement, etc., are all very good aspirations and endeavors; but ultimately, I believe that the Bible points us to the right path: that salvation is found at the cross of Christ and with His Spirit. When we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, His redemptive work on the cross, and His resurrection, we are forgiven and cleansed of our sins, we are justified by God because we’re in Christ, we’re reconciled to God because the problem of sin has been dealt with on the cross, we receive His divine, eternal, uncreated life that was released to us through His death and resurrection, by His Spirit, and we are regenerated, born again, that is, we receive another life, God’s life, in addition to our own. Now as Christians we are feeding upon this life, through the Spirit and by God’s Word, and we are growing in this life. When we cooperate with this life and grow in and by this life, our behavior will spontaneously change, be modified, improve, and we will more and more express Christ. In other words, behavioral improvement and change is much more an inward matter, resulting from the organic salvation of God, than it is an outward matter of following ethical standards and self-help rules and points. Those things are not bad, and woe to the world if we don’t have them, but when a person finds and receives Christ, he or she enters into a different realm, a definite paradigm shift.

I almost never post comments to this site, so I hope I haven’t worn out my welcome already with this post. Again, Brett, I enjoy your website. Many notches above most of what’s out there. Best regards.

14 Tucker Reynolds December 8, 2013 at 9:30 am

Great little inspirational message! Instead of consistently focusing on the negative events and circumstances of our time, I aim to focus on the good. Every generation has their struggles, but its the people who rise to the occasion both in small acts fo kindness, and larger acts of victory that make this world what it is. Be the good you want to see in the world instead of expecting others to do it for you.

15 Andrew December 8, 2013 at 9:57 am

That is a man-centered view of his purpose. I agree with some of the others, man’s chief purpose is the glorification of God.
We may glorify God through these aforementioned purposes, but the chief end of man is to glorify God, who is the center of everything.

16 Mark December 8, 2013 at 10:24 am

Lewis Mumford seems to be championing the notion — found in the writings of Nietzsche, Sartre, as well as the humanists, of which Mumford was one — that we have in in our power to create values. That notion seems nonsensical to me, for values, by their very nature, transcend us, are greater than us. Therefore, values, meaning, purpose, our calling or mission in life, is not something we create, but something that we discover or that come to us through a gift of grace, if we are so fortunate.

17 Jared December 8, 2013 at 10:43 am

As a Christian I believe that many values come from God. But not all of them. Democracy, for instance, is not found in the Bible. Where would humans be if we never created our only values and only transmitted what was found in the Bible? With in a society that tolerated slavery, for one.

Further while I would agree that man’s purpose is to glorify God, I would ask how we do that? I think we do that try to live a commandment-centered, virtuous life on earth, and carrying on the best values – Christian and otherwise. Faith without works is the dead is the most important scripture in the Bible in my opinion!

18 Jeff December 8, 2013 at 11:40 am

I like this passage from Mumford. It puts the perspective where it rightly belongs, in my view: on human interaction in our current situation.

I think it’s fine to want to venerate God, or your own conception of God. But for the billions who don’t subscribe to a christian God, that doesn’t make much sense. Mumford’s view is profoundly human, and therefore applies equally well to all humans, whatever their thoughts on a higher power.

Now, whether values are created or discovered is an interesting philosophical question. One might argue that physics, for example, is discovered. But is the value of respecting another person’s property created or discovered? I can see arguments on both sides.

19 Joe December 8, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Kevin, I once thought the same way you did. I was taught evolution in school and at first glace it seems very reasonable. But, one has to ponder it much deeper.

If we all came from the exact point of origin how did life gain so much devirsity? If evolution comes down to surival of the fittest there shoudnt be a big difference between predator and prey. It would also seem all creatures should have wings, gills and Human intellect. Can whales beach themselves for millions of year and grow legs? not when they die trying. But we know by studying the life cycle of plants and animals it takes this diveristy because everything was designed to be reliant on each other. When you study the individaul creature closly its quite clear there was much foresite and planing involved. Imagine the engineering involved to produce a Boeing 747, That doesnt compare to the complexity of a bird. Further more Science is just a tool to help us, It is limited to discovering only material things and has no way to discover inmaterial things. What science cant prove doesnt mean its been disproven. Truth matters Kevin, seach it unbiasdly until all questions are answered to the fullest extent possible.

As for the Bible being written by men you are correct but there is proof that it was divinly inspired. I wouldnt do much justice in explaining that but if you contact the Christian Research Institute they can hook you up with some mind blowing resources on this. Best of luck on your journey!

20 Nick December 8, 2013 at 3:01 pm

Why has this post become word of man vs word of God? Both are important, and the significance of both is debatable, but inspiring words can be found within and outside of the Bible. Believers of God should take heart in that the inspirational speakers, writers and artists were placed here by God, based on their own beliefs. Non-believers should be allowed to find solace in whatever they choose without being cited a Bible passage.

21 Kevin December 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm


You put forth a horribly misguided argument. One, fitness in a biological sense does not mean that there is only one option. The concept is random mutation brining about a change in the organism from its previous form allowing it to be more fit for reproduction in some way, thus being favored. No, whales can’t force evolution after already having been born, because that won’t fundamentally change their genetic makeup. Speaking of genetics, while there is much diversity in the life on this planet, we still share an incredible amount of DNA across all spectrum of organisms.

As for you assertion that there is irrefutable evidence for the Bible to be from a higher power, I am certain there are plenty of Muslims, Hindus, and any other non-Christian religion, that are just as sure as you are that their text is truly from the supreme being beyond reproach.

You choose to ignore the discipline that presents facts and observations to explain things in favor of a doctrine founded almost 2000 years ago with very little change since that time. I hope you don’t also follow the tenets of medicine from early AD nor the policies on slavery and marriage.

22 David Hibbert December 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm

I’ve always liked this one to sum it up :

“It is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

23 Joe December 9, 2013 at 6:35 am

Kevin, You offer nothing to refute my comments but still claim they mean nothing. I dont believe your interested in the truth all that much. As for DNA you are correct it is similar among all species but that really just shows how complex it is to create such divirsty with small changes. And that happend by chance not intellegence?

Lets look at some more facts. The Cambrian fossil record is the oldest fossil record discorvererd and shows all life forms at once with no transistional forms. Even Darwin admits this was his dilemia. I could go on an on but I wont. If have spent much time studying both sides of the argument and I surely wont convince someone who doesnt want to be convinced but I will refute myths such as yours.

As for your comment about religion yes many others would say they worship the one true God but they dont have compelling evidence that Christanity does. Im sorry I cant better explain this but it takes much more room than this place allows to do so.

24 Kevin December 9, 2013 at 7:26 am

I told you exactly how you don’t understand the actual meaning of biological fitness, how you don’t understand how whales beaching themselves is an awful attempt at discrediting the evolutionary process, and how your sacred text was cherry picked in order to present the message the Church wanted presented. All the while, you claim I haven’t put forth anything to support my claims, and then simply say the is a bunch of “compelling evidence” then do not put it forth. Simply not having a way to verify God doesn’t exist or that Christianity isn’t the one true way doesn’t mean that you can just make claims that it is and then say you’re right because I can’t say definitively you’re wrong. You don’t understand evolution, like you claim, and you clearly don’t understand the scientific process. I have no problem with people living to be kind to one another and treat people with respect, but when you refuse to acknowledge the advancement in understanding of how we came to be on this planet, simply because you don’t want to believe it, then I have a problem with religious zealots.

25 Russ December 9, 2013 at 9:19 am

“myths such as yours”

So, ad hominem, straw man, and burden of proof reversal. He questioned your assertion, yours is the burden of proof.

And as you are discussing religion, myth applies to your belief set as well, so try to not to use it in a derogatory way.

The assertion that your particular interpretation of your particular mythset/belief set is not only supremely arrogant, but ungentlemanly at best, rude and internet-trollish at worst.

26 Kevin December 9, 2013 at 10:37 am


Just curious, do you happen to f***ing love science too?

27 Clayton December 9, 2013 at 11:22 am


“Just curious, do you happen to f***ing love science too?”

Golly! You sure got us religious folks! Oh my, “the science” is just too much to bear!

As if science and religion are polar opposites unable to reconcile.

I have no idea when our rhetoric came to adopt the idea that you either believe in religion or you believe in “science” – the deus ex machina to everything wrong with the world.

Small minds reveal themselves when they adopt that language.

Finally, Stuart and James are spot on. Man’s chief aim is to glorify God. Perhaps that is also the chief value Lewis Mumford is referring to.

28 Nick December 9, 2013 at 11:24 am

I’m not sure why this is such a God/no-God issue. It’s possible to have great values and no belief in a higher power, it’s also possible to have complete faith and have terrible values. What I believe atheists (like myself) get upset about is the implication that to have values you must believe in a higher power. I don’t believe this insinuation is intentional, but that’s how it comes across.
Anyhoot – I’d prefer to focus on what speaks to me (and probably speaks to my brothers on this sight that believe in a higher power, who’s beliefs I fully respect) – “the power and glory belong to human society at large”. Do what’s best to society and the rest will fall into place.

29 Jim Collins December 9, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Esteemed Readers, Kate, and Brett,

I was at first dismayed by the tone of these comments; but on further thought, I found myself at fault. Some commenters subscribe to a respectful and constructive standard – including some whose conclusions on our ostensible subject are much different than mine. Some of these comments suggest that the commenter needs a nap – including some whose conclusions lie close to mine. This reminds me that disagreement need not prevent our civil attempts to understand each other, even though some either do not try to maintain that civility, or fail in the attempt; I know not which.

I wish all of you a joyful holiday season.

Jim Collins

30 jo December 9, 2013 at 1:28 pm

I find science is a tool we can use to glorify God by studying the miracle of his creation. I also believe science has its limits and there is a lot of junk science as well, just as there is junk done in the name of religion. I laid out a very small amount of evidence for my case against evolution.

I also provided a link to those who would like to learn about the bibles divine nature as well as answers to common questions and confusion over its origins and text. Its a long complex study but dont assume ignorance on my behalf when really its your ignorance if you haven’t spent the time to study this. C.S Lewis “Mere Christianity” is another resource.

Those who don’t want to search out the other half of the story so be it, I dont force it on anyone just as God doesn’t force himself on anyone. Its your free will to decide what you want about the universe. I just offered some input to the contrary of others to better inform.

I have just as much right to speak up so there is no reason to be offensive and unmanly to me for what I believe.

Those that don’t like the religious comments should really consider that Lewis’s quote is really worthless since he doesn’t define what the supreme values are in life (not that he would know)

When you leave that up to the individual it will always be different from person to person, culture, and age group thoughout history. Hitler had many followers that held his same values on life as well as slave owners in the past and so on and so forth.

31 Alexander December 9, 2013 at 3:25 pm

Wow, this is the worst comments section I’ve seen on AOM since I started reading in 2009, and all from one of the shortest posts I’ve seen as well.

A lot of narrow minded thinking seems to be going on here…and I hate to say I primarily see it amongst the Christians who’ve come out here against this passage which is primarily saying “the most important thing in a man’s life is the values he lives by and the ones he promotes.” It doesn’t say anything anti-Christian at all (in fact, I’d bet the author was one). Why come out so hard against this short post? This abrasive behavior over such a relative triviality is far from inspiring, far from Christ. Really going to win a lot of converts acting like that!

Please point me to the passage in the Bible where Christ came out and said “You are wrong.” Even when he meant it, I can’t recall him ever coming out like that…

32 jo December 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm

Alexander, I dont see the comments as you do. What I see is some Christians reflecting on Lewis’s quote and taking it to a higher level of thought. If you dont wish to refect on it that way that’s fine.

The fact that someone mentions God is offensive to some. Tolerance should be expressed to both position and we should be respectful of each others view points

There is nothing wrong with vigorous debate/ discussion. It is vital that we search for truth. This invitably means someone or something will be right and or wrong. There is nothing manly about political correctness. Boldness on the other hand is. Please also remember text displays no tone and little emotion.

As for Jesus telling someone they are wrong he does so often, maybe not verbatim. You shouldn’t speak about something you haven’t read. I won’t waste my time chasing closed minded individuals in to rabbit holes.

How exactly should a Christian entice folks to Christ? Nothing any Christian has said here will attract someone that doesn’t want to listen. Its not meant for them anyhow.

33 Clayton December 9, 2013 at 4:49 pm


My original comment could have been more civil. Thanks for responding. I can understand your frustration regarding the Joe’s poorly supported attack on survival of the fittest in trying to defend existence of a first mover.


34 Russ December 9, 2013 at 6:18 pm

Kevin – I do love science, but I’m a history teacher.

Jo – “higher level of thought” Sorry, this doesn’t hold water. Different focus of thought, absolutely. But let’s not assume one’s level of thought is necessarily higher simply because it’s discussing Christianity.

I’m Catholic; was not raised as such, but chose to be. My parents were not religious people, and were, at most agnostic. That doesn’t mean that my old man did not preserve and pass down values to me as his chief goal as a father.

“Nothing any Christian has said here will attract someone” – all things considered and being equal, you could have ended the sentence right there. And Jo, you are absolutely and completely wrong headed and wrong hearted with the last line, “It’s not meant for them anyhow.” It is indeed meant for them, righteously and in a spirit of communion and sharing. What is not meant for them is self-righteous fervor to tell another person that they are wrong in their values.

35 joe December 9, 2013 at 8:20 pm


—“higher level of thought” Sorry, this doesn’t hold water. Different focus of thought, absolutely. But let’s not assume one’s level of thought is necessarily higher simply because it’s discussing Christianity—

That is out of context so quit shifting. I asked the question of whos values. Hitlers, yours, mine? GODs? that would be furhering the discussion or taking it to a “higher level”.

You offer nothing valuable here just attacks.

–“Nothing any Christian has said here will attract someone” – all things considered and being equal, you could have ended the sentence right there–.
And Jo, you are absolutely and completely wrong headed and wrong hearted with the last line, “It’s not meant for them anyhow.” It is indeed meant for them—

No! it is a waste, akin to preaching to walls.They will hear it, see it, or read it, and It wont mean anything because they have made up there mind. If it soaks in great! theyll come back for more. It is best suited to those who havent had there hearts hardened. Those that dont want to hear it, just distract just like you and Kevin have done.

–I’m Catholic; was not raised as such, but chose to be. My parents were not religious people, and were, at most agnostic. That doesn’t mean that my old man did not preserve and pass down values to me as his chief goal as a father–

I never once said If you werent a christian you couldnt have values and you know that! This whole section has been about WHO’s values.

–righteously and in a spirit of communion and sharing.–

You are doing this how? As a Catholic you are called to spread the word.

–What is not meant for them is self-righteous fervor to tell another person that they are wrong in their values–

So Im self rightous by offering up flaws of evolution? Anyone disagreeing with evoluation is selfrighteous? Evolution is a value? You have no basis to call me self rightous. You have takin my comments out of context. Your intent is clear and it is not to comprehend my message but to belittle me. That would be selfrightous Russ!

36 Russ December 9, 2013 at 9:43 pm

Joe, you’re right, I don’t want to hear of your fundamentalistic viewpoint of “I’m right, anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as I do must be wrong, even other Christians.” I am not sure why you have such a flawed view, but you do. You are the example you are looking for when you mentioned someone who has hardened their heart.

You missed the point of the quote, you missed the point of my calling out self-righteousness, and you’ll miss the point of me halting my part of the argument now.

Godspeed to you in your future comprehension. I hope it comes soon.

37 Terry December 9, 2013 at 10:23 pm

Does anyone know the context of this quote? I do agree that having values and preserving them are important. Of course we will at times run into the struggle of different values among our neighbors. I do like the idea of working for the betterment of “society at large” instead of just my wants.

38 Jason December 10, 2013 at 12:48 am

The hostility in the comments is saddening. Civil discourse always gets abandoned when someone’s beliefs are challenged. The only way to preserve society is tolerance. The Christians and those of other beliefs(or lack thereof) who posted above should be ashamed at how defensively they’ve reacted. If you are firm in your beliefs then you shouldn’t try to belittle those who are different. The best thing one man can do is share his knowledge with another. Please try to do so with judgment or fear of being judged.

39 Joshua Jordan, KSC December 10, 2013 at 3:14 am

I respectfully disagree with this man. He wrote:

Man’s chief purpose…is the creation and preservation of values, that is what gives meaning to our civilization, and the participation in this is what gives significance, ultimately, to the individual human life…

NO; that is the purpose of a man of the Right Hand Path. A man of the Left Hand Path is different. His life may be hated, misunderstood, etc. but it is certainly interesting.

Men of the RHP preserve the village culture. They keep the trains running. They run the bureaucracy, they make the rules, and they control who gets promoted.

Men of the LHP expand the village culture. They create spaceships while everyone else is fine with trains. The bureaucracy tries to crush them, they never get promoted very far, and they tend to hate the rules and leave anyway. If he stays, it is only because he can help accomplish the mission of the bureaucracy. Maybe he works at NASA because he’s working in service of his goal of space exploration, but he never gets any power because he’s not an RHP style man.

The author does an excellent, succinct job describing the RHP man and no further comment is necessary for manly readers. However, some confusion the LHP exists — especially with Satanic kids running around braying that they are “Left Hand Path Adepts” when they have no idea what they’re talking about.

This comes from Le Morte d’Arthur; it describes the Knights of the Round Table and their quest for the Holy Grail to restore the balance to Camelot and to retake that which was lost:

“They agreed that all would go on this quest, but they thought it would be a disgrace to go forth as a group, so each entered the forest at a point the he, himself, had chosen, where it was darkest and there was no path.”

To an LHP man it is a disgrace to need a group. To *need* a group is a slight to his character, a mockery of his virtue, and it is a waste of his talents. He does not need groups; he values groups and, because he values groups, he treats these with respect and dignity.

To walk the left hand path is what makes him feel alive! It cuts through the numbness and shatters the spells and illusions of mundane reality. It’s what turns players into kings; it also puts men in their graves. Consider Jack Parsons. He invented a solid rocket fuel that took us to the moon; he also blew himself up in his home laboratory while trying to fill a rush order for explosives before departing on a trip.

40 John Howard December 10, 2013 at 7:13 am

Great quote. And one doesn’t need religion to have values, beliefs and purpose in life.

I believe man invented god/religion, not the other way round.

41 Blake White December 10, 2013 at 12:51 pm

This is a great quote, thanks for sharing it.
You know comments sections like these are always interesting, because people will dismiss ideas they might not have really considered fully.
Read the quote again, mull over each word and reflect on it.
Does Mumford at any point state that we should or should not follow the word of God ? Not at all. The idea that we are small and insignificant, that we preserve the best of our traditions and commit ourselves to something greater than ourselves is a valuable lesson for the man of God and the atheist alike. Does our scripture direct us to worship God alone, and in silence, or does it call us to do the very things that Mumford calls on us to do as well ?
Nor does this quote demand that we remain static and never advance. It calls on us to preserve our traditions, but to treat them as living things that can grow and flourish. It calls on us to add to these traditions with our own works, to build onto them with our creative powers.

Perhaps this quote is insufficient for your life. Perhaps you need more than this life that Mumford is outlining.
If this is religion for you, I think you would be hard pressed to find any passages in the bible that call on you not to do any of the things outlined by Mumford.
If you lived a life that is devoid of the things outlined by Mumford, I can’t imaging you would have much of a life at all.

42 Nicholas M December 10, 2013 at 5:29 pm

In my personal,and professional opinion I strongly believe that a man’s chief purpose in life is to be his own man. Modern Society tells you what kind of man to be, but only you can truly decide what type of man you are. And then you and only you must inquire whether you’re indeed a “good” man or ill. To find the answer to this question, you may listen to men such as Mumford, or you may read the Bible,or Tamakh, the perhaps the Qu’ran. Though I have found the only place to find the real answer is inside of you.That’s the only answer that should matter to you, is your own opinion, but you must agree to disagree with others. It will take a great deal of soul searching, meditation, willpower, however a true man (in my opnion) may do whatever he sets his mind to.

43 Rich December 11, 2013 at 8:16 am

I think this is raising ire because it conflicts with the Westminster shorter catechism. It goes something like this . The chief purpose of man is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. It has also been picked up and re popularized by Evangelical preacher John Piper. Millions of English speaking Christians have memorized this phrase. That is why there is such an emotional charge .

44 Darrin Baker December 11, 2013 at 2:16 pm

Day 8, 30 days to a better man. Write it. God can be a value you pass; they don’t need to be opposing ideas.

45 Matt December 13, 2013 at 8:19 am

I can’t believe that an article about values and how these men view themselves has become about creationism… don’t you realize that by slipping your magic theories everywhere makes you people look desperate?

46 joe December 13, 2013 at 10:07 am

Matt, what so hard to believe? Do you not understand how it transpired? Someone offered there viewpoint and mentioned God in regards to the manvotational. Someone else didn’t like that God was named and said God was make believe (more or less). Creationism is one way to speak to nonbelievers.

Truly it is the atheist that got this off track. The tolerance people only really want tolerance of their ideas not anyone else’s. That is the root of uncivil behavior. I expect those that hate religion won’t understand this and will start belittling my stance soon…

47 Chad December 13, 2013 at 11:46 am

To all those who would promote the idea that what is “right” can only be determined by each individual man, and that a “real man” or “true man” is one who does whatever he sets his mind too… The argument that you promote has been rejected for thousands of years, on the sole basis that any man has the capacity to kill another, and some very well may not see anything wrong with taking the life of another person, unprovoked and without cause or reason. It is those people for whom you fight. They are the sole reason why we have laws against murder and rape and causing harm to anyone. We MUST have a STANDARD and a direction for what morality is and what is “right” and ethical. I believe that “right” can be very simply defined. It should be on a gradient range (as all our decisions in life are).There is never a perfect choice in any situation, but there is always one choice better than another. For example, to shoot a man who is about to kill someone… Should you ever kill another human being? No. Should they? NO. So what is the best option? It is best to kill the man who has initiated or is intent upon initiating violence, rather than allow him to kill someone who has not initiated any violence and is innocent. I believe the general definition (or goal) of morality and “right” should be as follows: That everything we do must be with the intent to promote and preserve Order in all things, meaning the promotion and preservation of life as a whole, and in all of its fullness. This includes peace, happiness, civility, freedom of choice amongst individuals (as opposed to subjugation to rulers, which is against Man’s natural inclination toward individuality), consensual governance (so that there is no malice or mistrust between individual and State), the natural order of the family (Man as head, Woman with equal authority, and children), and Justice enacted with, but not superceded by Mercy.

48 Tyler December 13, 2013 at 2:31 pm

As soon as I read this quote from Mumford, I knew the debate was about to start. The problem is he uses the word “chief” which is what people really disagree about. If he would have just said “one purpose of man is” then we could all hold hands and sing kumbaya together over the great wisdom that Mumford has left us.
Silly Mumford…
he should have known better.
I would like to reference Ecclesiastes which was written by Solomon. The whole book is basically him telling us that everything is meaningless: work, pleasure, wisdom. But he ends with this,

“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind. For God will bring every deed into judgement, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.”

I also want to add, and I think Solomon would have agreed, that arguing with internet atheists is also meaningless. You’re not going to convince anyone in a comment section that God exists. My suggestion is to pray for them. Let’s trust in God to do the convincing.

49 James Kennedy December 13, 2013 at 3:57 pm

I agree with Tyler’s comment above about prayer and trusting God to do the convincing. As Christians, “We also believe, therefore we also speak” (2 Corinthians 4:13), but if people reject what we say and choose not to believe, so be it, let us rejoice that we are “counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name” (Acts 5:41). We don’t need to argue, be belligerent, be obnoxious, or be pushy; but we can speak, and we can pray for others and trust in God’s environmental arrangements and inward operations to bring His salvation and His divine life to them. Many from all walks of life, all races, all backgrounds, and all statuses and positions high and low, have come to know the Lord Jesus in this way, including myself.

“Atheism is rather in the lip, than in the heart of man” (John Milton, 1608-1674), because God “has put eternity in their heart” (Ecclesiastes 3:11), so through our speaking, for “faith comes out of hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17), and through God’s operation some will believe…and some, unfortunately, won’t. I’m not saying that flippantly, but soberly.

Here’s a verse and a quote that I recently enjoyed and was reminded of, for your thoughtful consideration.

“We are witnesses…so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given” (Acts 5:32).

“Because of His love, God not only sends His slaves to preach the gospel but also sends the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of men. Without the work of the Holy Spirit, no one would believe, and no one would receive the Lord. The most important points of the gospel that we preach today are very difficult for man to believe in. These points include the Lord Jesus being God and being born of a virgin, crucified for man, resurrected from the dead and ascended to the heavens, seated in the heavenlies and dwelling in the hearts of men, and returning one day. These seven points are the center of the gospel. They are extremely difficult to believe in; in fact, it is impossible for someone with a practical mind who has studied science to believe in these points. However, when we preach, the Holy Spirit works until man believes. The more we declare that the Lord Jesus is God, the more people are delighted. The more we speak of the Lord Jesus dying for man, the more they believe. The more we say regarding the Lord Jesus living in the hearts of men, the more they are released. We obtain these wonderful results because of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit follows our speaking, confirming the gospel and touching man’s heart until he is compelled to believe. God gave us His Son for the accomplishment of our salvation, and He also gave us the Spirit, who puts God’s salvation into us; the Spirit causes us to experience God’s salvation. This is the love of God.” (Crucial Truths in the Holy Scriptures, ch. 2,

I’d like to end by saying that this is a good website. I enjoy the articles. I appreciate the encouraging and magnanimous tone of the articles. And I like that there is free discourse in the comments, in a mostly friendly way. Since there is freedom to make comments, and an article quotes someone who has an opinion about man’s “chief” purpose, and some don’t agree with that qualifier, then it’s nice to be able to make a comment stating a different view. Otherwise, what’s the use of the comments section? It seems that a kind of knowledge and learning sometimes emerges from the comments that may not come out in the article, no matter how good the article may be. I realize that using the word “God,” or honestly speaking, even more so the words, “Jesus Christ,” is touchy and sensitive (which to me is quite insightful in itself), but is it wise to be so close-minded on this subject that we can’t input it into a discussion where it might be appropriate to input? I don’t think so. You may disagree. I kindly respect your choice to disagree. Have a good day.

50 Nicholas December 14, 2013 at 12:58 pm

There is a severe misunderstanding about how natural selection works in some of these comments, the logic of which is very simple and compelling if properly explained. The thing that hits me is that the theory of evolution and belief in a creator are in no way incompatible. For one thing, why would any creator make beings incapable of changing in a world beset by change? These beings would last a few centuries at most before dying out. If anything evolution would be a sign of Gods genius rather than evidence refuting his existence.

51 Tom December 15, 2013 at 7:30 am

Real men pray and know the importance of being right with God and Jesus.

52 Exton December 15, 2013 at 11:41 am

Man’s purpose is to do what has to be done, no matter the consequences, to help or save the life of another.
Example, if you see someone stuck in the snow. You stop your car, ask if they need help and then get out and push. But to get the real idea, read the stories of the Medal of Honor recipients. Many of these men died, doing what was right for someone else.

53 Nicholas December 15, 2013 at 2:25 pm

Tom are you implying that men such as the Shirpas of Nepal aren’t real men? The idea that religion should define a man, is to me a very exclusive way of thinking.
Were great thinkers such as Socrates and Plato not real men?

A man should be defined by the values he lives by; honor, strength, humility, temperance etc not by the God he prays to. I’ve met many Christians who I find despicable and many Atheists/Hindus/Buddhists etc who are inspiring men and vice versa.

The definition of manliness shouldn’t be confined by spirituality and neither should it exclude it.

54 SexySadie December 15, 2013 at 2:45 pm

It seems to me that for many of the responders here, the infection of moral relativism-nihilism has taken a firm root. We were once a great nation which was held together by our national moral soul. That has been lost…perhaps forever. And those who claim to be so far superior than the rest of us lowly believing peons, will likely prosper, at least for a time, in the resultant chaos. But, once the “honeymoon” is over, will blame the rest of us for their predicament–which is their standard SOP…

55 Lewis Ng'esh December 16, 2013 at 6:53 am

Well guys, I like the points being given here. All in all, whatever may deem right to me may not seem right to the society or anyone. So my suggestion would be, there are values which, whether you believe or don’t believe in God, are supposed to be learnt by all of us. Majorly, humility. Every religion, i believe values humility. So no need for war. Who doesn’t know Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad Ali? They all are basically from different religions. They are inspirational. And their lives and wisdom do this: “creation and preservation of values, that is what gives meaning to our civilization, and the participation in this is what gives significance, ultimately, to the individual human life…”.

56 Serafin Nunez December 16, 2013 at 1:10 pm

“I stand here on the summit of the mountain. I lift my head and I spread my arms. This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest. I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning. I wished to find a warrant for being. I need no warrant for being, and no word of sanction upon my being. I am the warrant and the sanction.”

57 Daniel December 17, 2013 at 2:30 pm

Be good. Do good. Teach good.

58 darby neil February 3, 2014 at 1:29 pm

It really is that simple isn’t it Daniel?

This world is so f****d up by people being selfish and is only healed by people being unselfish.

I have found this to be true: “It is better to give than to receive” or in my own words, “the getting is in the giving”. So being unselfish seems backwards to me for creating my own happiness until I do it for an ongoing period of time and find I am much happier. Then I want to do it more, because it doesn’t come naturally and I’m not good at it! Think what this world would be like if we all strove to live unselfishly or to prefer others before ourselves?

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