I think suffering poses a big problem to philosophies that make life meaningful by absolutising “goodness”. Human morality is based on avoiding harm, and a harmful world simply cannot be designed by a God who shares that morality.
We can redefine harm so that whatever happens is “good for us” in some not-immediately-obvious way, and I met some clever rationalist Muslims who think along those lines… but I don’t think we can really do that without undermining our morality. The Christian answer to the problem is that we brought it all on ourselves when we ate that figurative apple, and all will be put to rights in some new world in the future… but I find this an overly bleak and damning picture of life and of humanity.
The bottom line is, our natural human judgments are evidently not shared by the universe, and there is no easy answer for a human utopia (relationships being one example). I think we have to confront this awkward state of affairs in order to engage honestly and constructively with life, the world and other people. And it’s okay! We are excellent at creating meaning; we probably do it quite naturally.
I have been reading about philosophy of science lately and realising that even science has human values, imagination and meaning stamped all over it. Mary Midgely in the first few pages of “The Myths We Live By” points out that the term ‘competition’ as used in the theory of evolution is actually a metaphor… and that blew my mind.
So maybe meaning is much bigger than truth, and beliefs create our reality even more than they describe it. That is also a mind-blowing thought; it demands that I take responsibility for the way I think about life! I think the worst thing I have ever believed is that I am incapable of change. We have collectively adapted to every environment on this planet from scorching desert to icy tundra… our history has honed us into beings that thrive on adversity… and yet somehow I am not capable of self-improvement. What a piece of nonsense!
There is no meaningless objective reality that we should be afraid of bumping into in a dark alley. I think if we let meaning be a fluid thing, it will almost create itself.
Be not afraid of life. Believe that life is worth living, and your belief will help create the fact. (Henry James)