Is there a purpose to all of this?
If you are just reading this blog, welcome. Recently, I have been writing about worldview. For two reasons:
1) A particular worldview is what distinguishes each of us from the other. It is what makes us different. As a Head of School, I want to be sure I articulate what makes my school and me different from all of the other choices out there.
2) I am passionate about ensuring each of us understand and are able to articulate how we answer the big questions of life.
Today, I would like to explore what academics call Teleological Beliefs. Simply, the question it asks is, “What purpose, if any, does the universe have?
Well, does the universe have a purpose?
You could, obviously, answer with a no.. You may believe that the universe has no goal or desired end other than what its inhabitants choose to establish and pursue.
Or, you could answer, yes. Alternatively, you could believe that there is some purpose. Other worldview elements will dictate who or what gives that purpose.
If the universe has a purpose, whose purpose is it?
If you believe that the universe has no purpose, then of course this question is a moot point. But, if there is a purpose, that purpose must be assigned by someone. Dr. Funk (2001) refers to this as a “purposive Agent”. Most people recognize this “purposive Agent” as God, while others attribute this to several deities or superior being(s).
In the Christian worldview, this is an important answer that must be given. The Christian, and Christian school, must understand that God has given purpose to His creation. Ultimately, it is to glorify him. Therefore, everything that is part of the person or action, such as education, must exalt the one true God. Of course, other religions do this. However, Christians have a distinctive answer and particular purpose dictated by Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV)
“And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?’ And he said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’ (Matthew 22:35-40 NIV)”
What is the purpose of the universe?
I would hope the answer is that you believe in God. Because, if you believe that this purpose is unknown, even unknowable, then there is no grounding or foundation. The belief in a purpose and a God who subscribed this purpose provides the full answer. Other beliefs are proven to be inconsistent and riddled with challenges. To say the least, in a Christian view, do not provide a way to escape the eternal consequences nor give value to life.
“It’s not enough to have lived. We should be determined to live for something.” ―Winston S. Churchill
Perhaps you believe that the purpose of the universe is by nature the complexity or each person/thing being interconnected with the other. Or, maybe, like Nietzsche, you believe that humankind has outgrown the need for a god. Perhaps, you may believe that there is no more purpose to the universe than simply the happiness of all that inhabit the planet. I would challenge each of these views of having some fundamental faults that deny the reasonable explanation of God. (Funk, 2001)
What are the implications?
If the universe has no purpose, then we have no obligation to fulfill. This leaves society to impose obligations upon us that change as culture changes. Ultimately, there is no accountability. Everyone can do whatever they want without any regard to the other. See, in the end, our actions or thoughts cannot be judged; because, there is no marker to judge against if we hold this no-purpose stance. (Funk, 2001)
In a Christian worldview, there is a test. Does it match the Maker’s plan and purpose or not? If it does, good. If it does not, bad. Then, there is a direct link between right and wrong. If there is a Plan or Purpose to the universe we may have an obligation to think and act consistently with it. This provides life meaning in its context.
The decision is which way do we want to live? A Christian school emphatically emphasizes a plan and purpose on the grand scale, the personal scale, and everything in between.
Funk, K. (2001, March 21). What is a worldview? Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://web.engr.oregonstate.edu/~funkk/Personal/worldview.html. Essay Series