The very fact that someone is bothered by this question implies they have — perhaps unconsciously — internalized the Biblical view of reality. Namely, that the world was brought into being by a Creator.
Because if the world wasn’t created, if it’s “just here,” then what’s the point of asking about purpose? Things that are “just here” don’t need a purpose.
But the Bible tells us that the universe was created. Time has a beginning. If so, the notion of purpose has meaning: Why did things begin? What is the point of there being anything and not just leaving nothing alone?
Secondly, to ask such a question, you are also assuming there is a consciousness behind the creation. Consciousness meaning “a decisive process.” Things don’t just happen by a chain of linear causality — neither do they happen “by Chance”. There is design behind the universe and that design is not inevitable. Again, this is the stance of the Bible, “In the beginning, ‘God’ created the heavens and the earth” — not, “In the beginning, things just sort of happened.”
The bible creates the problem of purpose, and it makes the problem next to impossible to solve. Why? Because it says that God, the Creator of all this, is perfect. Perfect means, “not lacking anything”. No faults. No needs. Everything is there. Not only everything we could imagine in its ultimate state of perfection — ultimate wisdom, ultimate knowledge, ultimate creativity, ultimate power, ultimate beauty — but that which we cannot imagine, as well, since it is not part of our world.
Purpose, on the other hand, implies a deficiency craving compensation. As in, “I don’t have this — how do I get it?” I lack food — I eat. I lack shelter — I build a house. I lack love — I get into a relationship. Therefore, human relationships, eating and building all have purpose.
God is not hungry. He doesn’t have to worry about getting wet in the rain. He can do just fine without getting into a relationship. He’s perfect. That’s what makes Him God. So if God needs nothing, why does He need a world?
Without the act of creation, all of God’s infinite perfections lie in a state of potential. Creation is something like the expression of an artist, bringing that potential into actual.
Purpose and the ‘God is good’ effect
God is good, therefore He creates. Being good is more than self-expression, more than being an artist. Both an artist and a philanthropist give. But while the artist is driven by the urge to actualize his talents, the philanthropist is driven by the needs of others.
To the artist, the audience has no essential worth, other than being an outlet for his art. The philanthropist, however, is concerned with more than just giving — he is concerned that someone should be receiving. If he is giving food, he is concerned that the people should no longer be hungry. If he is providing education, he is concerned that the students should no longer be ignorant. The recipient’s personal world is of prime importance to him.
It doesn’t help for God to say, “If there were created beings, I would be good to them.” It has to actually happen, they have to be actually there and actually receive goodness. That is what being good is all about. So, a world came to be by implication of God’s absolute goodness.
All the toil and tribulation of humankind can be explained this way: Why do we have free choice? Why must we error about in the dark? Why all this struggle? All because God is good and wishes for us the ultimate good. “Free bread, is bread of shame.” If you truly want to give to others, give them the opportunity to earn the gift. That’s dignified bread. So God allows us to struggle, so we can feel a sense of ownership to the fruits of our toil.
Who decided that being good to another is a good thing? Who created “goodness” and its definitions? He did! Along with all the rules of logic and rationality. As we said, God has no need or “reason” for creating a world. He just did it. But when He did it, He did it with a purpose. He decided to desire to have two opposites at once:
A very ordinary, real world…
…discovering its Creator in all its aspects.