This is the weekly Q & A blog post by our Research Professor in Philosophy, Dr. William Lane Craig.
Hi Dr. Craig,
I appreciate your work for the kingdom of Christ. You have been of great influence in my life as a Christian.
I recently came across this piece by an unknown skeptic that was reviewing a book by Stewart Goetz ( The Purpose Of Life: A Theistic Perspective)
"The first question that seems fitting when discussing the purpose of life from a theistic perspective is: what is the purpose of God's life? If our being/life is somehow derived from God's being/life, then any relevant discussion of human purpose must be contingent upon God's purpose. But since purpose necessarily entails an initial directive, a beginning-less being cannot have a purpose. A being that has no origin or beginning cannot exist for anything. Since it would follow that this supposed being's actions must derive from the nature of its existence, it would be hard to logically defend the existence of purposeful actions resulting from a being that must be categorically devoid of purpose. "
I'm completely puzzle by this. Does God exist for something? Can it be said that if God had remain in eternity without creating he would be living a purposeless life?
Thanks Dr Craig.
Dr. William Lane Craig’s Response
The reviewer obviously does not know the work of the great medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas. As Aquinas explained, God is the highest good (summum bonum) and therefore His will is properly directed toward Himself as the highest good. God’s purpose in life in therefore the same as ours: to know and love God.
In any case, the reviewer’s argument is really lame. First, why think that if an artifact (say, a hammer) has been designed for a purpose, then the designer himself needs to have a purpose of his existence? The designer could have no purpose to his existence and yet the things he has made be designed for various purposes. In fact, this is what atheists think of the products we make for various purposes. So even if God had no purpose for His existence, that doesn’t imply that He made us without a purpose for ours.
Second, why think that a purpose entails an initial directive?This seems evidently false to me. A thing (like a hammer) can exist for some end, whether or not it had a beginning. It’s being designed for a purpose does imply a designer, but it doesn’t imply a beginning of its existence. God has not been designed, but He does have a telos (purpose or end), as Aquinas saw. God could thus be beginningless and still have a purpose of His existence. We can agree that God’s actions derive from the nature of His existence as the highest good; but that doesn’t imply that He is devoid of purpose.