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Does the Universe Have a Purpose? Does Life Have a Purpose? Coursework

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Updated: May 27th, 2022


The question regarding the purpose of the universe and life often puzzles us. Each individual has his own reasoning about the existence of universe and life. Various social scientists and religious scholars have given different interpretations for the emergence of the universe and the forms of life in it.

It would be wrong to accept any a particular theory as being completely true because no concrete evidence exists for any of them. Nonetheless, there seem to be a creator or a supremacy authority which governs the natural laws and brings about changes in the universe.


Aristotle’s principle of universe was simple: everything existed for humankind. However, Newton’s theories and Hawking’s ideology, has influenced modern science. This has led to the emergence of various rationale supported by different philosophies explaining the purpose of universe and the life that exists within it.

There seem to many forms of life in the clockwork universe which serve no purpose. Primary issues concern the logic behind the need for universe and all that which exists within it – planets, stars and different life forms- and what was present prior to its founding

Aristotle’s Philosophy

The philosopher adopted the man-centric approach when forming his theory. Aristotle believed that everything in the universe exists to support humankind other than this “nature” serves no specific “purpose”. (Hardie, 2004, p. 63). The underlying principles provided a rationale behind various happenings in the universe. Therefore, Aristotle’s philosophy became the foundation defining the very existence of the universe and everything in it. He has been termed as a “humanist” by Glenn M. Hardie (2004). According to “humanists”, “the inherent progress of nature can be positively and beneficially influenced by intelligent intervention by human action”. (Hardie, 2004, p. 63). Nonetheless, the following theologists questioned the premise on which Aristotle based his ideology.

Theories Presented by Others

Many well-known theologists have studied and presented their own philosophies. Heraclites and Parmenides had “postulated a model of nature and the universe” which laid the “foundation” of using science and applying “physics” and “metaphysics” to determining the reasons for existence of universe (“Greek Philosophy”). Moore et al (2007) state that it is the religion and religious convictions which influence an individual’s perception about the purpose of the universe and life. Religiously inclined individuals believe that God is the Creator of the universe. Mary Schweitzer endeavored to draw lines of similarity between faith and science.

Contradictions in Theologies

Each philosopher has his own set of principles and purports a different rationale behind the purpose of universe and life. Undoubtedly, some of the theologists have built on the ideas of their predecessors. Nonetheless, there are many whose theories do not coincide. Due to these contradictions, no theory has yet been able to provide a comprehensive answer to the reasons behind the existence of universe and the various forms of life within it. No matter which ideology is studied, whether pre-Socrates’ or Professor Hawking’s, neither provide a concrete explanation about the creation of the universe and the different life forms.


In Aristotle’s theory, the problem was with the structure of the universe and the science behind it. Various philosophies which were not based on Newtonian principles had the same issues. On the contrary, the theologies which state that the universe was created with a big bang, fail to consider the period prior to time zero and facts of how and matter was formed. Religion as well as the scientific logic remain unsuccessful at providing a concrete conclusion to the purpose being served by the universe and everything in it.

Views Concerning Purposes of Universe and Life

There is no comprehensive reasoning which explains why the universe exists and what purpose do the different forms of life serve. Neither is there any definitive logic behind the creation and existence of universe agreed upon by all or most philosophers. Actually, the factors underlying the premises of different theologies which have not been fully proven by any concrete evidence. These factors along with the theories require much work and effort in order to tie the loose ends.

Whether the philosophers have based their philosophies on religion or on scientific dimensions, clarity in the basic premise and logic is much required. The faith of an individual and the theory of a scientist are not satisfactory enough to provide a concluding evidence on the purpose of universe and life. The fact that each individual has his own religious beliefs and the studies of scientists differ from each other is a valid reason justifying why the existing theologies are not concrete. Besides, there is, at times, little connection between what the religion says and what the scientific researches purport.

The creation and existence of universe has a superior implication than what is denoted by religious beliefs or the modern science. It is difficult to assume that the sole purpose is to benefit humankind. The real reason why the various living organisms survive in this rather complexly challenging universe is yet to be determined. It maybe true that all the happenings in the world are governed by the laws of nature. The questions remains is that what exactly are those laws.

William Paley used a watch maker analogy staunchly supporting the existence of God. If the religious beliefs are overlooked, Paley’s theology would not hold true. Nonetheless, it is conventional wisdom that there is a logical reasoning behind everything that happens or exists. Therefore, there has to be a valid reason or reasons clarifying what purpose the universe and the life in it serve and how and why they were created. The main issue is that most people just see the tail of the elephant and make their assumptions about what it would look like.

Views of Philosophers

“… humanists do not have trouble with a number of so-far unanswered questions about the nature, origin and continuity..” (Hardie, 2004, p. 50). Nonetheless, Aristotle, a humanist, viewed the entire universe as an ordinary individual who did everything for a reason. (Bourgeois& Bourgeois, 2003, p. 78). Therefore, the universe also has an “intention” or a “purpose” which is to help and satisfy human needs and wants. (Bourgeois& Bourgeois, 2003, p. 78). He supported the theory that a divine supremacy exists but his view of God was very different from what Christians believe in. According to Hardie (2004), if a person acknowledges that the universe has always existed and will continue to do so, the life will also always exist. “Life is the universe, and the universe is Life” (Hardie, 2004, p. 50)

Just as Aristotle, despite being a humanist, believed in the existence of a divine power, there are differing views about the creation and purpose of universe and different life forms. It would be wrong to solely base our perception about the purposes of universe and life on religious convictions or modern science as neither of them agree with each other. Besides, there are conflicts among the views of various religious thinkers as well as social scientists. However, it would be wrong to assume that there is no creator or no initiator of the universe. Conventional wisdom says that everything exists for a reason and is created by someone or happens as a result of something. This is back by William Paley’s philosophy of watchmaker narrated in book, Natural Theology published in 1802. He argued that if one comes across a watch in the field, he would wonder who had dropped it. However, if one sees a stone in the field, he would take it for granted and not think even once about it.

“The inference, we think, is inevitable, that the watch must have had a maker; that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction, and designed its use.” (“FaithNet.org – William Paley’s Watch Analogy”)

It seemed strange to Paley that a watch, consisting of minute and complex parts, could come into existence all itself. He drew an analogy with the creation of the universe and the different forms of life and wondered how something so complex be created on its own. (“FaithNet.org – William Paley’s Watch Analogy”).

Similarly, Heraclites “believed in God and that God was Light, too- Light that would never” (Penn & Buckley, 2003, p. 137). He taught his students including Socrates that “God is an infinite, self-sufficient mind – the ultimate cause of all things”. (Penn & Buckley, 2003, p. 137). Heraclites was of the opinion that the world evolves due to “Logos” and natural laws; all living beings and non-living things are created as by a Spiritual Being, God (“Logos Pantheism”). Religious beliefs differ among individuals; thereby, their perception of God creating the universe and the purpose of life also vary. Although no concrete evidence exists to support any particular conviction, there must be a purpose behind the existing of the universe and life forms. There is likely a Creator who has created and evolved the universe.


The paper sheds light on the prominent gaps in different theories. It also attempts to reconcile some of the philosophies which are based on the same or similar premise. It is a fact that nothing- be it the universe or life forms- exist without a valid logic. Human beings may not and cannot be the sole reason for the existence of the universe and other forms of life. Living beings on other planets may not be similar to human beings. In fact, human beings may be invisible to the alien living creatures. Humankind has only a basic understanding of the universe. More information about the universe and the different forms of life in it would be fruitful in defining the purpose of life.


Bourgeois, Verne Warren & Bourgeois, Warren (2003). Persons: What Philosophers Say about You. Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press.

Hardie, Glenn M. (2004). The Essence Of Humanism: Free Thought Versus Religious Belief. Tinicum: Xlibris Corporation.

Moore, Noel Brooke & Bruder, Ken (2007). Philosophy: The Power Of Ideas. New York: McGraw Hill.

Penn, William & Buckley, Paul (2003). Twenty-First Century Penn: Writings on the Faith and Practice of the People. Richmond: Earlham Press.

(1996). Greek Philosophy – Heraclitus. Web.

(n.d.). LOGOS Pantheism. Web.

(2006). FaithNet.org – William Paley’s Watch Analogy. Web.

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