Answering the Ultimate Question
“Why?” This simple question, which we utter many times a day, is loaded with assumptions of what philosophers call teleology. Teleology is the study of design and purpose. It comes from the Greek word telos, which is sprinkled liberally through the New Testament.
We seek to discover the reason things happen as they do. Why does the rain fall? Why does the earth turn on its axis? Why did you say what you said? When we raise the question of purpose, we are concerned with ends, aims, and goals. All of these terms suggest intent. They assume meaning rather than meaninglessness.
The cynic may respond to the question “Why?” with a glib retort: “Why not?” Yet even in this response there is a thinly veiled commitment to purpose. If we give a reason for not doing something, we are saying that the negative serves a purpose or fulfills a goal. Human beings are creatures committed to purpose. Intent informs our actions.
How does purpose affect your daily life—your priorities, plans, and activities?