Religious Studies

Research Article

God's purpose as irrelevant to life's meaning: reply to Affolter


a1 Philosophy Department, University of the Witwatersrand, Private Bag 3, WITS 2050, South Africa


Elsewhere I have contended that if a God-centred account of meaning in life were true, it would not be because meaning comes from fulfilling God's purpose for us. Specifically, I have argued that this ‘purpose theory’ of life's meaning cannot be the correct God-based view since God would have to be atemporal, immutable, and simple for meaning to logically depend on His existence, and since such a being lacking extension could not be purposive. Jacob Affolter has developed a fresh account of the kind of purpose that is necessary for meaning in life, has argued that a God without extension could ground it, and has also provided some tentative reason to believe that only such a God could do so. I respond in three ways: by questioning whether the sort of purpose Affolter thinks is necessary for meaning in fact is; by arguing that an extensionless God could not ground it; and by indicating the way that a purely physical world could.