A friend who teaches at another university tells me that recently he made his class read Ursula LeGuin’s novel science fiction novel The Lathe of Heaven. He writes,
“One of the characters talks about the purpose of man. So, I asked my class if they thought human beings had a purpose. I know I should not have been surprised -- but I was surprised (and dismayed) that most of the students really thought that man had no purpose. A couple thought maybe it was ‘survive,’ but most did not even go that far.
“I paused for a moment, then asked, ‘So, if I were to tell you that the Westminster Confession says the chief end of man is to glorify God and love him forever, you would say I was crazy?’ They were rather taken aback at the notion, and seemed dismissive because it was a religious perspective. But I found the entire exchange to be a fascinating and revelatory one.”
What strikes me upon reading my friend’s story was the students’ quick dismissal of whatever seemed to them a “religious perspective” -- as though their nihilistic take on the chief end of man wasn’t a religious perspective.
Any question about ultimate meaning or purpose is a religious question. Any answer to a religious question is a religious answer. So to say “We must not accept a religious answer to the question of ultimate meaning” is the same as to say “We must not accept an answer to the question of ultimate meaning.”
Why not? Because.