In my experience, the best way to launch new research or metacognitive exploration is to find a useful starting point. Believe it or not, finding a useful starting point is more difficult than most people realize as it requires foreknowledge on the part of the adventurer. Bearing such in mind, the first step on our journey to determine whether the universe has a directed purpose or not, is to define the word “purpose.” No reason to search for a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if you have never met a leprechaun!
A short excursion to Oxford University (likely founded circa 1096 CE) so to review the Oxford English dictionary provides the following definition for the word ‘purpose’ and as expanded by me:
1 Purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. “The purpose of this building is to house library books.”
2 A purposeful act presupposes agent intentionality. “God created the universe so that mankind could come to know and be with God one day.”
3 Purpose, by initiating a chain of sequential temporal events, acts so to direct such chain toward an anticipated or desired endpoint. “By causing the trigger explosive to ignite the fusion material, sufficient heat and pressure are released to destroy the enemy’s HQ.”
These definitions comprise the common understanding and use of the word ‘purpose’ in general conversation. When challenged with the word ‘purpose,’ the majority of people will presume that the speaker is referring “to the underlying, or essential, reason explaining why an agent decided to create or do something initially.” This linguistic usage of the word ‘purpose’ is exemplified by theists who believe that God created, designed, and initiated the universe. God made the universe because he intended to do so in God’s Mind. When asked to explain the reasons behind God’s Work, they might say, “God made man to love. God created the universe for some purpose we have not as yet discovered. God created the universe so God may come into it so to save men from material sin. . .”
For a theist, purpose encompasses the totality of the underlying reasons explaining why God decided to create the physical universe. God created the universe for specific reasons as to what God would like to see occur at the end of time. We might call this creatio cum intentione (creation with intention). Subsequently, for the purposes herein (pun intended), we will refer to the theological meaning of the word ‘purpose’ as Purpose A.
Turning our attention from the theist to the atheist or materialist, we find a difference in how the word ‘purpose’ is utilized. As the atheist and materialist actively deny the innate existence of a conscious, functioning, and involved Creator, the atheist must presume that universes appear spontaneously in objective time and space. A materialist may state that universes dissolve and reappear over long durations of time, perhaps, secondary to quantum mechanical fluctuations in the microwave background temperature, but, nevertheless are not created by any conscious super-entity. Rather, the births and deaths of physical universes are simply a matter of unknown physical laws which one day might be uncover and understood. We might call this creatura quæ sub lege naturali (creation under natural law). Subsequently, we will refer to the materialist meaning as Purpose B.
On the surface, Purpose A and Purpose B present conceptual extremes as to how the universe came into spacetime. Moreover, the conceptual views of the theist and atheist cannot be syncretically resolved. However, of the two views, the theistic one is the more parsimonious as presumes a single reason for creation–a preexisting Cosmic Mind and Heart. By postulating a Creator the problem is rationally resolved, though unlikely to be correct. The existence of God is not an issue as to creation.
The materialist point of view denies a Creator God, postulating that the universe appears secondary to the operation of unknown laws of physics. Such explanation may be the accurate one, but, it is of little use until the materialist explains the origin of the laws of physics.
I would suggest contemplating the above. We have not finished with the issue of ‘purpose and creation,’ only presenting the simplest models commonly held by mankind. In other words, we found the proper beginning point for our journey which we begin tomorrow. Have fun.