In The Year of Living Biblically A.J. Jacobs, general editor of Esquire magazine, writes, “Julie [his wife] always told me that things happen for a reason. To which I would reply, Sure, things happen for a reason. Certain chemical reactions take place in people’s brains, and they cause those people to move their mouths and arms. That’s the reason. But, I thought, there’s no greater purpose.”
We all long to know where our lives in particular and history in general are going. Does everything happen by chance? Or is God directing the course of human events with purpose? Are our lives part of a larger story (a meta-narrative) that’s going somewhere?
A.J.’s view of purposelessness reflects a modern, secular worldview: chance mutations and natural selection are the driving forces of history. With all species competing in the great race of life, all evolving like blind drunks with no direction or purpose in mind, history turned out to be the chance story of human progress—the “ascent of man.” Had earth’s climate favored gigantic rodents, history might have been written only in fossils, not books.