My Purpose? Training-Ground
Why all this effort if life is so brief?
The Goldilocks Phenomenon offers powerful evidence for the existence of an intelligent Universe-Designer. Does it provide any insight into a possible Afterlife? Why would a Designer invest so much time, effort and resources to form a planet for such a brief existence?
Let me offer an analogy: why do parents put kids in playpens? Or put stabilisers on kids’ bikes when learning to cycle? The world can be a dangerous place and our young have to start off small and learn how to live well to survive into adulthood. We have to restrain them at first, so they can fly free later on. You could view this Universe as a 'training-ground' for the New Creation. The Bible teaches in Revelation 21-22 that the Physics of the New Creation will remove many of our Universe’s current restraints, but for now we are subject to them. Why?
Dr Hugh Ross’ theory is that the Universe’s physical laws are required to overcome evil and suffering, and to facilitate humanity’s redemption. We live in the optimal universe for both of these aims to be achieved. The Bible outlined the Second Law of Thermodynamics centuries before Science spelled it out in Romans 8:20. But the Law of Decay is fine-tuned: it is the perfect amount for formation of stars and planets. It also allows for slow-burning, stable stars to support life. If the universe decays at a faster rate, you get no stars forming – at a slower rate, all you get are black holes and neutron stars.
The Law of Decay encourages restraining human evil – it helps prepare us for our roles in the New Creation. The decay rate is not so high as to discourage productive work: imagine if everything you built fell apart straight away; you’d just give up – you’d never maintain anything again. Neither is it too low to allow human sin to go on unrestrained. Depending on the amount of sin and evil humans unleash, the harder work it is to reverse the damage; the more pain is suffered in the long run, and the more time we waste. None of us enjoys extra work, extra pain and wasted time. These all act as motivations to move us away from sin and evil and towards acts that are right and good. The Physical Laws (including electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear force, and gravity) teach us the consequences of sin and evil and show us that we need help as a species to fix what has been broken.
Most importantly, the Law of Decay provided the means for Jesus to die His sacrificial death, so that the New Creation could be opened up to sinful people like you and me (without decay, death might not be possible; our bodies could heal themselves from injuries indefinitely).
God has designed the space-time dimensions of this Universe to limit us in our play-pen and also mitigate the effects of sin and evil. Time is unstoppable and irreversible – this limits the damage we can inflict. Time limits us from getting at all the people we would like to hurt. Space separates us so we can’t always get to where we want to go to unleash damage. Notice our short life spans – this is to restrain the effects of our evil choices.
The downside to all this is that humans have to live for a short period of time in a Universe dominated by decay, death, disease and suffering; the positive aspect is that it is achieving for us eternal glory. God Himself chose to enter into our world of strife when Jesus was born over 2000 years ago. If God is willing to subject Himself to suffering, then it must have an essential role -- some value even, in light of the bigger picture.
Imagine if we were allowed to live in the New Creation straight away without going through a training-ground first – would we take it for granted? Would we spoil it? Would Virtue be cherished? Would we even recognise Virtue if we’ve never known its opposite? Maybe you only appreciate God’s offer of Grace when you realise your own capacity for sin; that our role in the New Creation is an undeserved, free gift paid for by God Himself through Jesus Christ. Maybe God gives us a chance at life in a Universe where suffering exists in order for us to realise our need for a Saviour. We didn’t do anything to deserve life this time round – we didn’t ask for it. It was given as a gift for a limited time. What you do with it is up to you. You have complete freedom to pursue your Creator or dismiss Him, but qualifying for the end goal is dependent upon that choice. For some reason, this universe has been prepared as the stage upon which we make that decision. On to the final part...
Footnotes  Many people see work as a necessary evil, and long for retirement. Netflix’s ‘The Good Place’ does a great job exploring what an Afterlife of endless pleasure would lead to – boredom! Humans are designed to work and receive their fulfilment through it. Christianity is the only religion that teaches the next life will involve having meaningful work to do.  Gen 6:3