Mark Wrathall received a BA in philosophy at Brigham Young University in 1988. In 1991, he received both a Juris Doctorate from Harvard and an MA in philosophy from Boston College. After clerking for Cecil F. Poole at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, he pursued a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Berkeley, graduating in 1996, where he was a student of the Heidegger scholar Hubert Dreyfus. From 1994 to 1996 he was a teaching fellow at Stanford Law School. He taught at Brigham Young University from 1996 to 2006 (first in the political science department, then from 1999 in the philosophy department). From 2006 to 2017, he was a professor at the University of California, Riverside.
Wrathall has also contributed to the philosophy of popular culture, editing a book on the philosophical themes found in the music of U2 and publishing essays on film and philosophy. Wrathall's work on popular culture intersects with his interests in religion. He draws on Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche to describe how secularism and technology undermine belief in objective eternal meanings and values. But Wrathall thinks nihilism also "opens up access to richer and more relevant ways for us to understand creation and for us to encounter the divine and the sacred."