The purpose of purpose

dawkins lectureMy previous post on Purpose seems, from the discussion, to have hit a raw spot with some people. Just to add fuel to the fire, have a look at this video of Richard Dawkin’s’ recent presentation during his March USA tour. Entitled “Purpose of Purpose” he discusses how the word is often used inappropriately. Along the lies of the theological “why” questions. Quoting Peter Atkins he points out that often “why” questions are just silly.

However, Dawkins does point out that humans are obsessed with purpose, and discusses why that may be so. He describes how purpose has evolved and why the human brain can derive humanitarian and religious purposes which are not necessarily seen as evolutionary adaptions.

I think a scientific approach to purpose was presented clearly by Phil Plait in his book Death from the Skies! (see We are “fine-tuned”). In it he says:

Earth seems marvellously tuned to support life, but that’s an illusion: we are the ones who are in fact tuned by evolution, as are all the other forms of life on, below, and above the Earth’s surface. As the Earth has changed over the eons, so has life. It seems almost inevitable that, once life first got its start on Earth, it would flourish.”

That’s pretty clear, I think.

Dawkins also spends some time discussing the anti-science tactis of the creationists and relgious dogmatiusts.

I enjoy Richard Dawkins‘ lectures. He speaks as he writes, clearly, intelligently and always in a stimulating manner.

However, what impressed me most about these lectures is the size of the audience – they were huge! It is very gratifying to see that so many people are reacting against the current cultural attacks on science and are responding so positively to the messages Dawkins gives.

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One response to “The purpose of purpose

  1. Cheers for that Ken. I hadn’t seen that one and really enjoyed it.

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