Lecture 5 - The genesis of purpose

Humans have grown up in the universe continually searching for purpose. We once believed that complex organisms adhered to some sort of grand design, similar to the way in which our own tools were created from.

 We designed and created our own tools for specific purposes.

 In reality nature exists without purpose and any meaning we place upon it is created solely within our own brains and these in turn are products of evolution, not design.

In his final lecture, Richard Dawkins examines the genesis of ‘purpose’ within the universe and relates this to the development of consciousness within the human brain. Dawkins demonstrates that the brain recreates an internal model of our external reality in a similar way to the virtual reality ‘worlds’ created by computers.

 He examines the limitations of the mind to generate a true representation of our external reality, demonstrating its susceptibility to confusion, error and illusion.

 He argues that as we begin to move forward and model the universe scientifically we will become less prone to indoctrination, irrationality and superstition. Ultimately Dawkins calls for us to focus our attention on a greater group purpose, in which there is limitless potential as seen in the examples of space exploration and the human genome project.


Natural world




Richard Dawkins



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