Lecture 4 - Ultraviolet garden

‘What seems pointless to us is not the point’ – nature exists because it does, not for the benefit of human enjoyment. Enter the ultraviolet garden; a strange world which exists beyond our eyes. A garden in which flowering plants present themselves not for our satisfaction but for the purpose of reproduction and where a virus exists only because it gets copied over and over again.

 In this lecture, Richard Dawkins argues against an anthropocentric view of nature and instead presents a rational case for its evolutionary development. He examines the ultraviolet patterns of flowering plants which are undetectable to the human eye but clearly visible to the honeybee and asks why these exist if the flower was just for us?

 We now know that in the same way an exotic bird uses its coloured feathers to attract a mate; the flowering plant uses these hidden patterns to attract pollinating birds and insects. This example is just one of many complex evolutionary relationships that exist in nature.

 Using examples throughout the lecture, Dawkins argues that nature exists in the absence of any defined ‘purpose’ but instead as a result of many blind stages of evolutionary development.


Natural world




Richard Dawkins



All lectures in the series