Lecture 1 - Waking up in the universe

Life grows up in the universe by gradual degrees of evolution. Billions of years ago, there existed a vast population of bacteria. But it was only an elite group of these bacteria that evolved to become humans. In truth, we are lucky to be alive.

In the first of his CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Richard Dawkins explores the origins of life. Beginning with a look at our ancestry, he shows how the probability of our existence is very small. Becoming an ancestor is much more difficult than simple reproduction, and Richard reveals how our ancestors did what it took to survive and pass on their genes.

But although some of our life must be devoted to perpetuating it, surely there must be more to it? Richard explores the role of art and culture in society, and examines how the capabilities of the human body have enabled us to accomplish complex tasks.   

When it comes to our understanding of the meaning of life, science is important. As Richard explains, science can help us uncover both when we arrived on this planet, and why we are here. Some people turn to the supernatural for the answer to such questions. Richard looks at the limitations of beliefs in the supernatural and uses a cannonball to prove why instead we should have faith in science and its predictions.


Natural world




Richard Dawkins



All lectures in the series