“I don’t understand what could be meant by ‘purpose’. I think if there was a purpose I wouldn’t expect human brains to be able to understand it. I think it is clear that humans are just a stage in the emergence of a basic complexity of the universe, and I think it’s just far too anthropomorphic to actually use the word purpose. I think we are part of this world many aspects of which are mysterious, that we exist and are conscious and able to wonder about how we came to be here, but I regard the rest as a mystery and perhaps it’ll have to await the evolution of a species more advanced than humans to make more sense of it. It’s just a mystery to me.”
-Lord Martin Rees on On Being with Krista Tippett
Having studied to be a chemist, I personally have often stood in awe of the colossal cosmic forces which had to be just precisely right to have resulted in humankind. In this podcast, former Royal Society president Lord Rees brings listeners up to date on recent developments in astrophysics. But when pushed about whether he thinks purpose is built into nature itself, he essentially shrugs, doubting the ability of humans to comprehend it if so. This move is disappointing, for he’s so confident in our ability to understand mind-numbingly complex theories like string theory. Still, I find it slightly more honest than the approaches of fundamentalist atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens.