Purpose, by definition, implies intent or determination, an end goal or a course of action. It’s a useful word, purpose, and one we use fairly often when discussing life’s Big Questions. What is my purpose? Does this object or occupation serve a good purpose? But it’s not a word often associated with the existence of the entire universe. The universe is, and we are, and why or how may be a debate we never reconcile. But does the universe have a purpose? It’s an interesting topic for discussion, and the one John Templeton Foundation recently presented to 12 of the world’stop thinkers.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence M. Krauss, Jane Goodall, David Gelernter, Paul Davies, Peter William Atkins, Nancey Murphy, Owen Gingerich, Bruno Guiderdoni, Christian de Duve, John F. Haught, and Elie Wiesel — all well-respected leaders in their respective fields — sought to answer the question to the best of their abilities. It may surprise you that half said “yes,” the universe operates with intent or exists to achieve something.
For his part, Neil Tyson teamed up with Minute Physics to explain why his answer is “Not sure.”
You can read the responses in full at John Templeton Foundation or check out a PDF of the full conversation. This is the first question in a series of discussions the Templeton Foundation is conducting to provide thoughtful, reasoned responses to life’s big mysteries, which will each be courteously debated by a panel of leading scientists and theologians. You can read more about the series and the foundation at templeton.org. When you’re finished, come back here and have a discussion with us:
Do you think the Universe has a purpose? Duke it out in the comments, but try to keep your gloves on, Geeks. Asshats will be moderated.