Deducing purpose where there is none

There is so much that I respect and admire about the American astronomer Carl Sagan. I have enjoyed a few of his science books and absolutely loved his 1980 television series Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, which he narrated and co-wrote.

Carl Sagan: A Universe Not Made For Us

I recently discovered this 10-minute video of him contemplating our views of the universe and how we’ve historically relied on religion to provide understanding. In particular, I like his closing words:

“There is in this universe much of what seems to be designed. But instead, we repeatedly discover that natural processes — collisional selection of worlds, say, or natural selection of gene pools, or even the convection pattern in a pot of boiling water — can extract order out of chaos and decieve us into deducing purpose where there is none.

The significance of our lives, and our fragile planet, is then determined only by our own wisdom and courage. We are the custodians of life’s meaning. We long for a parent to care for us, to forgive us our errors, to save us from our childish mistakes. But knowledge is preferable to ignorance. Better by far to embrace the hard truth than a reassuring fable. If we crave some cosmic purpose, then let us find ourselves a worthy goal.”

Carl Sagan: Pale Blue Dot,

The above video reminded me of another that I’d like to share.