The Purpose of Purpose: Richard Dawkins (Lecture)Prof. Dawkins titled his talk as The Purpose of Purpose and began with an anecdote of Peter Atkins being asked by one of the Royal Family, But what about the why questions?, and Atkins replying, That is a silly question.

Dawkins noted that asking why for inanimate objects like air or rocks is almost always considered inappropriate. But asking why living organisms are seems to often have been done in the past.

He noted a number of amusing instances, such as claims that domestic animals provide a means to keep their meat fresh until we have need to eat them, lice were a strong incentive to personal cleanliness, large predators allowed hunters to test their courage, and horseflies encouraged industry and the use of wits in combating them.

This mindset persists to this day, said Dawkins, popping up the Ray Comfort banana video, which got an especially large dollop of audience laughter with Comfort’s assertion that the banana has just the right shape to fit in the human mouth.

Dawkins noted that, unfortunately, the video was not simply a joke. Comfort apparently has offered to give Dawkins $10,000 to debate Comfort. Dawkins responded saying that he would take Comfort up on that only if Comfort donated $100K to Dawkins’ new foundation.

Then Dawkins compared the modern, domesticated version of the banana to the fruit of the wild banana, showing that many of the properties that Comfort was ascribing to God’s design were actually choices made in artificial selection by humans.

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