Growing Up in the Universe

Ratings: 8.07/10 from 15 users.

Growing Up in the UniverseGrowing Up in the Universe was a series of lectures given by Richard Dawkins as part of the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, in which he discussed the evolution of life in the universe. The lectures were first broadcast in 1991, in the form of five one-hour episodes.

To start off part one, Dawkins discusses the amazing capabilities of the human body and contrasts these with the limited capabilities of computers and other man-made machines. He uses a small totem pole (which is used in ancestor worship) to illustrate the importance of studying our ancestors to understand how we've evolved.

Dawkins' second lecture of the series examines the problem of design. He presents the audience with a number of simple objects, such as rocks and crystals, and notes that these objects have been formed by simple laws of physics and are therefore not designed.

Dawkins starts the third lecture coming in with a stick insect on his hand. He describes with how much details such a being imitates its environment, its almost like a key that fits a lock. He then shows another insect, namely a Leaf Insect, which basically looks exactly like a dead leaf.

Dawkins begins the fourth lecture by relating the story of asking a little girl "what she thought flowers were 'for'." Her response is anthropocentric, that flowers are there for our benefit. Dawkins points out that many people throughout history have thought that the natural world existed for our benefit, with examples from Genesis and other literature.

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28 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Deborah Macaoidh

    What's up with that description up there? Doesn't instill a lot of confidence that whoever wrote it knows what they're talking about,

  2. Sieben Stern

    he's.... so YOUNG! I've not seen these before! XD

    and to answer his question - 42, of course!

  3. Binh Nguyen

    this series should have been used as introductory lectures to the U.S. high-school or Junior high natural science classes.

    Lucid, convincing arguments toward scientific methods to elucidate essential Darwinian evolutionary concepts.

    1. Deborah Macaoidh

      I would not have been allowed to watch.

  4. Agache Constantin

    Brothers, I am so happy to be in the sect of the Truth Lovers.))))

  5. hamaid khan

    This is the first time I have heard a lecture from Richard and I must say I am impressed because he made me to think more about my life and made me seriously look for answer rather than just believe. There are so many things in science which is giving us explanation about evolution where as there are many other features as well which is disproving such concepts of evolution. We lack some more evidence to show pro religious people about the truth of evolution like half skull bone to justify the case of evolution. When a fish or reptile was changing to an ape, it must have gone through many changes for example evolution of a fish to an ape with no legs to complete leg. I know and understand 1 and 2 but what is between them will justify the concept. This is difficult to prove the theory unless we get some fossils (creature of an ape) with half developed legs i.e. stages of fossils from 1 , 1.1, 1.21, 1.25, 1.263456......2.2244567758 .......10.

    1. Deborah Macaoidh

      It doesn't matter what proof is given. Religious people would rather twist themselves into pretzels trying to fit everything within their world-view than apply Occam's razor.

  6. Gunnar Reiersen

    I wish that all those who are religiously inclined could get past the false dichotomy of evolution vs belief in God. Even many devoutly religious biologists acknowledge the fact of evolution. Most of them go so far as to say that nothing they have observed and learned in their biological studies makes any sense whatsoever except in the light of evolution. If you dearly want to believe in God or gods, you had better hope that evolution does not necessarily preclude the existence of God, because if it does, there cannot be any such thing as God. Evolution does, however, necessarily preclude the narrow, bigoted views of today's typical creationists and intelligent design proponents, especially Young Earth Creationists.

  7. Pieter

    Great shirt you've got on there, Richard ;-)

  8. kineticskate

    Spelling and punctuation is actually pretty important here, because if you can't understand what the person is trying to say there's no use of having the discussion or even writing the comment in the first place. I don't know about you the rest of you guys, but I'm pretty sure you learn spelling and punctuation pretty early on in your school career, certainly not high school! We're not asking you to write like a scholar, just take your time when your typing and you'll get it right! Anyway, just wanted to say that these lectures are great, and that all the religious defensives should calm down, because I don't think evolution debunks the existance of God anyway. I think evolution almost proves it. Have fun with that one guys, take care!

  9. sadf

    as someone said "a scientific view-point is open to discussion, a religious view point is static"
    go figure, closed minded bigotry is a backlash of the information explosion. not understanding something doesnt automaticaly make it wrong...

  10. John Seals

    Why should punctuation and spelling matter as far as the validity of your arguement? As before mentioned this is not an academic setting, nor do I feel that anyone is attempting to learn how to spell or punctuate by watching this discussion. The truth is alot of us are self educated about science, since the intro. of the internet and satelite T.V. with Discovery, History, and Science channels being very popular. Not too many of us can do that with spelling and punctuation, for one you would die of boredom and secondly a lot of it is not really something you can logic out- Insted you need someone who knows that is willing to tell you, you know a Teacher. I'll make a deal with you- I need to leartn spelling and punctuation really badly as I am back in college at thirty seven and can't pass comp 2- I swear I will use good spelling and punctuation from now on if you will teach me how. I specifically have issues with knowing where to use a comma versus when to use a semi-colon or maybe even a colon. The absents of said knowledge is what makes my papers rank in the high sixties insted of being 90 or higher.
    If you wonder how a thirty seven year old high school graduate could not know this stuff, I'll explain. When I was in the ninth grade I changed schools and some where in the paper work things got all messed up and they went ahead and gave me credit for english, even though I had not taken English yet. Not only did I get credit I got an A+, so now all I had to take was literature classes for the rest of my high scool carreer. I am great with reading comprehension and all so I did well in literature until comp 102, then I got a very thorough teacher that realized my short comings, so he flunked me out of comp 2 and now I need to learn punctuation and spelling-Punctuation mostly with spell checker built into word I usually do O.k. on spelling, when I want to.

  11. bo

    On a lighter note, you guys think we will ever discover the truth? If so, how far away are we from the answers? Obviously, science seems to be the team that has to prove its stance where people of faith never makes any attempt to. I feel like we live in the matrix. Any time these discussions come up we reference the Bible. We forget that there are so many other cultures and faiths. Reality is in our own minds. Think about the children in Nkorea being force fed its nations propaganda. They live in such a different reality.

  12. Epicurus

    @Keith, your ideal is amazing and usually in an academic setting you would be correct. but while debating with people about religion you will notice that they are not on the side of uncovering any truth, all they want to do is use sophistry to reinforce their delusion.

  13. Keith

    I suggest that all who partake in the beautiful discussion of life and all it encompasses shouldn't be as quick to judge others on such a pointless level as I have seen in some instances on this site. I respectfully am a frequent user of this site and happen to love the debate that takes place regarding these documentaries, yet some seem to project their ego and unwillingness to see past their predetermined beliefs and to me that has no place in scientific debate. I try to look at debate as more of a collaborating effort, we are truly all on the same team and are merely narrowing down our search for the truth. I appreciate all who take time to participate in these discussions I just think sometimes people take a misdirection due to emotion, and also correct spelling and punctuation should be a priority when trying to get your point across. That is not to say that I am at all perfect in this aspect, or any aspect of life, but I do try as others in discussion should as well.

    Pursuit Knowledge

  14. CMcF

    Take it easy with the complicated meatphysical theories there you two. Us plebs won't be able to understand.


    we are the only animal that learns for m pass knowledge and projects it into the future ? was that the closing of # 1 , DNa itself is the store of experince realavent to the success fo the mated being , and itself is a projection of hopefull intention .

    so we humans again are found to be nothing special , bees give directions to each other about flowers on scale would be equall to you and i giving directions to a shopping mall 5 ,000 miles away with out benifit of Google Earth .

    Science is great fun .... ( sacarildge ..i know ( mis spelled too ) ) is it for the benifit of over all mankind or the EGO of the eleitist ? pyshcopath of civilized world ?
    Mankind Elegant designs have a misrable track record when it comes to eco sytemic sustainablity ,

    admit the idea of Ego or art gafication as being the reality behind scinces whie we have an expression of world that we do . I will adnmit to The same Pyschopathy of Ego based science well it evovled from the Womb of Eve of reilgons the fruit never falls to far fromt he tree .

    Meta Pyphics is meant to be OUTSIDE of , to encompasss UNTHINKABLE. Just because it is byond current ablity of thinking does not mean it is NOT .... airplanes were beyond PHAROH and we have them . Science is not god , it should be allowing of UNTHINKABLE GROWTHS .

  16. joshua l

    tombstone there was nothing get yourself some books on physics and qed. There sure is alot more evidence showing no god than is god. and dont give but the bible says crap either it was writin and edited by man not god. Not to mention all the other so called "jesuses" at the time most follow the same story too. born of a virgin, many miracles the same.Tried by roman government, crusified, and risen on the third day. That story is of Appolonious of Tianna. HUNDREDS OF YEARS BEFORE JESUS. there are more with the same story of course thats just one. At least the things we belive havent been used over and over again by almost every major religon.

  17. HaTe_MaChInE

    I do agree with tombstone on one thing. Even though I admire the work Dawkins does I can only handle so much before I go watch the weird sex doll doc. Uh and the new orgasm one is a nice change too.

  18. HaTe_MaChInE

    @tombstone - Maybe I missed something in this video... what 2 little atoms imploded on each other?

    If you actually understood the big bang theory I think you wouldnt have to ask "Now if your almighty science can only explain what was here before"

    Also, you make it seem like its a bad thing to teach children the truth. Of any idea of how the universe has reached its current state none has as much data backing it up as big bang followed by evolution. You dont have to agree with it but you have to agree it makes the most sense. It is nonsense to try to teach any random idea that someone comes up with... even if they say god told them so.

    If you want someone to build a rocket to send people to mars who do you want. Someone that bases their information on science , or uses the bible to guide them.

    1 Kings 7:23 - And he made a molten sea, ten cubits from the one brim to the other: it was round all about, and his height was five cubits: and a line of thirty cubits did compass it round about.

    Now if you wonder what could be wrong with the above passage... I truly doubt you could understand something as complicated as the big bang.

    1. Deborah Macaoidh

      Awesome. Just learned something new today. Thanks!

  19. SexMoneyMonkey


    So... stop watching Dawkins' Documentaries?

    And it will explain it in time. Most current theories point away from an invisible super powerful man with a grey beard though :P

    The thing is that science will explain that in time. Science has the ability to explain everything. And the only reason Dawkins comes off as so arrogant and dismissive of religion is because religious people are so annoyingly willfully ignorant and get in the way (Putting creation is science class is hilarious).

  20. tombstone

    Why don't they just start a new category. The Dawkins Documentaries. Personaly I'm getting a little tired of having to flip by his high handed all knowing science. And why does he need a schoolroom of kids to question on their belief system??? All right I get the B.B. theory and evoltion. Now if your almighty science can only explain what was here before those two little atoms imploded on each other????

  21. Linda McGuigan

    I really enjoyed this and Richard Dawkin's explaind eveything in term's I could undrestand Loved it.

    Love and Peace,
    Linda ;-*

  22. SexMoneyMonkey

    Pretty good lectures, obviously aimed at a younger audience than most documentaries on the site.

    @esmuziq PowerPC!! :P

  23. Achems Razor

    Am always curious to see how religee's try to dispute these factual, scientific, and very truthful docs. as to the origin of all life on our planet!!


  24. esmuziq

    yep i wonder when he says

    that nerves has 12 miljion times components as on a desktop

    i dont think those kids had desktops in those days at home

  25. carl hendershot

    Random. This would usually send me away but the guy has so much charizma that i kept watching. Very good the way he puts things into focus.