Does The Universe Have A Purpose? Neil deGrasse Tyson, Other Scientists Weigh In (VIDEO)

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Does the universe have a purpose? It's a profound question, and scientists disagree on the answer.

In a new Minute Physics video, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson says he cannot give a conclusive answer but argues that the universe is more random and less purposeful, than many think it is.

"Does the universe have a purpose? I'm not sure," Tyson says in the video. "But anyone who expresses a more definitive response to the question is claiming access to knowledge not based in empirical foundations. This remarkably persistent way of thinking, common to most religions and some branches of philosophy, has failed badly in past efforts to understand and thereby predict the operations of the universe and our place within in."

The video is part of a series put together with the help of the John Templeton Foundation, a philanthropic organization whose mission is to help answer "Big Questions of human purpose and ultimate reality."

Which other big thinkers have weighed in on the foundation's stark question? Paris Institute of Astrophysics research director Bruno Guiderdoni (who said it was "very likely" that the universe has a purpose); former Oxford chemistry lecturer Peter Williams Atkins ("no"); and Yale professor of computer science David Gelernter ("yes").

Anthropologist Jane Goodall and Fuller Theological Seminary professor Nancey Murphy, agreed that the universe has a purpose, citing a belief or a hope in the existence of a god or some other divine creator.

As for Tyson, he says in the video that "in the absence of human hubris, the universe looks more and more random" and though it's not possible to know the whole picture, he argues that the case against a purposeful universe is "strong."

This is not the first time that Tyson's big-picture musings have made headlines. In March, Tyson sat down with HuffPost Science's Cara Santa Maria to chat about the mysteries of the universe.

"We don't know what's driving 96% of the universe," Tyson said. "Everybody you know and love and heard of and think about and see in the night sky through a telescope: four percent of the universe."

Earlier this year, a video capturing Tyson's thoughts on the "most astounding fact about the universe" went viral.

"When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this universe; we are in this universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts, is that the universe is in us," Tyson said. "Many people feel small because they're small and the universe is big, but I feel big because my atoms came from those stars. There's a level of connectivity."

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Filed by Dominique Mosbergen
 
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