Tyson on the Illusion of Universal Purpose

Neil DeGrasse Tyson narrates a cool video about the question of a purposeful universe, correctly noting the complete lack of not only evidence but any coherent argument in favor of such a thing. I really like the way the video is put together too, with the pictures being drawn in time-lapse photography.

17 comments on this post.
  1. democommie:

    As soon as I got to the part about the video and whatever research went into it being sponsored/funded by The Templeton Foundation I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

    It would have been really nice if PBS had sponsored/funded the project so that it didn’t have the taint of the JTF about it. Otoh, Tyson was honest, afaia, in his treatment.

    I like this piece about the JTF:

    http://rationallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2011/11/templeton-foundation.html

  2. Mr Ed:

    As my mother would say the purpose of the universe is to make you ask why?

  3. skepticmd:

    Are you sure this was funded by the JTF? From my impression it looks like he was asked to answer the question for a JTF video but instead chose to answer it elsewhere.

  4. Quantum Mechanic:

    Democommie:

    He was asked by the Templeton Foundation to answer the subject (and then proceeded to do so in a way I’m rather sure they didn’t like). It was supported by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, which is a rather different beast.

  5. demonhauntedworld:

    Although, I really like Tyson, I’m a little disappointed when he sort of threw atheism under the bus with this comment:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzSMC5rWvos

    Maybe somebody needs to tell him about Atheism+

  6. Ichthyic:

    As soon as I got to the part about the video and whatever research went into it being sponsored/funded by The Templeton Foundation I threw up a little bit in my mouth.

    what’s more, that templeton project interviewed a dozen scientists, and their published conclusions were quite a ways away from what those scientists actually said. This has already been blogged on elsewhere, but they had Tyson firmly in the “not sure” category, instead of the “most definitely not” category.

  7. =8)-DX:

    drawn in time-lapse photography.

    It’s the RSA Animate style: see here.

    Oddly enough a few weeks ago I got an interesting spam which lead to a website promiting squirting orgasm tutelage, with an RSA-style video. Wow. I didn’t by the DVD though. We’ve squirted before.

  8. Michael Heath:

    demonhaunted world,

    Care to share the time point in the video where Tyson, “sort of threw atheism under the bus”.

  9. demonhauntedworld:

    Michael Heath 3:35 “[The label agnostic] separates me from the conduct of atheists”

    He rejects the label of atheist for (apparently) the sole reason that he thinks people who call themselves atheists are too outspoken, or something.

  10. Michael Heath:

    demonhauntedworld writes:

    He rejects the label of atheist for (apparently) the sole reason that he thinks people who call themselves atheists are too outspoken, or something.

    Perhaps Tyson doesn’t realize that atheists aren’t necessarily tens on the atheism scale. IIRC Richard Dawkins put himself at seven and yet still [correctly] self-identifies as an atheist. If Tyson doesn’t understand there’s a continuum from belief to atheism, with multiple gradations of atheists, he may presume the label wrongly refers to a rigid ideological position, which would be a similar systemic defect possessed by religious believers; that their beliefs are grounded impervious to evidence.

  11. democommie:

    @Quantum Mechanic:

    The transcript is on their website, here:

    http://www.templeton.org/purpose/essay_Tyson.html

    and here:

    http://www.templeton.org/purpose/pdfs/not%20sure_tyson.pdf

    I don’t see them giving anyone else credit for the piece.

  12. Ichthyic:

    If Tyson doesn’t understand there’s a continuum from belief to atheism, with multiple gradations of atheists, he may presume the label wrongly refers to a rigid ideological position, which would be a similar systemic defect possessed by religious believers; that their beliefs are grounded impervious to evidence.

    no, he understands. He just tries to avoid the label “atheist” because the the historically negative press the word gets, like “liberal”.

    his argument in that clip though, is really terrible, since he starts off by labelling himself “scientist”, and then claiming that “all ists come with baggage”. uh… I guess he’s never really met someone who is antiscience itself then?

    no, his argumentation on these subjects is always muddled and nebulous. There are far better examples to choose from.

  13. lancifer:

    Ichthyic,

    …his argumentation on these subjects is always muddled and nebulous. There are far better examples to choose from.

    I agree. I am frequently underwhelmed by his narratives and wonder how he became such an oft quoted science celebrity.

  14. Curt Cameron:

    Perhaps Tyson doesn’t realize that atheists aren’t necessarily tens on the atheism scale. IIRC Richard Dawkins put himself at seven and yet still [correctly] self-identifies as an atheist.

    Slight correction: Dawkins’ scale went from one to seven, and he put himself somewhere around 6.9.

  15. theschwa:

    More poop.

  16. Quantum Mechanic:

    Democommie:

    Check the upper right corner, starting at 2:14 (or continue venting righteous spleen over the “KKKrazy KKKhristian Fourth Right-ch, etc., etc.”, doesn’t really matter to me). The essay may have been originally for the Templeton Foundation, but I’d say it’s been re-purposed.

  17. baal:

    - @ demonhauntedworld, A+ has even more of a proscriptive message than just A. Having a dislike of the lesser procriptivism of A, I can’t imagine he’d be happier with the bigger message (or baggage to use the term he does in the Big Think segment you linked).

    I find him charismatic and compelling so I understand why he gets props on a personal level. We also usually let folks choose their primary focus of their efforts (without griefing them for it) so long as they are working towards a good end and using decent means to get there. NDT places science education first and everything else second. I’d love for him to adopt the atheist label but can respect that he’s chosen a different focus. Were we able to have endless posts from NDT and a host of scientists/rationalists/humanist and the host of bizarre projections we see from Fischer etal didn’t exist; I’d have very little to complain about.

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