Neil deGrasse Tyson answers the question "Does the Universe Have a Purpose?" (animated by MinutePhysics)

We are inclined, as humans, to believe that we are special as a species and individually. People who are especially selfish are described as “thinking the universe revolves around them” but to varying degrees, humans think this way.

We live constantly with our own perspective and from that perspective we appear to be pretty fracking special. In modern culture we’ve likely grown up with others (parents, teachers and friends) reinforcing that belief that we are special.

This is not only a modern phenomenon however. It appears to be deeply in the human psyche. At one time people believed that the Earth, and before that their corner of it, was all that there was. The lights in the sky were mostly decorative. We then evolved to believe that the universe and everything in it revolved around the Earth. Suggesting otherwise risked the wrath of kings and clergy.

It is impossible for many people to believe that were are only one unremarkable example of humanity on a planet of 7 billion and that that planet is just one unremarkable place in a universe with billions of inhabited planets. Even people capable of accepting those things have a hard time believing that it’s all a series of random chemical and physical interactions with no goal or greater purpose.

Recently the the John Templeton Foundation, as part of their Big Questions Essay Series, asked a group of very smart people “Does the Universe Have a Purpose?” You can read answers from some of the world's top physicists, computer scientists, philosophers, biochemists, theologians and others here.

Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of the people who answered the question, with a firm and resounding "I don't know". The good folks at MinutePhysics were good enough to create an animation to go with Tyson's full answer.

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