Growing Up in the Universe
Growing 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.