Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Lawrence M. Krauss, Jane Goodall, David Gelernter, Paul Davies, Peter William Atkins, Nancey Murphy, Owen Gingerich, Bruno Guiderdoni, Christian de Duve, John F. Haught, and Elie Wiesel — all well-respected leaders in their respective fields — sought to answer the question to the best of their abilities. It may surprise you that half said “yes,” the universe operates with intent or exists to achieve something.
Of course, nothing would stop science from uncovering positive evidence of divine
guidance and purpose if it were attainable. For example, tomorrow night if we look up at the stars and they have been rearranged into a pattern that reads, “I am here,” I think even the most hard-nosed scientific skeptic would suspect something was up. - Dr Lawrence M Krauss
The issue here is the statement that science is capable of uncovering positive evidence of God's purpose. I think that is akin to a hammer and a nail trying to figure out what they are being used to build. Or trying to figure out what an artist is creating and you can only see part of the work. Unless the artist tells you what it is, you haven't clue until either you can see more or the work is finished. Krauss also wrote:
Thus, organized religions, which put humanity at the center of some divine plan, seem to assault our dignity and intelligence. A universe without purpose should neither depress us nor suggest that our lives are purposeless. Through an awe-inspiring cosmic history we find ourselves on this remote planet in a remote corner of the universe, endowed with intelligence and self-awareness. We should not despair, but should humbly rejoice in making the most of these gifts, and celebrate our brief moment in the sun. - Dr Lawrence M Krauss
I would agree that there is no need to despair and we should humbly rejoice in the gifts we have. But having gifts mean that there must have been a gift giver. We lack the ability to talk about such things without talking about God even if we try to deny God's existence. Krauss' seems to answer thus: I don't know if the Universe has a purpose but even if it does, there is no God. This is a very unsatisfactory answer but without God, it's the only answer possible.
Consider this question: Do the Earth and mankind have a purpose? If so, then the universe does too, ipso facto. If not, the universe might still have (some other) purpose; but I don’t have to face that contingency, because I believe we do have one…
Namely, to defeat and rise above our animal natures; to create goodness, beauty, and holiness where only physics and animal life once existed; to create what might be (if we succeed) the only tiny pinprick of goodness in the universe—which is otherwise (so far as we know) morally null and void. If no other such project exists anywhere in the cosmos, our victory would change the nature of the universe. If there are similar projects elsewhere, more power to them; but our own task remains unchanged. - Dr David Gelernter
Although Dr Gelernter believes there is a purpose, I do not fully agree with the purpose he seems to think it is. He pointed out that people do create things - and some of these things are good. Given human propensity to selfishness and self-fulfillment, we act against ourselves when we do good and generous things too. It isn't default behavior and sometimes it isn't easy to choose the right thing especially when it is uncomfortable. Almost as if we are constantly at war with urges and feelings that will destroy us but that we can't fully control. Kind of like described in Romans 7. So while we should be working to better the world and help others (begging the question who gave us that purpose), it can't be the purpose of the universe. Gelernter says the universe has a purpose but he conflates it with the purpose of the universe.
Science is a voyage of discovery, and as with all such voyages, you have to believe there is something meaningful out there to discover before you embark on it. And with every new scientific discovery made, that belief is confirmed. If the universe is pointless and reasonless, reality is ultimately absurd. We should then be obliged to conclude that the physical world of experience is a fiendishly clever piece of trickery: absurdity masquerading as rational order. Weinberg’s aphorism can thus be inverted. If the universe is truly pointless, then it is also incomprehensible, and the rational basis of science collapses. - Dr Paul Davies
Dr Davies makes the provocative point that if the universe is pointless than so is trying to understand it. Goodbye, Science. I agree. If science is meaningful than the object it is focused on must also be meaningful - purposeful. I don't think Davies spends much time explaining what that purpose is, but that isn't the question. Davies instead discusses why he thinks we cannot say that the Universe has no purpose.
Similarly, the universe has evolved over its 14 14 14 billion years of current existence by the directionless, unguided processes that are manifestations of the working out of physical laws: it has not been made for the purpose of providing platforms to enable cheetahs to stalk their prey or humans to generate great art or to entertain delusions. That we do not yet understand anything about the inception of the universe should not mean that we need to ascribe to its inception a supernatural cause, a creator, and therefore to associate with that creator’s inscrutable mind a purpose, whether it be divine, malign, or even whimsically capricious. - Dr Peter Williams Atkins
I must admit every time I read or hear something from Dr Atkins I am amazed at his close-mindedness. I see nothing wrong with the ideas that cheetahs and humans beings can have purposes for existence. He seems to find the who discussion distasteful because he has already made up his mind. The problem with agreeing that the universe has a purpose is that one has to then wonder what that/those purpose(s) is/are and who decreed it?
In the deep mystery of God’s vast creative experiment there may be many facets that we, in human terms, would relate to as purposes of the universe. I believe that, incredibly, this includes the creator’s self-revelation though human intelligence and personalities. With God’s experiment comes the freedom of choice, and I choose to believe in a purposeful universe.
My thoughtful atheistic friends who deny that the universe has any ultimate meaning are also men and women of faith. Perhaps intimidated by intimations of design, they seek to understand the universe in other ways. Ironically, they themselves may well be part of the purpose of the universe. - Dr Owen Gingerich
Remember, our observable universe is just a tiny region among a large variety of regions, each with different properties. And many of these regions in the universe are sterile and inhospitable and thus lifeless (which makes it especially difficult for them to be observed!). Thus, say some scientists, there is no fine-tuning. And likewise, there is no purpose.
But I don’t agree. The fundamental scientific theories that support the multiverse require complex mathematics. The fact that these fundamental theories are even accessible to our brains, which, in a purposeless universe would be nothing but a by-product of our ability to find prey (and avoid being prey), in the millennia of Homo sapiens’ evolution is something I find quite . . . puzzling.
The reality is that we are able to contemplate such questions. And the bigger the questions our brains can ponder, the more unlikely that the cosmic drama we are all participating in is simply a cosmic lottery.
This is why, at the end of the day, I can’t refrain from thinking that there actually is
purpose in the universe. - Dr Bruno Guiderdoni
Dr Guideroni's comments definitely intrigue me. When I read his essay, I think he is saying unequivocally that the universe has purpose. But at the beginning of the e-book, the first page is a tally of all 12 scholars in the e-book on what their conclusions are. Guiderdoni is marked as "very likely" but in place in his discussion does he describe his conclusion as just very likely. I think he makes a very compelling case for the Universe having purpose.
Science has given us a glimpse of this reality, by revealing the strange objects and concepts, almost irreducible to our familiar world, that lie behind entities such as the cosmos, matter, life, and mind. Through music, art, and literature, we have been allowed to approach another facet of this reality, emotional and esthetic, rather than intelligible. With philosophy and religion, we have become aware of its ethical and mystical aspects. Encompassing all in a single manifestation, love has introduced us into its very heart.
It will be noted that there is no logical need for a creator in this view. By definition, a creator must himself be uncreated, unless he is part of an endless, Russian-doll succession of creators within creators. But then, why start the succession at all? Why not have the universe itself uncreated, an actual manifestation of Ultimate Reality, rather than the work of an uncreated creator? The question is worth asking. - Dr Christian De Duve
Dr De Duve argues against a God that is not in the Bible. The God of the Bible is indeed uncreated. And the Universe is not eternal. The question has been asked and answered.
The fact that we can ask such a question at all suggests an affirmative answer. The
impassioned search for meaning, perhaps our species’ most distinctive trait, is not a
longing that lifts us out of the universe, or that takes place outside of nature. We are, after all, as much a part of nature as roaches and rivers. So too is our thirst for meaning.
If we accept evolution, as indeed we must, our longing for meaning is nature—in the same sense that birdsong and the howling of wolves are nature.
Purpose, after all, means quite simply the bringing about of something undeniably and permanently good. Is that what is going on in the cosmos?
As long as you are drawn toward truth, so also is the natural world that gave birth to your mind.
The two, after all, are inseparable. As long as the search for truth persists, not only can you trust your mind, you can also trust the universe that has germinated such an exquisite means of opening itself to
what is timelessly worth treasuring. - Dr John F. Haught
Dr Haught is right that we have an inborn desire and curiosity to know - everything. I agree that asking such questions as to what is the universe's nature and purpose is itself part of humanity's purpose. So this is a start to understand what the purpose of the universe is.
So in the absence of human hubris, and after we filter out the delusional assessments it promotes within us, the universe looks more and more random. Whenever events that are purported to occur in our best interest are as numerous as other events that would just as soon kill us, then intent is hard, if not impossible, to assert. So while I cannot claim to know for sure whether or not the universe has a purpose, the case against it is strong, and visible to anyone who sees the universe as it is rather than as they wish it to be. - Neil deGrasse Tyson
Last but not least. Dr Tyson said that he was not sure if the universe has a purpose but he is sure that people who believe God are wrong. One problem with his reasoning is that none of the reasons he gives in his essay means that there is no God giving the universe purpose. The thing is that according to the Bible, humanity arose and everyone has been born and raised and lived and died in the times and places God has desired. If it literally took 99% of cosmic history what of it? That's not inefficiency, that's what the Creator decided "after the counsel of His own will" (Ephesians 1:11). You can view Dr Tyson essay in an illustrated video.
Top Scientists and Theologians Weigh In: Does the Universe Have a Purpose?