Darwin and a "Higher Purpose"?

I just found this article, Planet with a Purpose, linked to from Andrew Sullivan's blog. It's an interesting piece that describes a reluctant declaration from "popular" philosopher, Daniel Dennet, stating that "life on earth shows signs of having a higher purpose." It should be noted that Dennet is (or perhaps was) an atheist and wrote an influential book in 1995 called "Darwin's Dangerous Idea."

Here's a quote from the article:

"More recently, he urged his fellow non-believers to unite and fight for their rights in a New York Times op-ed piece, depicting belief in God as contrary to a naturalist" worldview.

I have some bad news for Dennett's many atheist devotees. He recently declared that life on earth shows signs of having a higher purpose. Worse still, he did it on videotape,during an interview for my website meaningoflife.tv. (You can watch the relevant clip here, though I recommend reading a bit further first so you'll have enough background to follow the logic.) Dennett didn't volunteer this opinion enthusiastically, or for that matter volunteer it at all. He conceded it in the course of a dialogue with me—and extracting the concession was a little like pulling teeth. But his initial resistance makes his final judgment all the more important. People who see evidence of some larger purpose in the universe are often accused of arguing with their heart, not their head. That's a credibility problem Dennett doesn't face.

When you watch him validate an argument for higher purpose, you're watching that argument pass a severe test. In fact, given that he's one of the best-known philosophers in the world, it may not be too much to say that you're watching a minor intellectual milestone get erected."

UPDATE: Daniel Dennet disagrees with Wright's summation of his argument. "all I am granting [in the interview]... is that IF evolution exhibited the properties that embryogenesis [i.e., the maturation of an organism] exhibits (which it doesn't, as I've kept insisting) this would work to some extent in favor of your purpose hypothesis.” Wright replies here.

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