Tag Archives: purpose

Things Exist for a Purpose

5 Mar

As I sit here watching shows on alien theory on the Science channel, you know that they are picking my brain.

The question the show is currently posing is if a faith in a godly figure would be universal and would exist with aliens. The researchers are arguing that humans prefer purpose-based reasons for why things exist over their science-based reasons. For example:

Purpose-based: The sun produces light so plants can photosynthesize.
Science-based: Plants photosynthesize because light produced by the sun can be used as an energy source.

They tested children first, and found that they much preferred purpose-based, but they also wanted to test adults. They used a true-false system that required adults to read purpose-based sentences, and as quickly as possible choose true or false. The adults also seemed to prefer purpose-based.

What I wonder is the religious background of each of the participants. Many of us are trying to get rid of this dichotomous categorization that we use so frequently and hope to lead our children to find what they believe to be true on their own. Part of this involves religious faith. We want to expose our children and show them the options, and let them choose which ever seems to be right. I do feel, however, that most children are raised to believe that a god exists, and within that, are raised to believe that everything was created for a purpose. This would explain why purpose-based explanations are preferred.

I would like to see the results of children and adults that were raised outside of this. That is difficult to do, just as it is to raise children outside of gender norms, but I wonder if it is really nature that causes these test groups to prefer purpose-based explanations, or if it is the nurture behind it.

Do you think humans naturally prefer purpose-based explanations, or do you think it’s something that is taught to us? How do you think you’d perform on the adult version of the test?