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The Talks at Google podcast - where great minds meet.

Talks at Google brings the world’s most influential thinkers, creators, makers, and doers all to one place. Every episode is taken from a video that can be seen at

May 7, 2024

Samuel T. Wilkinson visits Google to discuss his book “Purpose: What Evolution and Human Nature Imply about the Meaning of Our Existence.” By using principles from a variety of scientific disciplines, Samuel provides a framework for human evolution that reveals an overarching purpose to our existence.

Generations have been taught that evolution implies there is no overarching purpose to our existence, that life has no fundamental meaning. We are merely the accumulation of tens of thousands of intricate molecular accidents. Some scientists take this logic one step further, suggesting that evolution is intrinsically atheistic and goes against the concept of the divine.

But is this true?

By integrating emerging principles from a variety of scientific disciplines—ranging from evolutionary biology to psychology—Yale Professor Samuel Wilkinson provides a framework of evolution that implies not only that there is an overarching purpose to our existence, but what this purpose is.

Nature seems to have endowed us with competing dispositions, what Wilkinson calls the dual potential of human nature. We are pulled in different directions: selfishness and altruism, aggression and cooperation, lust and love. When we couple this with the observation that we possess a measure of free will, all this strongly implies there is a universal purpose to our existence.

This purpose may be to choose between the good and evil impulses that nature has created within us. Our life is a test. This is a theory that has been espoused by so many of the world’s religions. From a certain framework, these aspects of human nature—including how evolution shaped us—are evidence for the existence of the divine, not against it.

Visit to watch the video.