On Sunday I was privileged to give the keynote address at the American Humanist Association annual conference. Even better, people actually showed up for the talk, which for a Sunday morning event is pretty sweet.
The talks were live-streamed, and naturally some enterprising young humanist (thanks Carl Wong!) captured them and put them on YouTube. So here is mine; don’t forget to check out the others (or directly from the AHA site).
My talk was similar to ones I had given before at TAM and at Skepticon, but about half of it was new. The general idea is the relationship between everyday human concerns of meaning and morality and the underlying laws of physics. For this one, I used the framing device of “purpose” — what is it, and where does it come from? The universe itself doesn’t have a purpose, nor is there one inherent in the fundamental laws of physics. But teleology (movement toward a goal) can plausibly be a useful concept when we invent the best description of higher-level phenomena, and at the human level there are purposes we can create for ourselves. All part of the “poetic naturalism” bandwagon I hope to get launched, although I didn’t specifically use that term.
My actual slides aren’t always crystal clear from the above view, so I also put them on Slideshare. Enjoy!