It’s no accident that we see stars in the sky, says famed Oxford biologist Richard Dawkins: they are a vital part of any universe capable of generating us. But, as Dawkins emphasizes, that does not mean that stars exists in order to make us.
“It is just that without stars there would be no atoms heavier than lithium in the periodic table,” Dawkins wrote in The Ancestors Tale -A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Evolution, “and a chemistry of only three elements is too impoverished to support life. Seeing is the kind of activity that can go on only in the kind of universe where what you see is stars.”
“It’s an astonishing stroke of luck that we are here. Every animal owes its existence to an astonishing list of contingencies that might not have happened. With so much chance and luck it might be thought that evolution itself is a process of pure chance, but nothing could be further from the truth.”
It was predictable, for example, that eyes and ears would develop in different species, and they had done so independently several times over, Dawkins said. “Natural selection is the great engine of the predictable side of life, but it cannot start without certain prerequisites.” Dawkins has said it was his gut feeling that there been another stroke of luck that would have developed life elsewhere in the universe. ”There are billions and billions of planets out there, so there could be millions of planets that have life on them, but the origin of life could still be a staggeringly good stroke of luck,” he said.