Rick Warren is the author of the book, The Purpose Drive Life, which has sold over 25 million copies in the US alone and many more worldwide and which has been translated into over 50 languages. Here, he speaks to the TED conference about wealth, fame and happiness:
A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people. A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower, and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers. A bee-keeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey. Another bee-keeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely, says that the bee gathers pollen-dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race. A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bees existence. Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee. But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern. The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension. All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life.
Tolstoy in War and Peace (First Epilogue ch. 1)
So what is the ultimate purpose of man then? Procreation – to further our gene pool? Human Progress – to make the world better? Enjoyment of life? Or is there a higher purpose that is beyond our comprehension that might include all of these purposes and add a lot more besides?