ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview
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ElShamah - Reason & Science: Defending ID and the Christian Worldview

Otangelo Grasso: This is my library, where I collect information and present arguments developed by myself that lead, in my view, to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation for the origin of the physical world.

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The Anthropic Principle

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1The Anthropic Principle Empty The Anthropic Principle Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:46 am



If you were dragged before a trained firing squad, and they fired and missed:
it is true that you should not be surprised to observe that you are not dead, but
it is equally true that you should be surprised to observe that you are alive.

If you were asked, ‘How did you survive?’, it would be inadequate to answer, ‘If I didn’t, I would not be here to answer you.’

If the universe weren’t fine-tuned, we wouldn’t be here to observe it. Therefore, we shouldn’t be surprised by fine-tuning, and we shouldn’t waste time trying to explain it.

It is true that, given the fact that we’re here and we’re alive, we should expect to observe a life-permitting universe. This is called the Anthropic Principle. But that expectation, and our observations which confirm it, do nothing to explain why the universe is life-permitting when it didn’t have to be. A life-prohibiting universe is vastly more probable than a life-permitting one, so why does a life-permitting universe exist? What is the best explanation? Is it chance, necessity, or design? Fine-tuning cries out for an explanation, but the anthropic principle is not the answer. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is helpful once more: “While trivially true, [the anthropic] principle has no explanatory power, and does not constitute a substantive alternative explanation.”


Does the Anthropic Philosophy follow from the Anthropic Principle, as Barrow and Tipler claim? Let us concede that it follows from WAP that

3. We should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our own existence.

For if the features of the universe were incompatible with our existence, we should not be here to notice it. Hence, it is not surprising that we do not observe such features. But it follows neither from WAP nor (3) that

4. We should not be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence.

For although the object of surprise in (4) might at first blush appear to be simply the contrapositive of the object of surprise in (3), this is mistaken. This can be clearly seen by means of an illustration (borrowed from John Leslie16): suppose you are dragged before a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. The command is given; you hear the deafening sound of the guns. And you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 marksmen missed! Now while it is true that

5. You should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead,

nonetheless it is equally true that

6. You should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive.

Since the firing squad's missing you altogether is extremely improbable, the surprise expressed in (6) is wholly appropriate, though you are not surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, since if you were dead you could not observe it. Similarly, while we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our existence, it is nevertheless true that

7. We should be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence,

in view of the enormous improbability that the universe should possess such features.


Gribbin: (1981, p. 309):

“The ‘Anthropic Principle’ says that our Universe seems to be tailor-made for us because people like us can only evolve in this kind of Universe”

Robert Jastrow, founder and former director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies at NASA:

Thus, according to the physicist and the astronomer, it appears that the Universe was constructed within very narrow limits, in such a way that man could dwell in it. This result is called the anthropic principle. It is the most theistic result ever to come out of science, in my view....

In speaking of the precise requirements needed in nature to synthesize the proper carbon and hydrogen atoms necessary to life

Dr. Hoyle (1954, p. 121).

   If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just about where these levels are actually found to be.... A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature

Paul Davies (1980, p. 143).

   A clear inspection shows that the Earth is endowed with still more amazing “conveniences.” Without the layer of ozone above the atmosphere, deadly ultraviolet radiation from the sun would destroy us, and in the absence of a magnetic field, cosmic subatomic particles would deluge the Earth’s surface. Considering that the Universe is full of violence and cataclysms, our own little corner of the cosmos enjoys a benign tranquility. To those who believe that God made the world for mankind, it must seem that all these conditions are in no way a random or haphazard arrangement of circumstances, but reflect a carefully prepared environment in which humans can live comfortably, a pre-ordained ecosystem into which life slots naturally and inevitably—a tailor-made world

Stephen Hawking, in his book, A Brief History of Time(1988, p. 124).

   The weak anthropic principle states that in a Universe that is large or infinite in space and/or time, the conditions necessary for the development of intelligent life will be met only in certain regions that are limited in space and time. The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the Universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty

Dr. Hawking (1988, pp. 126-127, emp. added).

   In the hot big bang model described above, there was not enough time in the early Universe for heat to have flowed from one region to another. This means that the initial state of the Universe would have to have had exactly the same temperature everywhere in order to account for the fact that the microwave background has the same temperature in every direction we look. The initial rate of expansion also would have had to be chosen very precisely for the rate of expansion still to be so close to the critical rate needed to avoid recollapse. This means that the initial state of the Universe must have been very carefully chosen indeed if the hot big bang model was correct right back to the beginning of time. It would be very difficult to explain why the Universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us


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