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Anthropic Principle

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Anthropic Principle

Anthropic means “human” or “human existence.” Principle means “law.” The Anthropic Principle is the “Law of Human Existence.” It is well known that our existence in this universe depends on numerous cosmological constants and parameters whose numerical values must fall within a very narrow range of values. If even a single variable were off, even slightly, we would not exist. The extreme improbability that so many variables would align so auspiciously in our favor merely by chance has led some scientists and philosophers to propose instead that it was God who providentially engineered the universe to suit our specific needs. This is the Anthropic Principle: that the universe appears to have been fine-tuned for our existence.

Consider protons for example. Protons are the positively charged subatomic particles which (along with neutrons) form the nucleus of an atom (around which negatively charged electrons orbit). Whether by providence or fortuitous luck (depending on your perspective) protons just happen to be 1836 times larger than electrons. If they were a little bigger or a little smaller we would not exist (because atoms could not form the molecules we require). So how did protons end up being 1836 times larger than electrons? Why not 100 times larger or 100,000 times? Why not smaller? Of all the possible variables, how did protons end up being just the right size? Was it luck or contrivance?

Or how is it that protons carry a positive electrical charge equal to that of the negatively charged electron? If protons did not balance electrons and vice versa we would not exist. They are not comparable in size and yet they are perfectly balanced. Did nature just stumble upon such a propitious relationship or did ingenuity ordain it for our sakes?

Some examples of how the Anthropic Principle directly affects the livability of our planet include:
  • The unique properties of water. Every known life form depends on water. Thankfully, unlike every other substance known to man, water’s solid form (ice) is less dense than its liquid form. This causes ice to float. If ice did not float, our planet would experience runaway freezing. Other important properties of water include its solvency, cohesiveness, adhesiveness and other thermal properties.
  • Earth’s atmosphere. If there was too much of just one of the many gases which make up our atmosphere, our planet would suffer a runaway greenhouse effect. On the other hand, if there were not enough of these gases, life on this planet would be devastated by cosmic radiation.
  • Earth’s reflectivity or “albedo” (the total amount of light reflected off the planet versus the total amount of light absorbed). If Earth’s albedo were much greater than it is now we would experience runaway freezing. If it were much less than it is we would experience a runaway greenhouse effect.
  • Earth’s magnetic field. If it were much weaker, our planet would be devastated by cosmic radiation. If it were much stronger, we would be devastated by severe electromagnetic storms.
  • Earth’s place in the solar system. If we were much further from the Sun, our planet’s water would freeze. If we were much closer it would boil. This is just one of numerous examples of how our privileged place in the solar system allows for life on Earth.
  • Our solar system’s place in the galaxy. Once again, there are numerous examples of this. For instance, if our solar system was too close to the center of our galaxy, or to any of spiral arms at its edge, or any cluster of stars for that matter, our planet would be devastated by cosmic radiation.
  • The color of our Sun. If the Sun were much redder on the one hand or bluer on the other, photosynthesis would be impeded. Photosynthesis is a natural biochemical process crucial to life on Earth.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. It is just a small sample of the many factors which must be just right in order for life to exist on Earth. We are very fortunate to live on a privileged planet in a privileged solar system in a privileged galaxy in a privileged universe.

The question for us now is, with so many universal constants and cosmological parameters defining our universe, and with so many possible variables for each one, how did they all just happen to fall within the extremely narrow range of values required for our existence? The general consensus is that we are either here by fortuitous luck against tremendous odds or by the purposeful design of an intelligent Agent.

Some proponents of the here-by-chance perspective have sought to level the odds against fortuitous luck by hypothesizing a scenario whereby our universe is just one among many in what has come to be termed a “multiverse.” This gives nature many more chances to “get it right,” bringing the odds against its success down significantly.

Imagine innumerable lifeless universes in which one or more of the necessary variables fail to fall within the specific range of values required for life. The idea is that nature would eventually get it right, and apparently has done so as is evidenced by the fact that we exist (or so the argument goes). We are the lucky ones whose universe stumbled upon the right combination of cosmological values. The Anthropic Principle is often cited as empirical grounds for the otherwise mathematically hypothetical multiverse.

Intelligent Design Theorists hail the Anthropic Principle as further evidence in support of their thesis that life was engineered by a transcendent Mastermind. Not only do biological systems bear the hallmarks of design (the information content of DNA, specified complexity, irreducible complexity, etc), the universe which supports and provides a context for life appears to have been designed as a means to that end.
Yes, the anthropic principal is in revival today. On the galactic universal scale, on the sub-atomic scale, and on all scales in between modern research findings are demonstrating design over against chance. The theoretical and pre-theoretical thought processes involved in science show design as well; so one could say that man’s thought is designed. However with this last statement, the appellation of “anthropic” is redundant, if it isn’t circular tautology. I would make a suggestion.

At the heart of this principal is the notion: that this entire wonderful universe is designed with respect to man, anthropos, and the knower who dwells in its midst. As a Christian I believe in God’s infallible word and I have an obligation to give an answer to this appearance of design. In fact God says that the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead. In a definite sense then it is Theopic (God centered) in principal, as the scripture says else ware that even the Massoroth (the zodiacal constellations as fixed star groups viewed from earth) are the garnishment of his fingers as a potter would decorate a pot with artistic design. Yet it is unmistakable that this design has a human element in it, and even at its center. How is it so?

God took council when he created man. Let us create man in our image. There is no question about who is involved in this council. As the text continues: in the image of God made he him, male and female made he them. The plural councils are the persons of the Trinity. Mankind, as the result, is in the image of God. The scriptures further express that the Son by the incarnation is the express image of God, and that he is the visible expression of the invisible God. Again they say that the fullness of Godhead dwells in him. The incarnation, therefore, is the image in which man was made. Though Adam was the first man and Christ was the last, yet Christ in this way preceded him, and is the express image Adam was created in. In reference to Christ it is said that all things were made by him and for him, from him, through him and unto him. So then, the eternal Son in council with the Father and Holy Spirit in the agreements involving the incarnation is the actual image in which man is made.

All this suggests a better term, one not fraught with humanistic tautology, but one founded on a transcendent absolute, and one that says it all. Theanthropic has always been a theological term expressing the unique indivisible person of the eternal Son as manifest in the flesh. Both fully God and fully Man without mixing deity and humanity, the indivisible person, invisible God as God and at the same time the visible expression Of God as man. So, I suggest the term: the theanthropic principle. And further I suggest that all that science is seeing, is, in fact, the theanthropic principle as it is forcing itself upon their thought. All this is what Paul said in Romans one, so that they are without excuse, but when they deny this truth God gives them up to the futility of their minds. They see it, but unless God gives them faith in Christ, they will surely pervert and corrupt it. And this is precisely because of its theanthropic nature.

Good article Chad; I only hope I can add my little bit to it: this Christ or God/man principle. …DGB
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I used to put a lot of stock in the anthropic principle, but I don't anymore and haven't for quite a while. The reason that I don't is because life MUST be adapted for its environment, else it would not survive. Thus, around deep water vents, or in other "harsh" environments, the animals that thrive must necessarily be able to exist and reproduce in those conditions.

So, were the magnetic or gravitational properties different than they are, life would look much, much different necessarily. It's extremely easy to comment based on position; it's much harder to comment if you're considering all the objectivity that might be considered. The puddle of water can easily remark about how the hole in which it lies is perfectly shaped and sculpted for exactly ITS shape, and no other puddle of water would be so exactly shaped as to perfectly fit in that hole. What the water SHOULD notice, is that were the geometry of its hole different, then it too would be different.

We can make the same observation. Were the universal constants different, then any life within the universe would have to be adapted to match those universal constants. To claim that the universe just happens to be specifically tuned for human life is highly assumptive and elaborate question begging, in my view. There are animals that live in methane ice. Should those animals consider that the whole universe exists so that in the very few conditions that allow for methane ice, they may live and flourish?

And this brings me to my last point. Humans are very poorly adapted for life in this universe. Considering what makes up the universe, humans can only live in about .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the space available in the universe, and I probably missed about a billion zeros. So, frankly, the overwhelming majority of the universe is horribly suited for human life. Sure, on this planet we've managed to do okay, but even on this planet other organisms are much, much, much better suited to its conditions. Many bacteria and insects have much more success than humans do, and human bodies have lots and lots of problems that we simply would not expect if the entire universe were geared for our survival. Humans are surprisingly fragile, and many other organisms are surprisingly hearty--when it comes to successful living on this planet or in this universe. As to the anthropic principle, humans have been finding their characteristics in other things for a while, and I don't imagine it will stop anytime soon. It's the reason why we see a "face" in the moon's surface, no?
And this brings me to my last point. Humans are very poorly adapted for life in this universe. Considering what makes up the universe, humans can only live in about .000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% of the space available in the universe, and I probably missed about a billion zeros.
So, you're saying that humans have a very privileged place in the universe?

The whole universe has to be finally balanced just to allow any kind of life as we know it, on this planet. I don't know how valid it is to count on unknown and inconceivable forms of life to make your position that the nature of the universe doesn't really matter.

BTW, forgoing an extra billion zeros, you have already restricted the human race to the space of less than one atom. The universe is a big place, but no match for powers of 10.

the earth's atmosphere part was very interesting. I just got done reading about Tesla and how he researched the Occult to make many of his inventions...
Hello all.

Hey Questioning you stated;

"Humans are surprisingly fragile, and many other organisms are surprisingly hearty"

That's the very point to this exercise.

We are unsuited to life in the real world.

We cannot run, jump, fly, swim or climb trees very well.

We have no fangs, claws or hide.

Our meat has to be cooked.

We need a varied diet.

Our young offspring take a decade before they grow
enough to avoid a threat.

Animals have a very short growth span, deer, etc are
up and running in days.

Humans have no natural protection from heat and cold.

More importantly we have no inbuilt navigation, we just get lost.

We do not hibernate through cold winters.

We sleep for up to eight hours, animals nap for
much shorter times.

We are definitely not suited for survival in a Darwinian
universe, so how is it we did survive?

Conclusion, God's signature is evident of course.

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