The anthropic principle

What should be make of our earth’s and universe’s special status?

For those possessing a keen mind, whenever someone even partially misrepresents a concept, such missteps can sully the remainder of the discussion. It would seem this has occurred for some regarding the Anthropic Principle.

Hopefully, the following somewhat brief overview can sidestep those abuses while still providing a challenging consideration on the other.

In reaction to the Copernican Principle, namely the notion that humanity does not occupy any privileged position in the universe, Brandon Carter in 1973 coined Anthropic Principle. Carter’s intent was to argue that our position, while not central, was indeed privileged to some extent.

After all, for there to be life capable of observing the universe, all of the necessary conditions for such intelligent life would need to be present at the same place and time. Yet such conditions do not exist for all places and all times. Accordingly, our location must be a special spot enjoying all of the necessary conditions, whatever those might be.

Over the years, research has continued to reveal an increasing number of physical parameters required for intelligent life such as our own. At the same time, often these goldilocks zones necessary for life are very small in contrast to the wide range of possibilities.

As originally intended, the Anthropic Principle simply forces acknowledgement of a tautology: The conditions we experience must support life capable of observing the universe. Furthermore, since most locations in our universe cannot support intelligent life, we do occupy a special set of circumstances, even though they may not center us geographically.

The Anthropic Principle was not crafted to promote any theistic implications.

Nevertheless, it is always fair game to probe the data asking what does this mean? What do we make of the fact that the various fundamental laws of physics are each perfectly situated on their own razor’s edge enabling us to be here now? Furthermore our type of galaxy, and our placement within our galaxy, and our type of sun, and our location within our solar system, and our distance from our sun, and our type of planet, and the size of our moon, and so forth are all within the desired and specific goldilocks zones. This is not only a worthy question, but one demanding a reasonable answer.

What is the possibility that even a modest list of these necessary goldilocks zones would converge at a particular place and a particular time? Calculations reveal that the improbability is staggering!  Dare we say impossible under blind conditions?

So what explanation possesses the power to account for not only a moderate list of necessary parameters, but for every single requirement we currently know, as well as those yet to be discovered, to be perfectly aligned for intelligent life to be here now?

Physics cannot provide a self-organizational answer, because the laws of physics are themselves exquisitely fine-tuned. Something beyond mere laws appears to be required. If physical principles can not account for this, then might these fine-tuned aspects be the work of a Fine Tuner?

Some fight this implication by positing non-falsifiable and hence metaphysical reasoning to dismiss the accumulating weight of the scientific evidence.

“Scientists and philosophers sometimes discuss what are called ‘anthropic principles’ …. we do not currently have good explanations for why the physical parameters of the universe are what they are. So the question stands out: Why did our universe turn out to be so suitable for life at all? Isn’t that incredibly unlikely?

Like many scientists, I grow uncomfortable when faced with these questions. We are determined to try to overcome any prejudice that we are ‘special’ in any way. Just as Copernicus proposed that Earth is not at the center of the solar system, we are not central to the universe. … One possible solution to the discomfort of assigning ourselves a special status hinges on a conceptual and physical picture of nature that allows for multiple realities or multiple universes.” Scientific American, August 2012, p. 37.

The attempt to reduce the absurd odds for our existence by postulating that we are merely one of many universes or realities reveals a mindset committed a priori to philosophic naturalism regardless where the evidence might lead.

In his book, A Fortunate Universe, astrophysicist Geraint Lewis after surveying the incredible evidence of fine-tuning plays the same card.

“Maybe the problem is that we are treating this Universe as unique, and maybe fine-tuning is not such a problem if we just step back a bit. What if the process that gave birth to the Universe churned out many more?” Geraint and Lewis (Cambridge: 2016), p. 297.

Later in this book, fellow astrophysicist Luke Barnes cut to the chase with two ideas:

“Is what you can imagine a guide to what is absolutely possible?” (p. 333); and

“Theism’s rival is naturalism, not science, and theism offers an explanation where naturalism offers none” (p. 336).

The poetic language of the Psalmist reveals the other possible path people can take. We can marvel about God’s concern for humanity in such a vast universe.

“O LORD, our Lord, … you reveal your majesty in the heavens above! …When I look up at the heavens, which your fingers made, and see the moon and stars, which you set in place, of what importance is the human race, that you should notice them? … (Yet) You grant mankind honor and majesty.” Psalm 8:1,3,4,5 NET

The Bible is authority and power (OT)

These five Bible texts make a great start.

For decades we’ve used a study series two of us created in 1985 for our evangelism work in Brazil. The first lesson starts with the subject of the Bible.

The series has several good features, such as simplicity — we use a 3×5 (or 4×6) index card and write out the references and key words as we go. We also don’t jump around the Bible, but each study moves forward from one text to another. Continue reading “The Bible is authority and power (OT)”

20 years of column is no small feat

A bunch of motleys and uncounted blessings.

After 20 years of blessing us with his articles here on Forthright, Mike Brooks is retiring from a weekly commitment. We are grateful for his insights and friendship. His column “Field Notes,” often based on experiences in Nepal and Bangladesh, will remain online to bless new readers. Mike says he wrote 875 articles for his column. Most of those are in the archives, which still must be uploaded, again, to the internet and made available for search. Continue reading “20 years of column is no small feat”

Do not marry a question mark

It seems like there are always complicating and extenuating circumstances.

HUGH’S NEWS & VIEWS, by Hugh Fulford

(Pursuant to last week’s article on “The Evolution Of ‘Adjusting’ God’s Law Of Marriage,” we send forth the following article by my good friend Bill Boyd. Bill is the able preacher for the Rockliff Church of Christ in Morrison, TN where he also serves as one of the elders. I ask my readers to thoughtfully consider the wisdom with which brother Boyd writes. His article follows). Continue reading “Do not marry a question mark”

Take Time to Be

To the tune of ‘Take Time to Be Holy.’

You may hear the old tune in the back of your mind. That’s good!

Take time to be thoughtful,
Each day in the Word;
Delve deeply to study
The mind of the Lord.
The truths of the gospel,
Such riches they hold!
More precious than silver
Or finest of gold!

Take time to be earnest,
In all things sincere,
With purest of motives,
Your purpose be clear.
All your supplications
To Heaven may fly.
In word or in action
The Lord glorify.

Take time to be loving,
Toward friends and your foes.
For all these in darkness
Christ died and arose.
His will is to save them,
From sin to forgive.
Like him, bear your burden,
That others might live.

I hate to tell the story?

From the parable of the two sons.

“‘Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’ Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of heaven before you’” Matthew 21:31.

So many of us, who have never shared the gospel with another person, sing the lyrics to “I Love to Tell the Story,” without really thinking about the contrast between our words and actions. Continue reading “I hate to tell the story?”

The struggle against evil is constant: Prayer

A prayer for Sunday and for every day.

Our only God of kindness …

The struggle against evil is constant, so we know your patience is so great, since we human beings get tired and discouraged when we look at the evil flood in the world and almost drown in it. Preserve us, O Sovereign, and keep our eyes on the Lord Jesus. He went to the end and rose from the dead with total victory. He will return to seek the faithful. I want to be in the middle of these. I want to fight the good fight and successfully finish the race. Continue reading “The struggle against evil is constant: Prayer”