Anthropic argument.

Arguments for the Existence of God
by Metacrock - edited by JMT
Used with Permission

Anthropic Argument, Page 1


A. Universe Contains Order, Complexity, Functionality, Fitness.

B. The Universe is Elegant

C. the Universe is Improbable

D. Objections Answered

IV. Argument From the Anthropic Principle.

The conventional design argument says that:

1) The universe is based upon order, complexity, functionality, and fitness.
2) These qualities imply intelligent design, since only a mind can plan for such qualities
3) Design implies a Designer.

This argument is usually dismissed because we do not have an undesigned universe to compare our universe to; thus we are begging the question, what we call "order and complexity" is merely the way things turned out, and what we think is intelligent designed is merely inference drawn from brute facts. Moreover, when pressed with the exactitude of precision in the universe the skeptic will say "but that is just assuming teleological ends where there are none, given infinite chances this will result." But new evidence has been so overwhelming even famous skeptics like Paul Davies author of God and The New Physics, have become believers based on of all things the new design argument. Davies new book is called The Mind of God. He states:

A. Universe contains Order, Complexity, functionality, and Fitness

Max Planck (1858-1947), Nobel Prize winner and founder of modern physics. 5 "According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails--one independent of the human mind . . . this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient."

"The equations of physics have in them incredible simplicity, elegance, and beauty. That in itself is sufficient to prove to me that there must be a God who is responsible for these laws and responsible for the universe, " said astrophysicist Paul Davies in his book Superforce (1984). The famous Russian physicist, Alexander Polyakov put it this way in Fortune magazine (October, 1986),

Sir Fred Hoyle, the famous British astronomer and agnostic, in The Intelligent Universe ..commented on the cosmological coincidences discussed by Mackie, "Such properties seem to run through the fabric of the natural world like a thread of happy coincidences. But there are so many odd coincidences essential to life that some explanation seems required to account for them." Paul Davies, Author of God and The New Physics, and The Mind of God, skeptic turned believer due to the new evidence on design. From First Things, Templeton Award address:

"All the richness and diversity of matter and energy we observe today has emerged since the beginning in a long and complicated sequence of self- organizing physical processes. The laws of physics not only permit a universe to originate spontaneously, but they encourage it to organize and complexify itself to the point where conscious beings emerge who can look back on the great cosmic drama and reflect on what it all means."

"Now you may think I have written God entirely out of the picture. Who needs a God when the laws of physics can do such a splendid job? But we are bound to return to that burning question: Where do the laws of physics come from? And why those laws rather than some other set? Most especially: Why a set of laws that drives the searing, featureless gases coughed out of the big bang toward life and consciousness and intelligence and cultural activities such as religion, art, mathematics, and science?"

DeYoung states:

"Old arguments have an uncanny way of returning at a later time with increased strength. Thus after two centuries, Paley's reasoning still applies and is even stronger than before. The chief reason is the discovery of a new "watch" in nature. In fact, not just one watch has been found, but a whole showcase full, all beautifully constructed and running smoothly. This reference is not to literal watches, but instead, to hundreds of carefully balanced equations, constants, and properties of matter! It is further realized that if any of these quantities were changed in the slightest way, the result would be catastrophic. Scientists, in describing today's universal balance, often refer to "astonishing precision," "cosmic coincidences," or a "contrived appearance." This perspective has been summarized in the Anthropic Principle which states that the universe appears to be carefully designed for the well-being of mankind."1, 2

Paul Davies, Physicist, Author, God and The New Physics, and The Mind of God. "The origin of life and consciousness were not interventionist miracles, but nor were they stupendously improbable accidents. They were, I believe, part of the natural outworking of the laws of nature, and as such our existence as conscious enquiring beings springs ultimately from the bedrock of physical existence-those ingenious, felicitous laws. That is the sense in which I wrote in The Mind of God: "We are truly meant to be here." I mean "we" in the sense of conscious beings, not Homo sapiens specifically. Thus although we are not at the center of the universe, human existence does have a powerful wider significance. Whatever the universe as a whole may be about, the scientific evidence suggests that we, in some limited yet ultimately still profound way, are an integral part of its purpose. The laws that characterize our actual universe, as opposed to an infinite number of alternative possible universes, seem almost contrived-fine-tuned, some commentators have claimed-so that life and consciousness may emerge. To quote Dyson again: it is almost as if "the universe knew we were coming." I cannot prove to you that this is design, but whatever it is it is certainly very clever."[Paul Davies, Templeton Award Address, in First Things.]

B. Universe is Elegant

The universe is elegant, based upon just a few simple equations, the equations which describe the basic laws that allow everything else, the tremendous complexity to fit together in such a way to produce a vast diversity of delicate life. This indicates that the universe is exactly what it needs to be to preclude life, in a one shot chance it "just happened to be" exactly what it needed to be to mold us.

Walter Bradley Prof. Science Texas A & M

Origins Website

"As a young physics student in high school, I was surprised and pleased to learn that the many diverse observations in nature find their description in such a small number of simple mathematical relationships such as Newton's laws of gravity and motion or Maxwell's equations of electricity and magnetism. It would probably surprise many of our earliest scientists to discover that today the universe is adequately described by such a small number of fundamental physical laws, represented by simple but elegant mathematical relationships, that they can be easily written on one side of one sheet of paper."

1) Unified Field = Blue Print of Universe.

But, since the unified field was not the product of the explosion of the big bang, or the singularity, but must have existed prior to the big bang, this speaks of order and complexity at a totally different level; written into the very fabric of the universe. The structures we see around us in nature could be the products of random chance, but they only exist and are possible at all because they follow a higher blue print to the universe that existed prior to the "accident" that caused everything else. How is it that the universe was already "formatted" with a blue print of order and complexity just waiting for the "accident" to happen? What accounts for the blue print? A bigger accident? An infinite regress of accidents?

Prof. Walter Bradley, Texas A.&M University:

"For example, if the strong force which binds together the nucleus of atoms were just five percent weaker, only hydrogen would be stable and we would have a universe with a periodic chart of one element, which is a universe incapable of providing the necessary molecular complexity to provide minimal life functions of processing energy, storing information, and replicating. On the other hand, if the strong force were just two percent stronger, very massive nuclei would form, which are unsuitable for the chemistry of living systems. Furthermore, there would be no stable hydrogen, no long-lived stars, and no hydrogen containing compounds."

"As a second example, if the relationship between the strong force and the electromagnetic force were to vary only slightly, we would not have the quantum energy levels which allow the remarkable conversion of beryllium to carbon (nearly 100% efficient) and the partial conversion of carbon to oxygen. With slight changes in either of these constants, we would have had a universe either rich in beryllium and little, if any, carbon or alternatively, a universe rich in oxygen with no carbon."

"Since carbon is unique in its ability to chemically bond with almost all other elements in bonds that are stable but not too difficult to break (playing the critical role of the round pieces in a tinker toy set), it is remarkable that these forces are so precisely tuned to provide carbon in abundance, along with oxygen which is critical in its own right."

2) Whether Unified field is prior to or result of the Big Bang its still improbable.

The answer that atheists most often give to the Unified field argument, that it is created by the forces forging the universe in the Big Bang. The implicit admission here is that if the Unified field came before the BB, than it clearly is a template for the universe. On the other hand, being forged by the "explosion" itself is not that much more helpful to them, since the chances of a prefect template being created by sheer accident in an explosion is absurd. Certainly this should give us Pause to think.

Now of course the atheist will say "This is argument from incredulity, since the universe is here, that must be what happened. But this is merely begging the question.

C. Universe is Improbable

1) Coincidence of the Universal Constants

Bradley again:

"One of the remarkable discoveries of the past 30 years has been the recognition that small changes in any of the universal constants produce surprisingly dramatic changes in the universe, rendering it unsuitable for life, not just as we know it, but for life of any conceivable type. In excess of 100 examples have been documented in the technical literature and summarized in such books as the Anthropic Cosmological Principle (1986)".

"Slight variations in physical laws such as gravity or electromagnetism would make life impossible . . . the necessity to produce life lies at the center of the universe's whole machinery and design," stated John Wheeler, Princeton University professor of physics (Reader's Digest, Sept., 1986). "University of Virginia astronomers R.T. Rood and J.S. Trefil conclude their book Are We Alone? estimating the probability of life existing anywhere in the universe to be one in a billion, and thus conclude the existence of life on planet earth, far from being inevitable, is the result of a remarkable set of coincidences."

"If I were a religious man," Trefil wrote in the concluding chapter, "I would say that everything we have learned about life in the past twenty years shows that we are unique, and therefore, special in God's sight." Instead he concludes that life on planet earth is a remarkable accident, unlikely to have been replicated anywhere else in the universe, which his book powerfully argues."

2) Initial Conditions


"Initial condition problems are found in many places in our scenario of the origin of the universe, its development into a suitable home for us, and the origin of life. These initial condition problems have, in fact, grown much worse with the recognition that many critical processes in the origins scenario are nonlinear, and therefore, require particularly precise initial conditions. Trefil and Rood's book cited above mentions some of these problems in detail. I will also discuss, briefly, initial conditions problems having to do with the origin of the universe and the origin of life. In summarizing this section, it is clear that there does appear to be something unique and special about our home in the universe and our existence in it."

Andrei Linde,Scientific American. Oct 97
[explaining problems with the BB for which the new inflationary model is proposed. The first problem listed above--that the universe pops into existence out of nothing]

a) something from nothing

b) Flatness of Universe

"A second trouble spot is the flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude."

c) Size of Universe--Plank Density

"A similar discrepancy between theory and observations concerns the size of the universe. Cosmological examinations show that our part of the universe contains at least IO^88 elementary particles. But why is the universe so big? If one takes a universe of a typical initial size given by the Planck length and a typical initial density equal to the Planck density, then, using the standard big bang theory, one can calculate how many elementary particles such a universe might encompass. The answer is rather unexpected: the entire universe should only be large enough to accommodate just one elementary particle or at most 10 of them. it would be unable to house even a single reader of Scientific American, who consists of about 10^29 elementary particles. Obviously something is wrong with this theory."

d) Timing of expansion

"The fourth problem deals with the timing of the expansion. In its standard form, the big bang theory assumes that all parts of the universe began expanding simultaneously. But how could all the different parts of the universe synchronize the beginning of their expansion? Who gave the command?

e)Distribution of matter in the universe

"Fifth, there is the question about the distribution of matter in the universe. on the very large scale, matter has spread out with remarkable uniformity. Across more than 10 billion light-years, its distribution departs from perfect homogeneity by less than one part in 10,000..... One of the cornerstones of the standard cosmology was the 'cosmological principle," which asserts that the universe must be homogeneous. This assumption. however, does not help much, because the universe incorporates important deviations from homogeneity, namely. stars, galaxies and other agglomerations of matter. Thence, we must explain why the universe is so uniform on large scales and at the same time suggest some mechanism that produces galaxies."

f) The "Uniqueness Problem"

"Finally, there is what I call the uniqueness problem. Albert Einstein captured its essence when he said: "What really interests him is whether God had any choice in the creation of the world." Indeed, slight changes in the physical constants of nature could have made the universe unfold in a completely, different manner. ..... In some theories, compactification can occur in billions of different ways. A few years ago it would have seemed rather meaningless to ask why space-time has four dimensions, why the gravitational constant is so small or why the proton is almost 2,000 times heavier than the electron. New developments in elementary particle physics make answering these questions crucial to understanding the construction of our world."

Now Linde is confident that the new inflationary theories will explain all of this, and indeed states that their purpose is to revolve the ambiguity with which cosmologists are forced to cope. The Scalar field is supposed to explain all of this; but these inflationary models are still on the drawing board. Moreover, he never says where scalar fields come from, what makes them, and indeed never illustrates how they solve the initial problem of where it all came form in the first place. Finally, it seems that scalar fields would be a design feature that should trouble Linde as much as the initial problems, since he compares them the circuit breaker of a house which keeps the universe from heating up too fast before it can expand. Moreover, they might be arbitrary necessities (see argument I).


a) Proton Mass

DeYoung again:

"First, consider the mass of the proton. Such a property of an elementary particle might at first seem of trivial significance. However, closer inspection reveals that the proton's mass has been exactly chosen to provide both its own stability and that of the entire universe. In contrast, a free neutron (n), a slightly heavier particle, decays to a proton, an electron, and an antineutrino with a half-life of just twelve minutes. Free neutrons simply cannot persist in nature."

"However, if the mass of a proton were somehow increased by just 0.2%, then the proton would become the unstable particle. It would quickly decay to a neutron, positron, and neutrino: This second reaction does not occur, but it would if the proton were just slightly heavier. The implications are truly universal. Of chief significance, the hydrogen nucleus is just a single proton. Thus the hypothesized rapid decay of protons would destroy all hydrogen atoms. Furthermore, hydrogen is a major component of our bodies, as well as water molecules, the sun, and all other stars. Hydrogen is, after all, the dominant element of the universe. It is obvious that the proton's mass has been wisely planned to be slightly smaller than that of a neutron, to prevent the collapse of the universe. Also, protons are not subject to the influence of mutation or natural selection. Their physical properties were chosen from the beginning and have not changed."

b) Gravitational Force.

De Young:

"A second example of design involves the basic forces of nature. One of these is the law of universal gravitation. According to this law, all masses are found to attract each other with a force F which is inversely proportional to the square of a separation distance, r, between the masses. Discovered by Isaac Newton 300 years ago, this fundamental force holds the universe together. Gravity maintains the moon's orbit around the earth, the earth's orbit around the sun, and also the rotation of the entire Milky Way galaxy." "Scientists have always wondered about the factor 2 in this equation. As Science News put it, this relation "has always seemed a little too neat. Is the exponent some fraction near two, which would be messy but might seem more empirical?"3 In an evolved universe, one would not expect such a simple relationship. Why is the factor so exact; why not 1.99 or 2.001? The gravity force has been repeatedly tested with sensitive torsion balances, showing that the factor is indeed precisely 2, at least to five decimal places, 2.00000. As with the proton's mass, any value other than 2 would lead to an eventual catastrophic decay of orbits and of the entire universe. The gravity force clearly displays elegant and essential design."

c) Strength of Electrical Charges

*Attraction and repulsion of electrical charges.

"This Coulomb force also is found to vary as the inverse square of the distance between the charges. Since the electric force is much stronger than gravity, the factor 2 can be measured to a much greater precision than that of gravity. Thus far the electric force distance dependence has been measured as exactly 2, to 16 decimal places: 2.000000000000000! 4 In other words, the factor in the force equation once again remains exactly 2, to the best limits of scientific testing. These "natural" laws such as gravity and electricity might better be called God's laws. They surely reflect His purposeful planning."

4) Link to God

Robert Koons Again:

Once we reach the conclusion that the values of the fundamental constants exist because they are anthropic, some form of theism quickly follows. Why think that any form of explanation for the anthropic coincidences must suppose that these coincidental values exist because they are anthropic? The reason is this: any other hypothesis will fail to explain why the values are anthropic. If, for example, we were able to deduce all of the anthropic values of the fundamental constants from some very simple, all-encompassing Grand Theory of Everything, we would still be faced with a new form of anthropic coincidence: explaining why the actual laws of nature force all of the constants to take anthropic values.

Here's an analogy to illustrate the point. Suppose that we discovered that, hidden within the background radiation pervading the universe, is an encoded version of the proof of a famous theorem, like Gödel's incompleteness theorem. This encoded signal would constitute a remarkable coincidence, requiring some explanation. Suppose further that we were able to prove that the signal exists in the radiation because it was first encoded into the form of the laws of physics. This would not solve the puzzle -- it would only relocate it. Now we would want to know how this information came to be encoded in the laws of physics. Similarly, if the values of the constants are constrained to take anthropic values by the fundamental laws of physics, then these laws themselves are fine-tuned to produce this result. In fact, the coincidence is now greater, in more need of theistic explanation, since it is even more unlikely that the laws of physics would by chance form an elegant system that happens to determine all of the values correctly than that the individual constants should each take the correct value by chance. In fact, discovering an elegant theory that generates all the anthropic values would provide conclusive evidence for theism, since this is a result that the many-worlds hypothesis could not explain. The combination of elegance and anthropicity would be a coincidence demanding explanation in terms of purpose.

Notice that at no point does this argument appeal to any supposed similarity between the setting of the values of the constants and any work of human craftsmanship or design. The argument is not based on extending our experience of the origins of human artifacts to the origins of the universe. In fact, I would go so far as to claim that it would be possible for someone to recognize the existence of intelligent agency for the first time by studying the anthropic coincidences, without ever having recognized the phenomenon of human agency. I would like to propose that we could invert Paley's famous analogy of the man who encounters a watch in the desert and infers that it was designed. Let us imagine a person, The Stranger, who lives in Robinson-Crusoe-like isolation, and who is very un-self-conscious. The very ideas of purpose or intelligence or agency have never occurred to the Stranger, who has instead spent all of his time studying the physics and cosmology of the world. One day, the Stranger discovers the anthropic coincidences, and assuming that they must have a causal explanation, finds that he is forced to introduce a new kind of explanation into his science, one in which a state can be caused, in part, by the tendency of that state to cause some further effect. The Stranger calls this new kind of causal explanation "teleological explanation". The Stranger also adopts a term for the underlying cause of a purposive state: "intelligent agency".

Years later, the Stranger discovers the existence other humans and wanders into a watchmaker's shop. Looking over the shoulder of the watchmaker at his craft, the Stranger cries "Eureka! What I am seeing is strangely reminiscent of the intelligent agency I discovered as the cause of the anthropic coincidences. Apparently, this hairy, bipedal creature is some sort of intelligent agent, and the metallic object he is producing must serve some purpose!"

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By Metacrock. Used with Permission.
For more articles by the same author, see Doxa.