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Anthropic principle

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The anthropic principle is the claim that the Universe was prepared from the first moment of existence to the emergence of life as a whole and especially of human life.[1] It is used to develop scientific explanations in cosmology. It originated from observations that the earth uniquely and perfectly meets the requirements for life, and more specifically human life. Anthropic comes from the greek word anthropos (Man). It is often set up as being in opposition to the Copernican Principle.

The very presence of life within the universe is reliant upon a large number of extremely improbable events, and even the slightest alteration would make it impossible for life to exist. Everything from the particular energy state of the electron to the exact level of the weak nuclear force seems to be tailored for us to exist. We appear to live in a universe dependent on several independent variables where only a slight change would render it inhospitable for any form of life. And yet, here we are. In the early 1970s a scientist named Brandon Carter dubbed this line of reasoning the anthropic principle.[2] Proponents of intelligent design draw support from this fact because it strongly suggests that the cosmos has been specifically designed.

Contents

Definitions

The Anthropic Principle was first defined in 1973, during a symposium commemorating Copernicus’s 500th birthday. Brandon Carter had the honesty to proclaim that humanity did indeed hold a special place in the Universe, an assertion that is the exact opposite of the now universally accepted theory that bears Copernicus' name.

In 1986, cosmological scientists John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler (Oxford University Press) published their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, in order to deal with the seemingly incredible coincidences that allow for our presence in a universe. The three primary versions of the principle, as stated in The Anthropic Cosmological Principle by Barrow and Tipler (1986), are:

  • Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP): "The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirements that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so."
  • Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP): "The Universe must have those properties which allow life to develop within it at some stage in its history."[3]
  • Final Anthropic Principle (FAP): "Intelligent information-processing must come into existence in the Universe, and, once it comes into existence, it will never die out."

Falsifiability

Main Article: Falsifiability

Falsifiability may not even be necessary for science, or at least not be necessary for the search for possible truths. For example, the Anthropic Principle is a concept that some respected cosmologists use to explain some of the "fine tuned" features of our observable universe.

It is conceivable that AP is the reason that our universal constants are precisely tuned to allow complex life. Thus non-falsifiable solutions need to be considered. Assume for the moment in a thought experiment that AP is indeed the truth. And also assume that it is impossible to sample the alternative universes within this universe (they may have come before our time). Thus, it is conceivable for a non-falsifiable (non-observable) process to be the "correct" solution. If we reject non-falsifiable solutions, we may be rejecting the correct answer. Being non-observable does not by itself make it a non-answer. Rejecting a concept just because it cannot be falsifiable is like looking for your lost watch only where the lamp shines rather than where it might actually be.

Thus, if no human can conceive of a test that falsifies creationism, that by itself does not disqualify it from being a valid possibility anymore than the potential non-testability of the alternative universes (AP above) by itself makes it the "wrong" answer. If what we call "science" rejects non-testable ideas just because they are non-testable, it may be rejecting the truth. It is inconceivable that any serious thinker would accept such a crippled definition of "science."

References

  1. Geisler, Norman (1999) (in Portuguese). Enciclopédia de Apologética:Respostas aos Críticos da Fé Cristã [Encyclopedia of Apologetics: Responses to Critics of Christian Faith]. São Paulo: Vida. p. 45. ISBN 85-7367-560-8. 
  2. Faulkner, Danny (2004). Universe by Design: An Explanation of Cosmology and Creation. Green Forest, AR: Master Books. p. 39. ISBN 0-89051-415-1. 
  3. Gonzalez, Guillermo; Richards, Jay W (2004). The Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing. p. 266-267. ISBN 0-89526-065-4. 

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