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Anthropic Design Arguments and the Anthropic Principle

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1 Anthropic Design Arguments and the Anthropic Principle

2 Tennant What strikes Tennant as most odd about the universe is the extraordinary list of physical conditions that have to be in place for human life to be possible Human life is only possible because the universe exhibits very precise chemical, thermal and astronomical features, whose origin can be traced back to the Big Bang According to this way of thinking, the likelihood that these chain of events (extending over billions of years and culminating in the appearance of life on Earth and conscious intelligent beings) could occur by pure chance is so unimaginablely low that we’re forced to conclude that there must be a guiding hand behind the process It’s this that leads him to the conclusion that it’s no coincidence that everything on Earth is just right for human existence; God intended it to be that way

3 The Big Bang From the theist’s perspective the work done by scientists on the Big Bang in the past 50+ years has actually strengthened their case for God’s existence After all for even the most primitive of life to occur billions of years after the Big Bang certain very precise and unusual conditions need to be met Is it really conceivable that it was pure chance that brought about these conditions?

4 And it is not just the conditions for life on Earth that are incredibly unlikely. Here are some of the conditions that have been cited as necessary for the emergence of human beings: The Big Bang had to occur exactly as it happened, without variation. The scientist Paul Davies has maintained that if the strength of the initial event had varied by one part in 1060 then there would have been no Big Bang. This is analogous to the accuracy an archer would have to have in order to hit a one-inch target from 20 billion light years away There needs to be a precise balance in the values of constants that govern gravitational force and the weak nuclear force in every atom. Without this there would be no expansion of the universe, and so no formation of stars or planets. Yet it’s been speculated that the 2 forces need to be balanced to an accuracy of one part in 10 thousand billion, billion, billion, billion.

5 Stars must have formed, and within them carbon atoms created from the fusion of hydrogen and helium atoms (carbon is an essential component of organic matter) A life-containing planet, such as Earth, needs to be at a precise distance from the sun in order to have just enough light and heat to maintain life once it has emerged There must be the development of self-replicating DNA in the ‘primeval soup’ on the planet There must take place the same random mutations that led to the natural selection of mammals, and eventually the emergence of our ancestors on the African plains

6 When we consider all the physical conditions that the universe had to possess for humans to evolve then, as Russell Stannard puts it: There seems to be a conspiracy to fix the conditions

7 We can build up the argument as follows –
But, by positing the existence of God, this series of amazing coincidences is explained in one fell swoop: they are not coincidences, but the product of God’s design We can build up the argument as follows – For human life to come into existence certain very specific, and unconnected, physical conditions need to be in place All these physical features are found to be in place in this universe Either these special features have occurred by chance (the Epicurean Hypothesis) or by Intelligent Design (the God Hypothesis) The probability of all these features occurring by coincidence is incredibly small Therefore the most likely explanation for these life-enabling features is Intelligent Design Therefore God exists

8 Anthropic This type of argument can be described as an ‘anthropic teleological argument’, because its premises explore those special features of the universe needed to produce human beings ‘Anthropic’ means ‘relating to human beings’

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