Anthropic Apologetics

The anthropic principle was first suggested in 1973 by Cambridge cosmologist, Brandon Carter, much to the delight of deists and theists who have usurped it for their apologetic purposes.

The anthropic (cosmological) principle proposes that if the value of the fundamental constants of physics and chemistry were other than they are, then the life-supporting universe would not exist as we know it.

It goes without saying that if the universe were inhospitable to life, then humans could not have evolved and would not be pondering the nature of cosmic fundamentals. It also seems eminently reasonable to accept the calculations of physicists, which indicate that there is a narrow range of values for the fundamental constants that permit those chemical and physical properties that manifest in this universe. There could indeed be some deep reason, other than randomness, for why the fundamental constants have the values that they exhibit in this universe. However, this said, there is no foundation for a deistic, teleological assumption that the values of fundamental constants were tweaked by SkyBrain so as to ensure abiogenesis and biological evolution.

Let's call this the 'argument from fortuitous fundamentals'. This is, of course, the outcome of arguing from the conclusion that the ancient meme of miraculous interventionist/s has foundation. That is, the anthropic cosmological apology begins with the received assumption that the supernatural exists and proceeds to argue that the fortuitious combination of fundamental values indicates purposeful design interference by God. Theists begin with an acceptance of the mythology and then concoct apologetic arguments to support the conclusion from which they begin their arguments. Such arguments are both unfounded and fatally circular. The anthropic apologetic argument is mathematical prestigitation.

I have adapted the following from Paul Davies', The Goldilocks Enigma:

The possibilities are:
. 1) the fundamental constants could have been otherwise, or
. 2) the fundamental constants could not have been otherwise

If 1), then
. a) this singular universe happened by 'chance',
. b) this universe is one of many (multiverses) in which we happened to have evolved,
.. b ii) in a process of cosmological natural selection, fecund universes have "offspring" which are more plentiful if they happen to have features common to our universe

If 2), then 2) might obtain because:
. c) that just happens to be the way things are,
. d) there is a deep underlying unity in physics which necessitates the universe being this way,
. e) there is an underlying principle that constrains the universe to evolve towards life and mind, . f) perhaps only universes with a capacity for consciousness can exist
. g) an 'intelligent designer' pre-set the constants to fine-tune the universe for life
. h) it's all an illusion and we are living in a virtual reality simulation


and,
i) it could be that the universe progresses through cycles of 'implosion' and 'explosion' in which the fundamental constants gradually progress in value (against this is the fact that our universe appears to be undergoing an accelerating expansion, but this could merely be a novel end-event).

[labels: b='multiverse' bii='cosmological natural selection', c='absurd universe', d='unique universe', e='life principle', f=s'elf-explaining universe', g="IDiocy", h='fake universe', i=my variation]

In Paul Davies' recent NYT article entitled Taking Science on Faith, Davies falsely implies that there are only two possible cosmological explanations – the anthropic apology (g) or multiverses (b). Since Davies expounded on more possibilities in his book, this implication probably reflects space constraints rather than dishonesty or incompleteness.

In reality, there is no good reason to assume that some potent agency exists beyond the fundamentals of existence. It is possible that the fundamental constants could not have been other than they are despite lack of supernatural interference. It is also possible that the constants could have been other than they are, but that the cosmos 'lucked onto' the values that have permitted our evolution. It is beyond the bounds of reasonable possibility that some intelligent agency of sufficient complexity and potency to perform the fine-tuning could exist and yet have proven undetectable. Like all deistic and theistic apologetic arguments, the anthropic apologetic argument fails.

Lee Smolin explains:
The logic of the argument of Weinberg and others runs:

A implies B
B is observed
B, together with theory C implies D.

Here

A is any form of the Anthropic Principle of Principle of Mediocrity, together with assumptions about priors, proabability distributions on universes etc, plus our own existence, that leads to the conclusion that we should observe B.

B is that galaxies have formed.

C is the theory of structure formation,

D is that the cosmological constant is not too large.

The fallacy is not to recognize that the first line plays no role in the argument, and the prediction of D is equally strong if it is dropped. One can prove this by noting that if D were not seen, one would have to question the theory C [assuming the observation is correct, as it certainly is here.] One would have no reason to question either A or the assertion that A implies B.

The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the universe just right for life? Allen Lane, the Penguin Press (2006). Published in the USA by Houghton Mifflin under the title Cosmic Jackpot (2007) . . . taken from Wikipedia, Anthropic principle.

Edge: SMOLIN VS. SUSSKIND: THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE . The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford Paperbacks) by John D. Barrow (Author), Frank J. Tipler (Author), John A. Wheeler (Author)

Google search for 'anthropic'

At Beyond Belief: Enlightenment 2.0 Sean Carroll speaks on the possibility that "something" pre-existed the Big Bang.


apologetics, cosmological argument , cosmology, deism, intelligent design, Paul Davies,

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