The Anthropic Principle
The anthropic principle states that overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrates that the precise design and finely balanced fundamental forces governing our Universe argue persuasively that our Universe was either designed by a supernatural intelligence, namely God, or that there are an infinity of Universes that don’t support life and we just happen to exist in the only one that does. The claim by those who admit that our Universe was “fine-tuned” to “one in a trillion” to allow life, but who suggest that we should ignore this evidence, is laughable. If someone was to suggest in any other area of life that we should accept the theoretical (and inevitably unprovable) existence of an infinity of imaginary Universes of which we are the only one that accidentally allows human life, they would be rejected with derision. Their theory of an infinity of other (forever unprovable) Universes demonstrates their absolute determination to reject God, regardless of the evidence.
Professor Paul C. W. Davies, the author of God and the New Physics, wrote that powerful evidence from new scientific discoveries confirmed that the remarkable nature of the known Universe provided only two rationally possible conclusions: 1) a divinely created Universe, or 2) an accidental and randomly formed Universe within an infinite number of other randomly formed Universes that did not contain the conditions required for life. The atheistic scientists acknowledge that it is scientifically impossible to ever find evidence for the existence of a single additional Universe, let alone an infinity of other hypothetical Universes. This assertion of a belief in an infinity of untold trillions of other random Universes takes more faith than to believe in God as Creator. It reveals the pathetic intellectual desperation of those atheists who desire to escape the overwhelming scientific evidence that points to a Creator of our Universe.
Alternatively the numerical coincidences could be regarded as evidence of design. The delicate fine-tuning in the values of the constants, necessary so that the various branches of physics can dovetail so felicitously, might be attributed to God. It is hard to resist the impression that the present structure of the Universe, apparently so sensitive to minor alterations in the numbers, has been rather carefully thought out. Such a conclusion can of course, only be subjective. In the end it boils down to a question of belief. Is it easier to believe in a cosmic designer than the multiplicity of Universes necessary for the weak anthropic principle to work? It is hard to see how either hypothesis could ever be tested in the strict scientific sense. As remarked in the previous chapter, if we cannot visit the other Universes or experience them directly, their possible existence must remain just as much a matter of faith as belief in God. Perhaps future developments in science will lead to more direct evidence for other Universes, but until then, the seemingly miraculous concurrence of numerical values that nature has assigned to her fundamental constants must remain the most compelling evidence for an element of cosmic design. (God and the New Physics, pg. 189)
- The strong nuclear force: Astronomer Sir Martin Rees noted in his book, Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, that the strength of the fundamental strong nuclear force, which expresses the strength of the electrical force that holds atoms together, was precisely balanced and calibrated to the force of gravity to allow the existence of the Universe.
- The weak nuclear force: Sir Martin Rees also commented on another fundamental force in the Universe, the weak nuclear force, that was also precisely calibrated to allow our Universe to exist and humanity to flourish. If the nuclear weak force were even slightly stronger than the expansion force at the moment of Creation it would have burned up all of the hydrogen atoms in the Universe to leave only helium—a result that would have prevented our present Universe and life from ever existing. Rees wrote: Another number, E [the Weak Nuclear Force], whose value is 0.007, defines how firmly atomic nuclei bind together and how all the atoms on Earth were made. Its value reflects the power from the Sun and, more sensitively, how stars transmute hydrogen into all the atoms of the periodic table. Carbon and oxygen are common, whereas gold and uranium are rare, because of what happens in the stars. If E were 0.006 or 0.008, we could not exist. (Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces that Shape Our Universe, pg. 2)
- The gravitation force and electromagnetic force: The extraordinary precise balance between another two fundamental forces, the gravitation force and the electromagnetic force, allows stars like our Sun to exist and radiate energy. The gravitational force holds the star together while the electromagnetic force energizes the star to radiate its energy. The physicist Brandon Carter determined that if the gravitation force were even slightly stronger or weaker, then our Sun would be a red dwarf star or a blue giant, neither of which could provide the energy to sustain life on Earth. Professor Carter calculated that even a tiny adjustment in gravitation force by one part in 10^40 would eliminate the possibility of life on Earth. (Davies, pg. 188) There is an incredible balance and interplay between the fundamental universal forces that govern the nature of atoms, stars, and galaxies. The science writer John Leslie wrote in Universes about the remarkably delicately balanced ratios between these forces. Important, too, is that force strengths and particle masses are distributed across enormous ranges. The nuclear strong force is (roughly) a hundred times stronger than electromagnetism, which is in turn ten thousand times stronger than the nuclear weak force, which is itself some ten thousand billion billion billion times stronger than gravity. So we can well be impressed by any apparent need for a force to be ‘just right’ even to within a factor of ten, let alone to within one part in a hundred or in 10^100—especially when nobody is sure why the strongest force tugs any more powerfully than the weakest. (John Leslie, Universes, pg. 6)
- The amount of matter in the universe: Professor Rees wrote about the significance of the amount of matter existing in the Universe: The cosmic number Ω (omega) measures the amount of material in our Universe—galaxies, diffuse gas, and ‘dark matter’. Ω tells us the relative importance of gravity and expansion energy in the Universe. If this ratio were too high relative to a particular ‘critical’ value, the Universe would have collapsed long ago; had it been too low, no galaxies or stars would have formed. The initial expansion speed seems to have been finely tuned. (Rees, pg. 2) Rees wrote about the astonishing qualities of the Universe that together allowed our present human inhabited Universe to exist. These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a Universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if any one of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. (Rees, pg. 4)
- The elements hydrogen and oxygen are essential: The biologist Dr. Lawrence J. Henderson wrote about the remarkable appearance in our Universe of the absolutely essential elements necessary to the existence of our Universe and human life—hydrogen and oxygen—and the incredible odds against these particular elements being formed by random chance rather than through intelligent design: There is, in truth, not one chance in countless millions of millions that the many unique properties of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and especially of their stable compounds water and carbonic acid, which chiefly make up the atmosphere of a new planet, should simultaneously occur in the three elements otherwise than through the operation of a natural law which somehow connects them together. There is no greater probability that these unique properties should be without due cause uniquely favorable to the organic mechanism. These are no mere accidents; an explanation is to seek. It must be admitted, however, that no explanation is at hand. (Lawrence J. Henderson, The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter, p. 276.) Of course, to anyone who considers this situation objectively, an obvious explanation comes to mind: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth.” Oxygen is absolutely essential to life. It is one of the most reactive elements in that it will quickly combine chemically with other elements. It is the most abundant element on our planet, making up almost 46 percent of the Earth’s crust, as it is found combined with other elements in rock. The rest of the oxygen is found combined with hydrogen in water and making up 21 percent of the atmosphere. (Nitrogen forms virtually all of the rest of the Earth’s atmosphere.) The theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking acknowledged that the fact that the proton in the atom is precisely 1,836 times heavier than the electron is essential to the formation of molecules that are the building blocks of all life. The precise ratio between the proton and the electron is a fundamental number governing our Universe. Hawking stated, “The remarkable fact is that the values of these numbers seem to have been very finely adjusted to make possible the development of life.” (Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time—From the Big Bang to Black Holes, pg. 125)
- The curious nature of water: The astronomer John D. Barrow has written about the significance of the anthropic principle in his book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. He noted that water, one of the most vital elements in the existence for all life, is an incredibly unusual and unlikely element to have formed in our Universe unless it were purposely designed by God. Professor Barrow wrote: Water is actually one of the strangest substances known to science. This may seem a rather odd thing to say about a substance as familiar but it is surely true. Its specific heat, its surface tension, and most of its other physical properties have values anomalously higher or lower than those of any other known material. The fact that its solid phase is less dense than its liquid phase (ice floats) is virtually a unique property. The fact that ice floats allows aquatic life to exist in cold temperature zones. These aspects or the chemical and physical structure of water have been noted before, for instance by the authors of the Bridgewater Treatises in the 1830s and by Henderson in 1913, who also pointed out that these strange properties make water a uniquely useful liquid and the basis for living things. (John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, p. 524) If water as a solid (ice) were not less dense than as a liquid, ice would not float. Without this unique quality marine life would die as water would freeze from the bottom and kill all aquatic creatures in cold climates. Water is the most abundant substance on the Earth’s surface and is essential for all life. The proteins and nucleic acids in DNA that govern all life could not exist without the unique qualities of water.
- The size of the Sun and Earth: The size of the Earth is vital for life to exist. A much smaller planet would not have the gravitational pull to retain the water and atmosphere essential to life. A smaller Earth would produce a much thinner atmosphere that would diminish our protection from the thousands of meteors that daily assault our planet. The thinned atmosphere would produce less protection from the Sun, causing the temperature to rise till life could not flourish. A much larger planet would have a much more powerful gravitational field that would greatly increase the weight of every creature, making life almost impossible. If planet Earth were twice as large, the effect of increased gravity would make every organism on it’s surface weigh eight times what it weighs today. This increased weight would destroy many forms of animal and human life. In addition, if the magnetic forces within our planet were significantly stronger or weaker, life could not exist.
- The distance of the Earth: from the Sun If our Earth were located much farther away from our Sun, we would experience temperatures such as the minus 70°F measured on the planet Mars, and we would freeze. If the Earth were much closer to the Sun, then we would have temperatures like the extremely hot surface of Mercury or the 860-degree temperature on Venus, and we would burn up. Our Earth’s circular orbit is very unusual and it makes life possible on our home planet. All of the other planets in our solar system have elliptical orbits that take them much further away from the Sun for part of their orbit and much closer to the Sun for the other part of their orbit. If our Earth followed an elliptical orbit as the other planets in our solar system do, life would be impossible because it would be too cold for part of the year and far to hot the other part of the year. Our unique circular orbit keeps us 93 million miles from the Sun, precisely the right distance to maintain the temperature range conducive to life.
- The 23-degree inclination of the Earth: Our Earth is tilted from an upright position at a 23-degree inclination. This tilt provides for the seasonal variation that allows such a wide variety of crops to feed life. This 23-degree tilt prevents the North and South Poles from becoming too cold and moderates the high temperatures at the Equator. It has been estimated that almost half of the Earth’s surface would become uninhabitable without the tilt of the Earth. Without the tilt, less than half of the present land used for cultivation of crops would grow vegetables.
- The rotation speed of the Earth: Our Earth rotates at 1,002 miles per hour, which allows our planet to rotate completely once every twenty-four hours. If our planet did not rotate, then one-half of the stationary Earth facing the Sun would become so hot that no vegetation or any other life could possibly survive. The side of the non-rotating planet facing away from the Sun would be so cold that life could not exist. Why does everything in our Universe, from galaxies to our solar system, orbit at precisely the correct velocity to perfectly counterbalance the force of gravity? If the velocity of our solar system’s planets or our massive, revolving Milky Way galaxy, with its 300+ billion stars, was slightly less than the force of gravity, then the various components would rapidly be drawn by gravity toward the center of the system. This would result in each system’s collapse and destruction. If the velocity of each orbiting system were slightly greater than gravity, the components would fly apart into space, thus destroying each system. When we consider the remarkable balance between velocity and gravity that exists in billions of systems throughout the Universe, we are forced to admit that there is no reason why this elaborately tuned and balanced system should exist unless a divine Creator supernaturally designed it. A precise controlling power is thus demonstrated to be holding together every astronomical system throughout the known Universe.
- The balance of gasses in Earth’s atmosphere: The atmosphere of the Earth is composed of precisely the right gasses necessary for life to flourish. In addition, these gasses exist in precisely the correct ratio to facilitate the complex biological processes that are essential for the enormously complex demands of plant and animal life as well as for humans. The atmosphere is composed of: 78 percent nitrogen, 21 percent oxygen, a small amount of other gasses, and water. Sigmund Brouwer wrote, in his book The Unrandom Universe (pg. 64), that the odds against this essential atmosphere together with the water cycle forming on Earth by random chance alone are approximately one chance in a hundred trillion trillion.
- The existence of carbon: All life systems on Earth are based on the existence of the element known as carbon. However, scientists discovered that it is extremely unlikely that carbon could have come into existence by random chance in the beginning of the Universe. Professor Steven Weinberg wrote about the absolute necessity of carbon for life to exist at all. Life as we know it would be impossible if any one of several physical quantities had slightly different values. The best known of these quantities is the energy of one of the excited states of the carbon 12 nucleus. There is an essential step in the chain of nuclear reactions that build up heavy elements in stars. (Steven Weinberg, “Life in the Universe,” Scientific American (October 1994) p. 49) In the first fraction of a second following the Big Bang, the Universe consisted only of hydrogen and helium. However, the collision of a helium nucleus with another helium nucleus produced an extremely short-lived and very unstable new element called beryllium. Another helium nucleus then collided with the beryllium nucleus, producing a new element: carbon. All of this took place in the first second of God’s Creation. A Harvard University astronomer, Robert Kirshner, wrote, “A delicate match between the energies of helium, the unstable beryllium and the resulting carbon allows the last to be created. Without this process, we would not be here.” (Robert Kirshner, “The Earth’s Elements,” Scientific American (October 1994), pg. 61) The incredibly unlikely creation of carbon also resulted in the formation of all of the other heavy elements in the Universe that are essential for life to exist, including nitrogen and oxygen. The astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle admitted that, when he considered how totally unlikely it was that the element carbon could have been formed by accident, his atheism was shaken to the core. He wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol. 20, 1982, p. 1–35, 16)
The accumulated evidence supporting the intelligent design of the Universe and the anthropic principle is convincing many leading scientists to abandon atheistic, materialistic worldview and accept the fact that our Universe is the purposeful creation of God. Dr. Chandra Wickramasinghe, one of the most eminent scientists in Britain, has stated that the anthropic principle strongly supports the theory of God’s special creation. When he was asked if his scientific research proved that Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution was fatally flawed, he agreed. When asked how he would evaluate the scientific arguments of the Creationists, who suggest that only God could have created the Universe and life itself, Professor Wickramasinghe responded, “You mean the arguments that are justifications of their position? I think they have a very good case by and large.” (Chandra Wickramasinghe, The Intellectuals Speak out about God, (Chicago:Regnery Gateway, 1984), 36) Significantly, the most respected physicist in the world, Stephen Hawking, summarized the implications of his remarkable discoveries about the Universe’s first moments.
The odds against a Universe like ours emerging out of something like the big bang are enormous.… I think clearly there are religious implications whenever you start to discuss the origins of the Universe. There must be religious overtones. But I think most scientists prefer to shy away from the religious side of it. [Stephen Hawking, quoted by John Boslough, Masters of Time-Cosmology at the End of Innocence (New York: Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1992), p. 55]
[Information from Chapter 4 of Creation: Remarkable Evidence of God’s Design, by Grant R. Jeffery. The information presented is for non-profit, educational purposes only.]