Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Ridiculousness of the Anthropic Principle Argument

I have never understood how people use the Anthropic principle as a basis for arguing intelligent design. This principle seems tautological to me. If the universe could not support life, then there would be no intelligent life to recognize that the universe could not support it.

But even beside this point, the argument that the Universe had been 'designed' to support human life seems weak to the point of being ridiculous. The entire vast expanse of the Universe is completely inhospitable to Earthly life forms. Carbon based life cannot naturally survive outside of Earth, an insignificant planet of a minor star on the outskirt of one of the millions of galaxies in the universe. Additionally, no other intelligent or non-intelligent life forms have ever been detected anywhere else in the Universe. Does this seem like a place 'designed' for life?

Contrast this with Earth where anywhere you turn, life abounds. From the depths of the oceans, to the top of mountain ranges, from hot geisers to frozen tundras. Life is everywhere. Surely, if the Universe had been designed to support life, we would see the same throughout the entire Universe?


Blogger -suitepotato- said...

I understand your POV. Intelligent Design Anthropics is the idea that because the way the universe turned out seems like such a giant random outcome, and that there's such a narrow range we could have come to exist within, that it MUST have meant a creator.

Obviously one doesn't follow from the other.

However, the way the physics laws work virtually guarantees a universe full of carbon, calcium, hydrogen, oxygen, and other elements necessary for organic lifeforms such as us. Give then size of the universe and the observed uniformity of the laws of physics, it shows that the universe if anything is virtually guaranteed to be teeming with organic carbon based lifeforms based on the sheer number of chances for it vis a vis the materials and conditions needed.

That doesn't say creator specifically interested in us but having a thing for one set of laws of physics. But if the many universes theory is correct, there should be an infinity of infinitely different universes which should be variously empty of any life, and others teeming with infinitely different life.

It doesn't say intelligent design to me as much as G-d likes making pot luck dinner menus.

December 11, 2008 1:25 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

The problem that I have with the whole thing is that it is trying to be predictive based on very limited understanding of the underlying mechanism and almost no data. We have no idea how the universe got started. Right now the prevailing theory is that the universe will keep expanding. But I say, it is conceivable that in another 30 billion years the Universe will contract. No one can prove me wrong, all you can say is based on our current understanding that will not happen.

It is possible that prior to the formation of our universe, there were 100 billion other universes that were created and collapsed on themselves due to the fact that they were not stable. Maybe they collapsed in seconds, maybe they collapsed in billions of years. That is just as likely in my mind as a multiverse theory...

December 11, 2008 1:41 PM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

"That is just as likely in my mind as a multiverse theory..."

Why not say God did it? We have evidence of God - Mount Sinai. No evidence of a multiverse.

December 12, 2008 6:13 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

JP, I am looking for arguments against the AP in this post, not necessarily for other theories.

December 12, 2008 7:07 AM  
Blogger jewish philosopher said...

I don't think there really are any valid arguments.

Generally what bothers me about atheism is the tendancy to constantly claim "This looks like A, but it's really B." Life looks like it was designed, but it really wasn't; it evolved. The universe looks like it was fine tuned for life to exist, but it really wasn't; it is part of a multiverse. Why not say "I look like I'm in New York, but I'm really not. I am in Paris but I'm hallucinating that I'm in New York."

December 12, 2008 7:57 AM  
Blogger Holy Hyrax said...

Ya, , you and Hitchens hold the same view almost to a "T."

In the end, its really about POV and how you look at it.

December 14, 2008 8:04 PM  
Blogger -suitepotato- said...

Or there's been a transinfinity of universes that have been and gone.

The point is that what you make of it is what you make of it.

Just remember that the ultimate point is that faith is a belief you choose of your own free will. It can neither be proven nor disproven even if it is a belief that red is brown and down is up. It is a belief freely chosen. And in the end, that ability to choose for yourself whatever it is that you do choose, can't be taken away.

Don't lower faith to the level of facts and figures where it is up for proof or disproof. Stop saying we have proof with Sinai. Other people said it happened. You weren't there. And besides, it doesn't matter if you were. You CHOOSE to believe it. Let that be enough.

December 16, 2008 5:21 PM  

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