Anthropic Principle

@lord_chilled and I were talking about this the other day. Rather than consistently having to write in brief responses I thought it would be best to continue with myTakes discussing the arguments for god/s. This is another form of the teleological argument, and will be my second myTake covering it.

Admittedly this argument never convinced me, not even when I was a theist. It was so blatantly obvious to me that it was fallacious that I never argued it, but the more I talk to people the more I realize that it is convincing to a decent number of people. Hopefully this Take will elaborate why it never convinced me.

What is it?

The Anthropic Principle has also been referred to as the Just Right argument, or the Fine Tuning argument. The basic claim of every version of this argument is that the Universe is just right, or finely tuned for human life. This necessitates an intelligent creator, and could not be the result of natural phenomena. Frequently it will be formed as a tautology:Anthropic Principle

"Creation requires a creator! Intelligent design requires a designer!"

These tautologies are the most frequent form of this argument that I hear. This is problematic. It's problematic because it smuggles in the idea that they're attempting to demonstrate into the premise. This is called begging the question and it is a logical fallacy. I think that often this isn't known, but implying that the universe is created, or designed needs to be demonstrated, and as of yet this has not been done. Once this is pointed theists may say, ok, well you're right. It's more probable though that the universe is created than not created.

Anthropic Principle

What is the probability?

As stated before, some people will then attempt to give an example of how improbable our universe or life forming would be on a naturalistic explanation, "it’s so staggeringly unlikely that Earth would be just the right size, distance from the sun, elemental composition, etc." Often some of the probabilities given are 10^400. I remember in high school learning about this argument, and think it was portrayed as, "Imagine the odds of winning the lottery. This is an incredibly low probability right? Imagine winning two in a row, you may think it likely that somebody has designed these circumstances, there's no way you won twice in a row just by chance. Well, the odds of life coming about in this universe would be like winning the lottery 100 times in a row! This obviously did not happen by chance."

Problems:

1.) One of the first problems that comes to mind when somebody says this is what the probability of god is. To say that one proposition is more likely than another you need to have the odds of both to compare. Ie. I have two dice. One die is three sided and is numbered 1-3, and the other die is two sided and numbered 1 and 2. If I wanted to determine which die was more likely to allow me to roll a 1I would compare the probability of the two. In this case the probability would be .33 and .5 thus it is more probable that I will roll a 1 on the second die. In this case even presupposing that the number 10^400 is correct we have no known probability of a god existing and wanting to create a universe with life. Thus, even if the probability of life existing is .0000...01 we would never be able to say it was more likely that this universe came into existence under the god hypothesis because we simply don't have that probability.

2.) There is another problem with these calculations in that we have no idea what the necessary preconditions for life are. We do know in what sort of conditions that we can live, but we aren't the only example of life, and we don't know that if the conditions of the universe were different that we wouldn't have evolved differently. For example thermophiles can live in incredibly different circumstances than we could.

3.) I briefly touched on this with the last point, but another problem with this argument is that it is working backwards. We know that organisms adapt to their environment. Imagine that one day a rain puddle gained sentience. It may look at the hole it's in and determine, "Oh look, this hole is made just for me. It's so incredibly improbable that this hole could fit me just perfectly unless it was made for me!" The problem that you hopefully note with this scenario is that in fact the hole was not designed for the water, rather the water filled up and took it's shape based on the hole.

Anyways as always thanks! Input appreciated.


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  • I had these discussions with several people, unfortunately I never manage to properly articulate these exact arguments you made when I'm not prepared.

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Most Helpful Guy

  • " The basic claim of every version of this argument is that the Universe is just right, or finely tuned for human life. "
    Try to survive in some parts of Africa, on the Moon or on Mars.
    Nothing perfect for humans in Universe. Humans survive DESPITE the environment.

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    • Exactly, the universe is only 4% matter. Of the actual stuff that's in the universe the vast majority of it we can't live on (ie suns). The out of all the planets we know of there's we're only on one, and even more 70% of our planet we can't live in (under water). Of the land masses left Antartica we can't live on. Etc.
      It's quite silly to say that the universe is hospitable to life.

    • Not to mention entropy is always increasing meaning everything will die on day.

    • @Deathraider Milky Way is on a collision course with andromeda too

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What Guys Said 8

  • Well, we have sort of had our debate about this. But I just want to point out a few issues with the logic for those who have read your position and don't understand it fully.

    1. Theists who argue the probability of God may not understand their "faith" fully. "Faith" isn't supposed to be based upon probabilities.

    2. We don't know what the preconditions for life are. The fine-tuning question is something posed by physicists. I think many theists have piggy-backed on top of that argument in their futile attempt at "proving" God exists.

    3. As for this example, there are not many physicists buying it. Because they believe in natural law. Natural law must be shown clearly as the reason how the universe came into being. We have all of these theories that are not being proved by experimentation or they simply cannot be proven because they make predictions that we cannot test.

    If our universe evolved uniquely, scientists "believe" they must show how natural law created this unique universe in which we can live. I think your post shows just how little is known about just how unique this universe is.

    We are not talking about modifications that slightly change how the earth would evolve or how hot the Sun could get.

    We are talking about incredibly small changes in the constants that could cause atoms not to form. Or a universe that never expands, or that the universe expands so fast that there isn't any material left to form galaxies or stars.

    We are talking about modifications to gravity where it is too weak to form a planet. Or where the universe stays in a hot plasma state.

    When we talk about modifying the perfectly tuned universal constants, we are talking about a universe that is drastically different, by changing something by a degree of 1 in 10^400. That is fine-tuning that cannot be explained away. And this does not come from me, this comes from one of the leading theorists in the world, Leonard Susskind.

    i.pinimg.com/.../...8788f91a00a2d01ea2bd3e65da.jpg

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    • Thanks for the response, I'm glad that someone took a contrary position. It at least shows that you actually care. I don't think that you payed attention, or at least you didn't provide a rebuttal other than, "it's not about probabilities, but it is more probable."
      Susskind has been called out by Smolins and others for coming up with an untestable hypothesis and presenting it as fact. Again, we have no idea what the requirements for life are. It is again smuggling in the conclusion in your premise. It is making the presumption that the universe was designed by us which is unjustifiable.
      Even his quote points out something interesting, "The laws of physics... are ALMOST always." Guess what, the vast vast majority of our universe is deadly. we only even see life on a fraction of a fraction of a percent. That hardly seems like a universe tailor-made for life.

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    • Then we agree, this argument is pointless and not convincing lol XD

    • I told you that, oh so long ago.

      But good luck.

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  • Concerning the probability of whether God exists, that would be a 50/50. Either He exists or He doesn't.

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    • Is there a 50% chance that Pete the god devouring penguin exists?

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    • 1/2 or 1:1 or 50/50 or 50% or another equivalent. Again though, who cares what the odds are of your existence if choosing on possibility over the other is objectively better? Nothing would matter if you find out you don't exist, but believing you don't exist when you do exist can be extremely dangerous.

    • Alrighty

  • good take.

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  • Noice

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  • Spot on.

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  • Great take!

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  • hahahahahaha lol what a fucking joke
    shut the fuck up you worthless piece of shit

    2 Thessalonians 2:11
    And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie and be damned, for they had pleasure in unrighteousness

    I invented how to teach lessons to slow learns
    but go ahead keep acting up
    you will become a bitch one day I know you will
    either from GOD or if you ever run into me lol

    fucking idiots lol

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