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THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE
Anthropic (Greek for man) means to be linked to the science and study of
mankind. The Anthropic Principle was first suggested by F.R. Tennant
(1874-1957), who argued that life on earth exists because the laws that
govern the universe have particular features that contribute to make life
The argument claims that the cosmos is constructed for the development
of intelligent life. If the initial conditions of the universe been otherwise
we humans (anthropoi) would not have existed to observe and reflect upon
these conditions. The slightest fluctuation in these conditions would
create a universe without intelligent life.
In his book, `Philosophical Theology' (1930), he stated that,
"The forcibleness of nature's suggestion that she is the outcome of intelligent
design lies not in particular cases of adaptness in the world, nor even in the
multiplicity of them...it consists rather in the conspiration of innumerable causes to
produce, by either united and reciprocal action, and to maintain, a general order of
Nature. Narrower kinds of teleological arguments, based on surveys of restricted
spheres of fact, are much more precarious than that for which the name of `the
wider teleology' may be appropriate in that the comprehensive design-argument is the
outcome of synopsis or conspection of the knowable world."
Charles Darwin's theory of evolution describes the process by which species
develop; but it cannot explain why there are species in the first place.
Tennant questioned how it could be that at a particular moment in time, so
many disparate factors came together to create a world uniquely suited to be
the home of living beings? Tennant believed it was absurd to suppose that a structure
as complex as the universe could arise from the accumulation of vast numbers of small
He stated that it is ridiculous to suppose that a dice which consistently
throws a six is no loaded; it is logically possible but extremely unlikely.
Is it not preferable, then, to suppose that creation itself was `loaded' by
a designing intelligence? More recently Sir Fred Hoyle (1981)
discussed his `steady state theory', he calculated that the chance of randomly obtaining
all two thousand enzymes in some kind of primeval soup was one part of 10 40,000, which
made the old idea of special creation a far more likely possibility.
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The anthropic principle developed into two forms:
The weak anthropic principle
It says the conditions required for life in the universe happen to have occurred. The
`weak' form argues simply that, if the world were different, we would not be here.
The strong anthropic principle
It says the conditions required for life are intrinsic to the nature of the universe.
Life was inevitable. The `strong' form argues that the world had to be as it is, in order
for us to be here.…read more