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TOPIC: The anthropic principle

The anthropic principle 4 years 3 months ago #91723

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As an amateur astronomer and someone who is really interested in astrophysics, I can't say that the universe doesn't surprise me, but one of the things that makes me think a lot about our purpose here is what scientists call the "anthropic principle". I'm not going to explain it in depth right now, since I'm still working on a video on it, but experimental particle physicist Dr. Michael Strauss (who is also a Christian) published a great entry on his blog, which I want to share with you. I also recommend reading his blog, since he has some GREAT material. He also relates it to God, so it is worth reading this.

NOTE: I DON'T approve the abuse of this principle, just as atheist particle physicist and philosopher Victor J. Stenger did, so be careful.

"Most of the readers of this blog have probably heard about the anthropic principle and the fine-tuning of the universe. However, because future posts will discuss the ramifications and speculations about fine-tuning, I thought it would be prudent to give a brief overview of these topics. Although not identical, the anthropic principle and the fine-tuning are definitely related.

The anthropic principle takes different forms, but is basically the idea that the universe has the necessary conditions for the existence of any conscious being that is able to observe the universe. These conditions could, in principle, be very narrow or very broad in their scope. Many of the observations about the anthropic nature of our universe were developed beginning in the 1960's and continue to this day. Perhaps the most definitive book on the subject was written in 1986 by John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. The authors actually develop four anthropic principles with the first one, the Weak Anthropic Principle, being the most well known and uncontroversial principle, "The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirements that the universe be old enough for it to have already done so"1

Although the parameters required for life to exist could, in theory, span a large or small range, it turns out that many of the parameters necessary for life to exist in our universe must fall within a very narrow region, or the universe would either not exist or not be able to support life. The fact that the conditions for life fall into such a narrow range, plus the many incredible mechanisms that give rise to the needed building blocks of life, constitute the fine-tuning of the universe.

I liken the finely-tuned universe to a panel that controls the parameters of the universe with about 100 knobs that can be set to certain values. If you turn any knob just a little to the right or to the left the result is either a universe that is inhospitable to life or no universe at all.

Consider the knob that controls the strength of the strong nuclear force that holds quarks inside the neutrons and protons and binds the nucleus of the atom together. If the strength were increased by 2%, the element hydrogen would be either non-existent or very rare. Without hydrogen there would be no water (H2O) or stars that burn hydrogen as their nuclear fuel like our sun. Without hydrogen there would be no life. If the strength of the strong nuclear force were decreased by about 5%, then hydrogen would be the only element in the universe. That would simplify the periodic table and make Chemistry class very easy, but it would render life impossible.

All known life in this universe is based on the element carbon, which is formed in the final stages of a star's life. The carbon you and I are made of is the result of the nuclear processes that occurred as previous stars ended their lives. One nice recent study showed that if the mass of the quarks that make up neutrons and protons were changed by just a few percent, then the process that makes carbon as stars die would be altered in such a way that there would not be sufficient carbon in the universe for life. The masses of the lightest sub-atomic quarks are the precise value that is required for carbon to form and for life to exist.2

There are many more aspects of the universe that seem finely tuned to allow life to exists, some of which I will discuss in future posts. I find that, in general, there are three major responses among scientists who comment on the unlikelihood of a universe so well tuned. The first is simply an acknowledgement that the universe seems finely-tuned but a lethargic attitude that accepts this as a necessary requirement for existence without any further analysis. To me this attitude is similar to a condemned criminal who is sentenced to die in front of a firing squad, but is not surprised that all 100 sharpshooters missed him when they fired. He simply says, "Well if it was any other way I wouldn't be here to talk about it." The second response is a belief that there are many universes that exist (a multiverse) and that we just happen to be in one that is capable of supporting life. Although there is no evidence for any other universes, this is a commonly held belief that I will talk about more in a future post. In any case, I don't find the idea of a multiverse threatening to the third alternative.

The third alternative is that the universe looks finely-tuned because it is actually designed. This seems to be the most straightforward interpretation of the facts. It seems reasonable that a universe which looks designed and tweaked really is. As with other topics that have been discussed in this blog we see that the scientific evidence aligns perfectly with the hypothesis that there actually is a God who created the universe. It could have been different. We could be living in a universe in which the "knobs" have a wide range of settings that support life and could be randomly set. But we do not live in such a universe. We live in one with a very narrow range of values for dozens of knobs all set in just the right place. The scientific evidence shows a universe that appears to have an architect and designer behind it all who has tweaked nature's numbers to create a life-friendly universe. This adds to the the abundant evidence from science that, I believe, is best explained by a transcendent, personal God."

1Barrow, John D. Tipler, Frank J. (1988). The Anthropic Cosmological Principle . Oxford University Press.
2Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo A. Lähde, Dean Lee, and Ulf-G. Meißner "Viability of Carbon-Based Life as a Function of the Light Quark Mass, Physical Review Letters 110, 112502, (2013).

Source: www.michaelgstrauss.com/2017/04/an-intro...ropic-principle.html

Dr. Strauss mentions John Barrow and Frank Tipler's book "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle", which is a great read, but has some very complicated math, it is long and some of the equations are outdated (it was written in 1986), but there is some fantastic information there.

Here you have the Wikipedia article for more information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle
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The anthropic principle 4 years 1 month ago #92452

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hey, this is actually pretty interesting! it took me a minute to understand everything (and I'll probably have to go through it again :whistle: ) but this is some pretty cool information if you take the time to read it. :cheer:
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The anthropic principle 4 years 1 month ago #92639

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archicastor1 wrote:
As an amateur astronomer and someone who is really interested in astrophysics, I can't say that the universe doesn't surprise me, but one of the things that makes me think a lot about our purpose here is what scientists call the "anthropic principle". I'm not going to explain it in depth right now, since I'm still working on a video on it, but experimental particle physicist Dr. Michael Strauss (who is also a Christian) published a great entry on his blog, which I want to share with you. I also recommend reading his blog, since he has some GREAT material. He also relates it to God, so it is worth reading this.

NOTE: I DON'T approve the abuse of this principle, just as atheist particle physicist and philosopher Victor J. Stenger did, so be careful.

"Most of the readers of this blog have probably heard about the anthropic principle and the fine-tuning of the universe. However, because future posts will discuss the ramifications and speculations about fine-tuning, I thought it would be prudent to give a brief overview of these topics. Although not identical, the anthropic principle and the fine-tuning are definitely related.

The anthropic principle takes different forms, but is basically the idea that the universe has the necessary conditions for the existence of any conscious being that is able to observe the universe. These conditions could, in principle, be very narrow or very broad in their scope. Many of the observations about the anthropic nature of our universe were developed beginning in the 1960's and continue to this day. Perhaps the most definitive book on the subject was written in 1986 by John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle. The authors actually develop four anthropic principles with the first one, the Weak Anthropic Principle, being the most well known and uncontroversial principle, "The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon-based life can evolve and by the requirements that the universe be old enough for it to have already done so"1

Although the parameters required for life to exist could, in theory, span a large or small range, it turns out that many of the parameters necessary for life to exist in our universe must fall within a very narrow region, or the universe would either not exist or not be able to support life. The fact that the conditions for life fall into such a narrow range, plus the many incredible mechanisms that give rise to the needed building blocks of life, constitute the fine-tuning of the universe.

I liken the finely-tuned universe to a panel that controls the parameters of the universe with about 100 knobs that can be set to certain values. If you turn any knob just a little to the right or to the left the result is either a universe that is inhospitable to life or no universe at all.

Consider the knob that controls the strength of the strong nuclear force that holds quarks inside the neutrons and protons and binds the nucleus of the atom together. If the strength were increased by 2%, the element hydrogen would be either non-existent or very rare. Without hydrogen there would be no water (H2O) or stars that burn hydrogen as their nuclear fuel like our sun. Without hydrogen there would be no life. If the strength of the strong nuclear force were decreased by about 5%, then hydrogen would be the only element in the universe. That would simplify the periodic table and make Chemistry class very easy, but it would render life impossible.

All known life in this universe is based on the element carbon, which is formed in the final stages of a star's life. The carbon you and I are made of is the result of the nuclear processes that occurred as previous stars ended their lives. One nice recent study showed that if the mass of the quarks that make up neutrons and protons were changed by just a few percent, then the process that makes carbon as stars die would be altered in such a way that there would not be sufficient carbon in the universe for life. The masses of the lightest sub-atomic quarks are the precise value that is required for carbon to form and for life to exist.2

There are many more aspects of the universe that seem finely tuned to allow life to exists, some of which I will discuss in future posts. I find that, in general, there are three major responses among scientists who comment on the unlikelihood of a universe so well tuned. The first is simply an acknowledgement that the universe seems finely-tuned but a lethargic attitude that accepts this as a necessary requirement for existence without any further analysis. To me this attitude is similar to a condemned criminal who is sentenced to die in front of a firing squad, but is not surprised that all 100 sharpshooters missed him when they fired. He simply says, "Well if it was any other way I wouldn't be here to talk about it." The second response is a belief that there are many universes that exist (a multiverse) and that we just happen to be in one that is capable of supporting life. Although there is no evidence for any other universes, this is a commonly held belief that I will talk about more in a future post. In any case, I don't find the idea of a multiverse threatening to the third alternative.

The third alternative is that the universe looks finely-tuned because it is actually designed. This seems to be the most straightforward interpretation of the facts. It seems reasonable that a universe which looks designed and tweaked really is. As with other topics that have been discussed in this blog we see that the scientific evidence aligns perfectly with the hypothesis that there actually is a God who created the universe. It could have been different. We could be living in a universe in which the "knobs" have a wide range of settings that support life and could be randomly set. But we do not live in such a universe. We live in one with a very narrow range of values for dozens of knobs all set in just the right place. The scientific evidence shows a universe that appears to have an architect and designer behind it all who has tweaked nature's numbers to create a life-friendly universe. This adds to the the abundant evidence from science that, I believe, is best explained by a transcendent, personal God."

1Barrow, John D. Tipler, Frank J. (1988). The Anthropic Cosmological Principle . Oxford University Press.
2Evgeny Epelbaum, Hermann Krebs, Timo A. Lähde, Dean Lee, and Ulf-G. Meißner "Viability of Carbon-Based Life as a Function of the Light Quark Mass, Physical Review Letters 110, 112502, (2013).

Source: www.michaelgstrauss.com/2017/04/an-intro...ropic-principle.html

Dr. Strauss mentions John Barrow and Frank Tipler's book "The Anthropic Cosmological Principle", which is a great read, but has some very complicated math, it is long and some of the equations are outdated (it was written in 1986), but there is some fantastic information there.

Here you have the Wikipedia article for more information: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthropic_principle

Yeah many people at my school are schocked to find out im a creationist after i drone on about ecology, evolution and physics in class. This is it. Probability. Regardless of whether or not you want to believe in Clouds synthesizing non living molecules capable or self replication or singularities having no definite origin for the mass contained inside (ergo the universe has no real "starting point" and has always existed in a state of hyper density or continuous expansion, fluctuating between Big Crunches and BIg Bangs.) you still have to cope with the fact that out universe was an incredibly unlikely cosmic event. Not impossible, just a very small decimal of a percentage. Tl;DR God creating the universe with the intention of creating life makes more sense than us having a universe that expanded in just the right way to have a decent variety of basic elements.
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12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:12
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The anthropic principle 3 years 11 months ago #93250

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And meanwhile I'm over here like, "whaattt??" :blink:
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