Friday, January 16, 2015

PhysOrg: New evidence for anthropic theory that fundamental physics constants underlie life-enabling universe


There is an article on the PhysOrg site that seems to be reporting support for the anthropic principle, a critical linchpin of Intelligent Design.  Here is what they say:
German scholar Ulf-G Meißner, chair in theoretical nuclear physics at the Helmholtz Institute, University of Bonn, adds to a series of discoveries that support this Anthropic Principle.

In a new study titled "Anthropic considerations in nuclear physics" and published in the Beijing-based journal Science Bulletin (previously titled Chinese Science Bulletin), Professor Meißner provides an overview of the Anthropic Principle (AP) in astrophysics and particle physics and states: "One can indeed perform physics tests of this rather abstract [AP] statement for specific processes like element generation."
What follows are some fairly standard "tweeking" arguments that have previously been put forth by a number of writers, including Hugh Ross. The article continues:
Professor Meißner states, "the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis sets indeed very tight limits on the variations of the light quark mass."

"Such extreme fine-tuning supports the anthropic view of our Universe," he adds.

"Clearly, one can think of many universes, the multiverse, in which various fundamental parameters take different values leading to environments very different from ours," Professor Meißner states.

Professor Stephen Hawking states that even slight alterations in the life-enabling constants of fundamental physics in this hypothesized multiverse could "give rise to universes that, although they might be very beautiful, would contain no one able to wonder at that beauty."

Professor Meißner agrees: "In that sense," he says, "our Universe has a preferred status, and this is the basis of the so-called Anthropic Principle."
For a major scientific news site such as PhysOrg to give this much space and credence to this argument is astounding. It is still a grand example of argument from personal incredulity, but there certainly is a growing sense that this is one very finely-tuned universe. It almost makes one think about accepting the ID argument. Almost.


  1. I'm not sure why you are surprised by physicists taking the Anthropic Principle seriously. Granted, it has been associated with some rather extreme proposals like those of Barrow and Tipler, which Martin Gardner characterized as the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP) which was a long way past the Strong or Weak versions. I'm not a physicist, but I have the strong impression that part of the impetus for the whole multiple universe thing is to escape the seeming implications of very fine tuning. Arguments from small probabilities always suffer from the fact that you have to make assumptions to do the calculations, and the assumptions aren't necessarily true. One is left with the appearance of design, but not a certainty.

    God wishes to move the will rather than the mind. Perfect clarity
    would help the mind and harm the will.
    -- Pascal, Pensees

  2. I saw this (not studied; unlike you the writer is a YEC):

  3. My wife just got on my case (correctly) because she pointed out that these are just results that point in a particular direction, but not that try to disprove another part of established science. I think that I perhaps misunderstood the intent of the authors. I am used to dealing with organizations that claim support for the anthropic principle while at the same time trying to denigrate some aspect of organized science. That is not what these guys are doing.

  4. To me the Anthropic Principle (AP) is distinct from Intelligent Design (ID). As near as I can tell, AP says, "a lot of things had to be just so in order for life as we know it to arise in this universe." From there one can suppose that a fine-tuning God is responsible, but it is not required. ID says, "science proves that certain things were designed by some intelligence that could be anyone (wink, wink) but we're pretty sure it's the God of the Bible."

  5. That is likely so, but every instance I have seen in recent memory of support for the anthropic principle has come in the context of "it couldn't just happen," which is then tag-teamed with "see, that wicked, evil evolution cannot be correct." My kids have just such a book for school, and it drives me crazy because, on one hand, they are taught logic, and then they are given a long, elaborate argument from consequence position.