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Teleological Argument and the Anthropic Principle

QUESTION: Teleological Argument and the Anthropic Principle


The secular science community has coined a term for this incredible fine-tuning: the “Anthropic Principle”. Their position, which is clearly steered by atheistic philosophy instead of an honest inference to the best explanation, is that life has evolved within all of these incredibly tight parameters by chance, and that we should not be surprised that the parameters are precise, as otherwise we would not exist to observe them. Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has pointed out that this is an error in reasoning. While it’s true that inasmuch as we are alive, we should not be surprised that we do observe things, we should be surprised that we are alive at allto observe anything. This can be clearly seen by means of an illustration (borrowed from John Leslie): suppose you are dragged before a firing squad of 100 trained marksmen, all of them with rifles aimed at your heart, to be executed. The command is given; you hear the deafening sound of the guns. And you observe that you are still alive, that all of the 100 marksmen missed! Now while it is true that:
  1. You should not be surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, nonetheless it is equally true that;

  2. Given the fact that 100 marksmen were aiming for you, you should be surprised that you do observe that you are alive.
Since the firing squad's missing you altogether is extremely improbable, the surprise expressed is wholly appropriate, though you are not surprised that you do not observe that you are dead, since if you were dead you could not observe it. Similarly, while we should not be surprised that we do not observe features of the universe which are incompatible with our existence, it is nevertheless true that we should be surprised that we do observe features of the universe which are compatible with our existence, in view of the enormous improbabilities thereof.

In other words, in view of the enormous improbability that the universe would be compatible with our existence, we should be surprised that we observe a universe that is finely-tuned to allow for it.

Teleological Argument – Overwhelming Evidence for Design
It is instructive to note that one of the developers of the “Anthropic Principle” concept, Dr. Frank Tipler, has become a Christian since that time, due in large part to reflections on the overwhelming evidence for a Designer from nature.

One question that is often raised subsequent to hearing of the fine-tuning of the universe is “if the parameters were different, why couldn’t life have evolved within the different parameters?” The answer to that is that life cannot evolve even under the most ideal of conditions—the irreducible and specified complexity of life has disproven Darwinian evolution (we’ll discuss that in more detail later). Although micro-evolution (small changes within a species or “kind”) has been observed and does occur in nature, it always results in a loss or lateral drift in information. It never results in an increase in information. The media and many philosophically driven scientists ascribe tremendous flexibility to the idea of micro-evolution, many claiming or assuming that macro-evolution is simply a result of large quantities of micro-evolution, but this has been shown to be impossible under every kind of testing. Darwinian, or macro-evolution, has not been reproducible under even the most artificially ideal conditions in the laboratory. Moreover, changes in most of the aforementioned parameters of fine-tuning would result in no planetary habitat forming that could support life, which eliminates the possibility of life before we even get to the insurmountable problem of biological assembly.

Compliments of Steve J. Williams. Rendered with permission from the book, The Skeptics’ Guide to Eternal Bliss (2nd ed), Steve J. Williams, Lulu Press, 2009. All rights reserved in the original.

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