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The Anthropic Principle

The more you find out about the universe, using science, the more unlikely a place it becomes.

If anything had been even a little bit different (say scientists) our earth and human life would not be here.

So does that imply the existence of a Cosmic Designer who set up the universe purposefully to produce life.

Professor John Polkinghorne is a Physicist and a Christian. In the box below, he explains one of the ways in which he sees the Universe as primed for life.

Prof Polkinghorne:

To get to the point of the Anthropic Principle, just think about the stars.

A fruitful universe has to have exactly the right sort of stars. A universe exactly the same as ours except that in it gravity was three times stronger, would have been boring and sterile in its history because its stars would have burnt themselves out in a few million years, long before any life could get going on an encircling planet.

The second role the stars have to perform is to produce the raw materials of life in their nuclear furnaces. The chemistry of life is the chemistry of carbon (since all life on earth depends on it) and there is only one place in the whole universe where carbon can be made, namely inside stars.

quote openWe are all made of stardust. Once again, this delicately balanced chain of reactions is only possible because the laws of nuclear physics are just the way they quote closeare and no other.

So, is all this just our luck, or is there a reason why things are so finely-tuned to the possibility of life? I would find it extremely intellectually lazy just to say that’s the way it is and that’s that.

My belief in creation makes all this intelligible for me. Our fruitful universe is the way it is because it is not just ‘any old world’, but it is a creation that has been endowed by its Creator with just those laws of nature that have enabled it to have so fertile a history.

What is God doing now?

One question that might occur to you is this – If the Universe was designed from the start so that one day, it would produce life, then what is God doing now … is He just watching while nature does all the work? We put the question to Professor Sir Colin Humphreys, a scientist and a Christian. Watch the video to see what he said.

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© 2011 LASAR (Learning about Science and Religion)