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Anthropic Design Arguments

The ‘anthropic coincidences’ and the remarkable uniformity of the universe form a rich source of material for new forms of design argument for the existence of God. Several such design arguments appear in recent theological (and scientific) literature.

Anthropic design arguments use aspects of cosmic fine-tuning as evidence that the universe was designed to permit (or, in stronger forms, to necessitate) the evolution of rational carbon-based life forms. There can be little doubt that, from the perspective of Christian faith, such features are suggestive of design.

So John Polkinghorne writes that:

There are ... certain givens about our universe ... which play an important part in determining its history... quite small variations in any of these fundamental specifications of our world would have rendered it anthropically sterile. They would have condemned it to a boringly unproductive history... If we accept this view, then a meta-question arises of why things are this way...[FTEXT]

He proposes therefore:

the ‘Moderate Anthropic Principle’, which notes the contingent fruitfulness of the universe as a fact of interest calling for an explanation... There seems to be the chance of a revised and revived argument from design... appealing to a Cosmic Planner who has endowed his world with a potentiality implanted within the delicate balance of the laws of nature themselves...In short, the claim would be that the universe is indeed not ‘any old world’ but the carefully calculated construct of its Creator.[FTEXT]

See Analysing the Anthropic Arguments for an appraisal of this view.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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