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The Weak Anthropic Principle

The approach which does the least violence to conventional modes of scientific thought is to invoke a Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). Barrow and Tipler describe it thus:

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 requirement that the Universe be old enough for it to have already done so.’[FTEXT]

In other words, our existence as observers functions as a cosmological selection effect. There can be no observations without observers. Our observations must satisfy the conditions necessary for our existence.

However, the WAP does not take us very far towards an explanation of the observed coincidences. In conjunction with a conventional Big Bang cosmology, it still gives the impression that our existence is an accident of vanishingly small probability. Thus, in practice, it usually appears in conjunction with a cosmological model which suggests that there is a sense in which all possible universes actually exist. See Many-Universes Models and Analysing the Anthropic Arguments.

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

Big Bang Cosmology and Theology

Index - God, Humanity and the Cosmos, 1999 T&T Clark

The Weak Anthropic Principle

Related Book Topics:

The Beginnings of Big Bang Theory
Evidence for a Big Bang?
Is the Big Bang a Moment of Creation?
Stephen Hawking and the Growth of Quantum Cosmology
The Hawking-Hartle Proposal for the Early Universe
Theological Responses to Quantum Cosmology
The ‘Anthropic Coincidences’
The Remarkable Uniformity of the Universe
Anthropic Design Arguments
Many-Universes Models
The Strong Anthropic Principle
Analysing the Anthropic Arguments
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology


Dr. Lawrence Osborn and Dr. Christopher Southgate in God, Humanity and the Cosmos. Published by T&T Clark.

See also:

Big Bang
Albert Einstein
Kitt Peak Telescope
Physics and Cosmology
Does God Act?
Was the Universe Designed?
Did the Universe Have a Beginning?
Books on Physics and Theology