I have been approaching this argument from a slightly different direction and thought I might run it past everyone here for comment.
Essentially, the anthropic arguments are an attempt to explain constants, attributes, and qualities the universe seems to adheres to (ignoring for a moment that these mathematical representations are simple models to describe reality). Theists conjure a deity to explain these constants, attributes, and qualities, but they also grant their god with qualities and attributes which also should require explanation. The most often retort to this question I have come across is "we do not have to explain the explanation" to which my response has been "then we do not need to explain the mathematical explanations of reality. Check mate."
I am not sure that inventing an entity to explain some unknown, which itself has a laundry list of unknowns (which almost by definition can never be known) helps in solving the central issue. Once again Occam's razor slices away god.
- This point is directly (if briefly) covered in the Natural-law argument. However, The anthropic principle itself is really just a subset of the argument from design with a particular emphasis on the importance of human life, perspective or purpose.
- I think the best example of this kind of unnecessary assertion of God is still Richard Dawkins response to fred hoyles 747 junkyard argument in the god delusion, Which points out that if you try to solve the problem of complexity in nature by asserting an infinitely intelligent, infinitely powerful, infinitely knowing and thus infinitely complex god, really only makes the problem worse not better.--Murphy 03:21, 16 December 2009 (CST)
- Thanks Murphy. I have been slowly making my way through this web site (it has been on my list for quite sometime) and have just read the natural law argument. I agree with your assessment.
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I think the article has ascribed the use of the Weak Anthropic Principle to the wrong side in the debate between atheisms and theism...and I am afraid it is in bad need of a reworking. As someone brand new here, I think it would be rather rude to just go edit the article without first trying to discuss them here.
Briefly, the theists have of coarse presented Teleological arguments for positive proof of a designed universe, to which atheists counter with an application of the Weak Anthropic Principle. For myself, I find the defense to be logically fallacious; for example should a dealer in a poker game deal himself 100 royal flushes, one would reasonably think it likely he was cheating without the Weak Anthropic Principle being involved. But if the dealer is clever and somewhat glib he might use a tautological variant to obfuscate what is plain to common sense. He would correctly point out that 100 royal flushes of the particular suits he received them in were just as likely as any other random sequence of cards. Then that it was already an established fact that he and the other players were observers who had just witnessed 100 royal flushes in a row. Finally he could narrow the argument's definition of "intelligent life" to include only those beings who happen to have played poker and witnessed such a sequence. Of coarse the sneaky part is that he slipped in his conclusion along with his assumptions. He is subtlety insisting the other players first assume it was a random event, and he did not cheat....and lo and behold, after much hand waving he is able to conclude it was a random event.
The naturalist should be surprised that he exists as an observer at all...and should suspect the deck was stacked or else he would not exist in any universe anywhere. Just as the poker player who assumes as a matter of blind faith that the dealer did not stack the deck should be surprised at the 100 royal flushes in a row. Or if he allows for the possibility of cheating, he should weigh his estimate on how unlikely cheating would be against how unlikely a 100 royal flushes sequence would be.
The tautology in symbolic logic:
Premise: The apparently unlikely thing was random. Argument: It would only occur where it would occur. Conclusion: Therefore it was random.
Now either the Weak Anthropic Principle argument employed by atheists follows this tautology or it doesn't. Albeit its seems a distinction obfuscated by irrelevant deductions. Sometimes while trying to express their objections atheists seem to veer into a variant that does, and sometimes they tend to veer away into unrealized assumptions that observers are something that exist outside of space and time and, unlike other phenomena, were waiting to occur at any given place or time where the conditions were right. The first way they are assuming their own conclusion without realizing it. The other way they are assuming the transcendence of the human soul without realizing it. But they can not be nailed down either way, so the distinction as to whether an observer is a phenomena of physics that seems remarkable but is not fundamentally different then other phenomena (such as 100 royal flushes) or if the observer was something fated to simply show up where conditions were right seems lost on them (such as a soul waiting outside of space and time to be born) seems lost on them. Their invalid defense seems to demand that it be both and neither at different points of their rhetoric.
As a reference here is a seemingly pro-theist web site examining the fallacy from another angle: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/teleological-argument-and-the-anthropic-principle-faq.htm