Anthropic Coincidences- Not Evidence of a Creator.

AEC recently posted about Robert Koons’ argument which claims that Anthropic Coincidences can logically be explained by Theism. Now I would read her post to gain a better understanding, but the plain definition was that “Anthropic Coincidences are coincidences in space that set the ratio of fundamental forces in the universe with great precision upon its creation to ensure that it is habitable…” . However, the real conclusion of the piece is as follows:

  1. This coincidence must have a causal explanation.
  2. Therefore, the constants take the values that they do because these values are anthropic (i.e., because they cause the conditions needed for life).
  3. Therefore, the purpose of the values of these constants is to permit the development of life (using the aetiological definition of purpose).
  4. Therefore, the values of these constants are the purposive effects of an intelligent agent (using the minimalist conception of agency).
  5. Therefore, the cosmos has been created.

First of all, the very idea of a coincidence is that it is defined be chance,  yet Koons attempts to pull a creator from a need to explain these Anthropic Coincidences. But after reading Richard Dawkins’ Selfish Gene I believe he would think quite the contrary. Koons’ argument rests on the fundamental idea that the conditions for life to exist are so precise, that they were created for life. However, Dawkins argues that the world was not created so that life could thrive, but actually life was designed by the world. For example, if the world had been hotter, life that could deal with hotter climates would exist. Thus the reason the Earth seems so perfectly made for life is because life developed off of the conditions not the other way around. These ideas are best put by Dawkins himself as he fields the question “Isn’t it a bit of a coincidence that everything on this planet is exactly right? ” Click here to gain a better understanding– watching  from 3:10 to 5:14 .

To further the point that the universe was not created for life, Dawkins writes,

“The point that is relevant here is that, before the coming of life on earth, some rudimentary evolution of molecules could have occurred by ordinary processes of physics and chemistry. There is no need to think of design or purpose or directedness. If a group of atoms in the presence of energy falls into a stable pattern it will tend to stay that way. The earliest form of natural selection was simply a selection of stable forms and a rejection of unstable ones” (Selfish Gene 13).

What Dawkins is getting at is not only that the earth is perfect for life because life developed based off it, but that the universe at its base is just stable collections of atoms that make up what we call things. The universe is dictated by brute laws and those laws are what life develop from. So no, Anthropic Coincidences are not proof of a creator. Koons argument is simply the inability to accept coincidences for what they are: inexplicable.

Dawkins, Richard. The Selfish Gene. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. keithnoback says:

    I think it is substantially worse than, “I observe X, and X is necessary for me to be an observer, therefore X must be (modal fallacy)”.
    The whole fine-tuning argument gets started on the assumption that physics, as a set of specific laws, holds into and beyond the singularity. That would be a natural assumption for a physicist to make, but not a good assumption for anyone else.
    After all, the laws of physics are properties of the phenomena which the laws reference, rather than properties of the universal ectoplasm

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Keithnoback,
      Thank you for commenting! I was wondering if you could reiterate your point for the general audience? You pointed out the modal fallacy in the Ontological Argument, but could explain what you mean about the Argument from Design?


      1. keithnoback says:

        Hopefully, this is clear; it’s early after a long week.
        I was talking about fine tuning, which is a flavor of design argument. I guess it isn’t that important, because the basic problem is the same: inferring what must be from what is.
        For instance, if the cosmological constant is some specific number, it is specific because it is the one number which works within physical theory to produce currently observed conditions.
        But physical theory is derived from observation of current conditions. It gives us the range of possibilities from which we may choose a cosmological constant.
        Asking for an explanation for the value of the cosmological constant is a way of asking “Why are the physical laws structured as they are?”, which is a metaphysical question.
        To then say that the explanation can be found in physics – that there is a possible range of values defined by physical laws which makes for an anthropically coincidental number for the cosmological constant – is metaphysics.
        In other words, our physical laws themselves are being presented as metaphysically necessary – Platonic objects whose shape determines not just what the shadow-shape of the universe is, but what it must be.

        Liked by 1 person

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