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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Anthropic Principle

In the course of preaching on Romans 1:19-20 this week (God indisuputably reveals Himself through what He has made), I mention the anthropic principle. Rather than go into it in detail in the sermon, I refer listeners to this article by Hugh Ross.

And this article, which came out just this weekend, is also "awe-inspiring"!

My core argument, or apologetic, however explored the ramifications of a theistic universe, where a personal spiritual all-powerful God is the ultimate and eternal reality vs. a naturalistic universe, where the material cosmos is all that is or was or ever shall be, amen.

In each of these instances (and many more) naturalism falls woefully short as an explanatory principle:
  1. Is the universe rational or random?
  2. Is the universe Moral or devoid of Values?
  3. Is life purposeful or meaningless?
In each case, theism yields the former conclusion and naturalism yields the latter. And in each case human beings (made in the image of God) intuitively and reflexively KNOW that the former is true. In fact, this is so undeniable that it is impossible for even professed atheists and naturalists to live consistently with a belief in a random, amoral, meaningless universe!

And thank God for that too!


Matthew said...

Hey Pastor Mark --

I spent years as an atheist before having my own encounter with a living God. And even today as a Christian I still find the universe to be random, and amoral (I don't see how the universe could be moral since it doesn't have a spirit). I do find life is meaningful but I don't think a lot of atheists think it has real meaning except what they inject into it. So from an apologetics standpoint I don't think this argument holds much weight with non-believers.

As an aside, though, since I don't come at Christianity from an evangelical perspective, you and I will disagree on a lot of the finer points of theology. But we both agree that God created the heavens and the earth, and that the Christ is his son.


David said...

Hey Matthew,

Yes, I agree that the physical universe is not a moral entity since it is not conscious and intelligent as God and we as creatures made in his image are. But the anthropic coincidences (as I prefer to call them) suggest that the universe was carefully (lovingly?) designed to make intelligent life possible.

When he became convinced of Big Bang cosmology (and the implication of a Beginner given the universe's discrete beginning 14 billion years ago) the skeptical British cosmologist Fred Hoyle is said to have complained that it seemed that some Superintelligence had been monkeying with the physics of the universe. And the purpose of apologetics is not so much to definitively convince the skeptic as to show him that there are reasons for considering the claims of the God of the Scriptures.

Bella said...

Pastor Mark --
I enjoyed listening to the sermon today. Ric and I enjoy all the philosophical, you had our ears! (If we were really there and it wasn't a hallucination)--ha ha!

Dennis said...

I agree with Matt. As much as many Christians like the intellectual heft of apologetics, the arguments carry little weight with non-Christians.

Apologetics, especially those addressing cosmology, were a stumbling block early in my life. Many of the arguments are circular and/or illogical. I think we need to be very careful when advancing arguments attempting to prove the existence of God.

Mark Swanson said...

Thanks for the feedback.

Dennis, I never intended nor claimed that the anthropic principle was a proof. It's merely supporting evidence. My sermon on the topic contains an outline on what I believe are the indisputable evidences of God's existence (which Paul refers to in Rom 1:19-20).

The anthropic principle is just one of those interesting confirming "coincidences" but it would never convince anyone by itself.

Matthew: If you believe in a living God as the Creator and Ruler of the universe and don't believe that He is amoral, then we agree that the universe is ultimately moral, not amoral.

If your God is amoral and doesn't care whether you are kind to your neighbors' children or abuse them, then I'd recommend you have as little to do with that God as possible. As the Bible says, "Bad company corrupts good morals."

David Haddon said...


Sure there are some weak and simplistic apologetical arguments out there. But Big Bang cosmology's universe with a "discrete beginning" 14 billion years ago implies a Beginner. This makes skeptics like Stephen Hawking go to extremes to try to avoid the "discrete beginning" with its implication. (See "A Brief History of Time.")

On the other hand, from philosopher Mortimer Adler's book on God, it seems that this implication was a significant evidence of the existence of God that was a step on his way to professing Christian faith.