Nature of the universe (FYI, not a debate)

This seemed a little too “heady” for IMHO or MPSIMS.

Discover article shares an interesting take on the nature of the universe.

[Moderator Hat: ON]

This article, for those who haven’t clicked there yet, discusses why the situation is ripe for life in our universe.

It definitely has the potential for a debate if anybody wants to engage in it. Therefore, I’m not moving it.

David B, SDMB Great Debates Moderator

[Moderator Hat: OFF]

I’m underwhelmed by the article. Yes, if those numbers were different there would not be life as we know it. But, it is also likely that if those numbers were different, they would set up favorable conditions for other forms of life. Perhaps in an alternate uniiverse they are arguing that if the wieght of nucleic components were only off by 1%, the universe would be filled with great balls of fire that would last billions of years, and that these balls of fire would burn so hot no life could survive. In our universe it happened. We call them stars.

No wonder the universe seems specifically designed for us, we’ve specifically evolved for it.

Well, I didn’t find the linked article all that informative, but some of the links coming from it were very well written explanations of some of the current theories of cosmology. Nothing in any of it that I feel qualified to debate, though.


Scylla, in contradiction to the past few threads we’ve both been in, I agree with you. :wink:

The old “Weak vs. Strong Anthropic Principles”…i.e., is the universe appear finely tuned merely because we wouldn’t be here otherwise or is it finely tuned SO THAT we are here. The Weak Anthropic Principle is non-contraversial. But the Strong one smacks of creationist arguments (i.e., a watch requires a watchmaker).

IMHO, I think Rees’ book would be interesting (I have not had the chance yet) but it’s not new.

My impression is that Rees just points out the amazing balance of the universe but does not actually come out and support the Strong Anthropic Principle. Does anyone know/has anyone here read the book?

I can’t say I’d ever thought of it this way, although I may misunderstand your meaning. I take the strong version to mean the exact opposite of “a watch requires a watchmaker” - that nothing about the physical structure of the universe or our place in it could be surprising, significant or pose questions of origin. Far from supposing a watchmaker from the balance of conditions necessary for our existence it supposes that the existence of such balance gives us no information at all and regards any speculation from the ex post observation of balance as idle. The reaction to the happy cluster of constants would elicit a comment along the lines of: “Of course. So what? - nothing does or could follow from this.” It strikes me that its faults have more in common with Dr Pangloss than anything else.


I read just enough of the linked article to roll my eyes and close the page. It just goes to demonstrate that one can be as intelligent and knowledgeable as Rees obviously is, and still be susceptible to such silly logical fallacies.

Still, I don’t see much room for debate here. It’s like when I first mentioned the “Goldilocks Problem” to my Baptist father. The Goldilocks Problem, as articulated by planetologists, is the phenomenon of Venus, Earth and Mars. The three planets all began with the inventory of chemistry, gravity and other necessities to support life, but then Venus got too hot, Mars got too cold, but Earth stayed just right.

“Oh, and you think that’s just a coincidence, don’t you?” was Five Sr.'s reply.

I was speechless. There’s just nothing useful you can say to rebut someone who thinks that way.

picmr - Our post counts are too close to be of coincidence. It must have been planned from the beginning of the universe.

quick web search for definitions…



emphasis mine.