The Anthropic Principle

By Wayne Jackson

I have in my library a science book that was published almost eighty-five years ago. I recently noticed this paragraph. Read it carefully and tell me if you think it would be found in your child’s science book today.

We cannot but admire the wisdom of the Creator in thus arranging that the plants should be able to take the raw material from the air and the soil and combine them into compounds that can serve as food not only for themselves but also for the whole of the animal kingdom. The great distinction between animals and plants is that the former cannot feed on the inorganic, or non-living. Hence they must have the preparatory work, bringing the elements together in such a form that they can be utilized by animals.

The paragraph is remarkable from a couple of vantage points:

  1. It unashamedly mentions the Creator and his wisdom, as reflected in the intricacies of nature. The time was when leading educators were not so intimidated by atheism. They hesitated not to glorify him who is the author of our universe and all within it. (For a further consideration of this matter, see Are Science and Faith Compatible?.)
  2. The discussion calls attention to the wonderful balance in nature. If it were not for organic compounds, plants could not exist. But if there were no plants, animals could not survive. If there were neither plants nor animals, we could not live. God has amazingly arranged the constituents of our planet so as to accommodate biological life—particularly mankind—fashioned in his very image (Genesis 1:26). No wonder David once asked, “What is man, that you [God] are mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4).

Many scientific authorities are now calling this delicate balance in nature the anthropic principle. The term “anthropic” derives from the Greek term, anthropos, man, i.e., mankind.

Professor Stanley L. Jaki is one of the world’s foremost philosophers and historians in science. A few years ago, Dr. Jaki produced an essay titled, “From Scientific Cosmology to a Created Universe,” which appeared in a volume called The Intellectuals Speak Out About God. Therein, Jaki declared that there are “quite a few cosmologists [scientists who study the components of the universe in time and space] who are unwilling to sacrifice forever at the altar of blind chance.”

He continued by asserting that this is why they are beginning to speak of the anthropic principle. Jaki declared:

Recognition of that principle was prompted by the nagging suspicion [based upon accumulating evidence] that the universe may have after all been specifically tailored for the sake of man (1984, 72).

This is thrilling testimony from a scholar who does not have to do obeisance before any pseudo-science “intellectual.”

There will always be those who resist the most obvious forms of evidence, and, with foolish resolve, will close their minds to truth. Paul spoke of those who refuse to have God in their knowledge (Romans 1:28). The trend of humans to rebel against their Creator has not changed over the past two millennia.

One of the saddest thoughts that older folks must contemplate is the fact that our nation is steadily moving farther and farther away from God. It makes us so fearful for our youth. We are distressed, but we do not despair. We suffer defeats on occasion, but we will fight on. The war is by no means over!

Sources/Footnotes
  • Jaki, Stanley L. 1984. From Scientific Cosmology to a Created Universe. The Intellectuals Speak Out About God. Abraham Varghese, ed. Chicago, IL: Regnery Gateway.
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About the Author

Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.