Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Anthropic Principle & Seeing Through the Glass Darkly

The Late Professor Tony Hewish FRS made some fascinating statements about the Anthropic Principle. Essentially, he maintained that the universe was fine-tuned for the existence of life. To understand this, he asked us to think of a UCM (universe creating machine), on which are hundreds of dials to fine tune gravity, electromagnetism, etc. According to Hewish, if any of these knobs were slightly out of the precise setting, we would not exist. He maintained that even if the gravity’s dial was changed by a tiny fraction of a percent, enough to make you one billionth of a gram heavier or lighter on the bathroom scales, the universe becomes so different that there would be no stars, no galaxies, no planets – indeed, no life.

Tony Hewish won a Nobel Prize for astronomy. So, it seems that he does know something about such matters. He wrote that the setting of the UCM is comparable to getting the mix of flour and sugar right to one grain of sugar in a cake ten times the mass of the sun. Or the equivalent of getting a hole in one in golf, when the distance between the tee and the hole is thirteen times the distance between Earth and Pluto. Just think about that for a moment.

More and more, science is showing us that ‘something else’ was at work in creating the universe as we know it, and that it is not likely to have been a chance thing. The Late Professor John Polkinghorne, a theoretical physicist, theologian, and Anglican priest, believed that there is ‘a Mind’ involved, saying:

“As a scientist, what I’ve been saying is that the universe in its rational beauty and transparency, looks like a world shot through with signs of mind, and maybe, it’s a capital M – Mind of God that’s we are seeing. In other words, the reason within and the reason without fit together because they have a common origin in the reason of the Creator; who is the ground of all that is. An ancient verse in Genesis comes to mind, which says that humanity is made ‘in the image of God. I actually think that this is what’s makes science possible.”

In other words, we can only do science in the first place, because we think like God thinks. We are in God’s image.

Now, what if ‘God’ is the remnants of some ‘super intelligence’ formed billions of years ago, that needed to ensure its own survival by creating the conditions from which it would one day re-emerge and slowly evolve again? Slowly discover and understand all that was needed for it to become once again a super intelligent life form – a post-human race? The ideas of transhumanism and post-humanism become increasingly relevant if one thinks along those lines – and maybe we really do ultimately meet God – in the form of super-advanced life forms. We see God face to face, as we have already known for thousands of years – we see ourselves reflected as in a mirror – we see the God we know dwells in us.

And maybe that is why some people are called to be priests – because those people have a innate understanding that God is really with us now, buried deep inside our weak, earthly human forms, searching for the way to become whole and omniscient and omnipotent again. Maybe God is what really drives us forward, and makes some of us so agonised in our frail attempts to reach out and touch what we know instinctively is there within us, but have yet to acquire sufficient knowledge and understanding to truly grasp the enormity of what we are and what we shall be.

If that is so, it is not surprising that, as St Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 13.12), we see through the glass darkly at present, because to do otherwise could become an all-consuming torment.

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