The Well Balanced Universe


The Ultimate Anthropic Principle

by Edmund Wood

In 1973, at a science conference in Krakow honouring Copernicus' 500th birthday, Brandon Carter from Cambridge University first coined the phrase “the anthropic principle”. His explanation for this principle was that our position as observers in the universe must inevitably be privileged to some extent: the very fact that we exist implies at the very least that the universe and its laws must be organised to make human life possible.

Carter expounded his ideas in order to counter what he perceived as misuse of the Copernican Principle, which states that we are not at a special, central position in the universe. This precept had been used by supporters of the steady state theory of the universe to justify what they called “the perfect cosmological principle”, which held that the universe appears the same from all positions in both space and time.

Such a position was not compatible with the big bang theory of the universe, which was favoured by most scientists, because, in that theory, the universe is evolving in time.

There were two versions of the Anthropic Principle put forward by Carter. The first he called the Weak Anthropic Principle; simply put, this states that the basic laws of the Universe are such that they allow for the existence of human beings.

The second version, his Strong Anthropic Principle, says that the Universe and its laws are so arranged that observers must arise in it at some time.

The physicist John Archibald Wheeler later refined the stronger version by saying that, for the Universe to exist at all, observers are necessary at some point in its history. This he dubbed the Participatory Anthropic Principle.

Then, John D Barrow and Frank Tipler in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle proposed yet another refinement with their so-called Final Anthropic Principle: It is necessary for the Universe that intelligence arises at some point, and once it arises it will never die out.

In my opinion, none of these versions is satisfactory, because, apart from anything else, they are too complicated.

So, I would like to propose just one last version, which I will call the Ultimate Anthropic Principle. This states simply that the Universe exists because I observe it. In other words: I think, therefore the Universe is.

This means that, by having consciousness, we basically create the Universe out of nothingness: without awareness there is nothing, with awareness there is the Universe. They are dependent on each other for existence at all time.

The consequence of this is that the Cosmos is actually the antithesis of consciousness. Or, to put it in a nutshell:

Universe + Awareness = 0

The Universe and an observer can exist as separate entities because, added together, they make zero.

This does explain how and why the Universe is out there, and even where it comes from.

Furthermore, if you don't agree with the Ultimate Anthropic Principle, then you must believe that the Universe can exist somewhere and at some time without an observer. But that begs the question, what do you mean by the statement "The Universe exists"?

I defy anyone to give me a scientific definition of that statement without invoking awareness, because the very essence of science and scientific proof is verifiable observation.

© Edmund F. Wood, February 2009

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