Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anthropic Principle

One time a theist friend challenged my atheism by asking me, “How do you explain goodness”? A flippant answer would be, “How do you explain badness”? but I think there’s a better answer.

Think of proto-humans. Short, slow, no claws or fangs. We had sizable brains but not early on. About the only remaining way for the humanoid branch to continue to grow was for packs of us to stick together. Evolution would select cooperation over eating our young or our neighbor’s young for example. This is not unlike the anthropic principle in cosmology. The physical constants and age of the universe are apparently just right for consciousness because we’re here to observe them. Because we’re here at all ‘proves’ that what we now call ‘goodness’ must have evolved naturally - was naturally selected. I put proves in quotes because I haven’t proven anything in a truly slam dunk logical way. On the other hand, which scenario seems more reasonable? That a magical entity whose existence cannot be demonstrated imbued humans with ‘goodness’ and that’s why we’re good and don’t kill each other, or drop bombs on each other, or lie to each other, or steal from each other OR that overall we are more good than bad (regardless of the evening news) because evolution would pick that otherwise I wouldn’t be here to make this clever argument!

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