December's DISCOVER magazine article A Universe Built For Us reminded me of the completely compelling, fascinating enigma that continues to plague the best minds in physics and metaphysics–the Anthropic Principle.
In essence it is the concept that the multiple physical laws and basic properties of matter and energy are exactly as they need to be to allow our universe to exist and for life to have evolved. in other words, the universe appears 'fine-tuned for life.' These include: the relationship between protons, neutrons and electrons–a 0.2% change in the mass of protons–and no atoms could exist. If gravity were only slightly more powerful–stars would have burnt out long before life could have evolved. If an electron had more mass–no life could evolve. If the force that binds atomic nuclei were slightly stronger–no hydrogen would have formed and therefore no fuel for stars and no water. If the earth was closer or further from the sun–no life, if its orbit was less circular [like other planets] –you guessed right, no life The list goes on……..
What frightens physicists, the most exacting of scientists, is the rather metaphysical assertion that all this suggests…..design in the universe!!
Here's the latest 'solution' to the Anthropic Principle–the multiple universe [multiverse] theory. In this theory there are an infinite number of universes in which every possible combination of physical properties 'exist'. Ours works for us because we have evolved here to observe it. In other words, our presence 'proves' that our universe came into being–strictly by chance. 'If there are vast numbers of other universes, all with different properties, by pure odds, at least one of them ought to have the right combination of conditions to bring forth stars, planets, and living things.'
Does anyone find a problem with this theory? It is particularly interesting since to date, there is no experimental evidence for its assertion.
Even hard-core skeptics have found a problem with it–it seems less reasonable to lay all this 'fine-tuning' on a probabilistic hypothesis then on some higher Intelligence who may have participated in some way in its origin.
It is fascinating to observe that some physicists would rather 'believe' in the Multiverse Theory than to 'believe' in God. There is no evidence for either. It seems to me, neither has been 'proven' and therefore the belief in God may be as valid from a scientific perspective as any other explanation for existence.
Of course, the implications of a Spiritual Intelligence in the universe are far more fascinating than merely the 'origins' of it all. We should remain open to any new breakthroughs in science which might lead credence to the Multiverse Theory–, but at the present time, if evidence for the Multiverse Theory or God is equally compelling…..you can make your own choice!