laws of nature appear to be tuned to provide the
universe with reproductive organs—black
of evolution theory cite the anthropic
coincidences as evidence of nature's purposeful design.
Scientists point out that such issues could not even be raised
if natural laws were other than what they are, because in that
case nobody would exist to ponder the point. But beyond that glib reply is a more constructive one.
natural selection accounts for our universe being the way
it is by applying the concept of natural selection
to cosmology. The theory does not
propose that atoms and their constituent particles evolved during the
lifetime of our universe to have their particular properties, but it
does propose that they nonetheless possess the properties that they do
because of natural selection. According to this model, the fundamental
physical constants evolved to become what they are—and give fundamental particles and forces their particular properties—but
this evolutionary process took place outside of our universe.
"The Strong Anthropic
Principle holds that intelligent beings play some essential
role in the Cosmos. However, it is difficult to see how intelligent
beings could play an essential role if all such beings are forever
restricted to the planet upon which they originally evolve. On
the other hand, if intelligent beings eventually develop interstellar
travel, it is possible, at least in principle, for them to significantly
affect the structure of galaxies and metagalaxies by their activities."
— John D. Barrow and Frank J. Tipler
Anthropic Cosmological Principle
by physicist Lee Smolin, who
lays out the case in his book, The
Life of the Cosmos,
the theory of cosmological natural selection proposes that universes evolve through successive generations.
In the Darwinian analogy that Smolin draws between universes and
organisms, a universe’s black holes are its reproductive organs,
and its fundamental physical constants constitute its genotype. According
to the model, black holes beget baby universes.
from within this universe to be a giant implosion—a black hole
that sucks in matter and energy—is in some other dimension
a great explosion—a
big bang that pushes out matter and energy into a new universe. Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose laid the foundation for this cosmological
symmetry when they demonstrated that big bangs and black holes mirror
each other mathematically, that the same equations can be used to describe
either process, depending on whether they are read in one direction
or the other.
Depending on the direction in which you "scan" the
math you have an implosion (matter sucked in) or explosion (matter expelled out).
fundamental dogma of astrology, as conceived by the Greeks, was
that of universal solidarity. The world is a vast organism, all
the parts of which are connected through an unceasing exchange of
molecules of effluvia. The stars, inexhaustible generators of energy,
constantly act upon the earth and man—upon man, the epitome
of all nature, a 'microcosm' whose every element corresponds to
some part of the starry sky. This was, in a few words, the theory
formulated by the Stoic disciples of the Chaldeans."
— Franz Cumont
Religions in Roman Paganism
theory proposes that our universe
was born of a fertile parent universe, one that possessed at least one
black hole and, similarly, that black holes in this universe spawn baby
universes that develop according to their own physical laws. Black holes
and big bangs are complementary aspects
of a single cosmogonic process that bears new universes.
This is the
major premise of cosmological natural selection
as put forth by Smolin and popularized with the help of science writer
John Gribbin. But the theory goes further than proposing that black holes and big bangs generate a multi-generational ensemble of universes.
The theory gives the reproductive process a Darwinian spin.
When a baby
universe explodes into being, the values of its fundamental constants
are influenced—but not completely determined—by those of
the parent universe. The indeterminacy of quantum physics allows some
play in the system of inheritance. According
to the quantum theory of black holes the values of the physical constants
are likely to differ from parent universe to offspring and among the
offspring. Once such variation is introduced
into an ensemble of successive generations, the succession evolves
according to Darwinian principles. If its capacity to make black holes
determines the reproductive fitness of a universe, then Darwinian
selection says that those universes that make the most black holes
will be most successful at passing the values of
their physical constants forward into future generations. The evolution
of universes selects for reproductive fitness, and this selection pressure
drives the evolution of universes in the direction of increasing fertility—toward
an ever-greater capacity to make black holes.As in biology, the more successful reproducers have the greater influence on future generations.
theory of cosmological natural selection, the Anthropic
Principle becomes the Black Hole Principle. In this model, the values
of the fundamental constants of a universe are tuned to maximize black
hole production specifically, and any other effects are incidental.
This means that the Anthropic Principle, or Black Hole Principle, is
more specifically the Stellar Principle, because black holes originate
from stars. As
it turns out, the constants of our universe predispose nature toward
making not only stars that become black holes, but also biological organisms.
According to Smolin and Gribbin this side effect has no interesting bearing
on cosmological natural selection.
On this point,
they are adamant. In In
the Beginning: The Birth of the Living Universe,
Gribbin writes that, "It is natural for human beings like us to see
the coincidences of cosmology as indicating that the Universe has been
set up (either by a designer or by evolution) for our benefit" but
that this anthropocentric view may be "very wide of the mark." In
these comments he is suggesting that biological life, though a byproduct
of the mechanics of nature, is inessential for cosmological processes.
the point again:
reason [that certain physical properties of the universe are what they
are] may have nothing to do with the presence of people in the Universe
today; it may indeed be a lucky accident that we are here, because
the conditions that have naturally evolved in the Universe for other
reasons just happen to favor us. Nevertheless, the extent to which
those coincidences of cosmology do favor us is truly astonishing." (Italic
in the same book:
fact that our Universe is 'just right' for organic life-forms like
ourselves turns out to be no more than a side-effect of the fact
that it is 'just right' for the production of black holes and baby
universes. [. . . .] Although it is now clear that the Universe has
not been set up for our benefit, and that the existence of organic
life-forms on Earth is simply a minor side-effect of an evolutionary
process involving universes, galaxies and stars which actually favors
the production of black holes, nevertheless it is clear that the
existence of life-forms like ourselves is an inevitable side effect
of those greater evolutionary processes."
The Life of the Cosmos, concurs with this dysanthropic interpretation:
seems that at least one way for a universe to make a lot of black holes
requires that there be carbon and other organic elements, as well
as stars that produce these elements in large quantities. The theory
then predicts that our universe has these ingredients for life, not
because life is special, but because they are typical of universes
found in the collection. [. . . .] A universe in which the conditions
and the parameters have been tuned so that it is full of stars is
a universe in which many of the conditions required for life to exist
If the theory
of cosmological natural selection is right, Smolin continues, then the
universe is hospitable to organisms such as human beings, "not because
we, in particular, are somehow necessary or important for the universe—but
only because living systems exist as a byproduct of a much larger pattern
of self-organization and self-structuring . . . ."
of human life and the intricacies of Earth’s biosphere are serendipitous
byproducts of an evolutionary momentum that has to do with the making
of black holes and nothing else. This is the implication of the theory
of cosmological natural selection as formulated by Smolin and propounded by Gribbin.
The star larvae hypothesis takes issue with this formulation of the theory of cosmological
natural selection. The star larvae hypothesis argues that biology
is an essential player in the ontogeny of
the universe, and hence in its reproductive fitness, and that the "coincidence" of
black holes and biological
organisms requiring the same values of the fundamental constants is
no coincidence at all. The values have to be the same because biology is the
larval phase of the stellar life cycle.
NEXT > The
old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers' seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch, go chide
Late school-boys and sour prentices,
Go tell court-huntsmen that the king will ride,
Call country ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime,
Nor hours, days, months, which are the rags of time.
Thy beams so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou think?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a wink,
But that I would not lose her sight so long.
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Look, and to-morrow late tell me,
Whether both th' Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left'st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw'st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, "All here in one bed lay."
She's all states, and all princes I ;
Nothing else is ;
Princes do but play us ; compared to this,
All honour's mimic, all wealth alchemy.
Thou, Sun, art half as happy as we,
In that the world's contracted thus ;
Thine age asks ease, and since thy duties be
To warm the world, that's done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art everywhere ;
This bed thy center is, these walls thy sphere."
The Sun Rising
Star Larvae Hypothesis:
a genus of organism.
The stellar life cycle includes a larval phase.
Biological life constitutes the larval phase of the stellar life cycle.
hypothesis presents a teleological model of nature, in which
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