What is the anthropic principle?

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Payal Khullar | College Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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Anthropic refers to anything that relates to the existence of mankind in space. The Anthropic Principle or the Anthropic Cosmological Principle is, thus, an attempt to give explanation of the existence of mankind. The Anthropic Principle was given by the cosmologist Brandon Carter in the year 1974 and was criticised for being highly theological and unscientific, and also for the lack of any data to back it. There are two versions of this principle, i.e. the Strong Anthropic Principle (SAP) and the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP). 

According to WAP, the conditions of the universe are adequate to allow life to exist. These conditions, or the so-called anthropic coincidences, are a part of the structural design of the universe. If the conditions were not met, we wouldn’t be here. Hence, our existence on Earth is a result of some sort of anthropic bias that selected conditions favourable for our existence.

The SAP draws from Copernican principles, and is much more controversial than the WAP as it shows adherence to Creationism. According to SAP, a universe without existence of intelligent creatures, like humans, is not possible. The universe must have what it takes to make existence of humans possible. It was in the design of the Universe to make existence of mankind possible.

Over the years, different scientists have drawn different takes on this principle.

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ssarfraz's profile pic

ssarfraz | Student, Professional | (Level 2) Honors

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Anthropic means “relating to human beings or their existence.” Principle means “law.” The Anthropic Principle is the Law of Human Existence.

It simply means that we are living in a universe that is set for human beings, allowing their existence. 

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