The anthropic principle comes in two forms. Its weak form states that conditions in the observed universe must be compatible with the consciousness that observes it. But this is really a tautology and tells us little other than that here we are observing the universe. We’re here because we’re here. Far more controversial is the strong form of the argument. This points to the remarkable number of constants in the universe – the strength of gravity for example or the .007 of free energy that is released when two hydrogen atoms turn into helium – that have to be just right for life to emerge, yet are not the consequences of a law of nature but appear to have been arbitrarily set. Some theists would argue that it is unthinkable that so many constants could be exactly for right for life within such vast ranges of possibility by chance, so it must be the case that they were intelligently designed.
Scientists have for a long time now been reluctant to accept this, for God has so often been brought in to explain the mysteries of science and then his intrusive presence been explained away by science itself, they think it all too likely that science would upstage God yet again. And indeed this is exactly what has happened. For quite other reasons, quantum physicists now think that the extraordinary conundrums thrown up by their subject can only be explained by invoking an infinity of universes. In an infinity of universes there is bound to be one where the constants are just right for life, and here we are living in it. The strong anthropic principle has been vanquished by quantum physics and once again science has bypassed God. This reasoning is one of the major reasons for the rapid spread of atheism today.
The problem with atheists, however, is that they are generally quite theologically ignorant, and still think of God as an Olympian being who dwells somewhere outside the world beyond the clouds. They have not understood the profound theological revolution of Christianity. God does not dwell somewhere beyond the sky but is incarnate in the universe. As water is transcendentally more than the atoms of oxygen and hydrogen that compose it, yet if those atoms were taken away would not just be undermined but would not exist – really not exist, become unthinkable – yet nevertheless is more than the atoms simply added together, so God is the transcendental reality of all the atoms and everything else that exists fused into a transcendental unity. If you could take the universe away, and now, it is beginning to appear, even an infinity of universes, God would not be left up there on Mount Olympus, s(h)e simply would not exist. God is, exactly, the infinity of universes. St Paul, getting it right scientifically as well as theologically, tells us ‘God will be everything to everybody’. Just so. God does not exist, God is everything that exists. How science and theology illuminate each other.