Cosmology News

Somebody respectable is now actually questioning the Copernican Principle

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Also called the “principle of mediocrity,” according to which there must be 30 billion Earth-like planets (did we say 30b? Make it 40b for rounding convenience).


Thus many see the significance of the Copernican theory as summed up in what is called the “Copernican Principle” or sometimes the “Principle of Mediocrity”: the claim that there is nothing special about our Earth, and by extension, nothing special about its inhabitants.

We, however, suggest the surprising conclusion that a number of important scientific results indicate that our great-grandchildren may live in a world where the “Copernican Principle” has been consigned to the dustbin. In their world Earth will be understood to be special indeed, possibly even unique, swimming in a vast alien universe that speaks to them about Earth’s specialness.

Moreover, in this universe they will still recognize the universe that many early Copernicans originally envisioned. For although the first Copernicans did see the Earth as orbiting the sun, most viewed the sun and solar system as being unique within a vast and alien cosmos of strange bodies that had little in common with the Earth, the sun and the solar system — a cosmos that spoke to Earth’s inhabitants of the power of God.

So we don’t owe anyone a living except God? Oh, wait. Unlike the profs proclaiming the Copernican Principle, he doesn’t need  a salary or tenure … ?

Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

4 Replies to “Somebody respectable is now actually questioning the Copernican Principle

  1. 1
    lifepsy says:

    Is there a violation of the Copernican principle in radio sky?
    Singal 2013

    Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) observations from the WMAP satellite have shown some unexpected anisotropies, which surprisingly seem to be aligned with the ecliptic….

    First, why should there be such large anisotropies present in the sky distribution of some of the most distant discrete sources implying inhomogeneities in the universe at very large scales (covering a fraction of the universe)?

    What is intriguing even further is why such anisotropies should lie about a great circle decided purely by the orientation of earth’s rotation axis and/or the axis of its revolution around the sun? It looks as if these axes have a preferential placement in the larger scheme of things, implying an apparent breakdown of the Copernican principle or its more generalization, cosmological principle, upon which all modern cosmological theories are based upon.

  2. 2
    Jon Garvey says:

    Ironically Copernicus himself, in true Renaissance fashion, saw his theory as elevating mankind from the lowest point in the Universe to the company of the celestial spheres. Mediocrity was not the name of the game for him, nor for Galileo, nor for Kepler.

    Sometime poster here, Ted Davis, linked to an excellent article on the “Great Copernican Cliché” from a thread on BioLogos – it’s a must-read.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    There are many independent characteristics required to be fulfilled for any planet to host advanced carbon-based life. Two popular books have been written, ‘The Privileged Planet’ by Guillermo Gonzalez and ‘Rare Earth’ by Donald Brownlee, indicating the earth is extremely unique in its ability to host advanced life in this universe. Privileged Planet, which holds that any life supporting planet in the universe will also be ‘privileged’ for observation, and scientific discovery, of the universe, has now been made into a excellent video.

    The Privileged Planet – video

    Privileged Planet – Observability Correlation – Gonzalez and Richards – video

    The very conditions that make Earth hospitable to intelligent life also make it well suited to viewing and analyzing the universe as a whole.
    – Jay Richards

    The Privileged Planet – The Correlation Of Habitability and Observability
    “The same narrow circumstances that allow us to exist also provide us with the best over all conditions for making scientific discoveries.”
    “The one place that has observers is the one place that also has perfect solar eclipses.”
    “There is a final, even more bizarre twist. Because of Moon-induced tides, the Moon is gradually receding from Earth at 3.82 centimeters per year. In ten million years will seem noticeably smaller. At the same time, the Sun’s apparent girth has been swelling by six centimeters per year for ages, as is normal in stellar evolution. These two processes, working together, should end total solar eclipses in about 250 million years, a mere 5 percent of the age of the Earth. This relatively small window of opportunity also happens to coincide with the existence of intelligent life. Put another way, the most habitable place in the Solar System yields the best view of solar eclipses just when observers can best appreciate them.”
    – Guillermo Gonzalez – Astronomer;f=false

    With advances in quantum mechanics revealing that conscious observation is integral to reality, this correlation between observability and habitability goes far deeper than most people realize:

    Quantum Physics – (material reality does not exist until we look at it) – Dr. Quantum video

    If you have trouble accepting the implications of the preceding, don’t feel alone, Nobel prize winner Anthony Leggett, who developed Leggett’s inequality to try to prove that reality exists when we are not looking at it, still does not believe the results of the experiment he himself was integral in devising, even though the inequality was violated by a stunning 80 orders of magnitude, simply because the results contradicted the ‘realism’ he believes in (realism is the notion that an objective material reality exists apart from our conscious observation of it)

    Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008
    Excerpt: In mid-2007 Fedrizzi found that the new realism model was violated by 80 orders of magnitude; the group was even more assured that quantum mechanics was correct.
    Leggett agrees with Zeilinger that realism is wrong in quantum mechanics, but when I asked him whether he now believes in the theory, he answered only “no” before demurring, “I’m in a small minority with that point of view and I wouldn’t stake my life on it.” For Leggett there are still enough loopholes to disbelieve. I asked him what could finally change his mind about quantum mechanics. Without hesitation, he said sending humans into space as detectors to test the theory.

    to which Anton Zeilinger responded:

    When I mentioned this to Prof. Zeilinger he said, “That will happen someday. There is no doubt in my mind. It is just a question of technology.” Alessandro Fedrizzi had already shown me a prototype of a realism experiment he is hoping to send up in a satellite. It’s a heavy, metallic slab the size of a dinner plate.

    In regards to the Copernican Principle, Dr. Henry puts the implications of quantum mechanics this way

    Quantum Enigma:Physics Encounters Consciousness – Richard Conn Henry – Professor of Physics – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: It is more than 80 years since the discovery of quantum mechanics gave us the most fundamental insight ever into our nature: the overturning of the Copernican Revolution, and the restoration of us human beings to centrality in the Universe.
    And yet, have you ever before read a sentence having meaning similar to that of my preceding sentence? Likely you have not, and the reason you have not is, in my opinion, that physicists are in a state of denial…

    Here is another point of ‘observability correlation’ interest, in that we live at the right time to observe the Cosmic Background Radiation left over from the Big Bang:

    We Live At The Right Time In Cosmic History – Hugh Ross – video

    Another point of interest is this:

    Hugh Ross – The Anthropic Principle and Anthropic Inequality – video

    Anthropic Principle: A Precise Plan for Humanity By Hugh Ross
    Excerpt: Brandon Carter, the British mathematician who coined the term “anthropic principle” (1974), noted the strange inequity of a universe that spends about 15 billion years “preparing” for the existence of a creature that has the potential to survive no more than 10 million years (optimistically).,, Carter and (later) astrophysicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler demonstrated that the inequality exists for virtually any conceivable intelligent species under any conceivable life-support conditions. Roughly 15 billion years represents a minimum preparation time for advanced life: 11 billion toward formation of a stable planetary system, one with the right chemical and physical conditions for primitive life, and four billion more years toward preparation of a planet within that system, one richly layered with the biodeposits necessary for civilized intelligent life. Even this long time and convergence of “just right” conditions reflect miraculous efficiency.
    Moreover the physical and biological conditions necessary to support an intelligent civilized species do not last indefinitely. They are subject to continuous change: the Sun continues to brighten, Earth’s rotation period lengthens, Earth’s plate tectonic activity declines, and Earth’s atmospheric composition varies. In just 10 million years or less, Earth will lose its ability to sustain human life. In fact, this estimate of the human habitability time window may be grossly optimistic. In all likelihood, a nearby supernova eruption, a climatic perturbation, a social or environmental upheaval, or the genetic accumulation of negative mutations will doom the species to extinction sometime sooner than twenty thousand years from now.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    In fact, Dr Ross, through concerted study with his team, greatly expanded our knowledge for what is required for a habitable planet in the universe. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s ‘conservative’ estimate for the probability of another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate ? 10^324
    longevity requirements estimate ? 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters ? 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe ? 10^22

    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Hugh Ross – Evidence For Intelligent Design Is Everywhere (10^-1054) – video

    Michael Denton has also (recently) done excellent work in bringing clarity to man’s unique and special place in the cosmos:

    The Place of Life and Man in Nature: Defending the Anthropocentric Thesis – Michael J. Denton – February 25, 2013
    Summary (page 11)
    Many of the properties of the key members of Henderson’s vital ensemble —water, oxygen, CO2, HCO3 —are in several instances fit specifically for warm-blooded, air-breathing organisms such as ourselves. These include the thermal properties of water, its low viscosity, the gaseous nature of oxygen and CO2 at ambient temperatures, the inertness of oxygen at ambient temperatures, and the bicarbonate buffer, with its anomalous pKa value and the elegant means of acid-base regulation it provides for air-breathing organisms. Some of their properties are irrelevant to other classes of organisms or even maladaptive.
    It is very hard to believe there could be a similar suite of fitness for advanced carbon-based life forms. If carbon-based life is all there is, as seems likely, then the design of any active complex terrestrial being would have to closely resemble our own. Indeed the suite of properties of water, oxygen, and CO2 together impose such severe constraints on the design and functioning of the respiratory and cardiovascular systems that their design, even down to the details of capillary and alveolar structure can be inferred from first principles. For complex beings of high metabolic rate, the designs actualized in complex Terran forms are all that can be. There are no alternative physiological designs in the domain of carbon-based life that can achieve the high metabolic activity manifest in man and other higher organisms.

    Supplemental note:

    The Galileo Affair and ‘Life’ as the true “Center of the Universe”
    Excerpt: I find it extremely interesting, and strange, that quantum mechanics tells us that instantaneous quantum wave collapse to its ‘uncertain’ 3D state is centered on each individual conscious observer in the universe, whereas, 4D space-time cosmology (General Relativity) tells us each 3D point in the universe is central to the expansion of the universe. These findings of modern science are pretty much exactly what we would expect to see if this universe were indeed created, and sustained, from a higher dimension by a omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, eternal Being who knows everything that is happening everywhere in the universe at the same time. These findings certainly seem to go to the very heart of the age old question asked of many parents by their children, “How can God hear everybody’s prayers at the same time?”,,, i.e. Why should the expansion of the universe, or the quantum wave collapse of the entire universe, even care that you or I, or anyone else, should exist? Only Theism, Christian Theism in particular, offers a rational explanation as to why you or I, or anyone else, should have such undeserved significance in such a vast universe. [15]

    Verse and Music;

    Psalm 33:13-15
    The LORD looks from heaven; He sees all the sons of men. From the place of His dwelling He looks on all the inhabitants of the earth; He fashions their hearts individually; He considers all their works.

    Nicole C. Mullen – My Redeemer Lives – Video

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