“I’m a speck standing on a speck orbiting a speck with a bunch of other specks in the middle of specklessness. I suck.” — Bill Nye
This is a commonly expressed sentiment among atheists, though seldom expressed so inarticulately. It seems to suggest that value is in a directly proportional relationship with size: the larger a thing the more valuable. But this seems obviously false.
Some things are more valuable by their very nature. A diamond is more “valuable” than a ton of gravel, and a baby is more precious than a star. In fact, humans have qualities that make them unique in the natural world: self-awareness. The largest objects in the universe do not think, or know they exist, or ponder their origins. On this measure of reckoning, humans have infinitely more value than the largest galactic cluster.
Provocative statement? Sure. But let me prove to you that it is necessarily true.
I’ve followed astronomy and cosmology for over three decades. In that time I’ve seen many discussions on the origin of the universe and its remarkable design. One of the things that has been increasingly revealed and noticed is that the universe seems to be fine-tuned for the existence of life. Not just “life as we know it,” but any life. In fact, fune-tuned for any complex molecules or objects at all. It has been noted that if any of the forces or constants of physics were tweaked up or down (often in even fractional ways) it would have a dramatic impact on the entire universe. We could get a universe that has no light elements, or one with no heavy elements. We could get one infested with black holes, or one with few stars. We could get one that is filled with nothing but diffuse hydrogen gas, or one that collapsed back upon itself before anything interesting happens.
As you might imagine, there has been quite a bit of reaction to these “anthropic coincidences,” some in book-length treatments(1). What is most interesting is to see what atheists do with this information after admitting it(2). What does one do with the thought that they live in a universe that is so providential? While some choose to offer flippant non-answers, like, “well you wouldn’t be here to observe it if it hadn’t happened,” many others have offered more creative solutions.