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The Biological Anthropic Principle
John Berndt and Henry Flynt
July/November 2007


“As a result of a thousand million years of evolution, the universe is becoming conscious of itself, able to understand something of its past history and its possible future. This cosmic self-awareness is being realized in one tiny fragment of the universe —in a few of us human beings. Perhaps it has been realized elsewhere too, through the evolution of conscious living creatures on the planets of other stars. But on this our planet, it has never happened before.”

                    Julian Huxley, "Transhumanism"



By the Biological Anthropic Principle (BAP), we mean:


That humans know biological evolution imposes constraints on what biological evolution can be such that it must yield knowledge of evolution.


In general, an Anthropic Principle in science is a principle that says that “our” existence at all requires reality to be fine-tuned so as to allow for our appearance as observers. Such a principle surfaces in relation to the claims of rigor of some domain of scientific knowledge, such as physics.


The present authors say that there is a point in specializing the Anthropic Principle to evolutionary biology, and insisting that we, as real observers who understand evolution, are its focus. What must ensue from biological evolution is specifically “we who know evolution,” not a more generalized “observer,”  “carbon-based life,” “intelligent life,” or other weakly defined proxy for same.*


This is because our “capacity for knowing evolution to be true” cannot be separated from, and must be built up deterministically at every step by, the structures that we discern as the specific case of biological evolution.** (Thus we “select” the reality of the evolutionary process we are built to  discern.)


The driving coincidence here is our apparent ability to identify a rigorous, deterministic theory of our origins that makes sense to us. The point is that the process of evolution, in its technical specifics, must be adequate to the scientific knower as a result.


This is an observation on the logical structure of scientific doctrine, not an endorsement of the doctrine.





* The complications of scientific Anthropic Principles are many: definition of the minimum conditions for observation, as well as definitions of the observer, intelligence, cosmic time, and the like are problematic. We consider debates on the specifics of those topics to be below the point of the Biological Anthropic Principle, and not our problem.


** For the purposes of BAP, we assume an uncontested evolutionary theory based around modern conceptions of random mutation, natural selection, and long time spans. Other theories, not accepted by the scientific consensus, are not our problem.