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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CI302:

The conditions that enable life to exist also give the best overall setting for scientific discovery; habitability correlates with measurability. For example, the moon exists with the right size and distance so that a perfect total solar eclipse is observable, and the total solar eclipse of 1919 was crucial in testing general relativity.


Gonzalez, Guillermo and Jay W. Richards, 2004. The Privileged Planet. Washington DC: Regnery.


  1. People tend to start with the easy stuff, and scientists are no different. The discoveries they have made would naturally tend to fall in the areas where discovery is easiest.

    When airline traffic was halted for three days after the 9/11 attack, scientists took the opportunity to measure the effect of contrails (Travis et al. 2002). That does not mean the 9/11 attack was designed for scientific discovery. Likewise, the fact that scientists in general have taken what measurements they have does not mean the universe was designed to allow them to do so.

  2. The argument boils down to the tautology "If things had been different, things would be different." There is no evidence that a different universe would be better or worse. Different conditions might make it harder to observe what is easy to observe now, but they would make other observations easier, probably leading to the discovery of things we do not yet know. The philosophy behind this claim was satirized by Voltaire (1759):
    "It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for as all things have been created for some end, they must necessarily be created for the best end. Observe, for instance, the nose is formed for spectacles, therefore we wear spectacles. The legs are visibly designed for stockings, accordingly we wear stockings. Stones were made to be hewn and to construct castles, therefore My Lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Swine were intended to be eaten, therefore we eat pork all the year round: and they, who assert that everything is right, do not express themselves correctly; they should say that everything is best."
  3. In many ways, the configuration of the universe hinders scientific discovery. For example:
  4. A universe whose laws are easy to discover implies a simple universe, but design theorists keep telling us how complex things are.

  5. The importance of the 1919 eclipse in establishing the truth of relativity may be exaggerated (Collins 1998; see also Stanley 2003). General relativity, like most theories, was established by a variety of consistent observations.


  1. Collins, Harry, 1998. Hit or myth? New Scientist 159(2151) (12 Sep.): 36-39.
  2. Stanley, Matthew, 2003. "An expedition to heal the wounds of war": The 1919 eclipse and Eddington as Quaker adventurer. Isis 94: 57-89.
  3. Travis, D. J., A. M. Carleton and R. G. Lauritsen, 2002. Contrails reduce daily temperature range. Nature 418: 601.
  4. Voltaire, 1759. (see below)

Further Reading:

Voltaire, 1759. Candide. or
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created 2003-7-9, modified 2004-6-30