What the example shows is that you cannot explain an improbability of this magnitude by simply pointing to our presence on the scene to ponder it. There is still a massive improbability that needs to be accounted for. Remember that the anthropic principle does not say that, given the billions of stars in the universe, it’s remarkable that life turned up on our planet. Rather, it says that the entire universe with all the galaxies and stars in it had to be formed in a certain way in order for it to contain life at all. It’s hard to disagree with the conclusion drawn by philosopher Antony Flew. Long a champion of atheism—he is one of the most frequently cited figures in atheist literature—Flew finally concluded that the fine-tuning of the universe at every level is simply too perfect to be the result of chance. Flew says that in keeping with his lifelong commitment “to go where the evidence leads,” he now believes in God.”

Flew recognizes that the anthropic principle requires a better explanation than Lucky Us. So does astronomer Lee Smolin, who writes that “luck will certainly not do here. We need some rational explanation of how something this unlikely turned out to be the case.” The odds of us being here in the universe are so fantastic that some kind of a serious explanation is required. Deep down, one suspects that Weinberg and Dawkins know this.

Consequently, many atheists have fled to the second explanation for the anthropic principle: Multiple Universes. Actually, an infinity of universes. Each universe operates according to its own set of laws. Consequently one universe may have an inverse-square law ofgravity and another may have an inverse-cube law of gravity. Indeed, under conditions of true infinity, we would expect that every physical condition, every possible arrangement of matter and energy, is realized. Everything that can happen does happen. In this remarkable situation—the argument goes—we can finally account for our privileged universe. As there are an infinite number of universes, it’s entirely possible that one has developed in a way that permits observers like us.