The Anthropic Principle


Today, I am going to completely mess with your mind. That’s not a threat. I’m not going to hurt you, but I might really make the rest of your day seem like a fog because you are not going to be able to get this idea out of your head.

It’s OK. Don’t be afraid to read this article – unless you’re a chicken. I know, of course, that you’re not a chicken. You are a human being. You live on planet Earth, which is whipping around an ordinary star in the Milky Way galaxy at about 67,000 miles per hour. Yeah, I know that’s pretty freaky in itself, but that’s not the part that’s going to mess with you.

The part that’s going to mess with you is thinking about your “humanness” and how you fit into the universe in which you find yourself. Scientists, particularly theoretical physicists, have been thinking about that sort of thing for a long time, and they have put some pretty unsettling concepts on the table.

Big-brained thinkers have pondered the particulars of our universe, including the truly strange cosmological constant. Albert Einstein, while trying to work out the convoluted equations to describe the fabric of our universe, had to insert a constant term to avoid having the universe collapse upon itself. Nothing would allow for the universe to exist as we know it (hang on to that thought) without something to counteract the forces of gravity imparted upon everything in the universe by everything else in the universe – if that makes sense. In other words, some magic was required.

It turns out that this “magic” is everywhere, and it is always the same. Scientists call it the cosmological constant and designate it with the Greek letter lambda. So – if lambda was even a teeny bit larger or a teeny bit smaller, nothing could exist. With few notable exceptions, Einstein has been proven to be largely correct about his musings regarding creation. This concept is holding water today as well. It just is what it is. It is perfection and balance and beauty and nature and everything else that allows everything to exist – as we know it.

There’s that term again – “as we know it.” Who are “we”? Here’s where the unsettling part cranks up. We’re humans. We are sentient and therefore able to observe and make sense of the universe around us. Why? Is it because the universe was made for us specifically? Is it because there are infinite possibilities for matter and space to play out and the only one that works is the one that allows for us to be a part of it? If so, why?

I recently read one explanation of the anthropic principle, which is the name science has given this area of thought, that goes like this. Suppose you enter a room with a table in the center. On the table are 150 dice, all of which are showing the number six. You would conclude that someone must have arranged the dice in this way because the odds against someone simply rolling 150 dice and having them all land on six are astronomical.

Take this a bit further. Assume that the 150 sixes are absolutely required in order for you to exist, along with the dice, the table, the room, and everything else contained in your reality. Did the dice just get “rolled”? Did that happen millions (or billions) of times, all of those happenings ending in collapse – except the one in which you find yourself? This seems like an absurd thought experiment, but it is absolutely what the cosmological constant is all about – and it is absolutely valid based on Einstein’s calculations and everything that experimental physics has yielded.


To me, this is where science and faith appear to be on a collision course that will have no resolution other than alignment with the concept that there is some form of superintelligence at work, forcing all of the dice to land the same way, ensuring that the universe is fit for human existence. And human existence is required for human observation. And sentient (human) observation is circularly required for existence. (Read up on Schrodinger’s Cat for more head scratching about that.)

So, the cosmological constant is the very essence of perfection. It’s exactly what we need and it’s exactly what we have. Along with other odd and unexplainable perfections like Fibonacci’s weird number sequence, this level of exquisiteness points to intelligent design. I choose to believe that a loving Creator has loaded the dice for us rather than resting my faith on an incalculable random roll.

I know this installment from me is more obtuse than the norm. It’s a real stretch to think about existential subjects like the anthropic principle. It’s OK to stretch sometimes, though. For one thing, it’s good for your mind. For another, it’s also good to see more of our Creator’s fingerprints on the universe around us.

This article was written by Tilmer Wright, Jr. Tilmer is an IT professional with over thirty years of experience wrestling with technology. He’s also a proud member of the Authors Guild of Tennessee. His second novel, The Bit Dance is a cautionary tale about what can happen when technology runs away from its creators. You can find links to Tilmer’s books at the following location:

His author information website is here:


I am with you, I believe that everything did not happen by chance. I believe there is an intelligent designer behind everything we see. The Almighty God.



Ghostly Hikes at Big Ridge

Fall leaves at Big Ridge State Park

As the spooky October season sneaks around the corner, Big Ridge State Park has some ghostly adventures planned for the community and visitors. As you may know, there are some mysterious stories from past generations that spook the park this time of year. These stories are shared amongst hikers at the Annual Ghost House Hikes which have been happening for more than a decade.

Poultry Auction Success for 4-Hers

Grand and Reserve Grand Champion winners for the 2019 Union County 4-H Chick Chain Show and Sale, left to right; Travyn Farmer, Dakota Smith, Chloe Lloyd, Mia Effler

The Annual 4-H Chick Chain Show and Sale was held Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at Darrell’s Auction & Livestock.

Shut the Door

Brooke Cox

I really felt bad for my mother. Even at my very young age, I could tell she was struggling more than I was.

You see, I was afraid to pull my own lose baby teeth. Many of my friends did it, but I couldn’t stand the thought. Some even worked to get their teeth lose so they could lay them under their pillows and get money from the tooth fairy. In those days, that was usually a quarter or two. Though there were a couple of kids in my class who received a whole dollar. At this time, you could buy a candy bar for fifty cents and lollipop for a quarter.

Gentle chiropractic procedures for the sacroiliac joint

Some patients with low back or buttock pain resulting from sacroiliac joint dysfunction may favor a more gentle chiropractic treatment over the traditional spinal manipulation techniques. Less forceful spinal manipulation involves slower (low-velocity) techniques that allow the joint to remain within its passive range of motion. Gentle chiropractic techniques include:


During the Great Depression, I remember growing up with the horrors of being quarantined. It seemed kids only caught the measles, whooping cough, mumps and such during the school year. Maybe the problem was the close contact we all had during the school day. If you or someone in your home had an infectious disease, the sign went on the door. There were no vaccines.

Jelly Roll

Have you ever made a jelly roll? I have made a few. My first one was for the fair in my home county. I was trying for the Homemaker Award that year in the early '60s. The person who won the most ribbons in the Food and Needlework categories would get the prize. I entered everything I could think of, including a jelly roll. It was my first one. I won the Homemaker Award as well as the silver tray for Best Cake. Guess what? My jelly roll beat out those fancy frosted cakes. Wedding cakes were in a different category.

House Dust

Those trying in vain to keep a house clean detest house dust. It floats in sunbeams and accumulates on furniture. Most assume the dust comes from outside, and about 60% of it does in the form of dirt or pollen, but much of it is generated inside the home. If you look at floater house dust under a microscope, it appears to be small flat plates, usually six sided and slightly wrinkled on the surface. It’s is mostly skin cells from us or from pets. We shed them constantly in fantastic amounts, and it’s the body’s way of keeping itself clean and free from invading pathogens.


It's About Time

There is nothing more certain than the inexorable march of time, each second dutifully ticking ahead at fixed, predictable increments. It’s the one certainty in a world of uncertainties, right? How many times have our movie heroes “synchronized their watches” in order to meet at a precisely coordinated time in order to save the world from some nefarious villain or another? How many New Year’s Eve parties have culminated with delirious attendees screaming the countdown to midnight in a gleeful chorus, watching the final seconds of the dying year slipping away?

A Makeover for Janet's Hair Salon

Janet Holloway, owner and operator of Janet's Hair Salon in Maynardville, TN, relaxing in the new spa chair

Janet’s Hair Salon is a remedy to style, beauty, and friendship within the Maynardville community. For nineteen years, folks have been visiting the salon for their beauty needs as well as laughter amongst friends. Janet Holloway, owner and operator of the salon, bought the shop in 1990, and business has been growing ever since.


Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

Thursday, September 26, 2019 - 07:30
Area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders

"We invite all area Worship Leaders, Pastors, and Faith community leaders to come together on the last Thursday of each month at Hardee's at 7:30 am. This is to be a time of fellowship, prayer, and discussion about how we as a community of Faith can work together to have a positive impact on our county. All are welcome!" For more information please contact Kathy Chesney at 865-566-3289.

Hogskin Festival

Saturday, September 28, 2019 - 11:00
Spinning wheel

Hogskin History Day Saturday, September 28 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
The 20th annual Hogskin History Day will be held Saturday, September 28 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Narrow Ridge Earth Literacy Center, 1936 Liberty Hill Rd, Washburn.

Hogskin History Day is a celebration of the history, music, and culture of the Hogskin Valley and surrounding Appalachian communities. The day promises to be both full of fun and interesting information.


Carolyn Marcum

Carolyn Marcum, passed away peacefully at home on Tuesday, September 17, 2019 surrounded by loved ones. Preceded in death by Daddy Rev. Leon Dawson, Momma Mabel Dawson, brother Doyle, and husband Dalvis Marcum. Survived by sons Tony (Brenda), Robbie (Christy), daughter Tammy, 9 grandchildren, 3 great-grandchildren, sister Loretta Foster. Family will receive friends 6:00-8:00pm Friday, September 20, 2019, at Redemption Harvest Church with service to follow, Rev. Jody Darden and Rev. Randy Carver officiating.

Hampton McMahan

Hampton McMahan, age 94 of Maynardville, TN, went to be with the Lord on Tuesday, September 17, 2019. He was a WWII Army Veteran and received a Purple Heart for his outstanding service to his country. Preceded in death by wife Laura McMahan; parents Reverend Harvey and Easter McMahan; brothers Pete Hayes and Hubert McMahan; sister Meryl Ward.

John Franklin Chesher

John Franklin Chesher, age 77, passed away September 16, 2019. He was a veteran of the Vietnam War serving in the US Army. He was a loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. John enjoyed fishing, always had a good humor about him, was tough as nails and had a huge heart. He loved his “Pete” with all his heart.

John is preceded in death by his mother Mattie Ethel Chesher; three brothers; and mother-in-law Iona Webb.

Rev. Ruben and Belinda Wilson

Rev. Ruben Wilson-age 76 and Belinda Wilson-age 58 of Blaine passed away suddenly Tuesday morning, September 10, 2019 as the result of an automobile accident.

The families would like to express their love and gratitude for the outpouring of love and support shown to our families.

Upon the request of Rev. Ruben and Belinda, there will be no services. Arrangements by Cooke-Campbell Mortuary, Maynardville.

Sara Elizabeth Dixon Kitts

Sara Elizabeth Dixon Kitts – 37 of Maynardville, born April 28, 1982 passed away Wednesday, September 11, 2019. She was a member of Alder Springs Missionary Baptist Church.

She is preceded in death by sister, Nancy Lynne Dixon; grandparents, William “Bud” Jones and Charles and Opal Dixon. Sara is survived by son, Carson Kitts; parents, James “Len” and Ann Dixon; sister, Jamie Dixon Delph; brothers, Andy (Sherri) Dixon and Scott Dixon; grandmother, Georgia Jones; special niece and nephews, Abygale Dixon, Hunter and Eli Delph; and several uncles, aunts and cousins.

Dana Lynn Bryson

Dana Lynn Bryson – November 7, 1957 – September 11, 2019 of Knoxville, departed Wednesday morning, losing her battle with cancer. During her time with us she lived, worked and played in Knoxville, Kansas City, Cleveland, Ohio, Washington D C and Atlanta. She graduated from Shawnee Mission High School in Kansas and Georgia State University. Her varied interest included dance, theatre, debate, politics, genealogy, knitting and film history.

Dustin "Cotton" Earl Bates

Dustin “Cotton” Earl Bates, age 27 of Strawberry Plains, passed away on September 7, 2019. Dustin was a beloved son, grandson, uncle and soon to be father. Preceded in death by his grandparents, Eddie and Wanda Bates and grandfather, Clifford Hensley. He is survived and will be greatly missed by his parents, Charles “Chad” Bates and Misty Hobbs; stepfather, Jesse Hobbs; sister, McKenzie Bates; brothers, Peyton Bates and Lee Hobbs; grandparents, Jerry and Polly Holt; grandmother, Barbara Hensley; nephew, Maverick Dylan Townsend; several aunts, uncles, cousins and great friends.

E. LaVerne Wilkerson

E. LaVerne Wilkerson age 91 of Knoxville, Tennessee was received into the presence of her Lord Jesus on Sunday, September 8, 2019 as she peacefully slept. She was a member of Salem Baptist Church.

Welcoming her into the Kingdom are parents Winfred and Iva Nunn; sister Wanda Nunn; daughters Kathy Wilkerson Rowden and Cindy Wilkerson Bryant; and grandson Dennis Carson Wilkerson Jr.

Corum Henderson Wolfenbarger

C.H. Wolfenbarger-age 86, was born in Washburn, Tennessee on July 7th, 1933 and passed away September 1st, 2019 in White Lake, Michigan. Beloved, he rose to heaven surrounded by his loving family. He was attentively cared for by his son, Jim Wolfenbarger and family after suffering a stroke in 2002 causing a slow decline of dementia. He celebrated Christmas and spent the winters with his daughter, Sherry Wolfenbarger Cagan and family in California.

Sandra C. Kitts Thomas

Sandra Carol Kitts Thomas-age 60 of Maynardville went home to be with the Lord Monday morning, September 2, 2019 at Select Specialty Hospital in North Knoxville Medical Center. She was a long-time member of Grace Baptist Church. She was born January 31, 1959 the daughter of the late Rev. Ted and Welmia Kitts, also preceded in death by sister, Mary Kitts.

The opinions expressed by columnists and those providing comments are theirs alone, and may not reflect the opinions of Russell Computer Systems, Inc or any employee thereof.