A major concept that can be clarified through the critical analysis of equally competing skeletal explanatory frameworks, is the notion popularized by Carl Sagan in his book The Pale Blue Dot, coined as the Copernican Principle or the Principle of Mediocrity.
The Principle of Mediocrity says that because the earth is smaller in size compared to the vastness of the cosmos…that simply because our earth is inhabited by humans…it nonetheless merits no special significance in the universe.
To paraphrase, Carl Sagan said that our earth was a small speck in the great cosmic dark, enjoying no special or preferred place in the universe, the essence of the concept of the Principle of Mediocrity.
The arguments unwinding this concept begin by saying that the universe has to reach its current size in order to have a large enough “sample size” of rapidly receding galaxies to mathematically calculate in reverse-time going backwards, to precisely pinpoint an accurate average of 13.7 billion years ago for the Big Bang beginning of the universe.
The relative ratio between a hypothetically smaller universe and a larger earth would not improve the accuracy of these calculations, and are therefore seen as being irrelevant in determining the importance of the earth in terms of relative size.
The vast size of the universe appears not to be an impediment in calculating a beginning point in time for the universe…an extremely important scientific discovery.
This line of reasoning would be easily recognized by a cosmologist or physicist.
Having this starting point in time established, we can ask some questions relating to this issue of mediocrity.
After the first billion years of the existence of the universe…at 12.7 billion years ago…would our Milky Way galaxy exist and how developed would it be?
Could an early universe that had expanded to roughly 7% of its current size (using a linear expansion of 13.7/100 = 7%)…be able to produce our Milky Way galaxy to the point where our galaxy would then be able to produce and sustain our solar system and planet earth?
The beginning of the universe at 13.7 billion years ago minus the beginning of the earth at 4.5 billion years ago…equals roughly 9.2 billion years of the expanding universe before our local solar system and earth are formed. Another 4.5 billion years of expansion occurs before humans come along and begin to investigate the natural world through science.
If time and space were compressed to make the earth “more significant” in terms of relative size compared to the universe at large…would we still have an earth located within the dark space between two spiral arms within the comparatively safe “goldilocks zone” a little more than half-way out between the center and the outside edge of the Milky Way galaxy?
Would we have the clear atmosphere of the earth to explore the cosmos through telescopes and outer-space probing satellites?
Would an initial expansion rate of the universe that was less than it was at the Hot Big Bang produce the enormous universe compared to the seemingly insignificant planet earth, having all of the right proportions, sizes, and fine-tuned constants in the laws of physics?
The precisely accurate mathematical calculations fit together like a Swiss watch…including a definitive starting point in time for the beginning of the universe.
Carl Sagan saying that our earth is mediocre within the grand scheme of things, because the worldview of scientific materialism has no place for intelligent agency and thus no purpose or meaning in the universe, is a totally philosophical assumption. It has no empirical support coming from the fact-based evidence of science itself.
We could ask what alternative size and scope for the universe would provide an equal quantitative and qualitative sample size to produce the current accuracy of our determinations of the laws of physics and the characteristics of the elements of the Periodic Table.
There is a host of reasons why the Principle of Mediocrity is no longer valid, beyond the scope of this book (see the book Why the Universe Is The Way It Is, by Hug Ross, 2008).
The Principle of Mediocrity reveals the peril that occurs when scientists leave their specialty and from the elevated platform of scientific authority make assertions about worldviews that are entirely philosophical…which I am now doing in the statement in bold and italics directly below this paragraph.
Modern science today points towards intelligent agency, and not towards the insignificance of mediocrity
Modern scientific investigation was always going to arrive at a point in time when it reached the inescapable recognition of the need for a Designing Intelligent Agent.
The organized complexity of the information content now reveals scientifically an architectural and engineering artisan of incomparable precision at the highest standards of craftsmanship, having complete mastery of the database of information to create everything material and non-material in existence in the universe… because He Himself created all of this information.
Because the natural world was always this complex…starting at the Big Bang creation of the universe 13.7-billion years ago and the formation of our planet earth 4.5-billion years ago…this paradigm-changing epiphany was waiting all this time for human scientific discovery to catch up.
The functional coherence of organized complexity now points to intelligent design as the only remaining plausible option.
This returns full-circle from the theistic conceptual beginnings of the Scientific Revolution…of a rational Creator God of the Bible producing a natural world that is orderly, intelligible, and accessible to human scientific investigation…to discover the truth as to how all of this came into being.
Not everyone will become PhD scientists, able to navigate through the technical facts spanning several disciplines of research, now supporting design and thus agency in nature.
Not everyone has a college degree in philosophy…able to parse the subtle arguments for and against theism and atheism.
Winning a consensus that favors design in today’s scientific and philosophical communities, thereby rejecting the atheistic version of materialism, would be without question a monumental event in human history.
But the discovery by modern science of the inescapable presence of design in the natural world, based upon a fuller understanding and appreciation of information in this new Age of Information, and thus the existence of an intelligent designer God…expands a million-fold when filtered through the biblical narrative stories of faith.
Making a compelling argument to the general populace that a faith-journey following the perfectly precise and accurate God of the Bible as the one true worldview narrative excluding all others (Mt. 7:13-14; Jn. 11:25, 14:6)…is a bottom-line conclusion immerging from both science and Christian living today.
The final end-point purpose of the scientific research epiphany in nature of the existence of a designing agent, having the indescribable foresight to capably marshal all of the varied components needed to fashion this functional universe, must rightfully make the logical connection to validate this same high competence of the God of the Bible in composing journeys of faith life-scripts.
The mislabeled controversy between God and science then boils-down to the correctly identified contest between self-sovereignty versus God-sovereignty…which can only be fought-out within the confines of faith, trust, and personal relationships.
From the book Pondering Our Creation: Christian Essays on Science and Faith.