Multiverse: Is Our Universe One of Many?

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Scientists today increasingly talk and write about the multiverse. What is the multiverse? The multiverse is the belief that our universe is just one of many universes. Presumably, each universe exists parallel to and independent of one another. If this sounds like science fiction, philosophy, or religion, it is, because the multiverse could be classified in any one of those categories. Whatever the multiverse is, it definitely is not science. How can the multiverse be scientific (given that science is the study of the natural world using our five senses) when other universes, by definition, are beyond our ability to detect? If the multiverse is not science, why do so many scientists believe in it? The reasons have nothing to do with science but instead are the result of presuppositions and worldview.

Within the multiverse paradigm, how many universes are there? The number of universes is huge, probably infinite. The properties of each universe would be different, so no one would expect any two universes to be the same. These differences are fundamental, including differences in physical constants and the way that physics operates. The properties of most universes would be such that life would not be possible in them. This reveals the primary reason for belief in the multiverse. Consider our own universe: it has long been recognized that if certain physical parameters of the universe diverged much from the values that they actually have, then life would not be possible. In 1973, the Australian theoretical physicist Brandon Carter coined the term anthropic principle to describe this observation. On its face, the anthropic principle would suggest that our universe is designed. This is exactly what biblical creation predicts. On the other hand, this is not what evolution predicts.

The Trouble with Being One of a Kind

In the broadest sense, evolution is the belief that the world has come about through totally natural processes. The origin of life is just one example of natural processes posited by evolution. If life arose on the earth but nowhere else, then the earth is by definition unique. But if the earth is unique, then it has a privileged status, which in turn suggests the possibility that earth and the life on earth were designed. And design implies a Designer, which brings one back to creation. Hence, the vast majority of people who believe in evolution also believe that life is relatively common in the universe. This amounts to playing the odds by believing that life arises wherever the conditions are conducive to life. But to play those odds, earth-like planets must be common in the universe. Therefore, there is nothing special about the earth, the sun that the earth orbits, or the location of the solar system in the galaxy. That is, conditions that produced the environment that we find on earth must be average.

More than a half century ago, the Austrian-born British cosmologist Hermann Bondi coined the term Copernican principle to refer to the assumed mediocrity of our place in the universe. Bondi picked this name because four centuries earlier Nicholas Copernicus had played a key role in removing the earth from the center of the solar system, which some had viewed as a privileged position. A century ago, the work of the American astronomer Harlow Shapley displaced the sun from the center of the Milky Way. Shortly thereafter, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that our Milky Way was just one of billions of galaxies. This work suggested that we were not in any particularly significant location.

Those who believe in the multiverse want to do the same thing for the universe: their contention is that just as there is nothing remarkable about our planet, there is nothing remarkable about our universe. After all, if there is only one universe, and it appears designed, then that again leads to the conclusion that there must be a Creator. However, if our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes, then we are back to playing the odds. The probability that our universe happened by chance is vanishingly small, but if there are an infinite number of universes, then the probability that at least a few universes conducive to life, as is our universe, is more likely. Therefore, there must be a multiverse. Thus it is alleged that there is a selection effect at work, that we can exist only in a universe where life can exist. In universes where life is impossible, there is no one to contemplate the meaning of existence. Therefore, we ought not to be surprised that we exist in a universe where life is possible. That is, the appearance of design is just that, appearance.

The Lack of Science

Belief in the multiverse is a desperate attempt to avoid the implications of design even when design is staring us in the face.

Note that there is no science in any of this. Instead, belief in the multiverse is a desperate attempt to avoid the implications of design even when design is staring us in the face. Arguments for the multiverse often are couched in pseudoscientific terms to make it sound scientific (for instance, one of the first popular-level books on the subject was the 1997 book Before the Beginning: Our Universe and Others by the famous British astrophysicist Martin Rees); but, again, there is no science here. Rather, it is at best a philosophical argument. Or, even better, it amounts to a religious argument. How can this be, given that most believers in the multiverse are atheists? Belief in the Creator God of the Bible obviously is religious. However, if one constructs an untestable concept to avoid belief in the Creator God, then that amounts to a religious statement as well.

It is amazing that otherwise rational people choose to believe in the multiverse, especially when it is very clear that they think that this is the logical, reasonable conclusion to reach. This is the sort of thing that the Apostle Paul wrote about in Romans 1:21. Once men reject God, then their foolish hearts allow them to engage in all sorts of futile speculations to give them reason for that rejection. This verse is preceded by verses 18–20, which is the declaration that the world around us reveals that there is a Creator, a Creator that must be very powerful. This in turn is an echo of knowledge of God indicated by the heavens found in Psalm 19:1–6. The heavens do declare God’s glory, and no amount of speculation about a multiverse can change that.

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