Tag Archive: Multiverse


In the previous post, I presented and explained an argument for the design of the universe to make possible life on earth. The universe certainly appears designed, but could our intuitions

about this be wrong? Some think so, and have offered alternate explanations.

The Multiverse

The evidence and appearance of design is overwhelming. It seems an insurmountable challenge to explain how all the cosmological constants are so precisely calibrated to support life on earth without inferring design. Without design, the only other mechanism is chance, and as mentioned previously, the odds of all the constants falling in these “sweet spots” are practically, if not mathematically, impossible. The multiverse is an attempt to work around this problem.

In brief, the multiverse theory states that there is an ensemble of universes parallel to our own. There could be any number of other universes out there, each with different settings on their cosmological constant values. So, one may be quite different from ours, having life-crushingly heavy gravity, and another may be quite similar to our own, but perhaps having an Earth with high carbon dioxide and a runaway greenhouse effect. This multiplicity of universes are generated by some mechanism, a “machine” which produces these universes with such high quantity that eventually, one like ours would eventually pop out, develop, and evolve life.

A Multiplicity of Problems

 

So does the multiverse explanation offer an equal or superior alternative to a designing Agent? If so, it’s going to have to address a couple of problems.

The offering of a multiverse is an attempt at bypassing the implications of an Agent, whose properties begin to look like a personal Designer, one which we might call God. The problem here is that this explanation is, by definition as outside our universe, a metaphysical one, just as much as a belief in a God is; how can this sit well with materialists? Being outside our universe, there is no way, even in principle, to have any observation of, interaction with, or evidence for such a mechanism. To assert the existence of a multiverse ensemble or a multiverse generator is an act of blind faith exceeding the most fundamentalist theistic believer.

But even if we concede the existence of such a machine, it would also require some explanation of its origin, as noted before, an infinite regress of days (or other time units) is impossible to traverse. We must also have some explanation of its cause, and of its design, being necessarily a highly complex mechanism to be able to produce complex universes of various configurations. It seems to me that, at best, the multiverse pushes back the problem a level, but offers no solution for it.

The multiverse is an attempt to explain the appearance of design of the universe we live in. However, since it ends up not answering the question, but postponing it, and requires a lot of blind faith in an explanation without any evidence, even in principle, I find myself without any reason whatsoever to believe in such a thing.

But perhaps I’ve overlooked something. If you think so, leave me a note through the form on my “about” page, we’ll discuss, and your comments may inspire a follow-up post!

The Finely-Tuned Universe

The Fine-Tuning Teleological argument states that there is design in the universe, and that the purpose of the design is human life.  There are over one hundred cosmological or physical parameters that have been discovered so far[1] which support the fine-tuning argument, both on the macro level of astronomy, cosmology, and physics and the micro level of biology and chemistry.  Below I will enumerate some examples of these evidences as well as examine some of the critical responses to the finely-tuned universe argument.

Evidence of Design

The following is a list and brief explanation of several of these parameters which individually make a strong statement establishing design.  Together, particularly with the host of others referred to above, the case for design is far stronger than the most airtight forensic conviction in our courtrooms.  For just 75 of the many available constants to be so without a Designer, the probability is approximately 10-99, a vanishingly small number.[2]

One such evidence is found when considering the strong nuclear force, which binds subatomic particles within an atomic nucleus.  With a variance in this force of about 1 percent, the universe would either have no hydrogen at all in it or be completely composed of hydrogen, neither condition which will support life.

The weak nuclear force is what allows nuclear fission, fusion, and decay, and is responsible for the production of helium.  If this were slightly stronger or weaker in its strength, the right amount of helium would not have been produced to have developed planets.

Electromagnetic force is necessary for the formation of molecules through the sharing and placement of electrons.  If it were stronger or weaker, molecules could not form, and so neither could more complex arrangements of life.

The gravitational force in the universe is another parameter with an extremely narrow range supporting the existence of suns, planets, and life as we know it in our universe.  A very slightly higher amount of gravity in the universe would result in crushing gravity which would result in animals not much larger than insects to be unable to support their own weight.  Increasing gravity slightly more would cause the stars in the universe to burn more quickly and hotter, making planets uninhabitable.  Reduction in the gravitational force by a small amount would cause the stars to not burn as hot and so nuclear fusion, again, would not start, and neither sufficient energy nor heavy elements for planetary creation would be produced, and life would be impossible.

The cosmological constant is the energy density of empty space.  If it had been large and positive, it would have been a strong repellent which would have prevented the formation of galaxies and stars.  Had it been large and negative, it would have been attractive to the point of causing the universe to collapse in on itself as soon as it had begun expansion.  In fact, it is smaller than had been first predicted, making it a very precise setting making our universe and life possible.[3]

The mass of a neutron is just the right amount too – were it only a bit bigger, nuclear fusion in stars would stop, and there would be no energy for life.

Criticisms of Teleology and Alternate Explanations

Perhaps the most widely accepted refutation attempt by critics of this argument is the Multiverse theory.  This theory states that there are actually an infinite number of universes appearing and disappearing throughout the infinite stretch of time, and thus, the staggering odds against a chance production of our universe means nothing more than the number came up.  These multiple universes are theoretically said to have appeared within bubbles created during an inflationary period early in the universe’s existence.  However, there are several problems with this theory.

Firstly, as is demonstrated elsewhere,[4] an actually infinite number of things (such as discrete universes) cannot exist; it is a mathematical impossibility.  Even stating it as a hugely enormous number of finite universes doesn’t get around the problem, but it does bring us to the second problem with the multiverse theory.

That second problem would best be summarized by the “fixed game” example[5], which applies to the multiverse theory as well as directly applying to a “chance” explanation in a single universe. As noted above, there are over 100 constants that we currently know of which are each improbable to an enormous degree.  Imagine a person tossing a coin again and again, noting whether it landed heads or tails (only an approximate 50% odds), and it came up heads each time, up to and exceeding one hundred times.  That person would not reasonably conclude that he was incredibly lucky[6]; he would strongly suspect that the game was fixed, that the coin was weighted or in some other way tampered with to produce such a result.   

Thirdly, there is no scientific evidence or precedent to think that such a thing could exist; there is no support for this theory in observable nature.  This makes the multiverse theory more of a metaphysical position than a scientific one, and since the model of a Designer fits more within our realm of experience, Occam’s Razor suggests that we must discard the multiverse hypothesis rather than postulate an infinitude of undetectable and untestable universes to explain our own which is so.  Moreover, once science begins entertaining the notion that the universe is not, in fact, a closed system, but can be acted upon by outside forces, supernatural influence can no longer be ruled out on those grounds.

A fourth problem with the multiverse theory lies within the requirements of a mechanism that could produce universes as postulated by this theory.  For such a “universe machine” as this to work, there would necessarily be some uniform laws in place to produce these multitudes of universes, and these laws would have to operate within certain fine-tuned parameters of physics to be able to even produce universes.[7]  So the implied design is not refuted by the multiverse theory; it is only moved up a level.  If the multiverse theory is somehow and someday proven true, it will only raise more questions and evidence in favor of creationist theism.

Some naturalists attempt to explain away the evidences of design in the universe by imagining a yet-undiscovered unified Theory of Everything, which would show all these apparently designed constants to be components in a larger organization of a naturalistic law or principle.  The French mathematician and astronomer Pierre-Simon, marquis de LaPlace states it so:

An intellect which at a certain moment would know all forces that set nature in motion, and all positions of all items of which nature is composed, if this intellect were also vast enough to submit these data to analysis, it would embrace in a single formula the movements of the greatest bodies of the universe and those of the tiniest atom; for such an intellect nothing would be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes.[8]

The problem with a “Theory of Everything” solution is similar to that of the multiverse machine.  Such a theory which would require or force the precision of the constants as we find them to be would be even more complex, and itself imply design of an even higher ingenuity.[9]  So again, the problem would just be moved up a level.

An attempt is made to brush the issue aside with the weak anthropic principle which is explained by British mathematical physicist Roger Penrose in the following manner:

The argument can be used to explain why the conditions happen to be just right for the existence of (intelligent) life on the earth at the present time. For if they were not just right, then we should not have found ourselves to be here now, but somewhere else, at some other appropriate time.[10]

This explanation is no explanation at all, however, but a statement of our ability to observe the fine-tuning.  Truths and natural laws exist independently of our recognition of them.  Thus, they are discovered, not created, and this fine-tuning still requires an explanation.

Other naturalistic scientists discard the anthropic principle of design as being a god-of-the-gaps solution.  The argument is that by inserting “God did it” into gaps in scientific knowledge, the scientific investigation is closed and no further exploration is felt needed by the theist.

The argument for the existence of God as the designer is a reasonable conclusion from the evidence supplied; it is not simply a fallback default solution.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer stated:

…how wrong it is to use God as a stop-gap for the incompleteness of our knowledge. If in fact the frontiers of knowledge are being pushed further and further back (and that is bound to be the case), then God is being pushed back with them, and is therefore continually in retreat. We are to find God in what we know, not in what we don’t know.[11] 

The evidence produced by scientific study builds more and more the case for a Designer of the universe.  The gaps in the knowledge of one who believes in intelligent design are still available to be filled by scientific exploration as the solutions are discovered; these solutions are not ruled out ahead of time by presupposition or prejudice.  Scientific study is in no way hampered by the proposal of universal design.

In fact, it is naturalistic scientists who make limiting judgments prior to evaluation of evidence, by ruling out the metaphysical before the scientific process even begins.  This is naturalism-of-the-gaps, and limits accurate and complete scientific study of the universe’s evidence.

The naturalistic responses to this body of evidence and the staggering improbability of chance occurrence of it all are either faulty philosophical sidesteps or bad scientific methods, as they themselves would define it.  Therefore, the Anthropic Principle of cosmology provides very compelling evidence for the most reasonable conclusion that a supernatural being designed and created the universe in such a way that mankind could exist.  As astronomer George Greenstein puts it:

As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency—or, rather, Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?[12]

 


[1] A more lengthy list may be found at Reasons To Believe. “Design Evidences In The Cosmos.” 1998. (see bibliography)

[2] Ibid.

[3] Stephen Weinberg, “A Designer Universe?,” New York Review of Books (October 21 1999): .

[4] As developed in William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1994), 94-97.

[5] Kenneth D. and Robert M. Bowman Boa, Jr, 20 Compelling Evidences That God Exists (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Cook Communications, 2005), p. 50; also Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2004, p. 136.

[6] Odds are less than one in a quadrillion quadrillion for 100 tosses, according to Boa, 20, (p. 50)!

[7] Strobel, The Case for a Creator, p. 142-144.

[8] LaPlace, Pierre-Simon, marquis de, A Philisophical Essay on Probabilities, trans. F. W. Truscott and F. L. Emory (New York, New York: Cosimo, Inc, 2007), 4.

[9] Strobel, The Case for a Creator, p. 137

[10] Roger Penrose, The Emperor’s New Mind (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1989), 559.

[11] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison (New York, New York: Touchstone, 1997), 311.

[12] George Greenstein, The Symbiotic Universe: Life and Mind in the Cosmos (New York, New York: William Morrow, 1988), 26-27.