7 Reasons the Multiverse Is Not a Valid Alternative to God [Part 2]
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Part 1 of this two-part series appeared in the April issue. Part 2 follows below and continues, without introductory comments, where the first article ended.]
Problem #4: Unscientific
As with inflation theory, the multiverse is untestable and unobservable, making it unscientific. Astrophysicist and Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University Adam Riess and astrophysicist Mario Livio, previously at the Space Telescope Science Institute, stated: “Even just mentioning the multiverse idea…raises the blood pressure of some physicists. The notion seems hard to swallow and harder to test—perhaps signifying the end of the classical scientific method as we know it. Historically this method has required that hypotheses should be directly testable by new experiments or observations.”1 But observation, direct testing, and experimentation are not possible with the multiverse. Ellis, in apparent frustration, admitted:
Similar claims [about the existence of multiverses—JM] have been made since antiquity by many cultures. What is new is the assertion that the multiverse is a scientific theory, with all that implies about being mathematically rigorous and experimentally testable. I am skeptical about this claim. I do not believe the existence of those other universes has been proved—or ever could be. Proponents of the multiverse, as well as greatly enlarging our conception of physical reality, are implicitly redefining what is meant by “science”…. The various “proofs,” in effect, propose that we should accept a theoretical explanation instead of insisting on observational testing. But such testing has, up until now, been the central requirement of the scientific endeavor, and we abandon it at our peril. If we weaken the requirement of solid data, we weaken the core reason for the success of science over the past centuries.2
Krauss noted that “for many people, multiverses…are indications of how far fundamental physics may appear to be diverging from what is otherwise considered to be sound empirical science.”3 Regarding string theory, inflation, and the multiverse theory, Ellis and Silk insisted, “We agree with theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder: post-empirical science is an oxymoron…. In our view, the issue boils down to clarifying one question: what potential observational or experimental evidence is there that would persuade you that the theory is wrong and lead you to abandoning it? If there is none, it is not a scientific theory.”4 Buchanan, writing in New Scientist about the multiverse, bewilderedly said,
[F]antasy is the very word that occurs to many—including some physicists—when they hear some of the ideas popular in cosmology…. [I]nflationary cosmologists have opened the speculative throttle so fully that physicists now talk routinely of such things as an infinitude of parallel universes, or a “multiverse”…. Is this still science? Or has inflationary cosmology veered towards something akin to religion? Some physicists wonder….5
By the end of the article, Buchanan’s answer was clear. “In the end, this [i.e., the multiverse—JM] isn’t science so much as philosophy using the language of science.”6
Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist, faculty member at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and adjunct Professor of Physics at the University of Waterloo. In an article titled, “You Think There’s a Multiverse? Get Real,” he forthrightly argued the following:
[T]he multiverse theory has difficulty making any firm predictions and threatens to take us out of the realm of science. These other universes are unobservable and because chance dictates the random distribution of properties across universes, positing the existence of a multiverse does not let us deduce anything about our universe beyond what we already know. As attractive as the idea may seem, it is basically a sleight of hand, which converts an explanatory failure into an apparent explanatory success…. We started out trying to explain why the universe is so special, and we end up being asked to believe that our universe is one of an infinite number of universes with random properties. This makes me suspect that there is a basic but unexamined assumption about the laws of nature that must be overturned…. [T]he multiverse fails as a scientific hypothesis in spite of the fact that simple versions of inflation made some predictions that have been confirmed. The idea of inflation is plagued by the need to explain how the initial conditions were chosen…. [W]e had to invent the multiverse. And thus with an infinite ensemble of unobservable entities we leave the domain of science behind. In some sense, the multiverse embodies the unreal ensemble of all possible solutions to the laws of physics, imagined as elements of an invented ensemble of bubble universes. But this just trades one imaginary, unreal ensemble for another.7
Folger admitted, “The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved…. Does it make sense to talk about other universes if they can never be detected?... [Cambridge University astrophysicist Martin] Rees, an early supporter of Linde’s ideas, agrees that it may never be possible to observe other universes directly.”8
Naturalists routinely argue that Creation is “unscientific” and therefore should not be taught in science classrooms. After all, God cannot be directly observed, and Creation and Noah’s Flood cannot be reproduced scientifically. In truth, direct evidence for the truth of the biblical model is available9 and abundant indirect evidence exists to substantiate the biblical model as well.10 However, even if it was the case that Creation is unscientific, multiverse theory and inflation (along with the Big Bang) should, on the same grounds that naturalists use, be deemed unscientific by naturalists and left out of the science classroom. Don’t hold your breath that such rational, consistent thinking will prevail among naturalistic scientists. After all, “If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse,”11 and according to Harvard University evolutionary geneticist Richard Lewontin, naturalistic scientists “cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”12
Problem #5: Origin of the Multiverse
For the sake of argument, let us concede the existence of the multiverse. Next question: where did the multiverse come from? Ellis noted,
Many physicists who talk about the multiverse…assume a multiverse context for their theories without worrying about how it comes to be—which is what concerns cosmologists…. Scientists proposed the multiverse as a way of resolving deep issues about the nature of existence, but the proposal leaves the ultimate issues unresolved. All the same issues that arise in relation to the universe arise again in relation to the multiverse. If the multiverse exists, did it come into existence through necessity, chance or purpose? That is a metaphysical question that no physical theory can answer for either the universe or the multiverse.13
Recall that Finkel wrote concerning the multiverse, “This is all highly speculative, but it’s possible that to give birth to a new universe you first need to take a bunch of matter from an existing universe, crunch it down, and seal it off.”14 If a Universe had to first be in existence before the new one was born, how did it all get started? And where did the “strings” of string theory come from? The multiverse theory still does not answer the ultimate question.
That ultimate question is precisely what Richard Webb titled a 2016 article in New Scientist: “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” One of the hopes about the multiverse theory is that it could explain why our laws of physics are what they are. As we have highlighted elsewhere, they certainly could not write themselves.15 In the multiverse, every possible law would be expected to happen in some Universe at some time—and possibly many times throughout eternity. But again, the ultimate question is not answered. Webb highlights that truth: “A popular idea is that all the other possible laws of physics—including no laws—exist elsewhere in a ‘multiverse’ of all possible worlds. In that case, why a multiverse?”16 Theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrobiologist, and Professor at Arizona State University Paul Davies weighed in as well in an article titled “Taking Science on Faith”:
The multiverse theory is increasingly popular, but it doesn’t so much explain the laws of physics as dodge the whole issue. There has to be a physical mechanism to make all those universes and bestow bylaws on them. This process will require its own laws, or meta-laws. Where do they come from? The problem has simply been shifted up a level from the laws of the universe to the meta-laws of the multiverse.17
In 2011, he said, “You still have to explain the multiverse. That still has laws. You need a Universe generating mechanism.”18 According to Davies, the multiverse theory merely moves the goal post. It does not really answer the ultimate question. Michio Kaku, theoretical physicist of the City College of New York, agreed, but went even further: “[I]n string theory, there are other universes out there. There’s a multiverse of universes…. [T]he question is, ‘Where did the multiverse come from?’ You could argue, therefore, that maybe you need a god to create the multiverse, or a creator to create string theory, perhaps.”19
While there are different versions of the multiverse theory which have been suggested, according to Ellis, “[n]early all cosmologists today” accept the type of multiverse wherein “[e]ach [Universe—JM] has a different initial distribution of matter, but the same laws of physics operate in all.”20 As astronomer Shannon Hall wrote in New Scientist, the other universes of the hypothetical multiverse are “all bound by the same laws of physics” as ours. She reasoned, “At least that’s the assumption: those laws don’t change over the distances we can see, so there is no reason to think they will suddenly transform beyond them.”21 Recall again that in the multiverse model, in order to form a new Universe you “need to take a bunch of matter from an existing universe, crunch it down, and seal it off.”22 It stands to reason that if one Universe starts from another, then the same laws would apply to both, which agrees with what Ellis stated. But if that is the case, then the same laws which prohibit matter and energy from creating themselves or existing forever in our Universe23 hold in those other Universes as well.24 The origin of it all must still be accounted for. If matter and energy in our Universe come from “a neighbouring universe leaking into ours,”25 the matter in that Universe still has to have come from somewhere. In the words of evolutionary biologist of Oxford University Richard Dawkins, “Of course it’s counterintuitive that you can get something from nothing. Of course common sense doesn’t allow you to get something from nothing.”26 Reason still leads to an ultimate Creator of everything.
Problem #6: The Multiverse Admits the Existence of the Supernatural
Recall what Ellis and Silk wrote in 2014 in Nature: “This year, debates in physics circles took a worrying turn. Faced with difficulties in applying fundamental theories to the observed Universe, some researchers called for a change in how theoretical physics is done.”27 Ironically, the “difficulties” theoretical physicists have encountered have forced many naturalists to go beyond nature to try to explain. As Smolin said, “We had to invent the multiverse,”28 and according to Parker, it was from our “imagination.”29 The use of our imagination to determine where we came from certainly sounds like today’s “science” is moving ever further into the realm of fiction.
Regardless, notice that according to many physicists, something beyond the current definition of science is needed to explain certain things—i.e., the existence of the unobservable, supernatural realm is demanded by the evidence. Notice how Davies put it: “Clearly, then, both religion and science are founded on faith—namely, on belief in the existence of something outside the universe, like an unexplained God or an unexplained set of physical laws, maybe even a huge ensemble of unseen universes, too.”30
Besides the existence of the laws of physics, what kind of “difficulties” are physicists encountering that are forcing them to conclude that something outside of the Universe exists, and therefore, that they need to “invent” the multiverse to avoid God? Many have articulated well the problem. Read on to see a great lesson by naturalists on the need for a supernatural Designer for the Universe. According to Folger, “The idea that the universe was made just for us—known as the anthropic principle—debuted in 1973.”31 Since then, the principle has grown in strength. Consider, for example:
Notice: Physicists cannot help but acknowledge the truth of the Teleological Argument for the existence of God. Design demands a designer, and the Universe has abundant evidence of design (i.e., fine-tuning). The multiverse is a concession by naturalists that we have been right all along: there exists an “unseen realm.” But rather than concede God, naturalists invent the evidence-less, imaginary multiverse. Ironically all the while, the multiverse is itself a supernatural option—albeit, one without any rules concerning how we should behave, making it attractive to many.
Problem #7: Would the Existence of the Multiverse Actually Prove the Existence of God?
According to multiverse theory, “All that can happen, happens” somewhere in the many Universes that make up the multiverse.41 Ellis explained concerning the multiverse that “[i]n seeking to explain why nature obeys certain laws and not others, some physicists and philosophers have speculated that nature never made any such choice: all conceivable laws apply somewhere. The idea is inspired in part by quantum mechanics, which, as Murray Gell-Mann memorably put it, holds that everything not forbidden is compulsory.”42 Sokol agrees: “In the multiverse of eternal inflation, everything that can happen has happened—and will probably happen again.”43 In 2014, Lisa Grossman authored an article in New Scientist titled “Quantum Twist Kills the Multiverse: Goodbye Eternal Multiverse, Hello the End of Everything.” Therein, she explained:
In such an infinite multiverse, everything that has even a slight chance of happening is virtually certain to happen—you just need to wait long enough. Some theorists have pointed out that, taken to its logical conclusion, that includes the spontaneous aggregation of matter so that it creates self-aware, disembodied brains. It’s the same kind of logic that says an infinite number of monkeys typing randomly would eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. “It sounds like something a bunch of college sophomores would discuss while high. It doesn’t sound like a real scientific problem,” says Scott Aaronson at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.44
It’s certainly a ludicrous idea—“pure speculation” in the words of Ellis45—but that is what multiverse theory suggests. Buchanan explained: “In the multiverse, every conceivable world exists, and individuals identical to you and I live out parallel lives in places we cannot have access to.”46 Gefter said that in the multiverse, “[e]very conceivable value of dark energy or anything else will exist an infinite number of times among the infinite number of universes, and any universal theory of physics valid throughout the multiverse must reproduce all those values.”47 Recall that Steinhardt, writing in Nature, criticized the multiverse concept: “Scanning over all possible bubbles in the multiverse, everything that can physically happen does happen an infinite number of times. No experiment can rule out a theory that allows for all possible outcomes.”48
Now, that said: if in the multiverse, “all that can happen happens” and “every conceivable world exists”; if “everything that has even a slight chance of happening is virtually certain to happen”; if “anything” “will exist an infinite number of times”; if “everything that can happen has happened—and will probably happen again”; if “everything not forbidden is compulsory”; then why would it not be the case that a God with the characteristics of the one in the Bible would exist in at least one of those Universes? Does the multiverse not demand that God exists? If not, why not? And if a God like the one in the Bible exists, then that God is omnipresent—He is everywhere and every-when (cf. Psalm 139:7-10; Proverbs 15:3; Ecclesiastes 12:4; 1 Timothy 1:16-17). That means that if He exists in another Universe somewhere, He must exist here as well.
In this article, we have intentionally quoted extensively from emeritus distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Applied Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa George Ellis since he is a well-respected cosmologist among naturalistic scientists and a key player in the multiverse discussion. Ellis thoroughly grasps why the multiverse is being championed. He understands what is at stake for naturalism, but he also understands that the multiverse theory has significant problems. Consider what he said in his critique of the multiverse in Scientific American in 2011:
Proponents of the multiverse make one final argument: that there are no good alternatives. As distasteful as scientists might find the proliferation of parallel worlds, if it is the best explanation, we would be driven to accept it; conversely, if we are to give up the multiverse, we need a viable alternative. This exploration of alternatives depends on what kind of explanation we are prepared to accept. Physicists’ hope has always been that the laws of nature are inevitable—that things are the way they are because there is no other way they might have been—but we have been unable to show this is true. Other options exist, too. The Universe might be pure happenstance—it just turned out that way. Or things might in some sense be meant to be the way they are—purpose or intent somehow underlies existence.49
It is significant that Ellis and Silk acknowledge, “In our view, cosmologists should heed mathematician David Hilbert’s warning: although infinity is needed to complete mathematics, it occurs nowhere in the physical Universe.”50 The evidence is clear: there must be Something infinite beyond the physical Universe that brought about this Universe and its laws or ordinances. There is zero evidence for a multiverse being that supernatural realm. Indeed, by cosmologists’ own admissions, the multiverse concoction “leapt out of the pages of fiction into scientific journals”; is “hard to swallow”; is a “sleight of hand”; “dodge[s] the whole issue”; is “imaginary”; and is an “oxymoron.” But on the other hand, there is ample evidence that the God of the Bible exists.51 He wrote the “ordinances of the heavens” and “set their dominion” over the Universe (Job 38:33). By His word, “the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
1 Adam G. Riess and Mario Livio (2016), “The Puzzle of Dark Energy,” Scientific American, 314:42, emp. added.
2 George F.R. Ellis (2011), “Does the Multiverse Really Exist?” Scientific American, 305:40-43, emp. added.
3 Lawrence M. Krauss (2014), “A Beacon from the Big Bang,” Scientific American, 311:67, emp. added.
4 George Ellis and Joe Silk (2014), “Defend the Integrity of Physics,” Nature, 516:322-323, December, emp. added.
5 Mark Buchanan (2014), “When Does Multiverse Speculation Cross into Fantasy?” New Scientist, 221:46-47, January 18, https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22129 520-900-when-does-multiverse-speculation-cross-into-fantasy/, emp. added.
6 Ibid., p. 47, emp. added.
7 Lee Smolin (2015), “You Think There’s a Multiverse? Get Real,” New Scientist, 225:24-25, January 17, emp. added.
8 Tim Folger (2008), “Science’s Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory,” DiscoverMagazine.com, November 10.
9 Kyle Butt (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press), /pdfs/e-books_pdf/ Behold%20the%20Word%20of%20God.pdf; Jeff Miller (2014b), “Bill Nye/Ken Ham Debate: Tying Up Really Loose Ends,” Reason & Revelation, 34:38-59, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1152.
10 See the following for a discussion of indirect evidence in science: Jeff Miller (2013b), “‘Unlike Naturalists, You Creationists Have a Blind Faith,’” Reason & Revelation, 33:76-83, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1125&article=2164.
11 As quoted in Folger, emp. added.
12 Richard Lewontin (1997), “Billions and Billions of Demons,” The New York Review, January 9, p. 31.
13 Ellis, pp. 40-43, emp. added.
14 Michael Finkel (2014), “Our Star, The Sun, Will Die A Quiet Death,” National Geographic, 225:102, March, emp. added.
15 Jeff Miller (2012), “The Laws of Science—by God,” Reason & Revelation, 32:137-140, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1103&article=2072.
16 Richard Webb (2016), “Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing?” New Scientist, 231:32, September 3, emp. added.
17 Paul Davies (2007), “Taking Science on Faith,” The New York Times, November 24, emp. added, http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/24/opinion/24davies.html?_r=0.
18 “The Creation Question: A Curiosity Conversation” (2011), Discovery Channel, August 7.
20 Ellis, p. 38, emp. added.
21 Shannon Hall (2017), “Infinite Frontiers,” New Scientist, 233:28.
22 Finkel, p. 102, emp. added.
23 Concerning the eternality of matter/energy, some physicists have acknowledged that even the multiverse could not exist forever [Lisa Grossman (2014), “Quantum Twist Kills the Multiverse,” New Scientist, 222:9, May 17].
24 Jeff Miller (2013a), “Evolution and the Laws of Science: The Laws of Thermodynamics,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=9&article=2786&topic=57.
25 Joshua Sokol (2015), “A Brush with a Universe Next Door,” New Scientist, 228:8, October 31.
26 Richard Dawkins and George Pell (2012), “Q&A: Religion and Atheism,” ABC Australia, April 9, http;//www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s3469101.htm.
27 Ellis and Silk, p. 321, emp. added.
28 Smolin, p. 25.
29 Lawson Parker (2014), “Cosmic Questions,” , 225, April, center tearout.
31 Folger, emp. added.
32 Ellis, p. 42, emp. added.
33 Ellis and Silk, p. 322.
34 John Rennie, Editor’s Note in Sean M. Carroll (2008), “The Cosmic Origins of Time’s Arrow,” Scientific American, 298:48, June.
35 Sean M. Carroll (2008), “The Cosmic Origins of Time’s Arrow,” Scientific American, 298:57, June, emp. added.
36 Smolin, p. 24, emp. added.
37 Folger, emp. added.
38 Stuart Clark and Richard Webb (2016), “Six Principles/Six Problems/Six Solutions,” New Scientist, 231:33, emp. added.
39 Brian Greene (2015), “Why String Theory Still Offers Hope We Can Unify Physics,” Smithsonian Magazine, January, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/string-theory-about-unravel-180953637/?no-ist, emp. added.
40 Mary-Jane Rubenstein (2015), “God vs. the Multiverse,” New Scientist, 228[3052/3053]:64, December 19/26, emp. added.
41 Ellis, p. 42.
42 Ibid., emp. added.
43 Sokol, p. 8, emp. added.
44 Grossman, p. 9, emp. added.
45 Ellis, p. 42.
46 p. 46, emp. added.
47 Amanda Gefter (2012), “Bang Goes the Theory,” New Scientist, 214:34, June 30, emp. added.
48 Paul Steinhardt (2014), “Big Bang Blunder Bursts the Multiverse Bubble,” Nature on-line, 510:9, June 5, http://www.nature.com/news/big-bang-blunder-bursts-the-multiverse-bubble-1.15346.
49 Ellis, p. 43, emp. added.
50 Ellis and Silk, p. 322, emp. added.
51 Eric Lyons and Kyle Butt (2014), “7 Reasons to Believe in God,” Reason & Revelation, 34:110-119, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1175; Jeff Miller (2015b), “How Can a Person Know Which God Exists?” Reason & Revelation, 35:52-53, http://apologeticspress.org/apPubPage.aspx?pub=1&issue=1189&article=2506.
Special thanks to Dr. Mike Houts (AP Auxiliary Scientist and NASA nuclear engineer) for reviewing this article and offering helpful suggestions.