Mario Livio, an acclaimed scientist and author said at the World Science Festival in New York City last month, “I would like to talk about a very serious embarrassment” (Cofield 2015). The embarrassment that Livio addressed was what Space.com writer Callie Cofield called “one of the most confounding (and embarrassing) problems in modern astrophysics…whether or not our universe might be just one of an infinite number of multiverses—and whether a theory of the multiverse is good or bad for science” (Cofield 2015). Cofield described the embarrassment in further detail by denoting the problem of “vacuum catastrophe. Truly empty space, sucked dry of any air or particles, still has an inherent energy to it, according to observations” (Cofield 2015). Cofield further described that “when scientists use theories of quantum mechanics to try to calculate this vacuum energy, their results differ from the measured results by about 120 orders of magnitude, or the number 1 followed by 120 zeroes” (Cofield 2015). Such differences demonstrate a great room of discrepancy. Josh Frieman, one of the panelists stated that “To make a math error that big you know you really have to work hard at it” (Cofield 2015). Some have postulated that the number for the vacuum energy could be a random number that could be solved by a multiverse model. The problem with multiverse models is that there is no independent research demonstrating that such a multiverse exists.
What is the “Real Problem”?
What is the real problem with all of this, despite the need to understand the physical elements used to bring about our universe? The real problem is blatantly given in the article—our universe appears to be fine-tuned for life. A multiverse model would appear to provide an “out” for atheists who do not desire to attribute credit to a deity—that is, God. However, some appear to express concern for the multiverse model. Riess said, “But I’m more concerned that…we lose the connection to explaining our world…Because it is almost like invoking a deity at that point” (Cofield 2015). Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics at Yale University said, “One of the reasons why the multiverse argument actually appeals to me is actually there is no room for agency or deities or any such thing” (Cofield 2015). Natarajan provides the real problem for many cosmologists. Many do not for there to be a God. Atheists such as Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins have demonstrated as much. However, this is not a problem for science as much as it is a philosophical problem for the ones promoting such views. Furthermore, contrary to popular opinion, a multiverse does not eliminate the need for God.
The Skeptic’s Problems with a Multiverse Concept
Natarajan accepts a multiverse theory because he posits that such a theory dismisses the need for God. Au contraire! A multiverse would still demonstrate a need for God for the following reasons.
BVG Theorem and the Multiverse
Borg, Vilenkin, and Guth published a theorem (a mathematical certainty) that even if a multiverse were to exist, the multiverse would need to have an absolute beginning. Therefore, the atheist has not eliminated the problem of first causes; the skeptic would merely push back the problem by one step. Even if a multiverse could be demonstrated, the skeptic has a further problem (see especially the “Biblical Problem”).
The Inaccessibility of a Multiverse
Even if a multiverse could be proven, it could not be scientifically demonstrated. Science deals with the physical world. At this stage in human history, it would be impossible for scientists to examine a universe beyond the confines of this universe.
The Biblical Problem
Another problem that exists for the skeptic, unbeknownst to many, is that the Bible demonstrates the existence of a third heaven—the place for the abode of God. Paul denotes that he knows a “man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows” (2 Corinthians 12:2, ESV). Many biblical scholars believe that Paul is giving a personal account of his experience from a third person point of view. Thus, Christians have held that at least three heavens exist (the 1st—the atmosphere, 2nd—the universe, and 3rd—the abode of God). Therefore, if it is demonstrated that a universe exists beyond the scope of this one, are scientists dismissing God or are they simply discovering the structure provided by the Bible since the 1st century? I would claim the latter.
The Philosophical Problem
Philosophically, no problem exists for the classical theist if a multiverse were to exist. Classical theists hold that God works in and through the agencies of the universe. Thomas Aquinas termed such a concept the “argument from the ‘governance of the world” (Aquinas 1.2.3.). Norman Geisler sums up Aquinas’ view by the following:
“1. Every agent acts for an end, even natural agents.
- Now what acts for an end manifests intelligence.
- But natural agents have no intelligence of their own.
- Therefore, they are directed to their end by some Intelligence” (Geisler 1999, 714-715).
Thus, natural processes and physical forces are directed by a Supreme Intelligence—that one we know as God.
There is a story about a scientist who climbed a mountain for many years. When finally reaching the top of the mountain, he came to find a theologian was already seated at the top. The theologian asked the scientist, “What took you so long to get here?” This parable demonstrates that science is providing ample reasons for one to believe in God. Such is to the disdain of militant atheists—and not scientists in general. Eric Metaxas makes such a case even more fascinating as he denotes in the Wall Street Journal that “At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being” (Metaxas 2014). Metaxas goes on to say that “There’s more. The fine-tuning for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all…For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000—then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp” (Metaxas 2014). Let us conclude our journey with the words of Metaxas in denoting that “The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself” (Metaxas 2014). Amen!
Aquinas, Thomas. Summa Theologicae. 1.2.3. In Norman L. Geisler. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
Cofield, Callie. “Cosmic Confusion: Talk of Multiverses and Big Errors in Astrophysics.” Space.com. (June 12, 2015). Accessed June 15, 2015. http://www.space.com/29641-multiverses-big-errors-astrophysics.html?cmpid=NL_SP_weekly_2015-06-12.
Geisler, Norman L. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999.
Metaxas, Eric. “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God.” Wall Street Journal. (December 25, 2004). Accessed June 15, 2015. http://www.wsj.com/articles/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes-the-case-for-god-1419544568.