God vs The Multiverse (Part 6: Summary of Stage One)
Rabbi E. Feder, Rabbi E. Zimmer
Before moving on to the second stage which is primarily about the multiverse, we want to summarize the proof up to this point. In the proof, we used inductive reasoning from the fine tuning to infer an Intelligent Designer of the universe. What we mean by 'proof' is that a reasonable person would logically draw the same conclusion after understanding the arguments. We do not mean 'proof' in the sense of a mathematical proof or deductive reasoning.
We have presented, explained, and supported the fact of the fine tuning of the constants of nature and the initial conditions of the big bang with many renowned scientists (like Stephen Hawking, Martin Rees, Roger Penrose, Leonard Susskind, etc. We will present even more multiverse scientists who agree with the fact of fine tuning, and use it as proof for the multiverse.) In stage two, we will explain why we believe that the scientists' position of a multiverse is not a viable scientific theory.
Our main objective for stage one was to reject two theories as possible explanations for the fine tuning of the constants and the initial conditions: the Master Mathematical Equation theory and the Necessary Existences theory. We have tried to establish that the only two viable theories at this point are either an Intelligent Agent or the multiverse.
Based on the excellent feedback we received from the readers, it seems that the most abstract part of stage one was the relationship between Feynman's mystery in post 2, and the teleological explanation for the fine tuning in post 3. This is the key point, and is what separates this proof of an Intelligent Designer from most of the other ones that we've seen. (The way it is commonly presented is by starting with the fact of fine tuning, and arguing from the improbability of getting fine tuning by chance alone.)
The main idea is that the mystery that all good theoretical physicists worried about for 50 years had nothing to do with fine tuning. It is a problem that is rooted in the aim of fundamental physics of uncovering the most basic, simple reality in the universe. All good theoretical physicists realized that an arbitrary number has no role as a fundamental (Necessary) Existence. All good theoretical physicists realized that it was highly implausible that arbitrary, highly specific numbers would ever be derivable from a Master Mathematical equation.
The discovery of the fact of fine tuning in the constants provided an excellent solution to this mystery. The numbers were not fundamental, nor were they arbitrary. They had a purpose. The purpose of the numbers was in order to create an ordered and complex cosmos, in all its beauty and grandeur. It is the natural solution to one of the greatest mysteries in physics. Fine tuning did not create the problem. Fine tuning is the solution.
We inferred from the fact that the constants of the universe were designed to produce an ordered universe, that the Cause of the fine tuning of the constants was Intelligent. (Meaning, God knew what He was doing when He chose those numbers. He didn't just get lucky.)
The discovery of fine tuning dealt the death blow to the other two theories mentioned above, as they could not explain the causal relationship between the numbers and the universe. The significant knowledge we had about the constants could not be incorporated into those theories. In both theories, the relationship between the particular numbers and the resultant ordered universe was purely coincidental. This flew in the face of the fact of fine tuning.
Even though we had sufficiently made the case for the fine tuning of the constants and rejecting the two theories from posts 2 and 3, we added an additional proof from the fine tuning of the initial conditions in post 4. What was unique about this proof (as opposed to that of the constants) was that it was probabilistic. The nature of the problem is so great with regards to the initial conditions, that it is not even clear how such an explanation would even be formulated, as the "law for initial conditions" seems to have a qualitatively different character than our current understanding of physical law.
We noted that if someone wanted to deny an Intelligent Designer, the burden of proof is upon them to develop a theory to explain how the correlation between the fine tuning and the resultant ordered universe occurred through chance alone. In the next post, we will begin the second stage and present the main attempt among scientists to provide such a theory. As we will see, the essence of multiverse theory is the combination of random chance and a near infinite number of tries.
In summary, we have shown that an Intelligent Designer is the best logical inference, and it is upon atheistic (or agnostic) scientists to establish a valid scientific theory which explains the fine tuning based on some unintelligent mechanism, thereby invalidating our proof.
God vs The Multiverse (Part 7: The Multiverse)
As we saw in the prior posts, scientists (we will be using the generic terms 'scientists' and 'physicists', but please understand by the context that we mean 'multiverse scientists') were loath to accept a teleological explanation for the fine tuning of the constants, as that implied an Intelligent Agent which caused the universe. Intelligent beings do things for a purpose. Intelligent beings do 'x' because 'y' will result. That is what we mean by an Intelligent Cause.
There was one alternative solution left for scientists. They could try to change the problem of the constants from one which implied a teleological explanation (how we used the strong anthropic principle), to one which could be solved involving a very different form of causal relationship (the weak anthropic principle of post 5).
They speculated as follows: If there are a nearly infinite number of universes (by 'near infinite' they generally mean as big a finite number as is necessary to explain the constants through chance), then maybe each universe has a different set of values for its constants (we should probably call them 'variables' in this theory). Almost all of these multiverses would be chaotic nonsense (the term 'multiverse' can sometimes refer to the entire collection of universes, or sometimes just one of the many different universes), but a few of them would by chance alone have the perfect values for the constants. Since the illusory fine tuning of the constants is a necessary condition for the existence of life and intelligent observers, it is no longer surprising that we find ourselves in this beautiful universe. There are no intelligent observers in the other multiverses. This argument is identical in form to the solution for the origin of life on Earth after knowing that there are many planets.
It is readily apparent that there is a big 'if' and a big 'maybe' going on here. Scientists frequently try to justify these speculations by appealing to a slippery slope argument. (See the video below.) They argue that humans once thought the universe was really small. Then we observed it to be bigger. Then we observed it to be even bigger... Even though we haven't observed it to be, it's most definitely even bigger than we think now. Maybe it's an infinitely big multiverse. Maybe, in all the other multiverses the constants are different, thereby leading to meaningless chaos in almost all other universes.
We can understand the sense of awe one has from realizing just how small humans are relative to the vastness of the cosmos. We can also appreciate the intuitive sense that the universe is bigger than the diameter of the observable universe. We simply don't know just how big. We can start speculating, but then we have left the province of science. All other times in history that science has expanded the size (or age) of the known universe, it was based upon observation. Never has it been extended purely based on the speculation that it should be bigger. Certainly not infinitely bigger.
This is the first major difference between how the weak anthropic principle was used by biologists to explain the origin of life, and how physicists are attempting to use it here. Regarding biology, we know that there are many, many planets that are theoretically hospitable to life, because we observe them. First, biologists observed the planets, then they made use of the weak anthropic principle. Physicists are using the weak anthropic principle (and the fact of the fine tuning of the constants) as one of their proofs for the existence of other universes! (See the video.)
There is a second major difference which is a far more critical mistake. This flawed logic contradicts the cosmological principle, which has been one of the guiding principles in cosmology since the time of Newton. The cosmological principle essentially says that every observer in the universe sees the same universal features. (Without this principle, universal features don't even exist.) It says that our point of observation from Earth is not special. Just about every physicist holds by this principle in every other context. But it gets tossed out the window because of the pressing need to explain the fine tuning of the constants. (See the first comment and response for an elaboration on this point.)
There is no evidence whatsoever that the constants have different values in these speculated alternate realities. None. The only theoretical reason to believe that they do vary, is the fact of fine tuning itself, in conjunction with the a priori rejection of an Intelligent Designer.
Even if we grant that there are an infinite number of universes, we have every reason to believe that just like we suppose that the qualitative laws of nature (general relativity and quantum mechanics) are the same in those parallel universes, so too the constants of nature are the same and do not vary. To say the point more clearly, this slippery slope reasoning fails because this logic itself would lead us to believe that this new region of space is also ordered and structured with the same laws and constants that we observe in our current universe. In no way could slippery slope logic lead us to posit a different type of universe as a logical inference from the universe we see.
The theory of the multiverse is riddled with holes from every angle of analysis. We will try in the following posts to concentrate on its major flaws and we will point out some of the absurd conclusions scientists have embraced in their effort to deny the Intelligent Cause of the universe.
The first modern usage of the multiverse was by the discoverer of the statistical law of entropy, Ludwig Boltzmann in 1895, to answer the entropy problem of post 4. The theory is even more ancient than that. The Roman philosopher Lucretius (55 B.C.E.) is the first recorded multiverse theorist. (The argument of design goes back even further than that.) Twenty years ago, multiverse theory was considered a speculative, non-scientific theory held by very few people. It has now become mainstream physics, and many physicists believe and have faith in it. New books are coming out about it at an increasing rate. However, some physicists do realize its flaws and speak against it.
The video below is an entertaining, lucid explanation by Brian Greene of the major pillars of support that prove the multiverse. It shows Steven Weinberg saying that the multiverse "is a pretty good bet." It also shows a few physicists who think it's not science. We will be assuming in the next few posts that you will have either watched the video or read the recent article in Newsweek, May 21 which is a fairly concise summary of the video. (The video is better, but longer.)
We encourage the more advanced reader to read a slightly more sophisticated article entitled Universe or Multiverse, written by Bernard Carr and George Ellis. In this article, the two authors debate the merits and flaws of the multiverse. It does a good job of explaining the theory of the multiverse, as well as exposing many of its serious problems.
God vs The Multiverse (Part 8: Multiverse Of The Gaps)
In the previous post we introduced multiverse theory, which is the main theory proposed by scientists to explain away the fine tuning found in the universe, in a way which denies the teleological explanation from part 3. We showed that the comparison between explaining the origin of life based upon chance as compared with explaining the constants based upon chance does not hold up. In the next few posts we will lodge several questions on multiverse theories and refute their supposed proofs.
Before we take up specific critiques against the main proofs for the multiverse, we would like to set forth what we believe to be the most general, devastating argument against multiverse theory. What we mean by 'multiverse theory' is any theory which attempts to explain order and apparent design through randomness and a near infinite number of tries. (See the first comment for some discussion of 'infinite' and 'near infinite'). Any theory of many, ordered universes designed by an Intelligent Agent, has no relevance to the proof and we are not speaking about it when we say 'multiverse theory'.
Every multiverse theory commits a fallacy which is nearly identical with the God of the gaps argument. A good illustration of this kind of reasoning would be if someone tried to explain the mystery of the seemingly arbitrary constants to Feynman in 1985 (before we fully realized the fine tuning) using the argument that "God made the number 137.03597 and we no longer need another explanation for it." To simply posit that "God did it" is not a satisfactory explanation.
The theory that every time there is a gap in our knowledge we should posit God as a solution, commits the fallacy of an argument from ignorance. Everything can be explained by saying that God did it. An answer that can always be employed to explain anything, in truth explains nothing at all (this is a critical point that is worth thinking about for a moment). When a reasonable person is ignorant, he admits that he simply doesn't know. It is a mystery. When we gain more knowledge, maybe we'll be able to understand where these numbers come from, and why they are the way they are.
By the late 1980's however, patience paid off and we did develope more knowledge about these numbers. We started to realize that these numbers were not arbitrary. Rather, we understood that they needed to have their particular values in order for the universe to be ordered, complex, structured, etc. This teleological explanation (which implies an Intelligent Cause) is an argument from knowledge, not from gaps. We have knowledge about the values of the constants (their fine tuning) which points towards an Intelligent Designer, and away from an unintelligent, random cause.
God of the gaps is a fallacy that someone commits when they plug a hole in their understanding of the already existing universe by saying "God did it". The only reason to be positing God in such an instance is because they have no other answer. There is no direct inference to God, only the lack of knowledge. This is a fallacy because science is attempting to explain the existing universe in its own terms. A particular gap in a scientific explanation is likely due to our current lack of knowledge, and is no indication of the failure of science. Positing Divine Intervention at each gap in our knowledge is bad methodology and hinders the advancement of science.
However, here we are discussing the fundamental constants of nature and the initial conditions which were set at the big bang, the observed beginning of our universe. This begs a metaphysical explanation about the cause of our physical universe, its constants and initial conditions, as physics (even if it didn't break down at the first moment after the big bang) cannot go any further. Since fine tuning is manifest in the big bang and the fundamental laws, the metaphysical explanation which is indicated by knowledge (not by a gap), is an Intelligent Designer.
On the other hand, the multiverse theory falls prey to a very similar fallacy as the ordinary God of the gaps argument. It posits an infinite number of universes with random numbers. The combination of an infinite number of tries together with chance is the essence of multiverse theory, and can be used to explain any configuration of particles that you can imagine. It can be used to explain the sea splitting and allowing a nation to cross through. It even explains Santa Claus. It can be used to explain this universe, or any other logically possible universe. (This is because according to the laws of quantum mechanics, just about everything is statistically possible. While it is highly improbable to get a quantum fluctuation of Santa and his little helpers, if there are an infinite number of universes, it will happen an infinite number of times.)
In fact, if there really were a near infinite number of multiverses and everything was random, we no longer need the laws of physics or the laws of biology. Even if it really was totally random whether any two particular masses attracted or repelled (lets assume 50/50 each time), there would be at least one of the infinite multiverses where by chance alone, masses always came together. It would look to observers in that multiverse like there is such a thing as gravity, but since only in a universe with gravity or something close to it, is it even possible to have observers (as the phenomenon of masses attracting is a necessary condition for the existence of life), physicists should simply reject the explanation of gravity as superfluous.
The same arguments can be made to explain biology. Randomness and infinite multiverses explains chickens too. There is no need for the theory of evolution altogether. It would also explain unicorns and flying pigs. It would explain total chaos too, which is the key point. No matter what the universe looked like (incredibly ordered, totally disordered, or anywhere in between), a theory of randomness coupled with infinity provides an explanation.
There is a subtle point here. Multiverse theory does not predict unicorns. (In fact, it makes almost no predictions at all. More on this in later posts.) Rather, the multiverse theory would explain an observation of unicorns. We'll illustrate with the example of the lottery from the previous post.
If you and a trillion other people each had one lottery ticket, you would not predict in advance of the lotto drawing that you are likely to win. However, after the drawing and the observation that you did win, you would be able to explain it by saying that someone had to win and apparently it was you. It would be unnecessary to look for another explanation (i.e., cheating, Divine Providence, etc.), since someone had to win.
Likewise, since according to multiverse theory there are universes with unicorns (an infinite number of them in fact), while you would not be able to predict in advance that you would observe a unicorn (since most universes conducive to intelligent observers do not contain unicorns), after you observed a unicorn you would be able to explain the observation by positing that apparently you're one of the lucky observers in a multiverse which does have unicorns.
On the other hand, an Intelligent Cause is only validly inferred because we observe a meaningfully ordered, intelligible universe. Were the universe nonsensical chaos, it would be God of the Gaps to posit an Intelligent Designer. (In fact, in that case unintelligent randomness would be a good explanation.)
Multiverse theories could explain any possible observations without demanding any knowledge of the phenomenon. To put it simply, the theory of the multiverse, when taken to its logical conclusion, undermines all scientific knowledge. It takes the observation-based belief that the universe we live in is full of order and wisdom (thereby lending itself to explanations like the laws of physics and biology), and it replaces it with a meaningless, chaotic mess of total randomness with a coincidental illusion of order in our universe.
The multiverse of the gaps is the same fallacy as God of the gaps, except it substitutes chance and infinite tries in place of one all-powerful force. Even before we knew about the fine tuning, it would be fallacious to try to explain away the mystery of the constants by positing a multiverse and random chance. How much more superficial is the argument of the multiverse after we have concrete knowledge that there is a real relationship between the fundamental constants of the laws of nature, and the universe that results from those laws and constants.