Physics, Earth & Space Icon Physics, Earth & Space

“Multiverse” Myth Frees Atheists from Real Science

Michael Egnor
Image Credit: Small Magellanic Cloud, by NASA/CXC/JPL-Caltech/STScI.

In 1973 physicist Brandon Carter noted that it is remarkable that many of the fundamental constants of physics are of just the right value to permit the emergence of man. Even slight differences in these constants would make intelligent life in the universe impossible. It is, he noted, as as if someone were expecting us. This observation came to be known as the anthropic principle, or the fine-tuning of the universe. 

Its meaning and implications have been much debated, and of course it has caused considerable angst to atheists. If you’re hard-set at denying the existence of God, fine-tuning of the cosmos to allow the existence of man is not an easy observation to elide. 

One Main Gambit

Deniers of God’s existence have clung to one main gambit to avoid the design implications of the fine-tuning of the universe — the multiverse. The multiverse is a theoretical inference drawn from the mathematical description of the early moments of the Big Bang. The equations of relativity imply the possible existence of many companion “universes” to ours. It seems that we cannot observe them, which makes their status as scientific observations dubious. But the multiverse has, for atheists, played a much more important role than that ordinarily played by untestable inferences from equations. 

Atheists acknowledge the obvious: the likelihood that chance can account for the constellation of physical parameters that lead to the emergence man in our universe is vanishingly small. Instead, atheists argue that if the laws of physics differ slightly in each universe in the multiverse, then the probability across all of the universes — the multiverse — that the values of forces in one universe would permit life to arise becomes much higher. 

There are innumerable variations to this argument, but all use a few quite clever yet misleading tactics. 

An Unintelligible Idea

The idea of a vast set of universes — a “multiverse” — is unintelligible. “Universe” means all that exists, for which multiplicity is senseless. “Multiple everything” is nonsense. Furthermore, even if desperate logic-parsing could impart meaning to “multiverse” (it can’t), it is meaningless to apply probability arguments across disconnected universes — you cannot meaningfully speak of the probability of something happening somewhere in Chicago, Endor, or Tatooine. Drawing statistical inferences from unobservable universes only makes sense in a script from Star Wars. It is no part of astrophysics. 

Atheists extend the probability range of fine-tuning across countless universes in a way such that the probabilities in other “universes” cannot be observed. Because all “universes” except ours are unobservable, we cannot actually either measure the probability or confirm that or how the laws of physics vary in the other “universes.”

What atheists have done is invoke a concept of multiverse that is conceptually unintelligible and scientifically unobservable. This unintelligible unobservable probability landscape is convenient for atheists, who can merely assert that it accounts for fine-tuning without providing even a shred of evidence or logic. The “multiverse” theory frees atheists from real science, which is the only condition in which atheism can survive.

It tells us two things — exemplified by fine and by tuning

The universe is exquisitely fine-tuned for the existence of man, and the “multiverse” myth is a debating tactic, not science. But how are to understand the fine-tuning of the cosmos? What does it really tell us?

Aquinas’ Fifth Way

The fact that the universe is tuned — that is, the fact there is any consistency at all in the laws of physics — demonstrates God’s existence. This is Aquinas’ Fifth Way, which is the proof from design. St. Thomas used the example of arrows. If we were to see arrows flying through the air, one after another, and noted that they consistently tended to land at or near a specific spot, we would correctly infer that they were shot by an archer (rather than, say, blown by the wind). Any consistency in nature implies a Mind that draws consistency out of chaos. A targeted arrow implies an archer. Note that this is not an argument from complexity. The simplest consistency in nature — a pencil falls down and not up, winter is colder than summer — demonstrates God’s existence. 

The second thing that fine-tuning tells us is exemplified by fine. Fine refers to the accuracy of the laws of nature, which reveals the Archer’s purposes. By observing the precision of targeting of the shot arrows, we can discern the Archer’s motives. If the arrows are merely flying into an open field, we may infer that the archer is just testing his bow. If the arrows are consistently hitting a bulls-eye target, we may infer that the archer is practicing his accuracy. If the arrows are hitting animals in the forest, we may infer that the archer is hunting. If the arrows are hitting soldiers encircling the area, we may infer that the archer is defending from an invasion. 

The tuning of nature points to God, and the fineness of His tuning points to His purpose. The anthropic fine-tuning of our universe tells us that we are God’s purpose in creation. 

This scientific reality has atheists in a panic, hence their need to fabricate countless fantasy universes and nonsensical probabilities. The fact that God created the universe and holds it in existence for us is a scientific fact unequivocally demonstrated by modern astrophysics.