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Four Reasons the Multiverse Fails as Science

David Klinghoffer
Image source: Discovery Institute.

Writing in Salvo Magazine, our colleague Andrew McDiarmid neatly summarizes four reasons the multiverse fails as a scientific explanation of cosmic origins. He cites Stephen Meyer and the method of “adductive reasoning,” outlined in Return of the God Hypothesis.

From, “Multiverse or God?“:

In his book Return of the God Hypothesis, Meyer weighs the explanatory power of the multiverse and provides at least four reasons to be skeptical. The first difficulty with such many-layered theories is that they violate the law of parsimony, known as Ockham’s razor. This well-known practice, commonly applied in science and philosophy, states that when formulating educated guesses to explain things, one should avoid suggesting multiple explanatory entities without necessity. To subscribe to the multiverse, one would also need to subscribe to a host of other notions, including other universes, inflaton fields, tiny strings of energy, hidden spatial dimensions, gravitons, gravitinos, and more. In the end, our observations and experience of the world suggest that the hypothesis rooted in elegant simplicity has a better chance of being correct.

Another problem with multiverse proposals is that they are purely hypothetical. There is no way to observe them first-hand. Although unobservability is a hallmark of historical sciences, theorists must be careful not to give too much credit to numbers and laws themselves. Math can’t produce phenomena — it can only describe things already in existence. As Stephen Hawking wrote in his book A Brief History of Time, “What is it that breathes fire into the equations and makes a universe for them to describe?” 

A third reason Meyer doubts the explanatory power of multiverse ideas is that they end up pushing the origin problem further back. The universe generating mechanisms of the multiverse would themselves require prior unexplained fine tuning. Plus, the multiverse requires an even greater initial surge of energy than the standard Big Bang model. That means more disorder (entropy) and an even greater order required at the beginning. More fine-tuning means more that the multiverse must explain. Fourthly, key predictions of inflationary multiverse models have failed to materialize, as has evidence of the “supersymmetry” proposed by string theory. This has brought about more contrived variations on the models, leading to what some philosophers of science call bloated theories.

The multiverse theory has been embraced as a defense against what Meyer calls the God Hypothesis, the idea that an intelligent agent, not a cosmic lottery, lies behind the existence of our universe. The defense, though, is a weak one, for scientific rather than religious reasons. Andrew McDiarmid is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute. Read the rest at Salvo.