Universe or Multiverse, God is Still the Creator

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://biologos.org/blogs/deborah-haarsma-the-presidents-notebook/universe-or-multiverse-god-is-still-the-creator
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I applaud Deb’s caution not simply to equate multiverse theories with atheism: God can create one single universe, or zillions of them, as he sees fit. It’s not our place to be telling God what to do.

At the same time, IMO multiverse theories of many types, perhaps all types, are not yet genuinely scientific–and perhaps they never will be. This remains to be seen. Let me defend my opinion.

Scientists don’t normally need input from historians and philosophers of science, but this may be an instance in which such input could be helpful. That possibility was suggested late in 2015 by a Nobel laureate: https://www.quantamagazine.org/physicists-and-philosophers-debate-the-boundaries-of-science-20151216/, but for some time longer I’ve felt that the history of physics can actually inform current practice in cosmology. If you pick up a standard physics text today, it might mention the luminiferous ether somewhere in the book. Or, it might not. If it does, you will probably read about how experiments to detect the earth’s motion through the ether in the late 19th century were spectacularly unsuccessful, and that is one of the main reasons why the idea is no longer considered valid. It couldn’t be detected, so other means of explaining what it explained had to be found. Relativity came to the rescue.

Keep in mind that the ether did make a tremendous prediction that was verified: Maxwell’s theory of electromagnetic radiation, which made sense (at the time) only in the context of an ether with mechanical properties filling all of space, predicted the existence of electromagnetic waves traveling through it at the speed of light. Hertz confirmed this experimentally. That gave much support to Maxwell’s theory and to the existence of the ether. Nevertheless, efforts actually to detect it kept failing, and it eventually dropped out of the Reality box into the Fantasy box.

Has the multiverse theory yet made a verified prediction of the magnitude of e/m waves? I don’t think so, but I’m not a prophet and we don’t know what might turn out. So far, no good. Even if it does, will we continue to see it as a viable theory if no one can ever detect another universe? If so, then–as George Ellis and Joe Silk have argued, the rules of science have changed fundamentally. They call it, “moving the goalposts.” Scientific method: Defend the integrity of physics | Nature I think they’re right.


They may be moving the goalposts, but they’re moving them beyond the edge of the field into the space of an abyss. There seems be a good reason for doing so–there’s no other apparent way to find out anything about it. The problem is a new one, and new approaches may be needed. As long as the boundaries are kept clear, and it’s recognized that something different than purely empirical science is being done, I’m not sure that the possible threat is something to be afraid of. Discouraging it on that basis could turn out to be a mistake.

May I suggest that you are being professionally modest here, Dr. Davis? I do think I know what you mean (and agree) that scientists don’t “normally need input from historians and philosophers”; but I think this would only be true in the same way that a carpenter doesn’t mention the “floor” or “ground to stand on” as a necessary tool. Sure, it isn’t a “tool” in a traditional sense, but its absence would make any work impossible. I propose that history and philosophy constitute that “standing surface” from which scientists work, whether they explicitly acknowledge it or not.

[edited for clarity]

> renowned physicist Stephen Hawking said, “A combination of quantum theory and the theory of relativity would better explain our existence than divine intervention.” This is a common refrain in videos and popular books about cosmology, focusing on these scientific theories primarily as a way to eliminate God.

It is not clear what Hawking is talking about from the quote above, but I noticed from reading his A Brief History of Time that his criticism was a criticism of the God of the Gaps. What he said was after science solves all the mysteries of the world, there will be no need for the God explanation. That would be interesting if it were true.

There are three important beginnings in science. There is the beginning of our species, which Darwin attempted to explain. He and successors did except Darwinism tries to make evolution random, which it is not. This is the challenge that BioLogos should be focused on.

The next beginning is the beginning of life. Science is looking for a naturalistic explanation, and I expect ot will, but that remains to be seen.

They last beginning is the beginning of the universe. In a sense this mystery has been solved by the Big Bang theory and this is probably what Hawking is referring to. But here science has run into the Beginning of Time and Space which can only be caused by God. Here God is not an answer for a gap in science, here God is the answer for the fact of science.

This is my point. I hope that we Christians no longer support the God of the Gaps, because whiloe God does fill in the gaps of our knowledge, God is primarily the Creator, the God of What Is, the God of the Facts, even if scientists do not agree on the facts.

The problem with the multiverse is that it undercuts the Big Bang, but the Big Bang is well attested, while the multiverse is not. It is an interesting theory, but science must be more than in attested theories. A serious problem I have with multiverse is not the4 theory as theory, but it seems as too many folk treat it as reality when it is not. That is bad science as well as other theories which are not attested, but seek to prove that the Big Bang was not the Beginning of time and space.

These are the issues as I see them. Yes, God is the Creator of the universe and the multiverse, but the truth is the truth. I see no reason why I should sit by and allow non-believers to use bad science for their own purposes, any more than I should allow YEC to do the same.

About Hawking’s final paper concerning the multiverse

Even if Hawking can prove that there are parallel universes:

  1. It will be a long shot.

  2. It will take a long time.

  3. It will cost a lot of money.

  4. It will not have any practical purpose.

Many people will continue think the the multiverse is true even though there is very little scientific evidence for it. Much money will be spent on this research instead of more pressing problems here on earth.

For me and for Christians generally I would say that the existence of God is important for hope for the future. When I have spoken to non-believers as to how their disbelief in God or the spiritual affects their morality, what I get is a copout, i.e. Atheism i8s not a system of belief. I find this unacceptable and irresponsible.

If atheism is a belief claim and not a knowledge claim, then it is a choice. If it is the choice to believe in nothing instead of Something, then it is not a reasonable choice.

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Agreed, faith is the substance of things HOPED for , the evidence of things not seen .
When atheists ask me for proof of God , I just offer the general christian formula :

Faith in Jesus Christ + acts2:38 =proof of God ( contact ) …
They usually complain " but we have no faith in Christ " …I say , yep , that is why you have no proof …

It doesn’t go over well

It seems to me that the old stance of atheism was that it was based on the lack of knowledge. If the new stance is the lack of belief, that is surer because they do not have to argue as to whether God exists or not. All they have to say is they do not believe in gods and that is it.

But can they justify that choice without some kind of evidence or knowledge?

The question is not freedom. They can do whatever they choose to do. The question is integrity. Can they justify their choice to themselves and to those who they care about and care for them?

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Also , put simply …
Have they looked everywhere?
We can barely get off the surface of earth .
To say with complete certainty that there is no direct evidence of God , is to say one had looked under every rock , behind every nebula , through every black hole , and so on .
The best they can do is claim doubt , not certainty.
Thomas doubted to , until confronted with Christ before him .

Thank you, Ted.

I do not call it moving the goal posts. I call it doing away with the goal posts. Science has been rightly praised for its ability to produce practical results, but this movement would change all that. It would be based on unprovable speculation.

This really would make science, philosophy, and theology irreconcilable if science were not falsifiable. .

I feel the issue connected to a multiverse is more philosophical than scientific. After all, no one is in a position to verify the existence of a multiverse.

The idea is necessitated by materialism. If matter is the basic stuff from which all things emerge, then matter must be eternal in some form or the other. If the universe has a beginning, then it must be preceded by a multiverse and so on and so forth.
Its also useful to deny the idea that something immaterial such as consciousness somehow effects things at a Quantum level.

It is just a necessity created by a materialistic world view.

Maybe. I think this is an interesting post from Sean Carroll: Beyond Falsifiability – Sean Carroll. This helps highlight more of the potential scientific nature about the multiverse, moving it away from the realm of the philosophical. After all, we can’t necessarily see curved spacetime but can measure its effects with exquisite precision. Perhaps this falls into the same category but only time will tell I think.

I don’t think so. As the original article points out:

To simply dismiss the multiverse as an atheist alternative to God is to dismiss a rigorous, mathematical structure that is driven by curiosity about the nature of matter and gravity and our universe. If you want to reject the multiverse, you would need to develop another theory that explains quantum gravity or the uniform temperature of our universe without predicting multiple universes.

To clarify, is this related to your thinking on the multiverse? That could be an interesting separate topic if not.

Hi Mathew,

I was not advocating abandoning all investigation in the idea of a multiverse. Like you pointed out, we might develop capabilities to test out aspects of this hypothesis.
However, the current status is that no one is clear how to test out this hypothesis and many doubt that it even can be tested. Hence my observation that it is more akin to philosophy. To clarify, there is no way a layman can view this theory as established science or even close to it.
Its more appropriately seen by lay people as a largely philosophical idea with mathematical backing in my view.

With respect to the many worlds Interpretation, I mentioned it because some physicists now view both the many world’s as well as the multiverse theorem as possibly equivalent.

The disturbing thing about all this is that we now have a bunch of currently unprovable theorems which are being pursued with a lot of excitement mainly because they are elegant and I suppose satisfying to the physicist. Since physicists are human beings, I assume ideas which affirm their world view will be more satisfying than ideas which don’t. This is where materialism comes into play or vice versa depending on personal inclination. If experimental verification is possible, it would act as a necessary counterpoint that would hold these theorems to account.
I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Of course, we will know in time how useful these ideas turn out to be.

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