What about the multiverse?

(Dark X Studios) #1

Does the idea of the multiverse undermine the Bible? I’m not asking whether the multiverse exists or not. We dont know everything but if evidence were to come up for the multiverse, would it contradict the Bible?

(Noah White) #2

(Paging @Casper_Hesp and @Richard_Wright1 who have both discussed this topic on the Forum before)

For my $0.02, multiverse is a frustrating concept to me inasmuch that it lends credence to skeptics’ arguments against the faith. That being said, I’m not convinced it necessarily undermines the Bible and/or God. My issues with multiverse come more from aesthetics and the cumulative nature of objections to Christianity. There are, however, several Christians who propose the multiverse and endorse it–Stephen M. Barr, Gerald Cleaver to name a few.

As I see it, it is no more theologically unsettling or worrisome (if I may use such negative words) as the possibility of intelligent extra-terrestrial life in our universe. It just means we’d have to reassess our place in the cosmic story.

Superstring theory (which I take it multiverse theory is borne out of) is interesting, as it seems to allow for a different view of time and dimensions to the universe, which is interesting to think about in terms of God’s action in the world and eschatology. Multiverse has its detractors, but the current narrative climate around science is that those detractors are sticks-in-the-mud who aren’t willing to take the next step.

One last comment is that I see in a lot of the theoretical physicists the same attitude as I see in the people in charge of SETI–namely, that they’re convinced that what they’re investigating is true or is probably true, and I don’t know what to do with that attitude. I think there are legitimate reasons to doubt the existence of ET intelligence–reasons that are not just theological, but also scientific. But I’m no scientist and it seems that the majority of them feel that it’s only a matter of time–some think within several decades! It’s easy to feel like (as I discussed with @Jay313 and @Mervin_Bitikofer in another thread) that such scientific discoveries are inevitable, and I often personally feel like multiverse is, but it is helpful to be reminded that a lot of theories take a while to be buried.

Thanks for bringing the topic up.

(Dark X Studios) #3

Those are some good points. I would also point out that the multiverse in fact does not negate God no matter how you try to explain God away. Many have tried but you still have the question of where the “first” universe came from, if multiverse is true. The Multiverse had to have been created and so you need a creator. I would say that ultimately it comes down to the science part. As do many other things including Evolution, big bang, multiverse, ETs, etc. A lot of these theories and ideas dont contradict the Bible at all (I guess depending on your interpretation).

A little off topic, but if you dont mind I would like to hear why you think Aliens are not likely. Im not judging at all, I’m just the curious type. :slight_smile:

(Noah White) #4

This actually reminds me, I should’ve mentioned that multiverse, ETs, etc., have no really bearing on the idea of God, writ large–whether it’s general deism or theism. They’re probably more troubling for Christianity in particular than they are for belief in a God in a general sense.

My views on ETs have a couple different facets. I think there’s nothing necessarily excluding microbial life on other planets, though it strikes me odd that people are so sure of it given that we really have no clue how life started on our own planet. I’m not saying that means the search is pointless, but it is a curious mindset.

As for ET intelligence, there are a lot different things that need to coincide for intelligent life (as we know it) to form–our own @Sy_Garte has written on this more succinctly than I could, so I’ll link to his blog. One thing to note, that I didn’t initially, is that I’m talking mostly about our own galaxy. If it exists in another galaxy, we probably couldn’t observe or contact it (never say never, of course). Again, I don’t particularly like the ideas of ET intelligence or multiverse but people much smarter than me seem to take them as givens, so perhaps I should change my attitude.

Anyway, ETs are off-topic to the thread itself and I’ve said what I want to about them (given that I brought them up!). If you want to discuss it further, you may want to start a new thread so as to not incur the (rightful!) wrath of the moderators! But like I said, that’s about all I wanted to say on the subject.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #5


I think I agree with you. I find both aliens and the multiverse to be irrelevant at best.

I have no reason to think that the multiverse is real and if so, so what? We certainly can spend plenty of money to find out, but what difference does it make?

An alien inhabited world would be light years away so it would be impossible to communicate in any real time, much less visit. Our science fiction imagination has far out stripped scientific reality.

Our biggest task is learning to live together in peace on this planet. Science can be a help, but it is not the key. Morality and ethics is the key, which is not dependent on science. It is dependent on theology and faith.

(Larry Bunce) #6

An infinite God could have created an infinite number of universes, so the basic concept of a multiverse does not necessarily rule out God. The whole idea of a multiverse seems to me to be taking conjecture to its limits. Certain features of the visible universe can’t be explained with current mathematics, and the math works out better with multiple universes— invisible ones that still exert a force on the one we do see. This sounds suspiciously like the way early humans came up with the concept of gods to make sense of an unpredictable, bewildering world. At least their gods could be seen in the constellations in the sky every night.

(Christy Hemphill) #7

It touches my heart that you read my message. :blush: No one wants wrathful moderators.

(George Brooks) #8



Why would any of that have any bearing on the divine realm?

(Scott koshland) #9

I think that the idea of a multiverse may be interesting to a believer. First of all it suggests the possible existence of other universal domains. A universal domain such as Heaven?

Also it might suggest that our prayers and belief can effect the universal reality. Perhaps when our savior Jesus Christ said, “if you have faith as small as a mustard seed you can move mountains.” And. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”, and “this kind can come out only by prayer.”

I don’t know if we can accept that these multiverse exist but the idea is may be intriguing to our Christian thought.


[quote=“DarkX_Studios, post:3, topic:35997”]
Many have tried but you still have the question of where the “first” universe came from, if multiverse is true. [/quote]

Well, there needn’t be a “first” in an infinity. To speak of a ‘first’ is to imply a temporal relationship or causality. That may not be an actual necessity in a multiverse.

Personally, I think our sense of ‘causation’ might get need to be jettisoned in a final theory of everything. It certainly gets twisted when we postulate things like ‘uncaused causes’.

I have doubts that physics is going to demonstrate the necessary existence of an initial creator but similarly, I also doubt physics will ever be able to rule one out.

This is another facet of what I call ‘ironic design’. The ability to create a universe where the existence of a creator could be immediately determinable should well be within the range of a god-like entity. However, this is not what we see. Only a being with a sense of great irony could create a universe where the being’s influence cannot be proven. In fact, an ironic designer would create a universe in which the answer could not be definitively proven either way. This seems like just that sort of universe, so if a creator exists it must have a infinite sense of humor. :grin:

(Curtis Henderson) #11

Which, I believe, is exactly what God did. I think it stresses how much God wants us to step forward in faith to enter a relationship.


One can posit that God wants an act of faith. However, there is a tension in Christian theology created by the notion that there is no good reason not to take such a step. And one goal of the associated apologetics is to make the case that the step is actually quite small. I sense a paradox, or at least a quandary that I have never seen adequately resolved.

Then again, the inability to adequately resolve the issue is what one might expect from an Ironic Designer. :slight_smile:


For what it’s worth, this atheist does not view a multiverse as any more problematic for the Bible than what we observe in our own universe. If multiple solar systems or multiple galaxies are not a problem, then I don’t see why a multiverse would be a problem either.[quote=“NoahWhite, post:2, topic:35997”]
One last comment is that I see in a lot of the theoretical physicists the same attitude as I see in the people in charge of SETI–namely, that they’re convinced that what they’re investigating is true or is probably true, and I don’t know what to do with that attitude. I think there are legitimate reasons to doubt the existence of ET intelligence–reasons that are not just theological, but also scientific. But I’m no scientist and it seems that the majority of them feel that it’s only a matter of time–some think within several decades! It’s easy to feel like (as I discussed with @Jay313 and @Mervin_Bitikofer in another thread) that such scientific discoveries are inevitable, and I often personally feel like multiverse is, but it is helpful to be reminded that a lot of theories take a while to be buried.

Although I am certainly not a SETI scientist, I am a scientist so perhaps I could give a little insight into the psychology of scientists.

There very well may be scientists working in SETI who fully believe that there are intelligent species within ear shot of our radio telescopes. However, I would hazard a guess that the vast majority are more strongly inspired by the idea of a missed opportunity. Even if the chances are low, the actual discovery of an ET signal would be really, really exciting. To use an analogy, scientists are viewing this as a sea voyage into the unknown. If they don’t find an island out there with humans on it, then so be it. At least we can now know that there aren’t any islands with humans out there. However, the chances of discovering an island with humans on it is worth the risk and effort of the journey. The same for SETI.

Some of the most exciting research in science are big experiments where people have no idea what the outcome is going to be. Think of the first particle accelerators, or the first telescopes that were able to peer out past the Milky Way. Discovering new knowledge, even if it is a big fat negative result, is worth the effort.

(Richard Wright) #14

Hi Noah,

I think you’re right about the multiverse - it poses no threat to Christianity, the bible is neutral on the multiverse and God can use a multiverse if it pleases Him to get our universe created. Skeptics still have to contend with the 2 following questions: how did the multiverse got here nor why is it fine-tuned or, “designed” to create universes with different physical constants and laws, which with enough universes will get one, like ours, that is just right to develop intelligent life.

I feel similarly about the intelligent life, though I’m under the opinion is that there isn’t any out there or that God made the universe so that we could never come in contact with them, knowing that we couldn’t handle it.

The multiverse detractors are more than a few sticks-in-the-mud. The present Wiki article on it lists more physicists who are opposed to it than promote it, which wasn’t the case a couple of years ago when I used it as a source for my paper that rebutted Richard Dawkins’ arguments against the existence of God. And some of the detractors are top-notch scientists like Paul Steinhardt at Princeton, who did seminal work on inflation cosmology. And when I say they are down on it, I mean like this (I used this quote in my paper where I rebut

A pervasive idea in fundamental physics and cosmology that should be retired: the notion that we live in a multiverse in which the laws of physics and the properties of the cosmos vary randomly from one patch of space to another. According to this view, the laws and properties within our observable universe cannot be explained or predicted because they are set by chance. Different regions of space too distant to ever be observed have different laws and properties, according to this picture. Over the entire multiverse, there are infinitely many distinct patches. Among these patches, in the words of Alan Guth, "anything that can happen will happen—and it will happen infinitely many times". Hence, I refer to this concept as a Theory of Anything. Any observation or combination of observations is consistent with a Theory of Anything. No observation or combination of observations can disprove it. Proponents seem to revel in the fact that the Theory cannot be falsified. The rest of the scientific community should be up in arms since an unfalsifiable idea lies beyond the bounds of normal science. Yet, except for a few voices, there has been surprising complacency and, in some cases, grudging acceptance of a Theory of Anything as a logical possibility. The scientific journals are full of papers treating the Theory of Anything seriously. What is going on? (from Steinhardt)

Yes, scientists who hold to scientism, the belief that science explains everything, tend to feel confident that they will eventually discover something that will, “disprove God”, which of course we know is impossible. In addition, top scientists have the same burden as top people in any field, that they will be tempted to develop unsober attitudes about themselves, which is especially acute in their case since they don’t belief in God to begin with. So they become, at least in their own eyes, “like God”, having the ability to explain everthing.

(Lynn Munter) #15

I haven’t read enough of the Bible to know. But my (non-Christian) gut feeling is that it doesn’t undermine the idea of God so much as it undermines the idea of human/Christian exceptionalism: that a certain group of us are more special to God than anyone else anywhere, ever.

I think there is some biblical support for that idea, or at least that’s my non-expert impression, but I also don’t think it’s a theologically healthy position to be too attached to.


(Robert) #16

I just keep remembering that in my Fathers house there are many rooms. Physics as I try to understand it is at a crossroads between super symmetry and multiverse. The search for the super symmetrical particles hasn’t gone well. As far as I know they haven’t found any yet. One convincing argument for multiverse is simply statistical. The Big Bang or Big Bain (if you are into membrane theory) occurring in a single universe is very statistically unlikely to happen. In an infinite multiverse universe the probability of a Big Bang occurring in any one particular multiverse is quite high. In my view the Big Bang probably occurred in a multiverse environment where we inhabit just one multiverse-ours. We may be able to someday indirectly detect the presence of another multiverse possibly thru gravitational waves or light lensing but I don’t think we will ever visit another multiverse.

(Wayne Dawson) #17

in Calvinist traditions, I guess it is important to stress that it is God who reaches down to us thankless souls. :grin: Somehow, God reaches us through the myriad channels of our lives. … but this is where I wrestle most between my Arminian leanings and the reformed traditions. Yet it is interesting that we can know even anything at all about God. At any rate, our own survival really does depend on there being something far greater than ourselves and our own foolishness to sustain us. Call it “luck” (for those who don’t believe in God), but we sure need mountains of it every day! It takes a very limited intelligence to demolish an entire nation, it takes ages of wisdom and understanding to build one.

It takes many “school of hard knocks” lessons to learn, and we probably never really arrive, but, to be a real scientist, I would say that the humility switch should be in the “on” position all the time.

As someone who is trained as a physicist but has put most of his efforts on understanding biopolymers and evolution, the topic of multiverse is largely at my limits of understanding. It would take quite a lot of study to really understand even the arguments for or against the multiverse. The best thing for most of us on the sidelines to do is wait (something hard to do these days with high speed internet, next day delivery, etc.).

The one thing that does concern me is that funding is intimately tied to who is allowed to do research these days. As a result, much of this happens in intellectual silos and fiefdoms, where various lords quarrel over patches of ground. Hence, and again, not to pose judgment on the ideas either way, Lee Smolin pointed out in “The Trouble with Physics” that string theory took a dominant position in research at the expense of everything else. If it was a matter of geocentricism, I reckon the case is (pretty thoroughly) closed, but intellectual arguments about the nature of the universe are hardly well established. Rather, arguments of this complexity must be parsed and examined carefully and thoughtfully; not to decide who will be funded this time around, but to get to the truth. So some of the ugliness of scientists (the hype, the despotic control, the arrogance, etc.) is a product of their personal struggles with self-importance and the grace they have received in their successful careers (some greater than 90% of which is well out of anyone’s personal control), as well as it is the forces from above who have played these warped egos and excused themselves from the real duty and responsibility of “leadership”.

So the best thing is to wait and see. We cannot control how the system has become corrupted and is lost in a feedback loop, but we can learn to listen and mull over the findings we do receive ourselves.

That said, I also don’t see any issues with the Christian faith and a multiverse, other than that we will have to refine our theology accordingly (which seems to be part of a different thread).

Some of the greatest scientific advancements have come about by people struggling to do impossible things. The iPhone is a produce of a nation setting out to do the “impossible” task of sending people to the moon. We had to make an entire industry that was open to anyone creative and imaginative enough to push the limits of semiconductors, which opened the door to “stoners” and “deadbeats” like Jobs and Wozniak to acquire and use that technology. Imagine what the neighbors would say these days in Los Altos or Palo Alto; they even violated the zoning laws. Innovation is also the workings of God’s Grace.

Indeed, let the scientists try their best at this. If they find something, then we have to look at the theology again and refine it. If they never find anything, we will probably still benefit in unforeseen discoveries and developments in technology, and we will have to look at our theology again and refine it. :grinning:

by Grace we proceed

(Bill Wald) #18

Unless something outside the universe exists, the universe has always existed. How can it be otherwise? A 3rd possibility is???

(Antoine Suarez) #19

Indeed, the Multiverse is a parable for God’s omniscience.
This idea is developed here.

The “hidden assumption” behind the Multiverse is that the physical reality is defined by “the free choices human observers can in principle perform”. We play a role at the deepest level of the structure of physical reality. This idea is also developed here.

(Richard Wright) #20

I’ll have to check out the papers.