Who Wins in a Head to Head Match between God and the Multiverse? Let’s Find Out!
You might not know this but there’s a raging battle playing out for the soul of the cosmos.
On one side is God. On the other is the Multiverse.
They’ve been duking it out for a few decades to decide who wins the title belt for the Ultimate Cause and Sustainer of the Universe.
I’ve been following the debate for years now, reading with interest as scientists, philosophers, and theologians explain why their champion is the One and True Creator. There are countless articles, books, and youtube videos that explore subjects ranging from string theory, quantum mechanics, fine tuning, evolution, the anthropic principle, etc . . . all in an effort to show why God or the Multiverse makes the most sense as the Origin of Being.
The more I’ve read, however, the more the arguments for both sides seem to bleed together and mirror one another. Neither seems to gain the upperhand because the proofs, criticisms, and responses for God and the Multiverse are very similar.
Let’s look at a few of them to see what I mean.
Round One: There’s No Evidence
Most atheists like to point out that there’s no concrete evidence for God. There are no repeatable supernatural occurrences, consistent miracles, or direct physical evidence that we can point to and say, “Look! I told you so! There’s God!” Some theists might argue against this point but when it comes down to it, God does seem to be pretty well hidden.
So yay for the atheists, right?
Unfortunately the exact same objection applies to the Multiverse.
There’s not a single shred of physical evidence (outside of theory) that the Multiverse actually exists. And, the arguments for its existence (fitting with theory, explaining Fine Tuning, etc.), are very similar to arguments for God (fitting with theology, explaining Fine Tuning, etc.).
In the end, however, if we accept the fact that there’s no slam dunk physical proof for God or the Multiverse, then they both fail an important rule of thumb:
“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”
Round 1 Results:
Round Two: Occam’s Razor
This one should be familiar to any Philosophy 101 student. Occam’s Razor basically states that the simplest explanation is probably the right one.
When applied to God, the argument goes something like this. We can explain everything in the universe using natural scientific principles. Adding in God (or mind, souls, magic, fairies, etc) creates a needlessly complicated explanation for the universe by adding extra unnecessary elements. Applying Occam’s Razor, an explanation that doesn’t require God is therefore the more likely explanation because it’s simpler.
Unfortunately, Occam’s Razor cuts both ways and can also be used against the Multiverse.
Any honest proponent of the idea of a Multiverse will have to admit that they are tacking onto their naturalistic explanation of the universe, a massive Universe Generating Machine with an entire infinite array of universes and its own set of (meta)physical laws governing how it works. That’s a lot more complicated than just our humble singular Universe.
Applying Occam’s Razor, therefore, leads to the same type of argument we used against God:
If we can explain everything in the universe without recourse to the Multiverse, then the Multiverse is a needlessly complicated explanation. It adds in an infinite number of required elements as well as an entirely new set of Universe Creating Physics. Therefore, applying Occam’s Razor, a different explanation that doesn’t require the Multiverse is the more likely explanation because it’s simpler.
Round 2 Results:
Round Three: God of the Gaps vs Multiverse of the Gaps
The “God of the Gaps” response is a great part of any positivistic or atheistic argument against the existence of God. It goes like this.
If God is all powerful then God can be used to explain any anomaly, event, thing, question, mystery, etc . . .
Why are there trees? Because God made them. How does the Sun burn so hot? Because God makes it so. Where did humans and life come from? God created them. Why is the Universe Fine Tuned for life? Because God made it that way.
Since God can explain anything, God explains nothing. God becomes a catch all fall back for any gap in knowledge that humans face.
Worse still, using God as an explanation blocks scientific progress because there’s no reason to search for a deeper answer if the answer to everything is God. That means most of modern physics, biology, medicine, etc . . . might not have been discovered if we had remained satisfied with using God as the ultimate justification for all of existence.
Unfortunately for the Multiverse, however, the exact same response can be made for claims that we live in an infinite array of universes. The Multiverse of the Gaps rejoinder goes something like this.
If there are infinite universes then anything that can happen, does happen. Not only does this mean that somewhere in the Multiverse there are dragons, unicorns, and a spaghetti space monster claiming to be God, but there’s also a series of random events that look like magic.
There’s a universe where every time you flip a coin it randomly happens to always land on heads, where people walk on water due to random density fluctuations that just happen to always occur when they’re about to sink in, where a monkey on a keyboard always randomly pounds out whatever text you ask it to (even texts from the future), and where magic spells work because the desired effects just happen to randomly occur when the magic words are spoke.
That means anytime we run into something that’s strange, unexplainable, and extremely improbable we can always lean on the Multiverse for the answer. In an infinite array of universes, such improbable things have to happen somewhere, and not just once, but an infinite number of times.
This is exactly how the Multiverse is used to explain Fine Tuning.
According to Robert Penrose, to create a universe that even roughly resembles ours, the initial conditions need to be fine tuned on the order of one to 10^10^123. The level of precision required by that number is so infinitesimally improbable as to be basically nonsensical. And yet, the Multiverse of the Gaps steps in like any other All-Powerful Divinity to cleanly explain away the extreme improbability of our universe. Since there are an infinite number of universes, a universe like ours with just the right set of conditions for life is bound to exist. And not just one, but an infinite number of them.
Similar to God, using the Multiverse as a catch-all explanation can also impede scientific understanding. Instead of discovering the deeper reason for fine tuning–which quite possibly might lead to an entirely new type of physics–it’s easy to just point to the Multiverse and say, “It’s all random chance! Next question!”
Unfortunately, as with the God of the Gaps so too with the Multiverse of the Gaps: if it can explain everything, it explains nothing.
Round 3 Results:
As can be seen, after three rounds of arguments, God and the Multiverse come out pretty much even. It’s almost as if the evidence and arguments for God or the Multiverse are themselves finely tuned!
In my next post, I explore several more arguments where both explanations for the existence of the universe also end up on par with one another.
In the end, it seems, as with most of the important questions of life, which explanation you decide is correct is entirely up to you.