Atheism, God, Design & the Multiverse

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Due to the appearance of the fine-tuning of our universe, which to many gives the impression that it has been designed for human beings to live in, some cosmologists have posited the multiverse theory in attempt to explain this away. As such, this might provide an indirect credibility to the idea of the fine-tuning of the universe. The astronomer Fred Hoyle (1915-2001) in his day explained what was to him immediately apparent (although he extended his claim beyond the science of cosmology),

“A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question” (1).

Theoretical physicist Tony Rothman is of a similar view writing that,

“When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it” (2).

Given what to many seems evidence of impressive design, some have championed what is known as the multiverse hypothesis, the notion that we are in but one of possibly an infinite number of universes.  The claim then made is that if an infinite number of universes might possibly exist then we should not be surprised to find ours to be hospitable and finely-tuned for life. It is within and through this claim that one witnessesa false dilemma. World-renowned cosmologist George Ellis is critical of the multiverse, especially since it fails to appreciate the scientific method. He believes that the multiverse is both untestable and unobservable, and thus compares it to science fiction:

“Multiverse thinking or the belief in the existence of parallel universes is more philosophy or science fiction than science. Cosmology must seem odd to scientists in other fields.”

However, despite Ellis’ view, one could assume that the multiverse exists, as many atheists seem to hope. According to this atheist the religious believer (who believes that the universe owes its existence and fine-tuning to an intellect) is expected to choose between belief in the multiverse or belief in God. The religious believer can’t choose to believe in both. However, the believer could accuse the atheist of proposing a false dilemma, by forcing his opponent to only choose between options A and B when in all possibility several other options exist. As a writer for New Scientist has noted,

“[T]he main reason for believing in an ensemble of universes is that it could explain why the laws governing our Universe appear to be so finely turned for our existence … This fine-tuning has two possible explanations. Either the Universe was designed specifically for us by a creator or there is a multitude of universes — a multiverse” (3).

So, the atheists proposes: either its God or the multiverse, but not both. However, some have pointed out that  the multiverse would have had to have come into existence at a finite point in the past otherwise we are left with an infinite regress of causes which would leave us with an explanation of no value. As such, the multiverse, even if it exists, is not an argument against a beginning to the universe, which is another theologically significant argument proposed by religious believers. Nor does the multiverse, even if it exists, explain away the fine-tuning of the universe. For one thing, one might wonder not only how an alleged mechanism that is a universe-generating machine came to be, but also why it evidences such fine-tuning itself. And if this alleged universe-generating machine exists then it must also be material and thus have a finite beginning.  Philosopher William Craig writes:

“All this has been said, of course, without asking whether the multiverse itself must not exhibit fine-tuning in order to exist.  If it does, as some have argued, then it is a non-starter as an alternative to design” (4).

If the multiverse is itself is finely-tuned then the question of fine-tuning would yer remain a challenge to the atheist for not only would he have to explain the fine-tuning within our universe but the fine-tuning of the universe generator too. It would simply be more fine-tuning needing to be to explained. And in what might be a surprising turn, Craig argues that should such a universe generator exist then it would be further proof for God’s existence. Craig concludes noting that the peddling of the multiverse hypothesis is is a backhand compliment to the design of the observable universe,

“The very fact that otherwise sober scientists must resort to such a remarkable hypothesis is a sort of backhanded compliment to the design hypothesis.  It shows that the fine-tuning does cry out for explanation” (5).

References.

1. Hoyle, F. 1981. “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections” in Engineering and Science. p. 8–12.

2. Tony Rothman quoted by John Casti in Paradigms Lost (1989). p. 482-483.

3. Available.

4. Craig, W. 2007. Multiverse and the Design Argument. Available.

5. Craig, W. 2007. Ibid.

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6 responses to “Atheism, God, Design & the Multiverse

  1. Why is it so difficult for atheists to see this very obvious flaw in their logic? So far, I have never found a logical, rational, coherent answer from atheists when pressured with this issue, they resort to emotional answers ; answers rooted in their avarice and offence in God.

    • I know my attempt at an answer is late:) but I believe that especially long term atheists reasoning has become so corrupted with their own biases that they are actually crippled.

      I actually think that Christians are fascinated with atheists in part because their arguments are so easy to refute.

  2. I usually just joke that I refuse to be believe in the multiverse because I couldn’t deal with what would likely be a googolplex or two universes purely based on variations of lottery numbers on specific weeks.

    It might not be very logical, but neither is the idea that an infinite number of universes must exist just so that this specific one would.

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