Here’s a representative quotation:
Physicists don’t like coincidences. They like even less the notion that life is somehow central to the universe, and yet recent discoveries are forcing them to confront that very idea. Life, it seems, is not an incidental component of the universe, burped up out of a random chemical brew on a lonely planet to endure for a few fleeting ticks of the cosmic clock. In some strange sense, it appears that we are not adapted to the universe; the universe is adapted to us.
Call it a fluke, a mystery, a miracle. Or call it the biggest problem in physics. Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multiverse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.
The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable nonreligious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life…
It boils down to this:
“If there is only one universe,” [Physicist Bernard] Carr says, “you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”
So, we’re told, it’s a choice – either we posit some kind of god or we posit an unobserved and unobservable reality, a multiverse.
To be honest I don’t think that is the choice. And I don’t think the Christian position is to deduce from the data ‘some kind of god.’ It’s not as though we’re the brave defenders of ‘The Cosmic Finetuner’! More on that in the next post. But first let’s have some fun thinking about the multiverse as a faith commitment.
Because above all else, that’s what the multiverse is. It is not a conclusion suggested by the data. It is a theory that comes to the rescue of a scientist determined not to accept the alternative. Don’t let any naturalistic scientist tell you they deal in the realm of objective fact while the Christian runs off to the realm of ‘blind faith.’ Not only have scientists not observed direct evidence of the multiverse, there can be no direct observation of alternate universes – they lie beyond the reach of experimental science. There’s nothing more ‘intellectually honest’ about postulating a multiverse as opposed to faith in intelligent design. That’s the minimal point I’m making at the moment. I don’t actually think the real choice is between fine-tuning and multiple universes (more in the next post) but if the scientific establishment think that those are the options, then both positions should own up to being faith-based.
And that’s ok. True enquiry is necessarily faith seeking understanding. This was Anselm’s description of theology, but, as these considerations show, it holds also for science. Everyone has beliefs about the nature of reality that shape how they enquire into that reality. On top of this methodological issue, those beliefs further shape how the data is understood. No-one simply deals with ‘the facts’. What we believe affects every level of our enquiry. This is not a lamentable state of affairs, it’s just the way things are. And it means that all endeavours, science included, are believing endeavours. This is inescapable. (Go here for a post on the Large Hadron Collider as a prime example of faith seeking understanding).
All scientists are believers.
Next post we’ll consider this supposed crossroads – either multiverse or Cosmic Fine-tuner. We’ll see that in spite of what the scientific community thinks (including the Intelligent Design proponents!) we do not follow their methods, forced to choose between absurdity and deism! We tread a different path.