(Originally posted in 2016 — UPDATED) What’s a greater leap of faith: God or the Multiverse? What’s the multiverse? Brian Keating, Professor of Physics at the University of California, San Diego, explains in this video.
Here are a couple of great articles to read on the “Multiverse” and the war on science, ala cultural atheism — I love Denyse O’Leary’s title of the first article excerpted:
Until recently, many were reluctant to accept this idea of the “multiverse”, or were even belligerent towards it. However, recent progress in both cosmology and string theory is bringing about a major shift in thinking. Gone is the grudging acceptance or outright loathing of the multiverse. Instead, physicists are starting to look at ways of working with it, and maybe even trying to prove its existence.
Maybe even trying to prove its existence? Yes because, remember, evidence is now superfluous. Methodological naturalism produced the Copernican Principle, which is an axiom. It axiomatically accounts for our universe’s apparent fine tuning by postulating — without the need for evidence — an infinity of flops. And cosmologists’ acceptance makes the multiverse orthodoxy.
…Ian Sample, science writer for Britain’s Guardian, asked Hawking in 2011, “What is the value in knowing ‘Why are we here?'” Hawking replied:
The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can’t solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those Societies most likely to survive. We assign them a higher value.
Sample had no idea what Hawking meant. But we can discern this much: Philosophy and religion may not matter, but Darwin does.
How far has the multiverse penetrated our culture? Tegmark observes, “Parallel universes are now all the rage, cropping up in books, movies and even jokes.” Indeed, multiverse models can hardly be invented fast enough, with or without science. Cosmologist Andrei Linde has commented that a scenario that is “very popular among journalists” has remained rather unpopular among scientists. In short, popular science culture needs that scenario.
Multiverse cosmologists look out on a bright future, freed from the demands of evidence. Leonard Susskind writes, “I would bet that at the turn of the 22nd century philosophers and physicists will look nostalgically at the present and recall a golden age in which the narrow provincial 20th century concept of the universe gave way to a bigger better [multiverse] … of mind-boggling proportions.” Physicists Alejandro Jenkins and Gilad Perez say their computer program shows that “universes with different physical laws might still be habitable.” And reviewing theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss’s Universe From Nothing (2012), science writer Michael Brooks notes that the multiverse puts laws of physics “beyond science — for now, at least.” Before methodological naturalism really sank in, undemonstrable universes, not the laws of physics, were beyond science….
War on science? Well, we hear about it more often than we see it. People—particularly naturalist atheists involved with progressive causes, who are flogging up some unverifiable thesis—are prone to claiming that their opponents are creationists (whether they are or not, in any meaningful sense), or else some other type of warriors against science.
There is, as it happens, an assault on the science concept of falsifiability as explained at PBS:
Does Science Need Falsifiablity?
Meanwhile, cosmologists have found themselves at a similar impasse. We live in a universe that is, by some estimations, too good to be true. The fundamental constants of nature and the cosmological constant, which drives the accelerating expansion of the universe, seem “fine-tuned” to allow galaxies and stars to form. As Anil Ananthaswamy wrote elsewhere on this blog, “Tweak the charge on an electron, for instance, or change the strength of the gravitational force or the strong nuclear force just a smidgen, and the universe would look very different, and likely be lifeless.”
Why do these numbers, which are essential features of the universe and cannot be derived from more fundamental quantities, appear to conspire for our comfort?
In fact, you can reason your way to the “multiverse” in at least four different ways, according to MIT physicist Max Tegmark’s accounting. The tricky part is testing the idea. You can’t send or receive messages from neighboring universes, and most formulations of multiverse theory don’t make any testable predictions. Yet the theory provides a neat solution to the fine-tuning problem. Must we throw it out because it fails the falsifiability test?
“It would be completely non-scientific to ignore that possibility just because it doesn’t conform with some preexisting philosophical prejudices,” says Sean Carroll, a physicist at Caltech, who called for the “retirement” of the falsifiability principle in a controversial essay for Edge last year. Falsifiability is “just a simple motto that non-philosophically-trained scientists have latched onto,” argues Carroll. He also bristles at the notion that this viewpoint can be summed up as “elegance will suffice,” as Ellis put it in a stinging Nature comment written with cosmologist Joe Silk.
“I think falsifiability is not a perfect criterion, but it’s much less pernicious than what’s being served up by the ‘post-empirical’ faction,” says Frank Wilczek, a physicist at MIT. “Falsifiability is too impatient, in some sense,” putting immediate demands on theories that are not yet mature enough to meet them. “It’s an important discipline, but if it is applied too rigorously and too early, it can be stifling.”
Astronomers are arguing about whether they can trust this untested—and potentially untestable—idea
Detailing the objections of those who want evidence, she then explains,
Other scientists say that the definitions of “evidence” and “proof” need an upgrade. Richard Dawid of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy believes scientists could support their hypotheses, like the multiverse—without actually finding physical support. He laid out his ideas in a book called String Theory and the Scientific Method. Inside is a kind of rubric, called “Non-Empirical Theory Assessment,” that is like a science-fair judging sheet for professional physicists. If a theory fulfills three criteria, it is probably true.
First, if scientists have tried, and failed, to come up with an alternative theory that explains a phenomenon well, that counts as evidence in favor of the original theory. Second, if a theory keeps seeming like a better idea the more you study it, that’s another plus-one. And if a line of thought produced a theory that evidence later supported, chances are it will again.
Radin Dardashti, also of the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, thinks Dawid is straddling the right track. “The most basic idea undergirding all of this is that if we have a theory that seems like it works, and we have come up with nothing that works better, chances are our idea is right,” he says.
But, historically, that undergirding has often collapsed, and scientists haven’t been able to see the obvious alternatives to dogmatic ideas. For example, the Sun, in its rising and setting, seems to go around Earth. People, therefore, long thought that our star orbited the Earth. More.
With so many people rethinking evolution, the Darwinians could use a theory that doesn’t require physical support too.
Smug Lawrence Krauss taken back to school by physicist David Gross.
Two recent discoveries support for the beginning of the universe (the Big-Bang) and General Relativity. This adds an almost unassailable position of creation ex nihilo as well as more evidence against multiverses… which have no evidence.
The most rigorous and compelling proof that the universe was created by an Agent that transcends space and time comes from the theory of general relativity. The best confirmation that general relativity is a true theory comes from measurements on the binary pulsar B1913+16. Thanks to a new study, that best confirmation has now become even better.
Astronomers have been studying the binary pulsar PSR B1913+16 for nearly four decades. In a recent issue of the Astrophysical Journal, astronomers Joel Weisberg and Yuping Huang published their analysis of 9,257 pulse times-of-arrival measurements taken over 35 years on PSR B1913+16.1
PSR B1913+16 is a pair of neutron stars where one of the neutron stars is a pulsar. The two neutron stars orbit one other with a period of 7.75 hours and an orbital separation of just 3 light seconds (a little more than twice the separation of the moon from Earth or about 2/3 the diameter of the sun). The pulsar rotates on its axis about 17 times per second. Thus, it sends out a strong pulse of radiation every 59 milliseconds.
The theory of general relativity predicts that neutron stars orbiting close to one another will radiate gravitational waves. This radiation will cause the neutron stars to experience a decay in their orbit—that is, the neutron stars will orbit closer and closer to one another as gravitational energy is radiated away by the gravitational waves.
The easiest and most accurate way to measure the orbital decay is to determine changes in the timing of periastron of the orbit. Periastron refers to the position in the orbit at which two stars orbiting one another are closest to one another. The orientation of periastron in PSR B1913+16’s orbit has been observed to change by 4.2° per year. Figure 1 shows the observed change in the timing of periastron with date from 1975–2003 compared to what the theory of general relativity would predict.2
The most potent of the space-time theorems, the one proven by Arvind Borde, Alexander Vilenkin, and Alan Guth, states that all cosmological models are subject to an initial space-time singularity, regardless of assumptions about homogeneity, isotropy (or lack thereof), or energy conditions, including cosmological models that invoke an early hyper-inflation event.9 This beginning of space and time implies that an Agent operating from beyond space and time must have caused the universe to exist.
About a year after the publication of the theorem, Alexander Vilenkin wrote in a book, “With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”10 That problem is a causal Agent who transcends space and time. Such a causal Agent matches the description of the God of the Bible.
Joel Weisberg and Yuping Huang, “Relativistic Measurements from Timing the Binary Pulsar PSR B1913+16,” Astrophysical Journal 829 (September 2016): id. 55, doi:10.3847/0004-637X/829/1/55.
Joel Weisberg, David Nice, and Joseph Taylor, “Timing Measurements of the Relativistic Binary Pulsar PSR B1913+16,” Astrophysical Journal 722 (September 2010): 1030–34,doi:10.1088/0004-637X/722/2/1030.
Dr. Mark McCartney, co-editor Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy (Oxford University Press, 2008). Dr. McCartney lectures in the School of Computing and Mathematics at the University of Ulster. Along with his research in applied mathematics, he has an interest the history of physics, co-editing “Kelvin: Life, Labours and Legacy” (with Raymond Flood and Andrew Whitaker) and “Physicists of Ireland” (with Andrew Whitaker). His PhD is in theoretical physics. (All views expressed here are those of“Saints and Sceptics”).
Dr. McCartney explains the limits of science, responds to the claim that science and Christianity have always been in conflict, and sums up the evidence for God in three words: “There are laws.”
Dr. McCartney develops his thoughts on atheism, science and morality, explains the “Fine-Tuning” argument, and discusses multiverses.