Answers in Genesis & the Multiverse

This is almost a new topic for the creation scientists at Answers in Genesis (AIG) — the creationist ministry of Ken Ham (ol’ Hambo), the Australian entrepreneur who has become the ayatollah of Appalachia. The title is Multiverse: Is Our Universe One of Many? Well, five years they mentioned it briefly in Faith in the Multiverse.

Other creationist websites have opined on the multiverse — and they don’t like it. For example, see Klinghoffer Equates Evolution and the Multiverse. In a moment of supreme irony of which he was unaware, Klinghoffer said this about the multiverse:

A hypothesis with no evidence to speak of, whose supporters nevertheless feel a burning need for it to be true. What does that remind you of?

The AIG post was written by Danny Faulkner. Here’s their biographical information about him. They say he taught physics and astronomy until he joined AIG. His undergraduate degree is from Bob Jones University. We’ll give you some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis. It begins well enough:

The multiverse is the belief that our universe is just one of many universes. Presumably, each universe exists parallel to and independent of one another. If this sounds like science fiction, philosophy, or religion, it is, because the multiverse could be classified in any one of those categories. Whatever the multiverse is, it definitely is not science. How can the multiverse be scientific (given that science is the study of the natural world using our five senses) when other universes, by definition, are beyond our ability to detect?

Then he drags in evolution:

In the broadest sense, evolution is the belief that the world has come about through totally natural processes. The origin of life is just one example of natural processes posited by evolution. If life arose on the earth but nowhere else, then the earth is by definition unique. But if the earth is unique, then it has a privileged status, which in turn suggests the possibility that earth and the life on earth were designed. And design implies a Designer, which brings one back to creation. Hence, the vast majority of people who believe in evolution also believe that life is relatively common in the universe.

The evidence for evolution is good enough that it won’t be overturned even if life on Earth is unique. Anyway, after that Danny gives us some history — as if it makes his point:

More than a half century ago, the Austrian-born British cosmologist Hermann Bondi coined the term Copernican principle to refer to the assumed mediocrity of our place in the universe. Bondi picked this name because four centuries earlier Nicholas Copernicus had played a key role in removing the earth from the center of the solar system, which some had viewed as a privileged position. A century ago, the work of the American astronomer Harlow Shapley displaced the sun from the center of the Milky Way. Shortly thereafter, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble showed that our Milky Way was just one of billions of galaxies. This work suggested that we were not in any particularly significant location.

Indeed. Earth is just a dot in the cosmos. That should be enough to convince the creationists that there’s nothing special about our planet. But Danny is oblivious to that. He continues:

Those who believe in the multiverse want to do the same thing for the universe: their contention is that just as there is nothing remarkable about our planet, there is nothing remarkable about our universe. After all, if there is only one universe, and it appears designed, then that again leads to the conclusion that there must be a Creator.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! But the universe doesn’t appear to be designed, so we don’t need the multiverse merely to make that point. Ah well, let’s read on:

Note that there is no science in any of this. Instead, belief in the multiverse is a desperate attempt to avoid the implications of design even when design is staring us in the face.

[*Curmudgeon looks around, but sees no evidence of design*] Now we’ve arrived at Danny’s final paragraph:

It is amazing that otherwise rational people choose to believe in the multiverse, especially when it is very clear that they think that this is the logical, reasonable conclusion to reach. [Bible discussion.] The heavens do declare God’s glory, and no amount of speculation about a multiverse can change that.

So Danny, and presumably the rest of AIG, reject the notion of the multiverse. We don’t blame them. After Copernicus, Shapley, and Hubble showed that the Earth isn’t the center of the universe, they’ve gotta draw the line somewhere. For what it’s worth, your Curmudgeon isn’t very impressed with the multiverse concept either, but for different reasons — see The Multiverse or God-Did-It? One universe is enough for us — especially when we’re unlikely to ever have evidence of any others.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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8 responses to “Answers in Genesis & the Multiverse

  1. My (limited) understanding is that the multiverse is a consequence of mathematical theories describing the origin of the universe, not a separate idea dreamed up by scientists after a long evening in a pub somewhere.

    Presumably the theories can be tested, and if they are found to explain the the known facts and correctly predict others, then the multiverse gains credibility as being a necessary consequence of those theories.

    Once again, one starts with the facts and the conclusions are what they are.

  2. Aren’t there suggestions that multiverses could be detected by gravity?

  3. This is a physics prof? Good grief.

    The multiverse, properly understood, is a handy way of mathematically describing all possible worlds. You need this infinite possibility for calculating probabilities using QM, which you do as a good Bayesian investigator to accurately describe either the here OR the now.

  4. For a great exposition on the idea of the multiverse and its extrapolation from current theory, I highly recommend Brian Greene’s book “The Hidden Reality”. Greene describes the various reasons why the idea of the multiverse seems almost obvious, given the particular physics sub-topics he covers. As he says in the introduction (and one of the coolest metaphors I’ve encountered in a long time),

    It’s not that physicists are standing ready, multiverse net in their hands, seeking to snare any passing theory that might be slotted, however awkwardly, into a parallel-universe paradigm. Rather, all of the parallel-universe proposals that we will take seriously emerge unbidden from the mathematics of theories developed to explain conventional data and observations.

    His point is clear; the multiverse is not a proposal to avoid God or an a priori support of a multiverse. It’s a consequence of those theories that explain other data that may result in falsifiable predictions. If the theories do result in data verifying the theoretical predictions, the implication of a multiverse falls out, almost as a side effect.

    An intriguing read and germane to this discussion …

  5. “The multiverse is the belief that our universe is just one of many universes.”

    Bzzzt! Wrong!

    You called it a hypothesis in your first sentence, Danny, and oddly enough, you got that right. You don’t get to call it a belief now. It isn’t a belief. It’s a possible but unsubstantiated explanation for an evident event – a hypothesis.

    I’ll put another hypothesis: the reason you have conflated hypothesis and belief is that you can’t tell the difference between them. But apparently you expect to get away with this incapacity. So, another hypothesis: The reason for this expectation is that your intended audience can’t tell the difference, either.

    Now we have to test these hypotheses. See how it works, Danny?

  6. The multiverse, a name for the multiple branching universes called for by Hugh Everett III’s “many-worlds” interpretation, was and is an attempt to get away from what many saw as the mysticism of the so-called Copenhagen school’s idea that events exist as a kind of blur until they are observed, when their “wave function “collapses” to a single outcome.

    Too many people–even scientists–interpreted this idea as implying that consciousness defines the universe, a notion which in turn implies a consciousness present from the birth of the universe–i.e., God. I’m sure creationists–at least those with some understanding of physics–are quite happy with the Copenhagen interpretation for this very reason.

    The problem is that the “collapse of the wave function” does not follow from the equations of quantum theory; it’s introduced as a philosophical attempt to reconcile the uncertainty principle with the world we see around us. Everett pointed out that there was an alternative; that the wave function does not collapse but that we only see one outcome to each event; other versions of us would see different outcomes, which over time might accumulate to produce entirely different histories. Ironically, this isn’t necessarily inconsistent with the Bible; Jesus himself said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions,” which could be interpreted as supporting the idea of the multiverse. It does, however, contradict the pinhead, I mean literal, reading of Genesis favored by creationists.

    The many-worlds interpretation suffered from the act that it appeared to make exactly the same predictions as the Copenhagen model, so the latter, having come first, remained dominant. More recently, however, physicists have begun to propose actual experiments and observations which could yield results favorable to one or the other, or perhaps challenging both. In any case, there is no evidence whatever for creationists’ ideas as to the origin and development (dare I say “evolution”?) of the universe.

  7. “A hypothesis with no evidence to speak of, whose supporters nevertheless feel a burning need for it to be true. What does that remind you of?”

    Uh, [Un]Intelligent Design I would guess.

  8. “How can the multiverse be scientific (given that science is the study of the natural world using our five senses) when other universes, by definition, are beyond our ability to detect?”
    This question has bugged me for a few years indeed – until I found a good answer. It’s on internet. Just look for titles like “5 reasons to accept the Multiverse”.
    It’s the logical (in the mathematical meaning of the word) consequence of a scientific theory that’s totally testable.

    “But the universe doesn’t appear to be designed, so we don’t need the multiverse merely to make that point.”
    Even if it did we cannot just infer an immaterial designer. Snowflakes appear to be designed as well, still no IDiot ever brings it up as evidence for a Grand Old Designer.