Jul 17 2010

The Next Great Awakening part 14: Brains, branes, and the multi-verse

Category: God,scienceharmonicminer @ 8:13 am

The previous post in this series is here.

Jeff Zweerink at Reasons has been doing a series on the putative multiverse, and the effect that the truth or falsity of a multiverse approach to physics has on Christian belief, called Multiverse Musings.

I think it’s well worth reading, and a useful counter to all the Discovery Channel specials where important sounding scientists are interviewed to try to convince viewers that the multiverse hypothesis undoes any reason to believe in a Creator who caused the Big Bang.  There is no mention, of course, of Who caused the multiverse.  Somehow, it is assumed to have been uncaused and to be eternal.  Reminds me of the smug way 19th-century and early 20th-century atheistic physicists were certain science had proved that the universe we know is eternal, with no beginning and no end.  How little they knew.

Some of them think the Big Bang was just a “collision of branes“.

I think some brains may be colliding all right.

Something about the whole multiverse concept smells quite a bit to me like the 19th century physics theory of the ether.  It really was a grand idea, and thinking that way explained quite a lot that was difficult to explain otherwise.  And it gave a great way to relate the wave structure of light to the wave structure of sound in air, or waves on water, because it provided a “medium” or “ether” for light to move in.

The problem, of course, is that it was wrong.

Convenient theories that appear to explain things we see (or to rescue us from having to explain things we’d just as soon ignore), but which do not make any successful predictions about what we will see in future research, are often quite wrong.

We’d have to pay careful attention to a theory of the multiverse that makes specific predictions about events we can observe in this universe, events we have not seen yet, and which, if we did see them, could not be easily explained any other way.  That would be a scientific theory which could rise or fall based on some conceivable future set of observations.

Is one of the currently competing theories of the multiverse such a theory, with predictive, explanatory power?  I suppose time will tell.  Some are making claims that the LHC could find evidence for multiple universes.


(Update for 2023: The Large Hadron Collider has in fact not provided support for multi-verse theory, 13 years after the original article here was written.)

But as I read what a layman can about the competing theories and claims, it all seems awfully, awfully tenuous.  It seems based on “special pleading” at times, and it seems to ignore any discussion of how the multiverse began, basically assuming that it was “always there.”  You’d think the physicists would learn from experience.  In any case, I know of no prediction of “multiverse” theory that is in principle detectable, and which has no alternate explanation.  (Don’t confuse the notion of multiple dimensions with the multiverse.  They are distinct ideas, though related in some theories.)

At some point, will the physicists finally stop claiming that they’re just around the corner from the REAL explanation for EVERYTHING?  They’ve been making that claim for over a century (some 19th century physicists, good ones, thought physics had learned about all there was to know).  They don’t have much of a clue about what either “dark matter” or “dark energy” are, or what they’re made of, or if they really exist.  All they really know is that assuming such things makes some things easier to explain (like why the galaxies don’t fly apart). Pretty funny.

They seem to think they’re eating an avocado (which has a definite center) instead of an onion.

I suspect some of them may have been sniffing ether.  But God is patient while they keep peeling back layers of the onion, looking for the Center of everything, even if they’re looking in the wrong place.  The point is that there is an onion, not what’s at the center of it.

All that fine tuning to make it possible for us to live here is making some scientists nervous, and some of them will pursue just about any explanation that might remove the necessity of acknowledging a Creator.

Good luck with that.

The next post in this series is here.

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