Fire Back: Where the Readers Respond

In which we discuss Everettian multiverses and faith.

DW writes

It was a pleasure encountering your blog, and reading through some of your writings. Your story of your encounter with and transformation by faith in Christ was genuinely inspiring.

I would gently push back on a single thread of thought, one I encountered in your witness on James Bishop’s blog. You talk at some length about the Everettian multiverse, a concept that has been seized upon by anti-theists as “proof” that God neither exists nor is necessary for existence.

Whether a quantum branching multiverse is “theory” at all in the scientific sense is open for debate, but I’d like to suggest…as a practicing practical theologian…that multiversal cosmologies are not inherently antithetical to Christian faith. They are also, for atheism, something of an own goal.

An Everettian multiverse refers to the Many Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics developed by the late physicist, Hugh Everett. Everett essentially said that the seemingly probabilistic nature of the quantum world is explained by every possibility actually playing out in different universes.

DW is right that the multiverse cosmologies are not inherently antithetical to Christian faith. RTB’s resident astrophysicist, Jeff Zweerink, discusses this a little in his booklet, Who’s Afraid of the Multiverse? DW offered to send me something he’s written on the topic, so I’m curious to see what he means by the multiverse being an ‘own goal’ for atheism.

As I’ve said repeatedly, the main scientific problem with the multiverse hypothesis is that it is not science, it is science-flavored. It suffers from one insurmountable scientific problem, which is that there is no way to test it, since every universe in the multiverse is causally disconnected from every other universe. That doesn’t mean it isn’t an interesting topic for scientific discussion, since the existence of a multiverse is intriguingly hinted at by some physical theories.

The theological/philosophical dimension is also worth exploring, as it emphasizes the difference between a God-created multiverse and a godless one. As much as some atheists cling to the latter as a comforting alternative to the former, what it actually represents is the end of all hope.

Hugh Everett was a brilliant scientist, but he was also at least partially motivated by his desire for immortality when developing his Many Worlds model. This goes to show, despite claims to the contrary, that atheists can be as emotionally driven in their philosophies as anyone else. That’s not to say it was an unreasonable motivation; I mean, who could blame the man? He knew his godless worldview strongly implied he’d eventually be annihilated by an indifferent universe. It’s a terrifying thing to contemplate. However, a godless multiverse is no better — and in my opinion, considerably worse — than being snuffed out for all eternity by an indifferent universe. If there is an eternal multiverse that wasn’t created by God, then we are all doomed to either pointlessly repeat the same life over and over for eternity or to live out every possibility, which includes an infinite number of both pointlessly enjoyable and pointlessly miserable existences. It is only with a personal Creator that existence has any purpose and any meaning.