Infinite Number of Universes – What Does Christianity Have to Say About that?

Infinite Number of Universes – Dr. Roy Clouser

Are there are an infinite number of universes besides our own? This proposal was made to save atheism from appearing to ignore the way our universe looks to have been superintended by God for the benefit of humans. What I’m referring to is the startling fact according to the Big Bang theory, if our universe had expanded at a rate that was either faster or slower by only  .100,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000 %, it would never have been able to support life.

The hypothesis that there are an infinite number of universes is supposed to provide a way to get around seeing how precisely the universe expanded as confirming evidence for Divine Providence. The expansion rate fails to confirm Theism, the argument goes because if there are an infinite number of universes it is inevitable that at least one of them would expand at the rate ours did. And, of course, that’s the sort of universe we live in, because that’s the sort that supports life.

This proposal that there are an infinite number of universes is bound to look attractive to atheists, but it has several drawbacks for them.

This Economist Video talks about this hypothesis of different theories of the multiverse…

The first drawback is that this hypothesis lacks a characteristic that is widely recognized as an important characteristic of a scientific theory, namely, testability. (Not all scientific theories ae capable of testing, but this one is widely acknowledged as the sort that should be.) There is no way we can check on the truth of the proposal because we have no way of escaping our universe to see if there are others. Besides, even if we managed to send some kind of impulse beyond the limits of our space-time horizon, and even if we devised a way to have it return to us bearing evidence of other universes, how could we know there are an infinite number of them? Remember: It is only an infinite number that make it inevitable, though unplanned, that at least one universe would have the exact expansion rate that would allow life.

The importance of the lack of testability is that it shows why the multiverse hypothesis is not a scientific hypothesis at all. It is, instead, a metaphysical speculation with definite religious significance. Both its motivation and its central postulate are designed to rule out Divine Providence so that the postulate clearly is religious in that it proposes an infinite number of self-existent universes in place of one Creator God. That is, it replaces one Divine reality with another divine reality..

Now the fact that this hypothesis (that there are an Infinite Number of Universes -) is unverifiable shows more, however, than that it is a religious proposal. It also shows why it’s decidedly weaker than the evidence of the universe’s expansion rate. That’s because the belief that our universe is real and that it had an expansion rate that makes it look planned, are not hypotheses at all. We directly experience the world around us, and its expansion rate has been carefully calculated. By comparison, the reply is grossly weaker because it’s an untestable hypothesis. And it fails to defeat Theism because even if there are an infinite number of other universes they could all still be creations of God. Keep in mind here, that we are not inferring God’s reality from the universe’s expansion rate. We know God from our experience of God. The expansion rate of the universe is merely a confirming piece of evidence that our experience has delivered a true belief.

A second drawback to this way of defending atheism, is that it does nothing to confirm atheism in the way that the vanishingly small chance that the expansion rate of our universe was random but just right for life, confirms Divine Providence. So the multiverse hypothesis not only can’t be demonstrated to be true, but doesn’t give positive support to atheism. At best, it could take away (only) one piece of evidence that supports Theism – and it doesn’t even do that.

Moreover, as I pointed out in Are you Versed in the Multiverse, the scriptures all Theists regard as inspired by God actually assert a version of the multiverse idea. They speak not only of the heavens and earth of our visible world, but of other dimensions of reality such as the “third heaven” which St Paul was allowed to see. So there is nothing in Theism that requires Christians to reject the idea that there is more than one universe. Far from it; Jews, Christians, and Muslims have long believed there is more to reality than just the universe we now inhabit, and that at least some of the other dimensions of reality are inhabited by intelligent beings.

Finally, there is one more way the multiverse theory fails to support atheism.

If there really are an infinite number of other universes: since we cannot investigate them there is nothing in principle to rule out that they can interact with our own universe. Such a possibility might even appear attractive from an atheist point of view, as providing an alternative account of the cause of well-attested miracles. The truth, however, is that such an argument would do their position harm rather than help it.

For once an atheist admits that there really could be events in our universe that do not have their cause(s) in our universe, the key issue is how to identify the cause(s) of those events. But in that case, the real basis of the atheist’s objection to miracles is exposed: it shows itself not to be implacably opposed to events uncaused by other events in the universe, but only if they are caused by God. So it’s not that the atheism is supported by genuinely religiously neutral arguments against miracles, but the other way round: events without a cause in this universe are objectionable only if they are supposed to have been done by God, which is a circular argument.

For whether God causes miracles to occur by acting in our universe directly, or whether he causes them by having another universe supply energy to ours at a particular time and place, makes no difference to Theism. (My impression is that many of the miracles as described in scripture could fall into either category.) In that case, postulating a multiverse does nothing to rule out God’s reality or even to make it less plausible.

Put another way; the question “Is God real?” has not been resolved or even advanced in either direction by the multiverse hypothesis. Whether there is only universe, or four, or an infinite number, the central issue still remains: is (are) the universe(s) the ultimate and self-existent (Divine) reality, or is it God?

For people who have experienced the self-evident truth of the biblical message, the amazingly small window for the universe’s expansion rate that allowed for life, remains supporting and confirming evidence for God’s existence. That is, it’s what we could expect if God is real. This is why whether ours is the only universe or there are an infinite number, makes no difference to belief in God at all.

Roy Clouser, PhD

Philosopher-in-residence

Christian Leaders Institute