If You Don’t Want God, You Better Have a Multiverse!

by Allen Hainline

Such is the advice from Bernard Carr in grappling with the fascinating discovery that the physics of the universe had to be fine-tuned if it were to support life. Carr views the only viable options as being either God or a multiverse (the theory that there are a vast number of other universes). Stanford physicist Leonard Susskind also calls our attention to these relatively recent discoveries: “Science may be undergoing a huge course correction, a paradigm shift. A titanic controversy has erupted over the strange anthropic pattern that nature seems to exhibit – the pattern of extraordinary unexplained coincidences that are necessary for our own existence.[1]” I will discuss these fine-tuning discoveries and their implications in a series of blogs as part of my ongoing series on scientific evidence for God.

Here are my previous blogs in this series prior to the recent hiatus:

Philosophy:

Can Science Disprove God?
What Counts as Evidence for God from Science?

Evidence for God from the Origin of the Universe:

Origin of the Universe

Doesn’t Quantum Mechanics Violate the Causal Principle?

Much Ado About Nothing

Philosophical Arguments that the Universe had a Beginning

Before presenting the actual fine-tuning scientific data, I want to explore the philosophical basis of the argument. We can then examine the scientific data relative to some reasonable evaluation criteria.

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What is Fine-Tuning?

Fine-tuning is not a synonym for design but is rather a technical term in physics that refers to a narrow range for suitable values among possibilities. All else being equal, if theory A requires fine-tuning and theory B doesn’t, then theory B is deemed to be more likely to be true because it doesn’t rely on assumptions for narrow constraints for the values of one or more parameters. There are other contexts where fine-tuning is discussed with respect to various hypotheses having nothing to do with life, but I defend this fine-tuning claim:

“In the set of possible physical laws, parameters and initial conditions, the subset that permits rational conscious life is very small.”

The universe is said to be finely-tuned for life if most possible ways for setting up physics would have resulted in no intelligent life anywhere in the universe. My claim is close to that defined by Luke Barnes[2] in his important review article. I use the term “rational conscious life” rather than “the evolution of intelligent life” because the fine-tuning claim can be evaluated independently of biological evolution. My wording also reflects Christian expectations that God wanted creatures in His image – rational, conscious creatures with whom He could have a relationship.

It’s important to note that my fine-tuning claim deals with the fundamental physics of the universe required before any biological evolution could get started…

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If You Don’t Want God, You Better Have a Multiverse!