1. A Multiverse — Christian Theology & Scientific Rationality

2. A Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design (for Nature & Evolution)

by Craig Rusbult, Ph.D.

This page supplements my page about The Anthropic Principle & Fine Tuning: Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design?  You can begin with either Part 1 (re: theology and science) or Part 2 (re: intelligent design and evolution) after you read the introduction below, about central ideas and useful concepts.


Here is a brief summary of central ideas about a multiverse:
    Explaining the Fine Tuning:  We live in a universe where the properties of nature are fine tuned so they are "just right" for life.  Why?  Two currently plausible theories propose that either we live in a universe that is intelligently designed, or our universe is part of a huge multiverse (containing an immense number of universes, thus letting us "beat the odds" against fine tuning) that may or may not be designed.  It seems that neither of these theories can be proved or disproved,* so our evaluations of these theories can be strongly influenced by personal preference for a particular worldview and its associated way of life, plus other factors that include philosophy of science, and more.
    Beating the Odds:  In a 5-card hand of poker, getting a royal flush (XJQKA of same suit) is highly improbable, so the odds against it are high.  But if you deal a large number of hands, observing a royal flush becomes highly probable, so the odds favor it.  Similarly, the odds against a fine-tuned universe are extremely high, but if we live in a huge multiverse (containing many universes with varying properties of nature) having one or more life-allowing universes becomes highly probable so the odds favor it, and we live in one of these life-allowing universes.
    The Anthropic Principle — which states that because humans exist, we must observe a universe with properties that allow our existence — is logically valid, and this anthropic selection effect (placing a limit on WHAT can be observed) is compatible with either the presence or absence of intelligent design and a designer, because it doesn't explain WHY our universe is fine tuned for life.  But in a multiverse, "beating the odds" might explain WHY a universe with fine tuning exists, and a second selection effect might explain WHERE fine tuning is observed.
    * Speculations:  Currently the most popular proposals for a multiverse claim theoretical support from cosmological inflation (early in the Big Bang) and string theory, but multiverse proponents acknowledge that direct observational evidence for their theory seems to be impossible, so we can ask "is it really science?"  We should not think of a multiverse as an actual reality, but as a potential reality, a speculative proposal (with some scientific support) that we can imagine.

and useful concepts for evaluating evolution:
    Life-Allowing Universe and Life-Producing Universe:  We are here, so the properties of nature must allow intelligent life.  When this anthropic principle is supplemented by a naturalistic assumption that the history of nature has been totally natural, the naturalistic conclusion is that the properties of nature also must produce intelligent life by 100%-natural evolution.   /   For theists who propose one or more miracles (whatever is needed) during the formative history of nature, a life-allowing universe is sufficient.  For totally naturalistic proposals about origins (including theistic evolutionary creation, deism, pantheism, rigid agnosticism, and atheism) a life-producing universe is necessary.
    Universe-Types and Universe-Actualizations:  When we ask "how many universes are in a multiverse?" we should consider two factors.  Using calculations based on M-theory (which unifies 5 earlier string theories), scientists estimate that a multiverse might contain 10500 different types of universes;  and each type might occur in an immense number of actualized universes of the same type that would all have the same properties of nature but (due to having different initial conditions, plus the divergences described by chaos theory) different histories of nature, with variations on similar basic histories.
    I say "might contain... types of universes" and "might occur... actualized universes" to remind you that these should be considered potential types and potential actualizations because, as explained above, there is no direct observational evidence for a multiverse.


    The 1-and-2 order doesn't matter, so you can begin by first reading either Part 1 or Part 2.
    Part 1. Multiverse — Theology & Science:  This section supplements the "Philosophy and Theology" section in my Anthropic Principle: Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design? (abbreviated AP-M-ID) by responding to The Puzzle of Existence by Robert B. Mann in Perspectives on Science and Christian Faith, September 2009.  All quotations in Part 1 are from these two papers.   /   Although I saw similar ideas in Robert's earlier paper (Inconstant Universe) in 2005, my current responses were stimulated by hearing his talk at the Annual Meeting of ASA in August 2009;  then I read his 2009 paper, and wrote the "Philosophy and Theology" section and this response-page. }
    Part 2. Multiverse and Intelligent Design:  In a related question, I examine the implications of a multiverse and/or intelligent design for life sciences that study the origin and evolution of life.
 


 

Part 1 — A Multiverse: Christian Theology & Scientific Rationality

 
"The Puzzle of Existence," by Robert Mann, is an excellent overview of interesting ideas (scientific, philosophical, theological) that help us understand current thinking about a multiverse.  After a summary and brief introduction, Mann continues by asking why there is Something instead of Nothing (a traditional question) and (in a new question that can be imagined for a multiverse) Something instead of Everything.  He then describes (using the mass of neutrons as one example of the many life-permitting features in our universe) the science of Our Atypical Universe with its Biophilic Selection, and explains Cosmic Fine-Tuning, Cosmic Inflation, and how String Theory allows this proposal for a multiverse:
"There could be as many as 10500 kinds of ground states to [string] theory, each with its own particular properties and features.  Our universe is presumably described by one of these kinds. ... Perhaps all of these different kinds of ground states — in other words, different kinds of universes — actually exist, with ours being one amongst this vast set."
For this part of the paper (the first 6 pages) mainly I just learned from Robert in the science parts, and generally appreciated his skill as a thinker-and-writer who can effectively teach a coherent system of ideas that I find fascinating and intellectually stimulating.  But the final part of his paper (in the last 3 pages) — The Multiverse Paradigm, Theology's New Challenge, The Duplication Dilemma, and Summary — raises important questions about Christian Theology and Scientific Rationality that I respond to, using four principles quoted from my page about AP-M-ID:

Wouldn't it be strange if EVERYTHING happens?  (4 rational principles)
This objection — claiming that in a multiverse everything would happen, and that would be strange — is based mainly on philosophical preference rather than logic.  Here are some reasons to think we should say "wait a minute" and put the strangeness into perspective by thinking rationally:
    • Rational Principle #1 (physical possibility):  There are important differences between an immense multiverse (where MANY THINGS happen) and an infinite multiverse (where EVERYTHING happens).  The mathematics of infinity produces results that seem absurd in our normal non-infinite ways of thinking.  An argument based on converting these mathematical absurdities into philosophical absurdities will seem much less impressive when we think about the important differences between an infinite multiverse (which is physically impossible, and would be very strange) and an immense multiverse (which might be possible, and would be less strange).  ...[a concluding comment, about the difference between immensity and infinity, is not included here]...
    • Rational Principle #2 (actual experience):  If we imagine an omnipresent super-observer who is simultaneously EVERYWHERE and who thus can observe all of the many things that would happen in an immense multiverse, this super-observer might see some strange things.  But this would not occur with normal physical creatures like you and me, because we would observe things in the same way we do now, as one creature living in one universe.  The strangeness of a multiverse is only in your imagination;  in your actual experience, nothing would be different.
    • Rational Principle #2h (humility):  As a theological supplement to Principle #2, a humble theist should acknowledge that if God — who is an omnipotent super-observer, contrary to Principle #2 for creatures — understands the "many things" happening, and approves, that should be sufficient for us, whether or not we understand or approve.
    • Rational Principle #3 (theology):  An essential principle of Judeo-Christian theology is our claim that God is sovereign;  therefore, Christians should believe that in an immense multiverse the "many things" that happen would include only what God allows to happen.
 

page 147
 147L1   147R1 
 147L2   147R2 
 147L3   147R3 
 147L4   147R4 
 147L5   147R5 
 147L6   147R6 
 147L7   147R7 
 147L8   147R8 
 147L9   147R9 
 

Although I've tried to describe Robert's views accurately, I want to help you understand quickly so I've been selective by quoting some excerpts but not others;  therefore, if you want to know what he says and how, you should read his paper.  To help you know "where to look" in his paper so you can see the context of the excerpts I'm quoting, and what he says in-between the excerpts, I'll use a system that shows you where to look.  For example, the first quotation below is labeled "{147L6-147R9}" with each part of the first citation {147 L 6} telling you one part of the quote's location, which you can see in "page 147" at the right, split into 18 mini-segments;  the set of quotations begins on page 147 in the left column (L) a little more than halfway down (6);  the second citation, 147R9, shows the ending place for this set of quotations;  I've assembled the paragraph below by using excerpts scattered throughout a range, beginning at 147L6 and ending at 147R9.  /  And to clarify who is saying what, most paragraphs begin with RM (Robert Mann) or CR (Craig Rusbult) so you'll know whose ideas are being described.

 
        The Duplication Dilemma  (is not a problem for Christian theology)
        RM:  As an example to illustrate "a number of subordinate interrelated problems that science and theology must both contend with in the context of a multiverse paradigm," Mann describes {in 147L6-147R9} the Duplication Dilemma:  "Consider a universe that is infinite in spatial extent and in which there is an unbounded amount of energy [note: this is not the most commonly proposed mechanism for producing a multiverse, but it correctly illustrates the weirdness that would occur in the infinite multiverse that is proposed by some scientists], everywhere obeying the laws of physics in our observable patch. ... By simply allowing matter and energy to realize all possible configurations that are permitted by the known laws of physics [which would produce an infinite number of actualized universes, each having different initial conditions and thus different histories, even though each actualized universe is the same universe-type and thus has the same properties of nature]... there is enough time, space, and matter to realize all possible known configurations of every allowed physical system" so "any given physical system, individual, or society will experience everything it can experience."  And what about you?  "Since human DNA has a finite number of configurations, your body will have a duplicate in this infinite universe."  In fact, "such duplicates will occur infinitely many times," so you (via your duplicates) will experience everything you can experience, because "all possible social, psychological, and physical outcomes occur" so "at any given instant in which you made an apparent choice, there is an equivalent situation somewhere out there in which your duplicate made a different choice.  If you have ever wondered what life might be like if you had not met your spouse, taken that job, or passed that test, you can be confident that somewhere else in the multiverse your duplicates have had these experiences."
        CR:  Should we say "wow"?  This does seem strange, until we remember Principle #2 which is the fact that YOU only experience what is happening to you here-and-now in our universe.  IF there is an immense multiverse, your experience would not be any different than it is now.  Even though the potential "duplication" sounds strange when it's described in vivid language, the strangeness is only in your imagination;  in your actual experience, nothing would occur that is unusual in any way.
        CR:  And when RM asks you to "Consider a universe..." he should say "Imagine a universe..." because any type of multiverse is speculative (so it must be imagined) and an infinite multiverse is physically impossible, as explained in Principle #1.  Therefore we should ask, "Would duplication be an actual problem, or only an imagined problem that occurs only in imaginative speculations about ‘everything’ (not just many things) happening in an impossible infinite multiverse?"

        If Duplicates Exist, We Are Not Unique  (not a problem)
        RM:  "Duplication poses interesting theological challenges,... [especially] a loss of uniqueness.  If I am replicated many times in the multiverse, in what sense can I be understood to be a child of God, being worth more than many sparrows?  To be sure, loss of uniqueness is a theological issue, one too easily dismissed by its critics. {148L4-148L5}"
        CR:  No, duplication is not a "theological challenge."  Yes, it can be "easily dismissed" because we have a common practical precedent in our world (where ‘duplication’ is not considered a problem for identical twins) plus three logical reasons (based on three rational principles for thinking about an imaginary strangeness if "everything happens") that are explained in my AP-M-ID:
    First, remember Principle #1 and ask, "Would duplication be an actual problem, or only an imagined problem that occurs only in imaginative speculations about ‘everything’ happening in an infinite multiverse that is physically impossible?"
    Second, remember Principle #2.  Even if duplicates exist, this would not be a theological problem because each person (you and the genetic duplicate) would be living independently — with no knowledge of the other person — in different universes, and God would hold each of you morally accountable for the way you live, for your decisions and actions in your own here-and-now situations.  This would be similar to identical twins (having the same DNA, and usually the same family environment) living in our world now, which causes no theological problems because God holds each twin accountable, as an individual person, for the way they live.  If identical twins are not a problem for God (if He "approves" of these humans, as described in Principle #2h) then we should not consider twins to be a theological problem;  and if actual twins are not a problem, potential duplicates are also not a problem.
    Third, remember Principle #3.  Judeo-Christian monotheists who believe the Bible will believe that God is sovereign.  We should reject an atheistic interpretation of a multiverse.  Instead, when we think about "many things happening" we should view this as "only things allowed by God" because God has sovereign control over everything that occurs everywhere in His creation.  If God created an immense multiverse, He could decide that life will exist only on our Earth — and He could achieve this goal in two ways, either by miraculously creating life only on Earth (if life cannot be naturally produced by a chemical evolution from non-living chemicals) or (if life can and does naturally evolve) by "killing the life" whenever it occurs on other planets — and this is what would occur, no more and no less;  or God could also create life, or allow life, in other places in our universe, or in more than one universe, perhaps in an immense number of universes.  And whatever God decides — whether it's life only on Earth, or also on other planets, or also in other universes — that is fine with me, and is compatible with what the Bible teaches.

a general comment:  In agreement with Robert, I personally would prefer (for aesthetic and theological reasons) to live in a designed single-universe.  But, to a greater extent than Robert, I think a designed multiverse-universe is compatible with Bible-based Christian theology.  By contrast, I think one type of proposed multiverse is not compatible with Christian theology:

        Duplicates in Quantum-Split Histories?  (this could be a problem)
        As explained above and below, "duplicates" would not be a problem (practical, philosophical, or theological) in a normal multiverse.  But in one very strange type of proposed multiverse — which is not mentioned in Mann's paper — duplicates could be a philosophical/theological problem, although not a practical problem.
        Going beyond the scientific assertions of quantum physics, a Many Worlds Interpretation (MWI) proposes that during each quantum interaction every possible result is physically actualized in a different branch of history, with each branch actually happening in its own physical universe.  If this quantum-splitting occurs, it would produce an unimaginably immense number of branching histories because the universe contains a huge number of elementary particles, and many of these are continually (zillions of times each second) involved in quantum-interactions*, and each interaction has a huge number of possible quantum-results;  IF every possible result, from each quantum interaction in the universe, produces a different branch of history during one instant of time, during the following instant each of these branches also will be split into an immense number of different results, and this continuous sequential branching will occur zillions of times every second for the past 13.7 billion years, producing an exponentially growing number of history-branches.  Wow!
        All of these histories would occur in worlds having the same universe-type, and all begin with the same initial conditions, so an MWI-multiverse would not be useful in a non-design explanation for the fine tuning of our universe.  But MWI is useful for arguing against design-directed action during the history of nature, since everything that (with non-zero probability) could happen — including a natural origin of life and all of its possible developments during biological evolution — would happen in some branches of history.
        * Although the MWI is often described in terms of experimental observations, this word is misleading.  To avoid confusion, instead of observations we should think about interactions.  Quantum Physics Interpretations - Shrodinger's Cat & More explains why observation is not an accurate description of what happens in nature, by using two illustrative examples:  an electron passing through two slits (as a wave) before interacting (as a particle) with a detector-wall;  and an electron frequently interacting with other wave-particles inside a living animal in a complex biochemical context (not a simplified experimental context) without human observation.  In both of these examples, and in all other situations, quantum interactions can occur with or without observation-knowledge by humans, and almost all interactions (certainly for billions of years before we arrived on the scene, and also in the present) do not involve human consciousness.  In fact, the error of thinking "quantum physics shows that we ‘create reality’ with our human consciousness" is the main reason that Section 3B (where you'll be when you click the link) begins by saying "oops, they [the founders of quantum physics] used a bad word" because they chose a scientific term, observation, that encourages non-scientific misconceptions and false claims.   { Most advocates of MWI agree that quantum interaction does not require human observation or human consciousness.  For example, an MWI-Everett FAQ by Michael Clive Price says, "A measurement [aka observation] is an interaction, usually irreversible, between subsystems that correlates the value of a quantity in one subsystem with the value of a quantity in the other subsystem. ... A measurement, by this definition, does not require the presence of a conscious observer, only of irreversible processes." (italics added by me) }
        MWI is not science.  In modern science, quantum physics (aka quantum mechanics) is universally accepted as a successful scientific theory, but all interpretations of quantum physics, including a Many Worlds Interpretation, are nonscientific speculations.  Some scientists are fascinated by the mathematical elegance of MWI, but this mental convenience requires paying a high cost in physical extravagance.  And there is no scientific reason to think MWI is more likely to be true, compared with conventional interpretations.  Although the physical process of decoherence is sometimes cited as support for MWI, because it explains why we (in our own here-and-now branch of history) could not observe or interact with other branches, decoherence is also consistent with other interpretations;  for example, decoherence (defined in Section 3A) explains why human consciousness is not necessary during observation-interactions that produce a "collapse of the wave function" in conventional non-MWI views such as the Copenhagen Interpretation.  {comments about the physics & psychology of quantum interpretations}   Does MWI require a non-conservation of energy?
        What are the potential theological problems with a Many Worlds Interpretation? 
        A. Identity and Accountability:  An MWI-multiverse would include some branches of history where you were never born, plus other branches where you were born and then during your life you say YES to salvation in some branches, but NO in others.  In this situation, which "history of you" would be used by God for accountability, for evaluating your moral/spiritual thoughts and actions?  The basic problem is that an MWI-multiverse (if it really exists, but I don't think it does) would destroy the here-and-now principle that makes duplication a non-problem in other types of hypothetical multiverses where "you only experience what is happening to you here-and-now" and, if duplicates exist, "God would hold each of you morally accountable for the way you live, for your decisions and actions in your own here-and-now situations."  By contrast, with MWI you mentally think every possible thought while making every possible decision, and physically do every possible action, in each here-and-now;  and these differing thoughts-and-actions (mega-schizophrenia!) lead to an immense number of divergent future histories that will be experienced by some form of "you" without any control by you, that all begin with your current here-and-now and continue diverging in your future here-and-nows.
        B. Uncontrolled Evil and Suffering:  The essence of MWI, with every possible quantum-result happening, seems to deny the possibility of divine control.  Without control, MWI would allow the existence of history-branches with a wide variety of uncontrolled evils and sufferings, in apparent violation of Principle #3: "in an immense multiverse the ‘many things’ that happen would include only what God allows to happen."
        For both A and B, there is a difference between an MWI-multiverse and non-MWI multiverses.  With other proposed multiverses — but not with MWI — in each universe every individual person makes choices and has some control;  and according to conventional Christian theology, God makes choices and has ultimate control.  Although the choices in A are denied by those who deny free will, and the choices in B are denied by atheists who declare that God does not exist, and by deists who think that God does not interact with His creation, there would be no difference between these choices in a single-universe and in a non-MWI multiverse.  Whatever choices can be made by humans and God in a single-universe, the same choices can be made in a non-MWI multiverse.  But with an MWI-multiverse the possibility of any choice (by people in A, or by God in B) is declared to be impossible in the basic definition of MWI, as the essence of MWI.
        What is my response?  First, and most important, there are no reasons (in science or elsewhere) to think an MWI-multiverse exists, and I don't think it exists.  But if MWI does exist, I believe that God would somehow convert the raw-MWI into a modified-MWI by giving a special reality status to one branch of history (it's the one we have been experiencing, are experiencing here-and-now, and will continue to experience, in which our thoughts-and-actions will be accountable to God), thus preventing the one potential theological problem (A) from becoming an actual theological problem.  But if the other branches actually exist and are being experienced by people (even if they are not the "us" who are accountable to God) there would be uncontrolled evil and suffering in some history-branches, causing Problem B.  This could be solved if God exerted some control over the MWI-multiverse, but I can't understand how this could happen in a way that is consistent with the definition of MWI.   /   Whatever is happening in our world and at the divine level, an appropriately humble response is to faithfully follow Principle #2h by acknowledging that "if God ... understands [and wisely evaluates] the ‘many things’ happening [in our universe or in any kind of multiverse], and approves, that should be sufficient for us, whether or not we understand or approve."

        Now we'll return to Robert Mann's ideas about a non-MWI multiverse (which may or may not exist in reality, we both agree) and my responses.

        Christs who Refuse to Die on the Cross  (not a problem)
        RM:  "Duplication presents a serious challenge to Christology.  If there are many duplicate worlds, then presumably there are many duplicate Christs.  Pursuing the line of reasoning that follows from allowing all initial conditions, in some parts of the multiverse Jesus dies on the cross and in others he does not.  What then do we make of the concepts of atonement and salvation?  Do they only apply to those ‘lucky’ parts of the multiverse where Jesus chose the path of sacrifice?  Is Christ to be identified with God only in those sacrificial sectors?  Does God so love only certain parts of this multiverse?" {148L5}
        CR:  If the tri-une God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit) is sovereign over a multiverse, instead of saying "presumably there are many duplicate Christs" it would be more correct to say "presumably there are many duplicate incarnations of Christ."
        CR:  This concern — proposing that God might love some parts of the multiverse, but not others — would be a profound violation of Principle #3, regarding the sovereignty of the tri-une God, who (existing in Christ) decides whether Christ will or will not die in each incarnation.  Based on the Bible, we have no reason to think that an incarnated Christ would ever refuse to die on the cross by changing His attitude from His actual humble obedience — "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will. (Matthew 26:39)" — to a sinful disobedience, "... not as you will, but as I will, and I'll decide to not drink this cup of death on the cross."  I'm sure that Robert agrees, and in this "challenge" he is describing a question that could be asked by others.*  In fact, in a continuation of the quotation above, Robert states this principle of sinless obedience by incarnated Christs, but then (speaking for others) he rejects it:
        RM:  "These problems [of sinfully disobedient Christs] can be avoided (or at least ameliorated) if one imposes the theological constraint that all the duplicate Christs choose the path of sacrifice.  This is fine, but it undermines the motivation behind this simple multiverse in the first place, which was to generate universes by random initial conditions.  To impose such a constraint is to eliminate this randomness." {148L8}
        CR:  By saying "this is fine," Mann agrees that we should expect Christ to always "choose the path of sacrifice."  But why should a Christian avoid this theological constraint?  Instead we should strongly affirm it because we believe that God will do what is needed to offer a way for people to be saved, whether this is Christ choosing sacrifice or in some other way.

* These others might legitimately claim that disobedient Christs would be one type of "uncontrolled evil" that would occur in some branches of an uncontrolled MWI-multiverse, as described above.

        Multiverse Interpretation

        Should we accept an atheistic interpretation of a multiverse?  No.
        RM:  An interpretation of a multiverse based on conventional Christian theology, which acknowledges the sovereignty of God by affirming that Christ will always behave in the way that Christ (who is part of the tri-une God) decides to behave, "undermines the motivation behind this simple multiverse in the first place, which was to generate universes by random initial conditions.  To impose such a constraint is to eliminate this randomness." {148L8}
        CR:  Above, I ask "why should a Christian avoid this theological constraint?" and explain why we should affirm the constraint.  A theistic interpretation of a multiverse is analogous to a theistic interpretation of evolution in theistic evolution.  Although atheists can claim that "natural = without God" for natural neo-Darwinian evolution, this is not the way "natural" should be viewed by Judeo-Christian theists.  Instead, Jews and Christians should define natural process as being designed, created, sustained, and guided (occasionally or continually) by God.  And we should call attention to atheistic interpretations when we see them.  For example, in April 1995 the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) declared that biological evolution was "unsupervised," thus adopting an atheistic interpretation of evolution.  But in October 1997, non-NABT outsiders persuaded the leaders of NABT to acknowledge that their claim (about a lack of supervision) was not scientifically justifiable, so they dropped this claim.  {read the story of NABT and its Biology-Theology}   We also should not propose an atheistic interpretation of a multiverse, and we should not uncritically accept this proposal by others;  instead we should challenge it by asking, "Can your interpretation be justified by scientific evidence-and-logic?  If not, then you should explicitly state that your interpretation of the science is non-scientific."   /   note: non-scientific does not mean un-scientific, it means outside science which is not necessarily against science.   /   also: Jews and Christians who believe what is taught in the Judaic Scriptures that we both accept (these scriptures are often called the Old Testament) are Judeo-Christian theists who should agree about the essentials of Judeo-Christian theology, although followers of Judaism and Christianity will disagree about some aspects of Christian theology;  therefore, when I say "Christians" or "Christian theology" this usually is the same as "Judeo-Christian theists" or "Judeo-Christian theology" but sometimes it is different.
        Our interpretations of natural process are important.  In one part of my Creation-FAQ, in Sections 5A-5G I ask "What can a Christian believe about evolution?" and explain why, even though evolutionary creation (i.e. theistic evolution) is not my own view, I defend its theological acceptability.  Here is one reason:
"A nontheistic interpretation of neo-Darwinian science will see the process of evolution as being not designed by God, using matter not created by God, driven by only chance and selection that were not guided by God.  But these claims are theological, not scientific, and a theistic interpretation of the same science can disagree by viewing the evolutionary process as being designed by God, using matter created by God, and (at least sometimes) guided by God. {Divine Guiding of Natural Process}   In most fields of science — ranging from the physics of rain to the biochemistry of embryology and physiology — there are no theological criticisms of scientists who accept naturalistic theories proposing ‘only natural process.’"  A proposal for theistic evolution [evolutionary creation] just extends this acceptance into another area of science." (quoted from Section 5E of my FAQ for Creation, Evolution, and Design}
And a proposal for a theistic multiverse just extends our theistic interpretations of nature into one more area of science.
        When a theory is criticized because it can be interpreted atheistically, this is a good starting point for an evaluation.  Then, to decide whether it's a good ending point for a conclusion that the theory must be interpreted in the way proposed by atheists, we should critically evaluate each proposed Christian interpretation (or more generally, Judeo-Christian interpretation) and ask whether it is acceptable, theologically and scientifically.  If the answer is "yes, this interpretation is acceptable" and if there is no logically compelling reason to accept an atheistic interpretation, we should reject the atheistic interpretation, explaining why it is being rejected and why instead we are choosing to interpret the theory in the context of our Christian worldview.  Christians should interpret a multiverse theory in ways that are acceptable to us;  our views of a multiverse should not be determined by the proposals of atheists, by the interpretations they prefer.

        Would a multiverse be "too much" for God to govern?   ( no )
        RM:  "The classic picture has been that of a finite creation whose origin, existence, and fulfillment depend on the limitless power of God [who is "omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent"]. ... The creation is subordinate to God and is limited."  By contrast, "It is difficult to regard the multiverse as being anything other than a limitless creation.  Adopting this viewpoint, the classic picture must be discarded, and a theological tension arises between the power of the Creator and the creation." {146R6-146R8}
        CR:  Again, notice the equating of potential immensity (in a vast creation) with potential infinity (in a "limitless" creation) by ignoring Principle #1.  Also, despite the common assumption that a life-allowing universe will also be life-producing, we should remember the distinction between life-allowing and life-producing and believe that a sovereign God decides where and when life will occur.  Concerns about multiverse-duplicates assume that life will begin by natural process, because either an origin of life isn't difficult, or any improbabilities will be overcome by immense probabilistic resources;  this assumption is examined in Part 2.
        CR:  There is no Bible-based theological reason to conclude that God can cope with a universe but not a multiverse, that a multiverse filled with life would be "too much" for a semi-omniscient God who has limited observational-and-computational abilities so He could not cope with the complexity.  But even if this divine limitation does exist (and there is no biblical evidence to support this claim), if we believe that God is omnipotent, then we should believe that He could "limit His focus" by limiting life so it exists only on Earth, or only in this universe, or only in a limited number of universes, because God decides where life will (and will not) occur.  Or maybe — and a humble "maybe" is all we can claim to know — God would decide to create a huge number of intelligent creatures throughout a multiverse, by using natural evolution and/or miracles.

        Would a designed multiverse be a worthy way for God to create?   ( yes )
        RM:  "In a situation where all possible outcomes are realized it is difficult to avoid a complete degeneration into absurdity.  For example, the intelligibility of God reflected through a putatively elegant mathematical description of the multiverse [for a designed universe] is undermined [with a designed multiverse] by the imbecilic generation of all conceivable outcomes." {146R9-147L1}
        CR:  Again, many conceivable outcomes (which might be possible) would not be "all conceivable outcomes" (this is not possible), using Rational Principle #1.
        CR:  Aesthetically and theologically, I also would prefer a designed single-universe.  But, as explained in Principle 2h, "a humble theist should acknowledge that if God ... understands the ‘many things’ happening, and approves, that should be sufficient for us, whether or not we understand or approve."  Therefore, we should express our personal preferences with appropriate humility, as I urge in the conclusion of my Creation-FAQ asking "What can a Christian believe about evolution?"
In science and theology, our humility should be appropriate — not too little, not too much.  We can make some claims, but not others, with confidence. .....  Instead of criticizing either possibility [if God created "with or without miracles" or, in the context of cosmology, created a universe or multiverse] as being a less worthy way for God to create, it seems wise to be humble by deciding that, either way, God's plan for design-and-creation was wonderful and is worthy of our praise.  You and I should say in public — and believe in our hearts and minds — that "IF God created using another method (differing from the way I think He created, regarding either age or evolution [or universe or multiverse]), then God is worthy of our praise."  But this humility (if... then...) is compatible with humbly explaining, using arguments from theology and science, why we think a particular view is most likely to be true."
I think Robert agrees with this, and he is simply explaining why he thinks "a particular view [with a designed-and-created universe that is not part of an immense multiverse] is most likely to be true."

        Humility in Creation Theology
        Part of my motivation for writing this page is to avoid a creation theology that is too restrictive, that goes beyond what the Bible teaches.  Here are two examples.  In the 1600s, some Christians (including leaders of the Roman Catholic Church) insisted that God had created a motionless earth at the center of the universe, not an earth that is orbiting the sun and is rotating once every 24 hours.  In 2010, some Christians (including leaders with influence) are continuing to claim — even after hearing many explanations of why their views are not scripturally warranted or scientifically supported — that "if the Bible is true, the earth is young" so "if the earth is not young, the Bible is not true."  These two claims, about a stationary earth and a young earth, are not biblically supported so they are too restrictive, and (according to current science) they are wrong.  We should avoid unnecessary restrictions on creation theology, whether the proposed restrictions are based on specific biblical passages (as with a stationary earth or young earth) or (as in Robert Mann's opposition to a multiverse) are based on general biblical principles about the characteristics of God and His creation.
        I think the Bible does not support a claim that our universe must be the only universe, that God would not create our universe as part of a multiverse so the only theologically acceptable type of creation is a single universe.  The Bible seems to say nothing directly about this question, one way or the other, and current science (when this was written in April 2010) says "we don't know for certain, and maybe we cannot know."
        We should try to avoid restrictions on creation theology unless these restrictions are necessary, based on what the Bible clearly teaches.  If a claim really does contradict our Bible-based theology — as in an unscientific assertion that “according to science, divine miracles are impossible” so God could not use any miracles during the history of creation or the history of human salvation — we should challenge this claim and explain why we think it is wrong.  But we should avoid "drawing a line in the sand and taking a stand" where this is not necessary.  If a creation view is compatible with what is clearly taught in the Bible, this makes the view a theologically acceptable possibility for creation.
        But an appropriate creation humility "is compatible with humbly explaining, using arguments from theology and science, why we think a particular view is most likely to be true," and this is the goal of Robert in his paper.

 
 
        Would a MULTIVERSE be compatible with SCIENTIFIC RATIONALITY?   ( yes )
        RM:  "All possible experimental outcomes occur for a given physical system somewhere in the multiverse.  Two sets of near-identical observers could measure wildly different outcomes from the same set of conditions, with one set of observers inferring quite distinct forms of scientific regularity.  In what sense can we then say science is left with any predictive power? ... Indeed, since everything that can occur does occur, one is ultimately left with a reasonless explanation for any given phenomenon." {147R9-148L3}
        For this section it will be useful to review the concepts of universe-types and universe-actualizations and Rational Principle #2.
        CR, quoting from AP-M-ID:  Will reliable science be impossible because scientists cannot reject a claim for any event even though it seems extremely improbable, if the event might occur somewhere else in an immense multiverse?  For example, will we have to accept implausible claims for a "perpetual motion machine" that violates the probability-based Second Law of Thermodynamics? .....  No, because scientists in a multiverse would not be omnipresent super-observers;  they would live in a single universe, and in every universe, whatever is most likely to happen is what is most likely to be observed.   Therefore, in any universe-type where nature is reliable (where natural process is consistent, as in our universe) science can be based on "the best ways to bet" and it will be reliable, because scientists will not observe frequent highly improbable events (on a "tail" of a probabilistic distribution) that would threaten confidence in their science.  We have no reason to think that tail-of-the-distribution events — such as perpetual motion machines (defying the Second Law) or wingless flying pigs (defying gravity) or everyday improbabilities such as Aunt Bertha winning 20 consecutive state lotteries — would be more probable in other universe-types with science (if they exist) compared with our universe-type.  And we can imagine some events (such as wingless pigs flying around the world?) so improbable that they would NEVER occur in any universe, even in an extremely immense multiverse.  Our own science can continue as usual, based on our own universe-specific observations, whether or not we live in a multiverse.   What about science and miracles?
        RM:  "If we decide to restrict science only to our observable patch, then what is the point of introducing the multiverse in the first place?  One is also left with the question of how one rules out unlikely outcomes on the basis of chance.  Any phenomenon contradicting known science within a patch might just as well be attributed to being in a quirky location in the multiverse. {148L2}"
        CR:  All actualized-universes of the same universe-type (if different types and actualizations really exist) should develop the same basic scientific principles, although in actualized-universes the differences in initial conditions would lead to different details in their histories of nature, and differences in worldviews-and-culture would produce some variability in the formulations of these principles.  But if more than one universe-type has intelligent beings and science, each distinct universe-type will have different scientific principles.  {quoted from AP-M-ID}
   As explained above, we can "restrict science only to our observable patch."  It's not necessary for us to develop a generalized multiverse-science that could explain phenomena everywhere in a multiverse (*) because we can only observe what is happening in our universe, in "our observable patch" where the properties of nature are consistent.  Therefore, I don't understand why Mann is protesting against this localized universe-science by asking "what is the point of introducing the multiverse in the first place?"  But in addition to developing our localized universe-science, some areas of science (e.g. string theory and multiverse cosmology) could try to develop a "bigger picture" science whose goal is an overall perspective, in the context of multiverse cosmology, on what is happening both inside and outside our universe.  But this is different than trying to imagine what science would be like for a universe with nature-properties that differ from our own nature-properties;  while this might be possible, it is not necessary.
   And phenomena that contradict science could not be attributed to a "quirky location" because, as explained above, we are not omnipresent super-observers so "our own science can continue as usual, based on our own universe-specific observations, whether or not we live in a multiverse."
   * In the most popular models of a multiverse, the properties of nature are different in each universe-type (with perhaps 10500 type-variations?) so the science developed in one universe would not be correct in a universe of a different type, re: the results of science.  And re: the process of science, developing a generalized multiverse-science would be very complicated and difficult, maybe impossible, because it would be purely theoretical with no empirical foundation using data from other universe-types.  But for practical functionality a generalized multiverse-science (that describes the properties of nature in 10500 universe-types, plus their universe-actualizations that have differing initial conditions) would not be necessary;  instead, a localized universe-science (including multiverse cosmology) would be sufficient, and it is a worthy goal.

        A Change in Science:  Although in the excerpts above this is not Mann's concern (re: changes in scientific rationality), one actual change in science is the fact that scientists are now thinking, talking, and writing about a multiverse.  Current cosmology is much different now than it was in the 1960s before scientists began developing their sophisticated theories about big bang inflation, string theory, and multiple universes.  But there is a difference between human theories and the physical realities that may or may not match our theories.  For example, the physical reality of actual orbits did not change between 1500 (when most scientists thought "planets orbit the earth") and 1700 (when most scientists thought "planets, including earth, orbit the sun").  In this case the new theory was correct, but in other cases a theory is incorrect, as in the 1800s when a theory about luminiferous ether proposed that space is filled with an ether which serves as a medium for the transmission of light waves, and their theory was wrong.  Currently it seems that "the jury is still out" on the new cosmological theories, so appropriate humility is justified.

        Science and Miracles — Part 1
        Some people think that science would be impossible if miracles can occur.  Although in some ways miracle questions are similar to the multiverse questions examined above, they differ in a very important way.  By contrast with a multiverse and its imaginary non-problems, miracles could potentially be an actual problem that would provide a practical reason for us to lose confidence in the reliability of science.  In reality, however, this potential problem is not an actual problem for everyday science, because (quoting from my page explaining why claims for inherent conflict between science and religion are exaggerated) "although science would be impossible if we lived in a world with constant ‘Alice in Wonderland’ surprises and no reliable cause-effect relationships, if despite occasional miracles the universe usually operates according to normal natural patterns, science will be possible and useful."  This discussion continues in Science and Miracles - Part 2 with a comparison of two potential science-changers, divine miracles and multiverse miracles.

 
        Should we distinguish between Imaginative Speculation and Physical Reality?   ( yes )
        RM:  "The question [for science, philosophy, and theology] is whether all that exists is equivalent to all that is possible. ...  A given multiverse theory posits some kind of universe-generating mechanism, and then argues the case for the special features of our universe [being produced naturally without design due to "beating the odds" with a huge number of universes] by contending that the mechanism does generate whatever it can generate... [so] whatever can exist, does exist. ...  Is it credible to believe that God created everything [that we can imaginatively propose]?  Does God create (by whatever means) whatever can be created, or does the Creator make particular choices? ...  What line should be drawn between the possible and the existent? ...  These questions cannot be decided by observation and experiment, in that the multiverse paradigm — by definition — asserts that all that exists extends well beyond the capacity of observation. ... It is also far from clear that these questions can be settled by mathematical self-consistency arguments, though there is much effort being expended in this direction. ...  Are there theological criteria for drawing a line, even tentatively, between the possible and the existent?  If so, what are they?  If not, can theology have anything useful to say about the multiverse?"  {145R8-146R4}
        CR:  These are good questions.

        Critical Analysis — Would a multiverse be scientifically uncontrollable and theologically lethal?   ( no )
        RM:  The multiverse approach is a conceptual Pandora’s box: once you get started on the idea, it is not clear how or where to stop.  Scientifically it can run out of control, and it can be theologically lethal."  {145R7}
        CR:  A multiverse will not seem to be scientifically uncontrollable or theologically lethal if we remember four rational principles:  1 (many things are not everything, because immensity is not infinity), 2 (we are not omnipresent super-observers, we see only what is here-and-now), 2h (if it's OK with God, it's ok with me), 3 (just relax, God is in control).  The concept of a multiverse is difficult to understand or even imagine, especially for people who don't have a scientific background, but we should not exaggerate the weirdness by accepting atheistic multiverse-interpretations that deny the existence and power of God.  As explained above (Humility in Creation Theology), we should "avoid a creation theology that is too restrictive, that goes beyond what the Bible teaches."
        RM:  Listing miscellaneous potential problems with a multiverse, "further examples [in addition to the duplication dilemma] include problems with scientific elegance, empirical testability, spontaneous creation, unbounded evil, purpose, and free will."  {148R9}
        CR:  I don't think these are actual theological problems, for reasons explained earlier.  Here are brief comments about where these issues are addressed:  scientific elegance and empirical testability (is a multiverse theory scientific? I think Robert will agree that good pro-and-con arguments can be made; to see some of these, and my conclusion that we should be patient and learn what we can rather than prematurely labeling multiverse proposals as non-science so we can ignore them, search for "elegance" and "testing" in my page about The Anthropic Principle: Multiverse and/or Design);  unbounded evil, purpose, and free will (these are no more problematic in a multiverse than in a universe; see Principles 3, 2h, and 2, respectively, and their applications for the duplication dilemma & worries that we are not unique);  spontaneous creation (I'm not sure what this means, but I think it's about many universes being created "automatically" due to the cosmological physics, which does make me a little uneasy because I prefer the idea of God creating each world individually for a purpose, but if God created our world by using a multiverse that's fine with me, as in Principle 2h;  I don't think he is asking about creating massive amounts of mass-energy in many gigantic universes because Robert is an expert physicist and evidently he and his fellow physicists are satisfied that this is possible, or about creating life - which is discussed in Principle 3 above and Part 2 below).
        RM:  Mann wonders whether "the multiverse paradigm is scientifically beneficial... [or] can be reconciled with any reasonable form of Christian theology.  A far more critical analysis from scientific, philosophical, and theological perspectives needs to be applied in examining the multiverse paradigm."  {149L2}
        CR:  I agree.  These questions — about fine tuning and intelligent design, universe and multiverse, regarding science, philosophy, and theology — are important, so they should be carefully examined and thoughtfully discussed.  I hope this page makes a useful contribution to our collective "critical analysis."

 


 
 

Part 2 — A Multiverse and Evolution:

Intelligent Design of Nature and Life?

It may be easier for you to understand the ideas below if you review the summary of central ideas (Fine Tuning in a Universe or Multiverse, Beating the Odds, Anthropic Principle, Speculations) and four useful concepts (life-allowing universe and life-producing universe, universe-types and universe-actualizations) plus 4 rational principles (immensity ≠ infinity and many things ≠ everything, we are not omnipresent super-observers, if God approves that is sufficient, God is in control) for thinking about "everything" happening.  And for a more detailed explanation of two ideas — Defining Intelligent Design (in 4 ways!) and Beating the Odds (illustrated using examples from Poker and Evolution) — you can read these parts of Anthropic Principle: Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design.

    Table of Contents for Part 2
    You can read these sections (get there by clicking the •-link) in any order you want:
    • Summary for Part 2  (I.O.U. - Eventually this will be available, but not yet.)
    Would a multiverse weaken arguments for design?  /  Anthropic Principle and Canine Principle
    No Confident Conclusions  /  Motivations for Accepting or Rejecting a Multiverse Theory
    Is a multiverse theory (or design theory) unscientific?  /  Methodological Naturalism  /  Science and Miracles
    The Origin (by evolution and/or design) of Humans & First Life  /  Evaluating Design-Claims  /  Are we alone?
    Appropriate Humility in Science and Theology
    appendix (re: energy in mwi, questions to explore, continuous miracle, effects of methodological naturalism)

 
        Would a multiverse weaken arguments for design?  ( yes, for two types of design )
        Design of Nature before History:  Some people are motivated to either accept or reject a multiverse theory because an immense multiverse would weaken a claim for an intelligent design of nature.  This weakening would occur because the properties of nature — which are "fine tuned" to allow life, and maybe to also produce life — could occur without design IF we live in a non-designed multiverse (containing multiple universe-types with their nature-properties distributed across a wide range) so the odds favor having one or more universes with intelligent life, and one of these universes is where we live.  Currently we cannot know whether a multiverse would have to be designed or could be non-designed, so if a multiverse exists our conclusion about a design of nature (in the context of a designed multiverse) would be that "we cannot know."
        Design-Action during History:  A multiverse with multiple universe-actualizations (of a universe-type that is fine tuned for life) would also weaken claims for detectable intelligent design during history if we allow appeals to "beating the odds for evolution" with a multiverse.  Quoting from my page about The Anthropic Principle: Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design (AP-M-ID).
    We might consider "beating the odds" to be a valid logical argument for only one type of scientific question — when we ask about ingredients of reality (such as life-allowing properties of nature, plus a life-producing history of nature) that would be necessary for our existence — because only in this case [or perhaps also when we observe other historically contingent features of nature, such as dogs *] could anthropic selection provide a logical reason to reject a probability-based scientific claim for an intelligent design of nature before history began, or for intelligent design-action during history.  For these questions about anthro-essential design, if scientists ever conclude that any stage in a natural process leading to humans (in the properties of nature, initial origin of life, or its evolution into humans) would be extremely improbable without intelligent design, thus making design seem probable, their probabilistic logic might require that they propose two if-then conditional conclusions:
    • IF we live in a single universe (or even a moderate-sized multiverse), then a claim that "design seems probable" is scientifically supported;  but...
    • IF we live in an extremely large multiverse, then scientists can remain agnostic by saying "we don't have the certainty of indisputable scientific evidence either for or against design" because a multiverse could be either designed or non-designed, and because a claim for design-action cannot be scientifically proved (due to "beating the odds" logic) or disproved (perhaps there are not enough universes to beat the highly unfavorable odds to produce the observed feature; and science cannot evaluate the possibility of undetectable natural-appearing design-directed action).

        * Anthropic Principle and Canine Principle
        In any universe where natural process is reliable, for almost all observations (in everyday life and in science) "whatever is most likely to happen is what is most likely to be observed."  So why can we ignore this principle when we evaluate claims for design-directed action?  In an immense multiverse, why would we able to claim "beating the odds" for anthro-essential features that appear improbable (as in the fine tuning of nature or a natural origin of life) but not for other improbable features, such as perpetual motion machines or wingless flying pigs?  Basically, it's because we observe humans but not flying pigs.  In a multiverse, our science would be constructed by scientists who observe only what happens in our universe, so rational science would be possible in a multiverse.  Due to observational reasons (we've never seen a flying pig) and theoretical reasons (re: gravity, aeronautical physics, anatomy & physiology,...) we conclude that a flying pig is extremely unlikely and we won't propose it in our science.  But we do observe humans, so we construct theories to describe-and-explain the origin of humans during the history of nature.  But while constructing these theories, we should remember that "both possibilities, living in an only-life-allowing universe or also-life-producing universe, are logically consistent with the Anthropic Principle, which does not provide a way to distinguish between them."  Only a naturalistic anthropic principle — which supplements the anthropic principle with methodological naturalism or even philosophical materialism — concludes that we must live in a life-producing universe.
        Of course, we should also use our observations about non-anthropic features of our universe — such as the fact that it includes Cairn Terriers (like Toto in The Wizard of Oz) and a wide variety of other dogs — as part of the empirical basis for our theories about nature and its history.  Thus, in addition to the anthropic principle we could also define a canine principle:  because dogs exist, we must observe a universe with a history of nature (including suitable properties of nature) that allows the existence of dogs, and (more specifically) this history must allow Cairn Terriers, because we observe them.  But the existence of dogs is not anthro-essential.
        These logical principles, regarding our observations of historically contingent features that include humans and dogs — and also marsupials in Australia, and the extinction of dinosaurs by a meteorite — lead to other questions we can ask.

 
        No Confident Conclusions (about a Multiverse or Two Evolutions)
        Before looking at the details of design, I'll state my doubts about our ability to reach confident conclusions.  Quoting from AP-M-ID regarding our lack of certainty for a theory proposing that we live in a multiverse,
    Theistic and atheistic worldviews propose descriptions of reality — and explanations for why and how things happen — that agree in most ways but differ in some important ways, including different ideas about what existed before the beginning of our universe.  An atheist assumes the existence of a materialistic capability for creating our universe.  A theist assumes the existence of God, who has this creative capability.  Each asks the other, "Can you explain what caused the existence of what you assume as the starting point?"  Neither offers an answer that satisfies the other, and neither assumption can be proved, so theism and atheism both offer an explanation that is possible but cannot be proved.
    If divine design and materialism are both possibilities, and our questions about a multiverse (does it exist? would it be designed or undesigned?) cannot be decisively answered by scientific evidence and logic, our multiverse-views can be strongly influenced by our personal preference for a particular worldview and its associated way of life, plus other factors that include philosophy of science (is a multiverse theory scientific? what would be more elegant, one universe or many, a unified theory or string landscape?), and philosophy of life (would you be bothered by "duplicates" in other worlds?), and more.
    Should this lack of proof bother us?  No.  In fact, I think "a state of uncertainty" is the way God wants it to be, because a lack of certainty forces each of us — no matter what we believe in our personal worldview — to live by faith in what we believe.  What is the spiritual significance of this uncertainty, with humans apparently unable to logically prove or disprove the existence and actions of God?  Some interesting ideas to think about are briefly outlined in two sections (A Summary, Living by Faith) in a page asking "Why isn't God more obvious?"
And if we accept appeals for beating-the-odds with a multiverse, we also may not be able to reach confident conclusions about a chemical evolution to produce the first life, or a biological evolution of this life.  For these questions about a multiverse and its effects on the two evolutions, our views "can be strongly influenced by our personal preference for a particular worldview" which, for an individual, includes personal psychology and social-cultural factors.  The types and amounts of worldview-influence vary in different areas of science, and one area that is strongly affected is our thinking about a multiverse.

        Motivations for Accepting or Rejecting a Multiverse Theory
        Theists who want to "win arguments for God" by their claims for divine intelligent design (before or during history) will be motivated to oppose a multiverse that can "neutralize" their claims for design.  And atheists who want to avoid losing these arguments will be motivated to propose a multiverse;  they will defend it vigorously if they think it is necessary to maintain their worldview-beliefs;  a multiverse seems necessary for atheism, but (since a multiverse might be divinely designed) it would not be sufficient as a proof of atheism, or even to provide evidence for atheism.  By contrast, theists who are not concerned with winning arguments can say "either way is fine, with a universe or multiverse."  They, and others who mainly just want to find truth, will try to evaluate the pro-and-con arguments — scientific (based on evidence and/or theory), philosophical, and theological — using unbiased logic, although reducing bias is difficult because none of the arguments seem conclusive so "our multiverse-views [to reject or accept it, and think of it as undesigned or designed] can be strongly influenced by our personal preference for a particular worldview and its associated way of life." (paragraph is quoted from AP-M-ID)
        As an example of this motivation, Robert Mann claims that a multiverse would weaken the persuasiveness of a theistic argument for an intelligent design of nature:  "If we have empirical support for a compelling ecbatic [naturalistic] mechanism for explaining the origin of the constants of nature, why would we adopt a telic approach to this issue [by claiming that the constants "achieve a purpose" of a divine designer]?  To rise to this theological challenge is no small task. {Mann-2005 307R5}"  {note: In Part 1 of this page, I respond to a 2009 paper by Robert Mann.}
        This is definitely an apologetics challenge, because a multiverse would weaken claims that intelligent design is an argument for God.  A theological challenge would also occur if, as Mann claims, we should say "no" when we ask "would God use a designed multiverse to create our universe?"   Saying "no" (which I think is unwise) is declaring that the only theologically acceptable type of creation is a single universe, and this claim is challenged by a multiverse.

 
 
        Is it scientific?
        Some scientists (and nonscientists) claim that a multiverse theory is not scientific, or a design theory is not scientific.  These claims can be partly motivated by a desire to defend or oppose intelligent design, and partly by wanting to uphold the integrity of science.

        Is a MULTIVERSE theory unscientific?  Quoting from my AP-M-ID page,
    There is no direct observational evidence for a multiverse.  But according to most multiverse theories, other universes are in a different space-time framework so in principle they cannot be observed, or they are very far away so in practice they are unobservable.  Therefore, the fact that we do not observe any other universe does not count as scientific evidence against theories proposing the existence of many other universes.
    Because empirical testing is the foundation of scientific method, but multiverse theories cannot be empirically tested using direct observational evidence, some scientists and philosophers claim that untestable multiverse theories are philosophical speculations rather than authentically scientific theories.  But could we find indirect observational evidence?  The logical foundation of modern science is hypothetico-deductive logic, which permits a theory to propose unobservable entities if these help the theory explain observable outcomes.  This is why modern scientific theories proposing the existence of unobservable electrons (in chemistry) and ideas (in psychology) are widely accepted, because these theories — which propose that unobservable causes (electrons and ideas) help to produce the effects we observe — are the most satisfactory explanations for our observations.  Why is this relevant for a multiverse?  If the principles of M-theory and cosmological inflation are useful in hypothetico-deductive logic, and if a combination of "M-theory plus inflation" makes a multiverse possible (or even probable) as a cause and/or effect, this would provide indirect observational evidence for a multiverse.   Science and Unobservables
 
        Is a DESIGN theory unscientific?  A strong defense of atheism (or rigid agnosticism, deism, pantheism,...) requires a conclusion of "no divine action" for everything in our world.  A way to guarantee this conclusion in science, or in any other field, is methodological naturalism (MN) which is a restriction claiming that only natural cause-and-effect can be proposed in scientific theories.  My FAQ for Creation, Evolution, and Design examines the scientific rationality and theological acceptability of MN by asking "Is MN always useful in science?" and "Should a Christian accept MN?" in Sections 7C and 7D.  Quoting from 7C,
    Is it necessary for a scientist to always conclude, for everything in the history of nature, that "it happened by natural process"?  This assumed conclusion produces an inflexible Closed Science that is constrained, in its search for truth, by rigid-MN.  In a rational alternative, a flexible Open Science uses testable-MN in which a scientific investigation begins by assuming "it happened by natural process" but considers this a flexible assumption that can be tested, not a rigid conclusion that must be accepted.  .....
    A basic design theory (which claims only that "design did occur") does not explicitly propose supernatural action, but — since design-action can be either natural (as in genetic engineering) or supernatural (as in miraculous biblical healings) — it implicitly acknowledges the possibility of divine action, so design is not limited by the restriction of rigid methodological naturalism.
In 7D, I explain how a Bible-believing Christian can propose "no miracles in science" even though the Bible claims that God does miracles:
    Proponents of an open search accept rigid-MN in science, but view the resulting closed MN-science as one aspect of a broader "open search for truth" that considers all possibilities, including miracles.  MN-science is respected as an expert witness, but is not allowed to be the judge and jury when we're defining rationality and searching for truth. .....  [Christians can accept MN because of the] two differences between methodological naturalism [a decision to use only natural process in scientific theories] and philosophical naturism [an atheistic declaration that "only nature exists"] .....  /   MN logically requires MN-Humility that acknowledges the possibility of unavoidable error:  If the origin of a feature involved a non-natural cause, then any explanation by MN-Science (in terms of only natural causes) will be incomplete or incorrect.
But using MN in science (and in other areas of scholarship) can lead to distorted perceptions in an "open search for truth" because:
    When a "scientific" non-design theory and a "nonscientific" design theory both claim to describe some feature in the history of nature,... in modern society most people assume that, for a theory about nature, "not scientific" [as in a design theory] means "not true"... and "scientific" [in a non-design theory] means "probably true."  .....
    MN-Science can bypass the process of science and then claim the authority of science for its naturalistic assumptions that (due to the rarity and futility of MN-Humility) appear to be scientific conclusions.
 

        The Effects of Methodological Naturalism

        A decision to use rigid-MN, instead of testable-MN, will affect our conclusions about a design theory and nondesign theory in opposite ways, by eliminating design and guaranteeing nondesign:  unless a design theory explicitly proposes only natural design and design-directed action, it allows supernatural design-and-action as a possibility, so it will be eliminated by rigid-MN;  and if we demand a natural explanation for everything, we must accept nondesign theories — such as those proposing an immense multiverse (to explain the life-allowing properties of nature we observe) and (to explain our observation of intelligent humans) an origin of life by natural chemical evolution, followed by a development of all biodiversity and biocomplexity by natural neo-Darwinian evolution — whether or not these nondesign theories are strongly supported by scientific evidence and logic.
        two comments:  With rigid-MN scientists could accept either a non-design theory or a proposal for natural design-and-action.   An appendix includes a table showing seven possibilities and the effects of assuming a multiverse or demanding MN.

        Science and Miracles — Part 2
        Part 1 of Science and Miracles concludes that "the potential problem [of miracles disrupting science] is not an actual problem for everyday science" because "if despite occasional miracles the universe usually operates according to normal natural patterns, science will be possible and useful."  Then it refers to a continuation of the discussion in Part 2, which is "a comparison of two potential science-changers, divine miracles and multiverse miracles."     Let's begin this comparison, in which we'll ask how these two types of "miracles" might affect our evaluations of chemical evolution and biological evolution, by comparing two related types of science, to see their similarities and differences.
        Operation Science and Historical Science:  It can be useful to distinguish between operation science (to study the current operation of nature, what is happening now) and historical science (to study the previous history of nature, what happened in the past).  I think both use the same scientific logic in their scientific methods, and both can be reliable, as explained in Historical Science & Operation Science - Closely Related Scientific Methods which includes a discussion of theories proposing agency causation or unobservable causes.  We have no reason to suspect that God is miraculously changing the results of everyday experiments in operation science;  but even if there were occasional miracles, the scientific practice of demanding reproducible results (and being able to generate these results and compare them) would negate the effects of occasional miracles, so the results of operation science would not be affected.  By contrast, an occasional miracle could have significant consequences in history;  and these consequences could be important when we are trying to develop an accurate historical science, as in our evaluations of theories about the origin of life (did it occur by natural chemical evolution or by a miracle?) and the development of life in biological evolution.
        Divine Miracles and Evolution:  As explained above, if scientists accept methodological naturalism (MN) this restriction "logically requires MN-Humility that acknowledges the possibility of unavoidable error:  if the origin of a feature involved a non-natural cause, then any explanation by MN-Science (in terms of only natural causes) will be incomplete or incorrect."  Imagine that the Origin of Life (OOL) would not occur by natural process, but God wanted life so He created the first life by using a divine miracle.  In this situation, if scientists reject testable-MN and they use rigid-MN and/or a naturalistic anthropic/canine principle and/or a beating-the-odds appeal to conclude that "because we exist, we must have been produced by a natural process of evolution," their scientific conclusion is wrong, and science has failed in the search for truth that is a very important goal-of-science for most scientists.  In this situation, an overly rigid process of science has produced an incorrect result of science, in a "false positive" for the sufficiency of natural process.  Of course, the opposite "false negative" error would occur in the opposite scenario if there were no divine miracles in the actual historical origin of life.  These two possible errors are why I urge an appropriate humility when we ask "is nature 100% naturally-assembling?" in Section 5D of my Overview-FAQ.
        Multiverse Miracles and Evolution:  What is a multiverse miracle?  Imagine that in the future some scientists conclude, using scientific evidence and logic, that a natural Origin of Life is extremely improbable (and it probably would never occur) in a single-universe that is the only universe, but they use beating-the-odds logic to conclude that a natural OOL is reasonably probable (so it could occur) if we live in a multiverse-universe that is part of an immense multiverse.  We could view this combination of differing probabilities — if there is a mis-match between the probabilities of natural OOL in a single-universe (where it's extremely improbable) and in a multiverse-universe (where it becomes probable and it does occur naturally in at least one universe) — as a natural multiverse-miracle.  But a multiverse-miracle is actually a semi-miracle if we define a miracle as an event that:  1) does happen even though we conclude that it's so extremely improbable that it could not happen by ordinary natural process, and  2) happens due to supernatural power.  A multiverse-miracle satisfies requirement #1 but not #2, so by this definition a natural multiverse-miracle is only a semi-miracle, compared with a conventional supernatural miracle that is both #1 and #2.
        Multiverse Miracles and Divine Miracles:  Can a multiverse be used to "explain away" claims for divine miracles?  Can a skeptic say "you just happen to be in a universe where this improbable event occurred?"  No, because in each universe "whatever is most likely to happen is what is most likely to be observed."  In any universe (including our own) where the behavior of nature is stable and reliable, it's extremely unlikely that nature will be converted into an "Alice in Wonderland" world where unusual things occur without reason, such as supernatural intervention to cause miraculous-appearing events.
        Multiverse Miracle and Anthropic Principle:  The anthropic principle is a logically valid consequence of our self-observation, but is not an explanation for the fine tuning of nature that allows our self-observation.  An illustrative example, from John Leslie, is a prisoner who is sentenced to execution by a large firing squad with 100 expert marksmen;  the prisoner hears the sound of 100 rifles firing, and then realizes that he is still alive, and his question is "why?"  Of course, if he wasn't still alive he wouldn't be asking the question, but this fact does not explain why he is still alive:  did all of the shooters miss? if so, was it by accident or design? did all of the shooters agree to miss, or did someone replace all of their bullets with blanks? or is there some other explanation?  If the prisoner doubts the possibility of sheer luck, he would be justified in concluding that his continuing existence is either the result of intelligent design-directed action (intended to make the execution ineffective) or is a miracle.  In the case of our own existence in a life-allowing universe, four possible explanations are a single-universe (either designed or undesigned), or a multiverse (either designed or undesigned) that produces a natural multiverse-miracle.  But, as explained earlier, usually "whatever is most likely to happen is what is most likely to be observed" so observing strange events (due to natural multiverse-miracles) would not be any more common in a multiverse than in a universe, because we are not omnipresent super-beings who are observing everything that is happening everywhere in all universes.
        In the table below, a multiverse miracle occurs if there is a mis-match between the two possible realities described in yellow cells at the upper-right (*) where in a single-universe a natural OOL is extremely improbable and the first life was created by a divine miracle, and at the lower-left (*) where in a rare multiverse-universe the first life did begin by natural process:

Here are four possibilities for OOL (Origin of Life) if we make two different assumptions about a multiverse:
IF we actually live in
single-universe
OOL by
 natural process 
 these (left & right) could both occur in 
 the same universe or on the same planet 
* OOL by
divine miracle
 evidently we cannot 
 know with certainty 
so if-then logic
seems necessary
rigid-MN makes
 these conclusions 
(above & below)
inevitable
 a multiverse miracle occurs if mismatch 
between probabilities of natural OOL
in single-universe (improbable *) and
 in multiverse-universe (probable *
for these scenarios
(above & below)
 MN-Science is wrong,  
 MN-Humility is needed 
 IF we actually live in 
 multiverse-universe 
* OOL by
natural process
natural OOL might be improbable (like a
 Flying Salt Pyramid) even in a multiverse 
OOL by
divine miracle

Here are detailed comments about my brief comment-summaries (in white cells) in the table above:  the two blue cells begin with "IF" because I think that currently we cannot know with certainty whether or not we live in a multivese;  the two comments about MN (re: rigid-MN, and MN-Science/Humility) are related and are explained earlier;  the center comment, defining a multiverse miracle, is explained above in Part 2 of Miracles and Science;  a dual-OOL (with life arising naturally on one planet but created miraculously on another planet inside the same universe, or with both happening at different times or places on the same planet, or in different universes) is possible, but these OOLs will be mutually exclusive (so only one or the other occurs) if God creates life by using a divine miracle only if this is required, if God wants life at a particular time-and-place but this life would not be produced by natural process;  and below you'll find an explanation of why a miraculous OOL might be necessary even in a multiverse, so "multiverse" does not necessarily mean "no design-action during history."
        Are we alone?  Are we the only life in our universe?  When you think about this question you'll see why, if we are here due to a multiverse miracle, then it's likely that either life on earth is the result of panspermia, or we are alone.

 
 

        The Origin of Humans — Biological Evolution and/or Intelligent Design?

        We are here, but — since the logical implications of our self-obervation, summarized in the Anthropic Principle, do not tell us whether our universe is just life-allowing or is also life-producing, or if we live in a single-universe (which is the only universe) or a multiverse-universe (a universe within a multiverse) — when we can ask "how did we get here?" there are many possibilities:
        Maybe we live in a single-universe that was not designed, and we were just lucky (but this seems extremely improbable!) so our universe is life-producing, and we are here due to natural evolution;  or maybe this one universe was designed by God, who then created us by using natural evolution and/or miracles.  Or maybe we live in a multiverse-universe that can allow life but won't naturally produce life, so life occurs only where God decides to create it within our universe (and maybe also in other universes) by using miracles, and this makes the history of nature a combination of natural process plus miracles.  Or maybe a multiverse includes one or more universe-types in which nature can produce intelligent life, and we evolved naturally, with or without natural-appearing guidance by God, and with or without any miraculous-appearing actions by God.  All of these scenarios are possible and (except for a nondesigned single-universe with life) seem plausible, based on the current state of our science.
 

 
        The Origin of Life — Chemical Evolution or Intelligent Design

        Did the first carbon-based life arise by undirected natural process, or was it the result of intelligent design plus design-directed action?  Let's think about how our responses to this question (where "responding" is not necessarily "answering") will differ when we use two different assumptions, by assuming that:  1) we live in a single-universe, or  2) we live in a multiverse containing many actualizations of our universe-type, all having the same properties of nature and a history of nature that is not identical but is similar, with all histories (in our assumption) including the formation of galaxies, stars, and solar systems.
        Before we examine the question of life, let's look at three simpler phenomena whose "probability of observation" spans the entire range from certain to impossible, and in-between.
        Density of Aluminum (this observation is certain, with 100% probability, yes it will occur):  In every actualized-universe of our universe-type, will aluminum (in a precisely specified state, such as pure 27Al with perfect crystal structure at 20° C) have the same density?  YES, because each universe will have the same properties of nature, which include the properties of aluminum and thus the density of aluminum.
        Flying Salt Pyramid (this observation seems impossible, with 0% probability, no it will not occur):  Will scientists in any universe-actualization ever observe a series of events, occurring by only undirected natural process, in which a 75 kg perfectly shaped equilateral triangular pyramid (a tetrahedron) made of pure NaCl salt flies with an up-and-down "roller coaster" motion, orbiting their planet twice in one day, with the first orbit taking exactly 1/2 day, followed by a 20 minute pause while the salt pyramid comes to rest in a pool of hot water, from which it emerges as a perfect 75 kg pyramid (with no dissolving) and then flies around the world again?  NO.  I think we can safely say that this would NEVER happen, even in an infinite universe where "everything" happens (not just a huge multiverse where many things happen), because this event is not just extremely improbable, it is IMPOSSIBLE because it violates several laws of nature in spectacular ways.  If scientists ever did observe this event, they could logically conclude that it was the result of design-directed action by a natural agent (using highly advanced natural technology) or a supernatural agent (using supernatural powers).
        Blue-and-Red Solution (this observation is improbable but possible, maybe it will occur):  Imagine that we begin an experiment with a solution containing water plus ions of copper (blue) and cobalt (red) mixed together to make a purple-colored solution.  Could this purple solution ever become totally un-mixed, with every copper ion in the left half and every cobalt ion in the right half, so instead of a purple mix we see pure blue and pure red?  MAYBE.  In fact, if we knew how many actualized-universes of our type were in the multiverse (that is being assumed in this section) we could carefully define the experiment — by making decisions about the amount of water, number of copper and cobalt ions, shape of container, temperature, and time during which we observe — so an unmixing would occur in some universes but not most.    { note:  This is a thought experiment that focuses on physics.  It ignores the non-physics aspects of the situation by imagining that the experiment, or something analogous to it in the origin of life, could occur naturally without being run by intelligent agents.  This simplification avoids the need to estimate probabilities for the multiple evolutions of intelligent observers who would ask questions about life in a multiverse, thus leading to multiple scientists who define and run the same physical experiment in multiple universes. }
 
        In the range of probabilities, where is a natural origin of life?  Is it an extreme, either certain or impossible, or somewhere in-between, or should we simply acknowledge that "currently it's difficult to reach a confident conclusion"?  This question is examined in Section 7B of my FAQ about Creation, Evolution, and Intelligent Design;  the excerpts below describe some of the main ideas, but I recommend reading the whole section, especially the final parts — Logic and Testing, Confidence not Proof, Two Ways to Infer Design, Seven Possibilities for Life, and Future Science — beginning at the point where you'll be when you click the link.  Quoting from the FAQ,
    A particular feature [such as the first life] was produced either by detectable design-directed action (design) or by what appears to be undirected natural process (non-design).  These two possibilities are mutually exclusive, so if non-design is highly improbable, design is highly probable. ..... We ask whether a feature could be produced by non-design, and if we answer "probably not" then we conclude it probably was produced by design. .....
   
seven possibilities:  Perhaps a feature, such as the first life (more specifically, the first carbon-based life), was produced by undirected natural process that seems very improbable but it  1v) did occur anyway, or  1w) is actually very probable because we live in a huge multiverse*;   or maybe it was reasonably probable and it can be (or could be) described in a naturalistic theory that  1x) is currently known, or  1y) will be known in the future, or  1z) will never be known;   or maybe the feature was produced by design-directed action, by  2a) natural design and construction (by a previously existing form of life that was not carbon-based), or  2b) supernatural design and creation.
    All current theories for a natural evolution of chemicals from nonlife to life seem highly implausible, because what is necessary (for life) seems much greater than what is possible (by natural process).  Due to possibilities for a future theory (1y) or no theory (1v, 1w, or 1z) the implausibility of current non-design theories doesn't prove the truth of design.  But should scientists consider the possibility that design-action produced the first life?  Even though proof is impossible because we can never [either now or in future science] propose and test all possible mechanisms for non-design, could we develop a logically justified confidence that our search has been thorough yet futile, and no promising mechanisms remain unexplored? .....
 
    * Even if a natural origin of life is highly improbable, a combination of selection effects (in the anthropic principle) plus a multiverse (with many universes) can be used to "beat the odds" and thus decrease the scientific support for a claim that undirected natural process could not produce life, or anything else in our history that is anthro-essential, that would be necessary for our existence as observers;  but for other things, "whatever is most likely to happen is what is most likely to be observed."    How would a multiverse help to beat the odds?  It would increase the available probabilistic resources and thus increase the probability for a natural origin of life, as illustrated by examples from poker and evolution.
      But even if we assume a multiverse (and there is no direct observational evidence either for or against this assumption) a claim for intelligent design-directed action could still be scientifically supported.  How?  We could logically conclude that "design-action is probable" if, in the future, scientists conclude that a natural origin of life is so highly improbable that it is basically impossible — analogous to the extreme improbability, with only undirected natural process and no design-directed action, of a Boeing 747 arising from a garbage dump in Seattle, filling with passengers, and flying to Miami — so this would NEVER happen even in an immense multiverse, and therefore design-directed action is necessary to form a living organism.   [above, a flying salt pyramid is another example of a natural impossibility]
      But it would be difficult, even if we had knowledge from a super-science [described in the FAQ], to prove this natural-impossibility in a way that would be accepted by dedicated skeptics — even in a universe (due to the seven possibilities and a worldview-based resistance to acknowledging design) but especially if an assumed multiverse with immense probabilistic resources (*) has increased the level of natural-improbability that skeptical scientists will accept as evidence for design — so there is a possibility of design-directed action that did occur but is not acknowledged by skeptics.
      * Some proponents of a multiverse propose an infinitely large multiverse where "everything" happens due to infinite probabilistic resources.  But infinity is physically impossible, so it's more scientifically justifiable to claim a large multiverse where many things happen.  Therefore, if we assume a multiverse we should try to estimate its size and its increased probabilistic resources.
I.O.U. — Later, this question will be examined:  If proponents of a multiverse claim that it contains infinite universes, with infinite probabilistic resources, does this claim guarantee that ALL improbabilities will be overcome by the infinity?  /  If someone insists on an infinite universe where everything happens, would this include a flying salt pyramid followed by a garbage-747 scenario, then another salt pyramid and garbage-747, then the 747 pilot winning 1000 consecutive million-to-one lotteries?  If some event seems to "violate the laws of physics" (but what does this mean? would it exclude probability-based principles like the Second Law of Thermodynamics? what about gravity-defying behaviors?) will it still occur anyway in an infinite multiverse?  What kinds of phenomena would be "violations" and thus would not occur?  /  Typically, every question that does not involve potential violations of physical laws, that are just probabilistically preposterous — for example, "In an infinite multiverse, what is the probability that ‘you’ (defined as a person with the same physiology as you in every molecular detail, with all of the same experiences and memories, etc, in an identical universe with all elementary particles in the same locations and energy-states) will win a million-to-one lottery 100,000 consecutive times, somewhere in this multiverse?" — is answered by claiming that "your multi-win sequence will occur an infinite number of times, in an infinite number of universes."  Is this answer logical and justifiable?  /  Speculative questions like these, about proposals for physical infinities, are examined in a links-page about A Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design of The Universe.
 
        Evaluating Claims-for-Design in a Multiverse
        Of the four types of design-claims the one most directly affected by a multiverse is a claim for a divine design of nature before history, if we assume the physical existence of many universe-types in a multiverse.  But claims for design-directed action during history would also be affected if we assume many actualized-universes of a given universe-type, as explained at the beginning of Part 2.
        How would our evaluations of claims for design-directed action during history differ if we assume a single-universe or a multiverse-universe?  As explained in the final sentence quoted above, assuming we live in a multiverse-universe could "increase the level of natural-improbability that skeptical scientists will accept as evidence for design."  But in the future, maybe scientists will conclude that a natural origin of life is extremely improbable (basically impossible) even in an immense multiverse (or even in an "infinite" multiverse that sometimes is claimed to be a physically existing reality) as in my examples above (Flying Salt Pyramid and Boeing 747) so a claim for design would still be logically justifiable, even if a multiverse makes this more difficult due to its increase in probabilistic resources.  Or future scientists may conclude that in our universe-type a natural evolution of life is highly probable even in a single-universe, or at least is highly probable somewhere in an immense multiverse.
        Now or in the future, if some scientists reject a particular claim for intelligent design (either before or during history) because a multiverse can "beat the odds" and eliminate the need for design or design-action, would we have any reason to doubt the scientific credibility of their conclusion?  It depends on the strength of scientific evidence (observational & theoretical, direct & indirect) for-and-against the design claim in a single-universe, for-and-against the existence of multiverses with various numbers of universe-types and universe-actualizations, and also whether we think a multiverse theory (or design theory) is authentically scientific.  When we consider all of these factors affecting our views about the scientific credibility of a multiverse-based rejection of intelligent design, humility is appropriate, and we should not be surprised if people with differing scientific backgrounds and personal worldviews respond in different ways.
        Could the assumption of a multiverse lead to any changes in biological sciences?  Quoting from my AP-M-ID page, regarding An Opportunity for Humility in Life-Sciences,
Scientists who are confident about a total evolution of life — including its origin by chemical evolution and subsequent development with biological evolution — will think "beating the odds with a multiverse" is necessary only for the first stage (in pre-history) to get a type of life-allowing universe.  They think that only one actualized universe of this type will be necessary, because a life-allowing universe is also a life-producing universe in which life and intelligent observers will always develop by natural evolution.  But the option of appealing to "multiple actualizations of this universe-type" is available [in an appeal to a multiverse miracle], so they have the freedom to be humble about the natural sufficiency of life-production in any aspects of life science (especially for the initial origin of life, but also for evolutionary biology) if they ever think some humility is warranted.

 
        Are we alone?
        Are we the only life in our universe?  If a natural origin of life (or its evolutionary development into humans) is extremely improbable, but we are here due to a multiverse miracle a logical corollary is that probably life on earth is either the result of panspermia or we are the only life in our universe.  Why?
        Imagine that the odds are one-in-a-billion for life arising anywhere in our type of universe.  If we live in a multiverse with 100 billion actualized-universes of our universe-type, the odds favor having life in many of these universes.  But in each of these universes with life, it is highly probably (with billion-to-one odds) that life began only once.  Therefore, either life exists only in its original location, or it was spread to other locations by undirected panspermia (e.g. with life carried away on debris blasted out of the atmosphere by meteor collisions) or by directed panspermia that is intentional (done by technologically advanced intelligent life for the purpose of "seeding" life in other locations) or unintentional (for example, if living organisms were transported accidentally by one of our incompletely sterilized space ships).  Therefore, in this scenario (if life occurs due to a multiverse miracle) either life on earth is the result of panspermia from elsewhere, or earth is the source of life that spreads elsewhere by panspermia, or we are alone, we are the only life in our universe.
        We can also use this type of logic when we're thinking about the implications of life appearing fairly soon (on a geological time scale) after geology on the early earth became reasonably stable and life-friendly, capable of sustaining life.  If life appeared on earth within a relatively short finite time period (perhaps a hundred million years) after earth's geology became life-sustaining, does this have any logical implications that might help us estimate the probabilities of various scenarios (proposed for a single-universe or multiverse-universe), to help us decide which seems most likely?
        Speculations and Humility:  Two paragraphs above, I ask you to "imagine... the odds are one-in-a-billion" but the actual odds are probably MUCH higher or lower.  And I say that "if we live in a multiverse with 100 billion..." but proposals for a multiverse are speculative, with no direct observational support.  We know that one universe exists, but any claim beyond this is speculation.  We don't know whether a multiverse exists, and if it does we don't know how many universe-types it contains, or whether the number of our universe-types is far fewer than 100 billion, or far greater.  We just don't know.

 
        Appropriate Humility in Science and Theology
        Earlier I express my view that "our questions about a multiverse (does it exist? would it be designed or undesigned?) cannot be decisively answered by scientific evidence and logic, so our multiverse-views can be strongly influenced by our personal preference for a particular worldview and its associated way of life."  And in Section 5G of my Creation-FAQ, "In science and theology, our humility should be appropriate — not too little, not too much.  We can make some claims, but not others, with confidence."  An appropriate humility (not too little, not too much, and with a good attitude) is useful when we're thinking about intelligent design in a universe or multiverse, and communicating with each other.

 


APPENDIX

Energy Conservation in Many Worlds
    If many universes (each with a huge mass/energy) are being produced by the process claimed by MWI many times each second, does this violate a conservation of energy?  The MWI-Everett FAQ (by Price) says NO because "the energy of the total wavefunction... involves summing over each world, weighted with its probability measure."  Similarly, Wikipedia says "the energy of each branch has to be weighted by its probability, according to the standard formula for the conservation of energy in quantum theory. This results in the total energy of the multiverse being conserved."
    Although this is mathematically correct according to the quantum-math used to calculate probabilities, MWI claims that every MWI-world actually does physically exist in reality (with 100% probability) so every instant a near-infinite amount of mass/energy is being produced. (unless the universe being split by MWI has exactly-flat geometry and its total energy is exactly zero, as proposed in “free lunch” theories)  Even though all of this new mass/energy cannot be observed (due to decoherence) with MWI the new mass/energy does physically exist, because every possibility in the quantum wave-function of our universe does physically exist.  Although MWI is called "many worlds" the MWI claim is that all history-branches actually occur within our own universe, but they are hidden from our observation by decoherence.  Can this vast increase of actual physical mass/energy be explained, or are MWI advocates hiding behind mathematical formalism instead of coping with the physical implications of MWI?  This defense of MWI (with energy "weighted by its probability") seems to assume that mathematical description = physical reality, that the quantum-equation is physical reality because it correctly describes probabilities for what will occur in physical reality;  but this interpretation-assumption is the central claim of MWI, so the defense uses circular reasoning and therefore is logically questionable.
    a humble comment:  This section is in the appendix because I haven't yet checked it with quantum experts, so maybe I've misunderstood something about relationships between the mathematics and claims for physical existence, about the science-and-interpretation of MWI, and the claims made by MWI.

Questions to Explore
Here are some interesting questions (inspired by thinking about anthropic and canine principles) for future explorations:  What is special about our observations of humans, that differs from our observations of Toto or the Grand Canyon, a blue sky or thunderstorm, zinc metal or liquid water?  Is there a difference between our observations of historically contingent features (Cairn Terriers, Grand Canyon,...) or non-contingent features (the properties of zinc, water,...)?  But are zinc metal and liquid water really non-contingent? (i.e. could we live in a world where we would not observe blue sky or thunderstorms, zinc or water?)  In what ways is it significant, and not significant, that humans (but not a dog, canyon, sky, zinc, or water) are asking "what, when, how, and why" and we are constructing a science to help us answer our what-when-how-why questions?  Although I extended the Canine Principle to both "marsupials in Australia" and "the extinction of dinosaurs by a meteorite," should these be viewed differently — re: beating the odds in a multiverse — if dinosaur extinction was essential for our existence (at least for our existence in 2010 using the internet) but marsupial evolution was not essential?   /   a bonus question-and-response:  When we conclude that "because humans exist, we must observe a universe with properties that allow our existence," are we ignoring the possibility that perhaps we are being supernaturally maintained in a world where natural process would not allow our existence?  Yes, this is possible, but our scientific knowledge leads us to confidently conclude that the properties of nature do allow our natural existence.

Continuous Miracle and Anthropic Principle — The anthropic principle claim that "because humans exist, we must observe a universe with properties that allow our existence" can be challenged, because a life-allowing universe is logically necessary (so we must observe it) only if natural process, not a "continuous miracle", is maintaining our lives.  But most people, including me, assume this, and based on current science it does seem that natural process (operating in biochemistry, physiology, etc) is sufficient to maintain life.

 
The Effects of Assuming a Multiverse or Demanding Methodological Naturalism
The table below shows whether a scientific conclusion can be "maybe" or "NO" for each of seven possibilities when we ask about the origin of a feature (such as the first life) whose natural production currently seems improbable, in four types of science:  with basic science using a logical evaluation of empirical evidence, which can be supplemented with proposals for an immense multiverse (so "beating the odds" is a possibility) and/or rigid methodological naturalism (MN).

OOL is extremely improbable
 by undirected natural process 
 but we are here because
OOL is probable by
 undirected natural process, 
 with the scientific principles 
intelligent design
plus design-directed
 action achieved by a 
7 possibilities --->
we are
 just lucky. 
we live in
 a multiverse. 
 known 
now.
known
 in future. 
never
 known. 
 natural 
agent.
 supernatural 
agent.
 science
maybe
(not an option)
 maybe 
maybe
 maybe 
 maybe 
maybe
 science + multiverse
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
 science + multiverse + MN 
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
NO
 science + MN
maybe
(not an option)
maybe
maybe
maybe
maybe
NO

Notice the effects of assuming a multiverse and demanding MN:
    If we assume "beating the odds" with an immense multiverse containing many universe-actualizations of our universe-type, a process that would be extremely improbable in one universe might become probable IF we live in a multiverse, so maybe this is how the first life was produced by undirected natural process.
    MN guarantees that the scientific conclusion must be NO when we ask, "was this feature produced by the design-directed action of a supernatural agent?"  A belief in Philosophical Naturalism, as in atheism, goes further by claiming that the reality is NO when we ask this question.  This distinction is necessary because, as explained in Section 7D of my Creation-FAQ, "devout Christians can use MN in two ways," as part of an Open Search for Truth (by accepting Methodological Naturalism in science, but rejecting Philosophical Naturalism as a worldview) or in an Open Science that replaces rigid-MN with testable-MN.


 
Here are some other pages with related ideas:
by me — Anthropic Principle and Fine Tuning: Multiverse and/or Intelligent Design?
and by others — DESIGN OF THE UNIVERSE — SCIENCE & THEOLOGY

This page is http://www.asa3.org/ASA/education/origins/multiverse-cr.htm
Copyright © 2010 by Craig Rusbult, all rights reserved.