February 22, 2010 | David F. Coppedge

Multiverse Explanations Are Fashionable, If Not Justifiable

How can scientists get away with speculating about unobservable universes, when science is supposed to concern itself with observation?  “In the end, there is no way to know for sure what other universes are out there, or what life they may hold,” an article in PhysOrg ended, “But that will likely not stop physicists from exploring the possibilities, and in the process learning more about our own universe.”  This appears to be a modern apparition of Arthur C. Clarke’s Second Law, “The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.”
    The PhysOrg article, echoing a press release from MIT, speculated on life not just on other worlds, but in other universes.  “A definitive answer is impossible, since we have no way of directly studying other universes,” the article admitted.  The speculations are built squarely on chemical and biological evolution: “if conditions were suitable, matter would coalesce into galaxies and planets, and if the right elements were present in those worlds, intelligent life could evolve.”  Assuming those would happen, the scientists, if that is what they can be called, speculated about what physical constants would give rise to matter: “our physical laws might be explained ‘anthropically,’ meaning that they are as they are because if they were otherwise, no one would be around to notice them.”  The press release noted that some of the constants in our universe, notably the cosmological constant, appear fine-tuned to permit atoms and life.  “Varying only one constant usually produces an inhospitable universe,” it said, but perhaps “changes in primordial cosmological density perturbations could compensate at least for small changes to the value of the cosmological constant.”  Then again, how would they test this idea?
    The multiverse concept was also prominent in a book review by Pedro Ferreira for Nature.1  He was discussing the new book by Sean Carroll (Caltech), From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time (Dutton, 2010).  Apparently Carroll makes big use of the multiverse concept to explain the flow of time in our universe.  The direction of time toward maximum entropy has long fascinated physicists and philosophers.  Carroll’s thesis employs the multiverse and the anthropic principle to explain time’s directionality:

Carroll’s solution for the arrow of time invokes the multiverse, a controversial concept that is a current battleground in theoretical physics.  Arguably a prediction from cosmology and string theory,and to some extent quantum mechanics, the multiverse idea supposes that the Universe that we perceive is but one of a countless collection, each of which can be in a different physical state.  A case can be made that our Universe looks the way it does because it is the only one of the many possible universes that can harbour us.  For example, in another universe in which the constants of physics were slightly different from those in ours, life would not be possible.

So what does this have to do with time?

Going further, Carroll adapts the multiverse idea to explain the directionality of time.  Universes such as ours, he suggests, continually pop into existence within the multiverse, which is itself in thermal stasis, with no sense of time.  We just happen to live in one of these baby universes, which started off in a low-entropy state and has an entropic arrow of time.

So his answer is the Stuff Happens Law – the antithesis of a law of nature, and therefore of causation or explanation.  And by low-entropy state, he means really, really low.  Some estimates of the chances of getting a universe like ours are one in 10 to the 100th to the 100th.  No problem, Carroll must think, if baby universes just pop into existence all the time.
    Ferreira enjoyed Carroll’s book with all these speculations.  He noted approvingly that “multiverse explanations are fashionable.

1.  Pedro Ferreira, “The unfolding of time,” Nature 463, 881 (18 February 2010); doi:10.1038/463881a.

Would someone please explain how this kind of speculation differs from imagining fairies and flying pigs and aliens?  or why it should be blessed with the sacred appellation of science?  Theologians at least have some revelation to constrain their speculations about an unobserved heaven, hell and the afterlife.  This has nothing to support it.  Don’t say that these guys are acting scientifically because they are employing mathematics and laws of known physical quantities.  One could easily do the same with the aerodynamics of flying pigs, or the top running speed of gnomes.
    Emboldened by the empty promises of naturalism, evolutionists have let their imaginations run amok.  Berserk is too mild a term for it.  They presume to speak with the authority of science when telling us that baby universes just pop into existence, with some of them having matter just popping into existence, into which some of the matter coalesces into blobs of protoplasm.  Then, by faith, eyes pop into existence (the Popeye theory of evolution, 05/31/2005), allowing the cosmos to see, and brains pop into existence, allowing the cosmos to understand itself – at least in localized carbon units.
    This may be fashionable, all right, but many fashions are foolish.  It would be more honest for them to announce they are founding a new religion.  Here it is: the First Multiversalist Church of the Absurd.  Come in and worship Tyche, the goddess of chance.  Open your eyes of faith to see alternate realities.  Worship your imagination (01/17/2007 commentary) as you sing “When you wish upon a star, nature makes you what you are” (12/05/2008).  Be uplifted by our sermon, “Stuff happens” (09/15/2008 commentary).  Join in and sing our closing hymn, “Godless Philosophy” (see Darwin Hymnbook).
    Thinking beyond the known into the unknown is not wholly unwarranted.  It can provide context for understanding the known.  Considering the low entropy state of our universe, for instance, should arouse astonishment at how improbable that would be by chance.  Considering what would happen if the physical constants of the universe were not finely tuned should arouse more astonishment.  The lesson that should result from such mental excursions, upon returning to the real world, is how privileged we are to enjoy life in such a world and universe.  That should result in humble thanksgiving to the Creator.  There is little humility or gratitude in the proud hearts of the dreamers living in imaginary universes.  Pay them no mind; they are blind leaders of the blind.  Now get back to work with your eyes open, your feet on the ground, and a song of praise in your heart (suggestion).

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