Problems with the Multiverse


Answer: they both require a great leap of faith - it's just that the theists are more honest about it.


Many have noted that this fine-tuning strongly suggests design by a pre-existent intelligence. Physicist Paul Davies has said that “the impression of design is overwhelming.” Fred Hoyle argued that, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology.” Many physicists now concur. They would argue that — in effect — the dials in the cosmic control room appear finely-tuned because someone carefully fine-tuned them.

To explain the vast improbabilities associated with these fine-tuning parameters, some physicists have postulated not a “fine-tuner” or intelligent designer, but the existence of a vast number of other parallel universes. This “multiverse” concept also necessarily posits various mechanisms for producing these universes. On this view, having some mechanism for generating new universes would increase the number of opportunities for a life-friendly universe such as our own to arise — making ours something like a lucky winner of a cosmic lottery.

But advocates of these multiverse proposals have overlooked an obvious problem. The speculative cosmologies (such as inflationary cosmology and string theory) they propose for generating alternative universes invariably invoke mechanisms that themselves require fine-tuning, thus begging the question as to the origin of that prior fine-tuning. Indeed, all the various materialistic explanations for the origin of the fine-tuning — i.e., the explanations that attempt to explain the fine-tuning without invoking intelligent design — invariably invoke prior unexplained fine-tuning.
Astronomy & Geophysics, Volume 49, Issue 2, 1 April 2008, Pages 2.33–2.35: Opposing the multiverse by George Ellis. "Martin Gardner (2003) puts it this way: 'There is not the slightest shred of reliable evidence that there is any universe other than the one we are in. No multiverse theory has so far provided a prediction that can be tested. As far as we can tell, universes are not as plentiful as even two blackberries.'"
The very nature of the scientific enterprise is at stake in the multiverse debate. Its advocates propose weakening the nature of scientific proof in order to claim that the multiverse hypothesis provides a scientific explanation. This is a dangerous tactic. Two central scientific virtues are testability and explanatory power. In the cosmological context, these are often in conflict with each other and there has been an increasing tendency in theoretical physics and cosmology to say it does not matter whether a proposal is testable: if it fits into our other theories in a convincing way, with great explanatory power, then testing is superfluous. The extreme case is the multiverse proposal, where no direct observational test of the hypothesis is possible. Despite this, many articles and books dogmatically proclaim that the multiverse is an established scientific fact.

In this context one must re-evaluate what the core of science is: can one maintain one has a genuine scientific theory when direct and indeed indirect tests of the theory are impossible? If one claims this, one is altering the meaning of science. One should be very careful before so doing. There are many other theories waiting in the wings, hoping for a weakening of what is meant by “science”. Those proposing this weakening in the case of cosmology should be aware of the flood of alternative scientific theories whose advocates will then state that they too can claim the mantle of scientific respectability.
Multiverse Theories Fail to Explain Our Finely Tuned Universe.

Gordon also pointed out that materialists are willing to accept several very unlikely conjectures in order to avoid accepting that the universe was designed and created. Those conjecture are:
  • There is an inflaton field.
  • A potentially infinite number of universes exist.
  • Strings exist.
  • There are six additional compactified spacial dimensions.
  • "An infinite number of compactifications of the six additional spatial dimensions exist and each corresponds (via inflation) to a potential infinity of actual universes." Absurdly, the consequence of this is a space infinitely larger than our own universe.

Other absurd consequences of a multiverse theory include:
  • An infinite number of universes.
  • A subset of universes that are infinite in number and identical to ours.
  • An infinite subset of universes that are almost like ours but slightly different.

Gordon also mentioned the Boltzmann Brain paradox, explained here in a New York Times article: "... you yourself reading this article are more likely to be some momentary fluctuation in a field of matter and energy out in space than a person with a real past born through billions of years of evolution in an orderly star-spangled cosmos." Gordon explains that the multiverse is "falsified because the type of people we take ourselves to be are not the typical observers within it." Gordon says that cosmologists try to get around this but he implies it is not credible because it involves "gerrymandering" of the mathematics.
Guillermo Gonzalez on the Fine-tuning of the Universe to Support Life
What about the multiverse objection?

If there exists a vast multiverse, the probabilistic resources available to account for our finely tuned universe by chance are increased. Then, we could appeal to the Anthropic Principle.

Some cosmologists try to make the case that a multiverse actually exists.

Chaotic eternal inflation - popular universe generator. Assume for the sake of argument.

Problem 1: Why such a large universe?
"... do we really need the whole observable universe, in order that sentient life can come about? This seems unlikely ... Let us be generous and ask that a region of radius one tenth of the ... observable universe must resemble the universe that we know, but we do not care about what happens outside that radius ... we can estimate how much more frequently the Creator comes across the smaller than the larger regions. The figure is no better than 10^10^123. You see what an incredible extravagance it was (in terms of probability) for the Creator to bother to produce this extra distant part of the universe, that we don't actually need .. for our existence."
- Roger Penrose

If we live in a multiverse generated by a process like chaotic inflation, then for every observer who observes a universe of our size there are 10^10^123 who observe a universe that is just 10 times smaller. That means if the universe really did arise from chaotic inflation, from just a quantum fluctuation of a vacuum, then the universe that we see beyond our region of space, say the nearest few hundred million light years, is not really there its an illusion, if you take this to the extreme ...

[Shortly after 1:05:04]
Boltzmann Brains

"One argument that the universe had a beginning is that it hasn't reached thermal equilibrium or "heat death" yet. If the universe was infinite in age, it would have reached thermal equilibrium an infinity of time ago - so that is evidence of a beginning of time. Ludwig Boltzmann in the 19th century said the whole vast universe could be at thermal equilibrium except we only observe this tiny little patch. This patch is not in thermal equilibrium just by chance ... we have reached heat death but not in this tiny little patch. The bigger the patch is, the more improbable it is so the universe is much vaster than it needs to be to account for our existence. If you just have a solar system pop out of a statistical fluctuation its much more probable than to have this big vast universe pop out of a statistical fluctuation. Then if we see this big vast universe and just our solar system popped out of a statistical fluctuation, then it must be an illusion, The stars that we see are really not there, everything beyond the solar system is an illusion, you have to believe in illusionism so it was rejected."

"The Boltzmann argument is relevant to the multiverse argument today."

"Taken to the extreme we can have a universe pop out of a quantum fluctuation that contains one brain. Boltzmann's brains are by far the most common observers in the multiverse given their small size. The smaller the universe the more probable it is. Its far more probable for a Boltzmann's brain to occur in a multiverse than our vast fine-tuned universe with its long history. And so you're more likely to be a free floating brain than a person with a real history living in a 13.7 billion year old universe. The world we observe then is an illusion. You're the only person who actually exists. All your memories are false. The probability of forming our universe out of a quantum fluctuation at its present state with the appearance of age is more likely than forming it with its finely tuned initial conditions and its long history and so this is called the attack of the Boltzmann brains and its a real conundrum for the multiverse advocates. They basically have to give up realism and the whole world around them is an illusion if they want to believe in multiverse because the most common observer in the multiverse is a Boltzmann's brain."

[Q&A 1:27:00]

If the multiverse theory is true then the most probable reality is that there is no fine-tuning, the universe arose as a quantum fluctuation consisting only of your brain, and everything else is an illusion. To believe in the multiverse is to believe in illusionism.

Problem 2: The rejection of rationality

Anything that can happen, no matter how improbable, does happen countless many times in the multiverse.

Anything can be attributed just as readily to human design or to chance fluctuations of the quantum vacuum of the inflaton field.

Renders all scientific reasoning and explanations unreliable. Must believe in random miracles!

Multiverse cosmology can explain the origin of all events no matter how improbable, as long as they're not impossible, by reference to chance because of the infinite probabilistic resources it provides. Events we explain in terms of known causes based on ordinary experience are just as readily explained in multiverse cosmology as chance occurrences without any causal antecedent.

There is no way to attribute events to causal physical laws. All causes as seen to be related to effects really aren't. They're just chance fluctuations. Chance events. So you do away with the possibility of all scientific reasoning because scientific explanation and reasoning are unreliable. You must believe in random miracles. The scientific method is dead if you believe in the multiverse.
The multiverse argument for the existence of paranormal phenomena. Proposing a multiverse does not help the materialist cause, it hurts it. If there are enough universes to explain the existence of our "improbable" universe as the result of chance, then there should be enough universes for one to exist with a God, spirits, Sasquatch, intelligent designer(s), UFOs, alien abductions, psi, etc, etc.

What materialists don't tell you is that according to their multiverse theories, it is more likely that the universe is 6000 years old and everything outside our solar system is an illusion than it is that the universe is as vast and as old as it seems.

Naturalism is an extraordinary claim. The laws of nature seem to be relatively simple mathematical relationships. How is it that just by chance simple natural laws working alone would include or produce all the factors necessary for life: the 20 or 30 cosmological fine tuning factors, at least 15 factors needed to produce habitable planets, at least 20 chemical factors needed for complex life? How is it possible that simple undesigned natural laws could produce the complex machinery of cells and the information needed for simple life and macroevolution? How could such finely-tuned complexity arise at every scale from the atomic to the cosmic from simple undesigned unguided natural laws? If you wanted to design such a complicated system from simple mathematical relationships, it would require a huge amount of intellectual effort. How could it happen just by chance? (A multiverse, for which there is no evidence, couldn't explain it.)

Intelligent Design and Cosmology:

More on intelligent design here:
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Peter Woit of Columbia University is very critical of the multiverse:

However, he never seems to want to think a little further. To me, the best book to give a glimpse of the scale of the potential rot in physics may be

Although he is a school teacher, he clearly has a very good grasp of a lot of high energy physics - theoretical and experimental. Be warned - his style is a bit grating, with too much use of ad hominems, but he certainly lands a lot of blows on the subject.

He would wind physics back to before the point when it was claimed that protons were composed of three quarks, which, if you remember can never be observed singly because of 'asymptotic confinement'!

One of his points is that recently discovered particles, such as the Higgs, have exceedingly short lifetimes such as 10^(-25) sec, which is about the time it would take light to cross the radius of a proton! These are detected as their ultimate decay products - electrons and photons - and filtered from the debris of huge numbers of other collisions. He estimated that 10^12 collisions have to be filtered to detect one Higgs particle. This filtering task is so vast that it is performed by special hardware, because the raw data is too voluminous to be stored for later analysis!

What could possibly go wrong?

Although I have seen the number 10^12 quibbled over, the gist of this is clearly true, so I would write off all the very high energy accelerators as sheer folly. Note that if you go further back, particle tracks were recorded in bubble chambers or photographic plates, and thus presumably recorded genuine phenomena.

All that is before you even consider the fanciful theoretical side of this mess.