In yesterday’s post, I claimed that I respect those atheists who defend the multiverse as an explanation for the fine tuning of the universe more than those who refuse to adopt a position on the matter. That is for good reason, their position is clearly stronger. But I should explain why I don’t find it persuasive.
It would be misleading of me not to mention that I suspect that there is a multiverse. I actually leaned toward it on theological grounds (that God would have made multiple universes) long before I’d heard of String Theory. What I have a hard time believing in is the idea that the multiverse gives the naturalist a legitimate alternative to belief in God.
That is, I reject the idea that God and the multiverse are on equal evidentiary grounds. There is no evidence at all that points to a multiverse which does not equally point to a designer of the universe. However, there are a number of good reasons for believing in God which don’t point to a multiverse.
As to those reasons (the arguments for the existence of God), it would take me too far off topic to rehearse them in this post. The point is that the atheist must show that they all fail completely in order to support the claim that the multiverse and God are equally valid. The bold declarations of the New Atheists aside, no one has come close to doing this.
But this would only get us to equality. It would take still more work to get us to the point that the multiverse is the better option. The only argument on this point, so far as I know, is the idea that the multiverse is simple.
The problem with that statement is that it is false. I’m not sure what definition of “simple” is being used, but astronomically high numbers of universes, each with its own set of constants and quantities, and an external mechanism which randomly sets these constants, is not simple by any definition.
But, as complex as it is, the multiverse doesn’t explain nearly so much as people tend to assume. The idea of the multiverse, after all, is that if there were a great number of universes, then we would find ourselves in the universe that can support us (this is known as the anthropic principle).
Of course, this leads us to the problem of the Boltzman Brain: the overwhelming majority of observable universes (given naturalism) would be observed by brains which randomly fluctuate out of quantum vacuum energy, complete with false memories in many cases.
That is to say that the naturalist, if she is a believer in the multiverse, has good reason to think that she is more likely a delusional brain fluctuating out of the quantum vacuum than a person in a relatively stable universe. This, in turn, is reason to doubt everything she believes, including science.
Part of me suspects that the multiverse is protected mostly by a vaguely scientific aura that it wears like armor. It seems to enjoy some of the mythos of science without having any of the supporting evidence which is usually required. And, followed to its logical conclusion (if one is a naturalist), it actually undermines science.
But, once one realizes that it isn’t a scientific theory, it is very hard to believe that this position is intellectually superior (or even equal) to theism.