«Impact of the Multiverse Hypothesis on the Anthropic Cosmological Principle as Evidence of God’s Existence By Deacon Dennis B. Fleming Introduction ...»
Impact of the Multiverse Hypothesis on the Anthropic
Cosmological Principle as Evidence of God’s Existence
By Deacon Dennis B. Fleming
Throughout history, man has searched for definitive evidence of the existence of an
intelligent being capable of creating us and all we see around us. This inquiry was historically
the exclusive province of philosophers and theologians.
However, in more modern times the focus of evidence gathering has shifted from
philosophy and theology to physics, astronomy, chemistry, and biology. Only in modern times has the deductive and inductive methods of pure logic yielded to the scientific method, technological tools, and advanced mathematics in discovering new paths toward demonstrating God’s existence.
Beginning with Kepler, Copernicus, and Galileo, our access to the heavens has been enhanced through technology. We have been challenged in our philosophical assumptions with scientific evidence that indicates those assumptions might not have been completely correct.
These discoveries have unlocked more and more scientific and physical information about the universe in which we live. These undeniable facts have challenged long-held theological beliefs such as the physical place of man in the universe, or even the uniqueness of the universe itself.
But, at the same time they have exposed more magnificent truths about the creation, existence, workings, and probable future of all of physical existence.
Aristarchus of Samos, an ancient Greek philosopher, astronomer and mathematician, is first credited with the proposing the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. His ideas at the time were rejected in favor of the geocentric philosophies of Aristotle and Ptolemy.
However, in more modern times, Copernicus, based upon his own observations, postulated the idea that human beings do not occupy the privileged place in the universe, thereby resurrecting Aristarchus’ ideas and challenging the then widely-accepted Aristotelian view of our universe.
From the time of Aristotle, it had been generally accepted that the earth was the center of the universe and all other astronomical bodies revolved around it. This was considered evidence that man occupied a special place in the universe, and for theologians this was confirmation that man was a special creation of God.
However, Galileo’s telescope gave clear evidence that Copernicus’ heliocentric view of our solar system was valid, and with that the understanding that much of the philosophical and theological interpretation of the workings of our physical universe expressed in the geocentric view to that date was wrong. This ushered in a time, which continues to the present day, in which scientific theory after theory, and discovery after scientific discovery, have generated conflict between some scientists and some theologians as to whether physical science could
trump God’s power. Two types of issues are the source of conflict:
New scientific theories or discoveries that seemed to contradict accepted theological and philosophical thought.
The question of whether the natural world, with its self-expressed laws, was selfsufficient to supplant the role of God, or was God the originator and effector of all reality.
The Anthropic Cosmological Principle In 1973, a symposium was held in Krakow, Poland, marking the 500th anniversary of Copernicus’ birth. At this symposium, a physicist named Brandon Carter presented a paper which introduced the strange idea that, “Although our situation is not necessarily central, it is inevitably privileged to some extent.”1 Thus, he introduced the idea that the mystery of the fine-tuned universe that physicists had wondered about for the past seventy years was, in fact, a pattern and not simply happenstance.
In their book, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, John Barrow and Frank Tipler describe the Weak Anthropic Principle (WAP) as: “The observed values of all physical and cosmological quantities are not equally probable but they take on values restricted by the requirement that there exist sites where carbon based life can evolve and by the requirement that the Universe be old enough for it to already have done so.”2 This is simply a complicated way of saying that we, as observers of our universe, have discovered a number of basic laws of nature that incorporate fixed values (mathematical constants) for some key characteristics of our universe. Those values must be very precisely what they have been found to be to enable our universe to be suitable for life. Furthermore, there is no theoretical or scientific reason, which we’ve so far discovered, for these values to be what they are.
Barrow and Tipler distinguish this Weak Anthropic Principle, known commonly as WAP, from the Strong Anthropic Principle or SAP. They define the SAP as “the Universe must have properties which allow life to develop within it at some point in its history.”3 This can be distinguished from WAP in that WAP observes that the universe we know has properties uniquely suitable for life, but makes no statement about how such properties occurred. The Carter, p. 75.
Barrow, p. 17.
Barrow, p. 21.
WAP’s implications are immediate and obvious. A universe which is required to have properties which must generate life either contains a physical mechanism that not only is friendly to life, but in fact requires it, or the conditions friendly for life are the direct product of an external force, a Cosmic Designer, God. This conclusion was immediately apparent to most scientists and theologians who studied their theories.
Barrow and Tipler make clear distinctions between teleological reasoning, that is order for a specific purpose, and eutaxiological4 reasoning, which is order with a planned cause but without a defined or at least understood purpose. The example they give makes these two categories of reasoning clear: consider a mechanical watch. Eutaxicological reasoning would appreciate the intricacies of the watch’s construction without understanding what purpose the watch fulfilled. Teleological reasoning would understand that the intricate engineering and construction embodied in the watch was in support of an end, to be able to tell time. Their view is that these Anthropic Variables are teleological in origin; that is, they exist as they do because they support the development of intelligent life. In other words, this is order for a defined purpose: the creation of a universe friendly to life. This is as we can see an argument in favor of SAP rather than WAP.
There are over twenty of these specific variables that have been identified so far, some correspond to what are called “dimensionless variables,” for example the value of Pi, and the ratio of mass between proton and electron in physics. Depending upon how broadly the Anthropic Principle is invoked, there are reasons to suspect that others may exist.5 We find that these laws are described by mathematical formulae or derived values that can be validated through observation and experimentation. For the purposes of this paper, however, several examples of these variables are more than sufficient to explain the Anthropic Principle.
Examples of these variables are:
Eutaxiology (from the Greek eu – good, and tax – order) is the philosophical study of order and design. It is distinguished from teleology in that it does not focus on the purpose or goal of a given structure or process, merely the degree and complexity of the structure or process.
Bode’s law, the value for the force of dark energy, and the age of the universe have all been mentioned as possible Anthropic Values. There are several others as well.
The repulsive force of Dark Energy hasn’t been reduced as yet to a specific formula; however current observations of the expanding nature of our universe make it pretty clear that this force exists. Further as a contra-force to gravity, its precise value must be as mysteriously anthropic as is gravity itself.
Nuclear Strong Force Constant, this force is responsible for the “structure of nuclei, fusion reactions between light nuclei, the structure of the stars and the phenomena of elementary particle physics.”6 This is the force that holds the nuclei of all matter together.
Proton to Electron Mass Ratio, this number is represented as μ and is approximately equal to 1836.15267245.
The Electromagnetic Charge value of Elementary Particles known as the Lorenz force.
Observation and experimentation have established values for these constants which yield consistent and correct predictions. However, nothing in any current theory of these laws tells us why these numbers should be what they are. Additionally, these numbers are defined with exceptionally fine tolerances to make our universe hospitable to life.
Paul Davies, in his book The Goldilocks Enigma, summarizes seven possible explanations
for the strange coincidence of these Anthropic Variables:7
Each of these ideas has some merit. But, for our purposes we will limit ourselves to discussion only of the issues associated with the multiverse hypothesis (explanation #3), and its’ impact both for and against the idea that the Anthropic Cosmological Principle can be seen as evidence of God’s existence.
The Multiverse Hypothesis The multiverse hypothesis has developed as an answer to many questions about the origin of our finely tuned universe. The current state of the multiverse hypothesis is the confluence of developments in two distinct areas of thought regarding the state and structure of the universe in which we live. The first is the continuing attempt to define a “natural” means of explaining the fine-tuned nature of the universe in which we find ourselves. Why are the Anthropic Variables the values we find them to be? The second stream of thought is a development from particle physics, first proposed by Alan Guth in 1979, known as the inflationary theory of the universe.8 While searching for a mathematical structure that explained the behavior of particles, Guth developed a formula to describe what he believed to be experimental evidence for the creation of particles. Guth soon realized that the formula was not limited to particle behavior, but could also be applied to cosmological scale events. From this, he developed the theory of cosmic inflation. In this theory, he explains how the universe expanded from the size of a proton to the size of a grapefruit in an instant.9 Further examination of Guth’s theory revealed that there was no obvious inherent limit of its effect to our existing universe, and in given certain conditions cosmic inflation could generate additional universes, perhaps an unlimited number of universes.
As with any controversial hypothesis, the hypothesis of multiple universes is subject to intense debate. The first area for debate is whether such a hypothesis is truly scientific; that is, is study of this hypothesis a scientific study or a philosophical one. Scientific study is generally accepted to be limited to theories that make testable hypotheses and provide predictions Davies, p. 55.
Davies, p. 56.
which can be validated. Robin Collins makes a distinction between a physical and a metaphysical multiverse hypothesis.10 Physical theories are those that postulate a physical mechanism that results in the generation of multiple universes. In metaphysical theories, the universes are just thought to exist without any physical mechanism to create them. Other areas of debate involve the idea that an infinite number of universes are proposed under some theories. To some, this seems an overly complex answer to the questions raised by the Anthropic Principle. Others question the extreme number of failed universes, those that cannot produce life or in many cases fail to produce a working star or planets, as excessive and wasteful.
The second major debate has to do with the origin of multiple universes. Must they have a beginning and therefore a cause, or could they have always existed? Dutch Astrophysicist Herman Zanstra pointed out in the 1950s that cyclical cosmologies cannot have been eternal. 11 They must have a definite beginning due to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which stipulates that overall entropy must increase over time.12 This idea was further supported by Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin who in 2003 demonstrated mathematically that “all inflationary space times have a beginning in the finite past.”13 As we shall see, this is an important concept in establishing an original cause to universes or any multiverse.
Max Tegmark has developed a useful taxonomy for classifying and understanding all of the various types of multiverses that have been proposed:14 Level I - An Infinite Universe – This universe contains an infinite number of “Hubble volumes” or what we would think of as an observable universe. All of these separate “Hubble volumes” are theorized to conform to the physical laws and constants that exist in our own “Hubble volume.” Level II – Many Universes, Different Physical Constants – In this multiverse hypothesis a variant of the Cosmic Inflation Theory, called the Chaotic Inflation Theory, proposes that the multiverse will as a whole stretch and inflate, however the stretching will not occur uniformly and this will create “bubbles” of Level I universes. These “bubbles” will be internally consistent as to the physical constants, but the different bubbles can experience different symmetry breaking (the physical principle which disunities the Carr, p. 459.
That is, those that postulate “big bang” followed by “big crunch”, followed again by “big bang”, again and again, ad, not quite, infinitum.
Greene, p. 122.
Spitzer, p. 75.
Greene, pp. 172-180.
basic forces of our universe). This results in different physical constants in each “bubble.” Level III – Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics – This version of the multiverse hypothesis depends upon an interpretation of quantum mechanics. A characteristic of quantum mechanics theory is Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Theory, which results in certain predictions of the conditions of the physical universe being stated in terms of probability. Under this theory, these probabilities are resolved in separate universes, defined as separate quantum branches.