The Theological Implications of the Multiverse

Because of recent research in gravity waves and inflation, the theory of the multiverse moves further toward reality.  While creationists are still fighting for equal time to oppose the 1859 theory of evolution, science has gone on to discover endless other aspects of reality that counter the Biblical view.  I don’t know why creationists focus so exclusively on evolution when millions of other scientific discoveries are also thorns in their theological sides.

When humanity thought the Earth was the center of everything, contained within the celestial spheres, it was possible to imagine our reality being constructed by a super being, especially if you believed the whole thing was only 6,000 years old.  Even then it was an extremely far out idea to buy.  After the sun was moved to the center of the universe, and Earth was just the third planet, it became a lot harder to imagine a God that could create the solar system with some kind of magic spell.  For a long while after that, we assumed all of reality was the Milky Way galaxy.

As reality got bigger, it got harder to imagine a single being creating it.  But still, reality was manageable with just a billion stars.  Then Edwin Hubble came along and showed us reality is composed of billions of galaxies.  How can any theology handle a reality that big?

If we live in a multiverse, it might not be billions of universes, but an infinity of them.  Or there might be another layer, so there are billions of multiverses in a megaverse.  It seems science can’t find any end to large or small, nor a beginning of time.  This has got to wipe out all ancient theological theories.  It’s time to start over.  Reality is too big for any kind of God, and we’re too small for any kind of special consideration.

Humanity needs to start over and throw out all theology and come up with a new working hypothesis about our place in reality.  Instead of thinking of ourselves as the crown of creation, we need see ourselves closer to an intelligent virus that accidently came about through random evolution with no  higher being watching.  Seen from orbiting telescopes, humans are little smudges that have infected this planet.  We’re quite deadly, killing off most of the other life forms on Earth.

We have a decision to make.  Shall we take responsibility for our actions?  There is no God judging us.  We only judge ourselves.  And it might not even be possible for our species to become fully conscious of its actions and act.  We might breed ourselves out of existence.  It should be pretty obvious to all by now that no God will intercede.  We will not be punished if we don’t act, nor will we be rewarded if we do.  We merely can choose to act.  We can preserve ourselves, other species, and the planet Earth – for a while. 

Nothing last forever in the multiverse.

Please read.

JWH – 3/24/14

A Universe From Nothing Lawrence M. Krauss

As far back as I can remember I’ve often contemplated why there is something rather than nothing.  And by nothing, I don’t mean empty space, because even that would be something.  I finally decided that nothing can’t exist.  That it’s impossible for “nothing” to exist, because if it could, we wouldn’t be here, and there would be nothing.  I concluded that reality is all the possible some-things coming into being. 

When I first saw a copy A Universe From Nothing by Lawrence M. Krauss I wondered if he had a scientific theory to explain why nothing cannot exist to support my own philosophical theory.  Sad to say, he doesn’t actual work with the same concept of nothing as I imagined it, but I think he’s getting close.  Theology has always been burdened with the question that intellectual pesky kids eventual ask, “Who created God?”  Smart kids will also ask scientists, “What created the Big Bang?”  Sooner or later the ontological question has to be:  “How did something come from nothing?”

Cosmology has always invaded the territory of theology and Krauss does not shy away from this conflict.  In fact, Christopher Hitchens had promised to write the introduction to A Universe From Nothing, but he died too soon, so Krauss got Richard Dawkins to write the afterward, which uses the science in this book to attack theology rather sharply.

It seems like every popular cosmology book I read has to reiterate all the cosmological discoveries since Edwin Hubble figured out that nebulae are galaxies existing outside of the Milky Way, and they are speeding away from us.  For a short 224 page book, Krauss gets the background covered quickly and moves on to the title topic, but it requires the reader to grasp quite a bit of recent research.  To understand nothing requires understanding a lot of some-things.

Now here is where I wish I had the writing skills of Brian Greene, my current favorite science writer.  Of course, if I had such writing skills I’d end up writing a book much like what Lawrence M. Krauss wrote – however, I’d still like to summarize what I learned from reading A Universe from Nothing.  I’ve lost count of how many books I’ve read on cosmology, or documentaries I’ve seen, but I feel the need to summarize just to get things straight in my head by listing them on paper.

And if Krauss and Dawkins are right, and cosmology deposes theology, then the average person needs to learn a lot to catch up with science.  Cosmology is science’s Book of Genesis.   But unlike the Bible myths, cosmology explains how the universe came about by studying the evidence, a lot of evidence, a whole lot of evidence.  And for some concepts, like the Big Bang, there are multiple paths that prove the theory that makes the scientific research more and more definite.  This is a lot of learn and its no wonder that most people prefer the Bible to answer their origin questions.

Here’s quick and dirty study guide to modern cosmology.  The more you know will make understanding A Universe From Nothing easier to understand and comprehend.  Also, it’s impossible to understand cosmology without understanding particle physics.

Now this is a lot to learn, and even after reading many books I only have a vague layman’s idea of what’s going on, but what’s fascinating is how everything interconnects.  Reading A Universe From Nothing just inspires me to read more, to keep putting more puzzle pieces together to get the big picture. 

Just take what we’ve learned about the cosmic microwave background radiation in my lifetime.  Reading The First Three Minutes by Steven Weinberg and The Very First Light by John C. Mather tells the long story of how the CMB was theorized, discovered, and measured to finer and finer accuracy.  The Very First Light is about building the COBE spacecraft to measure the CMB.  Then I read about the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe that studied the CMB with even more accuracy.  Then there was Planck spacecraft that explores even deeper.  If you aren’t familiar with the cosmic microwave background radiation then I beg you to study it.  It’s a near perfect example of how science works.   Just look at the list of the major experiments studying the CMB.  This history shows how experiments are constantly refined and evolved to find more evidence, or how to look for evidence from other sources, or from other approaches.  Science is a beautiful Chinese puzzle where the pieces interlock in elegant ways.

Don’t worry about not knowing mathematics to enjoy reading about cosmology.  Most of the popular science books are about the men who invented the mathematics, and their stories are told by the experimental evidence.  Their numbers are validated by real world experiments and applied engineering.  Did you know that GPS systems in your smartphones depend on mathematics that involve relativity?  Without Einstein’s equations they wouldn’t work.

Back to the book – does Krauss explain how something comes from nothing?  No.  But he does explain the current theories on dark energy, which suggests that powerful forces come from apparently empty space.  Of course, once we understand how dark energy, and dark matter work, they won’t seem like nothing anymore – they will be some-things.

The nothing Krauss is talking about are just some-things that science can’t see right now.  The nothing I say can’t exist is pushed further back into the unknown, into the multiverse.  Like the kid who asked who created God, I’m asking what created the multiverse, but if science could tell me, there would still be another layer of unknown to explore.  It’s still turtles all the way down.

Other Reviews:

JWH – 2/24/12

Pale Blue Dot

I discovered over at Mike Brotherton’s blog that today, 11/7/9, is Carl Sagan Day, and Mike makes some interesting observations about Sagan and Richard Dawkins and the public’s attitude towards their atheism.  For awhile, Carl Sagan was the face of science to the general public, sort of like Stephen Hawking is today.  Any second rate pop/rock/movie/sports star is more famous than these scientists, but they have great influence on millions of Earthlings.  I think Sagan’s Cosmos book and TV documentary series introduced cosmology and science to a generation of people and it’s impossible to judge his impact.

Mike Brotherton’s blog is a favorite of mine because he and I share a similar fascination with science and constantly wonder why science isn’t more widely accepted by the public.  Read his recent essay “Smarts, Spontaneity, Science, and Science Fiction.”  It explores just how hard it is to teach science, or even just express scientific ideas.  That’s why Carl Sagan was so admired, he could communicate scientific ideas.  And I agree with Mike, Sagan wasn’t as successful as his popularity, too often Carl Sagan was ridiculed on SNL other LCD comedy shows as being a geeky guy, too overly enthusiastic about billions of stars.

The people of our planet focus too narrowly on their own personal immediate reality, and all too often they believe silly theories about ontology.  Carl Sagan tried to show people we live in a vast Cosmos and reality can’t be explained by just what we see in front of our noses.  Look at this photo:

Pale-blue-dot

If you look close you’ll see a little pale blue dot in the center, a bit bigger than all the other dots in this grainy photograph.  That’s Earth as seen from Voyager 1 on the way out of the solar system.  By astronomy standards, this is an extreme close-up.  We’re use to seeing high-powered electron-microscope photos of our planet in comparison. If a photograph could be taken of the universe as a whole, our galaxy wouldn’t even be visible.  It’s hard to take our silly ideas about the meaning of life seriously when we see the relative perspective of our existence in relationship to all of space and time. 

That’s why I call existence the foam of reality.  From most perspectives, whether 10 to the +25 or 10 to the -25 magnitude vantage points, reality looks like a homogenous foam or fuzzy collection of points of reflected light.  We only see details at magnitude 0

The universe is so vast in scope and dimensions, that it’s hard to imagine a deity even noticing us.  One of the major lessons that Carl Sagan taught us, is we are insignificant in relation to the rest of the universe.  That little dot is home to seven billion people, and from their perspective their lives are the center of the universe, but we must remember that’s an illusion. 

Carl Sagan is most famous for his book Cosmos, but he wrote a sequel that is less famous, based on this photograph, and also called, The Pale Blue Dot.  Any philosophy or theology that tries to explain the meaning of reality must incorporate our true position in the universe, anything less will be delusional.  Science is hard to teach because you have to get little minds to think big, and Carl Sagan could do that.

JWH – 11/7/9