Does the Multiverse Discount Design? Quick Response.
Photo credit Hubble ESA

Does the Multiverse Discount Design? Quick Response.

Posted December 15, 2017 by Sean McDowell

Does the Multiverse Discount Design? Quick Response.

In the introductory chapter for the updated Evidence that Demands a Verdict, my father and I lay out the positive evidence that we live in a theistic universe, which sets the stage for particular Christian evidences.

One of the evidences we offer is our fine-tuned universe, which is based on the delicate fine-tuning of the laws that govern the universe. The most common objection to this argument is the so-called multiverse theory, or many-worlds hypothesis.

According to this theory, there are many universes—perhaps infinite—and each operates according to unique laws and constants. While most universes would not sustain life, inevitably some would. Currently, the scientific community actively debates the validity of multiverse models. Although far from settled, there is scientific support for the existence of a multiverse. The key question remains though: Would living in a multiverse undermine the case for God?

The Multiverse and God

Distinguished philosopher Robin Collins provides multiple reasons for God’s existence in the context of multiverse theory. First, we should prefer the hypothesis that naturally flows from the evidence, and for which we have independent confirmation. As Collins explains, we already know that minds can produce objects, like Swiss watches, that are fine-tuned. Therefore, positing God as the best explanation fits what we already observe minds can do.

Second, a “many universes-generator” would seemingly need to be designed as well. Even a bread machine, Collins notes, needs to be calibrated to function. And its only making bread!

Third, the multiverse theory cannot explain other features of the universe that exhibit apparent design. Collins explains:

For example, many physicists, such as Albert Einstein, have observed that the basic laws of physics exhibit an extraordinary degree of beauty, elegance, harmony, and ingenuity. Nobel prize winning physicist Steven Weinberg, for instance, devotes a whole chapter in his book Dreams of a Final Theory explaining how the criteria of beauty and elegance are commonly used to guide physicists in formulating the right laws. . . . Now such beauty, elegance, and ingenuity make sense if the universe was designed by God. Under the atheistic many-universes hypothesis, however, there is no reason to expect the fundamental laws to be elegant or beautiful.[1]

Astrophysicist Jeffrey Zweerink provides a fair synopsis of the present standing of the fine-tuning argument in light of the multiverse challenge:

Though some multiverse models appear to undermine the teleological argument, they still exhibit design and fine-tuning. Granted the design argument is more subtle and complex if a multiverse actually exists. However, as with the cosmological argument, studies of the multiverse ultimately make the teleological argument more robust.[2]

 Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, best-selling author, popular speaker, part-time high school teacher, and the Resident Scholar for Summit Ministries, California. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog:

[1] Robin Collins, “A Scientific Argument for the Existence of God,” in Reason for the Hope Within, ed., Michael J. Murray (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1999), 62-63.

[2] Jeff Zweerink, Who’s Afraid of the Multiverse? (Covina, CA: Reasons to Believe, 2008), 51.