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The Deflation of Inflationary Theory

Inflationary Universe

If you study the history of science long enough, you realize that you've got to ask two questions about any scientific theory, especially the biggest and most grand of them. What is it? Why was it put forth? The two almost invariably go together. We cannot truly grasp what the theory is, until we understand the motives of those who developed it.

Now here the obvious objection would be this. The what of a theory is really the only question, because the why is so obvious as not to need asking. The motive of every scientist is to discover the truth about reality. He puts forth his theory because he wants to get at what things really are, and he believes that his theory helps to explain current perplexities, unify disparate data, and provide a theoretical framework for future fruitful research and discovery.

Certainly the what is sufficient in many cases, but not all. Consider the current rage for Multiverse Theory. In this case, they why almost entirely explains the what. Before the Big Bang, almost all scientists believed that the universe was eternal. Eternal universes don't need a God to create them. It looked like science supported atheism. So when scientists discovered the Big Bang—that the universe had a definite beginning, and quite literally came into being out of nothing—they recoiled and rebelled. Suddenly, it looked as if the theistic account had trumped the scientists' efforts to explain the universe without God.

Even worse, from the secular perspective, was that the more scientists dug into the beginning of things, the more they discovered that the universe from its birth to its present state is astoundingly fine-tuned, so finely-tuned, so delicately balanced, so excruciatingly calibrated in every aspect that one could only reasonably conclude (to quote physicist Fred Hoyle's famous words) that "a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."

Multiverse Theory appears to be a desperate response to this situation. Exquisite fine-tuning is a scientific fact. The only way around it for the secular-minded was to suggest that there are actually an infinite number of other universes, and that we just happened to be one of the lucky few that by mere chance turned out so nicely. The cosmic lottery approach has, however, a few serious drawbacks:

  1. There is no evidence for it.
  2. There is no way to get evidence for it.
  3. The only reason that it exists as a theory is that certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning.

So here, the what is entirely explained in terms of the why, or the motives of those that put forth Multiverse Theory.

Now what about Inflationary Theory? First of all, unlike Multiverse Theory, Inflationary Theory is actually in textbooks as if it were a fact, an elegant implication of Big Bang cosmology that all reasonable scientists accept. And second, unlike Multiverse Theory, which doesn't explain anything, Inflationary Theory has at least born some fruit. It does seem to explain some things, and appears to have helped scientists to make theoretical headway in sorting out the complexities of our cosmos. That's why it got into textbooks as a theory that's all but a fact. Or so it seems.

But things aren't always what they seem. In a recent Scientific American (April 2011), one of the architects of Inflationary Theory, Paul Steinhardt, makes some startling admissions both about the caliber of the theory itself, and even more, about the motives in putting it forth.

As it turns out, Inflationary Theory shares this, at least, with Multiverse Theory: it was put forth to avoid a fine-tuning "problem," the so-called "flatness problem." Space isn't a big, pre-existing blackboard into which the Big Bang pops into existence; space itself came into being with the Big Bang, and its "shape" or curvature is directly affected by the density of matter and energy in it. Too much, and you get what's called a "closed" universe, which instead of expanding in a nicely uniform way, collapses back in upon itself. Too little, and you've got an "open" universe, and expansion yields cosmic smithereens. But with just the right density, the exact, very precise amount teetering on a razor's edge between too much and too little, you get, well, our universe, a "flat" universe.

Inflationary Theory was put forth, in great part, to solve that "problem," a problem that is only a problem if you refuse to infer the reasonable conclusion that the creation of our universe was too profoundly well-orchestrated for it to be put down to a cosmic accident. Inflationary theorists tried to get around the God problem by assuming that all that was needed was a fantastic growth spurt right at the very beginning of the Big Bang that ironed out all the wrinkles so to speak, and ensured that the universe would be, as it is, remarkably uniform, with only a very, very few tiny variations in the distribution of matter and energy. If inflation could be assumed, then unseemly "globs" of energy that would unbalance and warp expansion could be, as it were, mixed thoroughly into the batter through an initial burst of rapid expansion. (Inflation also helps to explain the "horizon problem," the fact that parts of the universe that could not possibly be connected causally, have a uniform temperature—but again, that's a problem only if you want the Big Bang to be a cosmic accident.)

Now comes a confession by Paul Steinhardt, who helped put the whole Inflationary model together. "Something peculiar has happened to inflationary theory" since its inception about three decades ago. "As the case for inflation has grown stronger, so has the case against [it]. The two cases are not equally well known: the evidence favoring inflation is familiar to a broad range of physicists, astrophysicists and science aficionados. Surprisingly few seem to follow the case against inflation….Most astrophysicists have gone about their business testing the predictions of textbook inflationary theory without worrying about these deeper issues, hoping they would eventually be resolved. Unfortunately, the problems have resisted our best efforts to date."

What are the problems? First, in order for inflation to produce the universe we actually live in, the inflation energy itself would have to have been very precisely tuned. Second, the initial conditions had to be exactly right as well: "Of all the ways the universe could have begun, only a tiny fraction would lead to the uniform, flat state observed today." Third, there is nothing about inflation that stops it. Inflation is eternal, and therefore ends up creating an infinity of universes of every variety, not just our just-so universe. The upshot: the theory can make no exact predictions that would explain our universe. "What does it mean to say that inflation makes certain predictions," laments Steinhardt, "if anything that can happen will happen an infinite number of times. And if the theory does not make testable predictions, how can cosmologists claim that the theory agrees with observations, as they routinely do?" The only way around this last problem is to have the inflation energy and initial conditions finely-tuned so as to achieve the actual outcome: our delicately balanced, wonderfully wrought universe.

Does that spell the end of Inflation as a theory? No, because a majority of scientists continue to give it their support, they will undoubtedly continue to chip away at the "problem" of fine-tuning. It is, for the secular-minded scientist, very difficult to admit that they are still bewildered with fine-tuning after thinking they had a way around at least some of it with Inflation.

Does that bring Steinhardt back to accepting the fact that the universe is finely-tuned? No, he's since come up with a rival theory to Inflation, "Cyclic Theory." The problem with cyclic theory—which isn't really new—is that it pushes back the same questions about fine-tuning to a "previous" universe that expanded and contracted and produced this one.

As critics have noted, Cyclic Theory creates more problems than it solves. It may soon follow the fate of Inflationary Theory. But because it doesn't involve God, it still has traction today among scientists who will take seriously any explanation of the universe, so long as it doesn't involve God.
 
 
Originally posted at To the Source. Used with author's permission.
(Image credit: Astronomy Notes)

Dr. Benjamin Wiker

Written by

Dr. Benjamin Wiker is, first of all, a husband and a father of seven children. He graduated from Furman University with a B.A. in Political Philosophy. He has an M.A. in Religion and a Ph.D. in Theological Ethics, both from Vanderbilt University. Dr. Wiker taught full time for thirteen years, first at Marquette University, then St. Mary's University (MN), Thomas Aquinas College (CA), and finally Franciscan University (OH). During these many years, he offered a wide variety of courses in philosophy, theology, history, the history and philosophy of science, the history of ethics, the Great Books, Latin, and even mathematics. He is now a full-time writer and speaker, with eleven books published including 10 Books That Screwed Up the World: And 5 Others That Didn't Help (Regnery, 2008); The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin (Regnery, 2009); and Answering the New Atheism: Dismantling Dawkins' Case Against God (Emmaus Road, 2008). Some of Benjamin's books are also integrated into the Logos software. Follow Dr. Wiker at BenjaminWiker.com.

Note: Our goal is to cultivate serious and respectful dialogue. While it's OK to disagree—even encouraged!—any snarky, offensive, or off-topic comments will be deleted. Before commenting please read the Commenting Rules and Tips. If you're having trouble commenting, read the Commenting Instructions.

  • Octavo

    The author of this article assumes that physicists and cosmologists come up with theories in order to "get around God problem." Philosophers and internet debaters do seize on scientific theories to counter arguments by apologists, but that is not ultimately where many of these theories were devised.

    For instance, the Many Worlds interpretation was devised to try to interpret some of the weirder phenomena of quantum physics. It's sometimes offered as a more comprehensible interpretation than the Copenhagen interpretation's emphasis on the observer and the collapsing waveform.

    ~Jesse Webster

    • Micha_Elyi

      The author of this article assumes that physicists and cosmologists come up with theories in order to "get around (the) God problem."
      --Octavo

      I disagree. Rather, the author assumes his readers are familiar with historical examples of physicists and cosmologists coming up with theories specifically in order to "get around the God problem". One example is the Steady State Theory. This theory was included in schoolbooks in use by children in the USA at government operated schools (called "public schools") well into the 1970s. This happened despite the disconfirmation of the theory by the 1950s.

      The belief in an eternal universe, an Old Universe, is as unscientific as the belief in a Young Earth. Yet only the latter group faces fierce, well publicized open criticism. Perhaps the critics are not so true to science as they claim.

    • Britt Burton

      Exactly. The Author clearly states in the beginning of this article that, "If you study the history of science long enough, you realize that you've got to ask two questions about any scientific theory, especially the biggest and most grand of them. What is it? Why was it put forth? The two almost invariably go together. We cannot truly grasp what the theory is, until we understand the motives of those who developed it." This is poppycock.
      The truth is that MOST theories are put forth to try to explain something that was discovered earlier, and had no easy explanation. Not for some reason or other coming from faith or the lack thereof. No one goes around trying to disprove God, because persons that understand basic logic know you can not prove a negative. The Author here, therefore clearly ignores that fact in order to try to sell his idea that all non-faith persons (I lump Atheists and Agnostics together as he does!) are actively trying to 'disprove' something. No, that is not the case.

  • David Nickol

    Multiverse Theory appears to be a desperate response to this situation.

    Dr. Stephen M. Barr has addressed this assertion in response to a question to his post on First Things titled The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends). The post itself is well worth reading, as is the thread that follows. Here is part of Dr. Barr's response to one question:

    You are right that many theists see the multiverse idea as a “desperate invention” of atheists. But that is indeed, as you imply, an oversimplification of the situation. Attitudes about the multiverse cut across religious-atheist lines. Most physicists (including most of those who are atheists) dislike the multiverse idea for several reasons: (1) It is probably untestable, and thus dismissed as “not science.” (2) If correct, then some numbers we thought were “constants of nature,” and thus perhaps calculable from a fundamental theory, may be just descriptions of conditions in our part of the universe.

    True, some physicists who are atheists do welcome the multiverse idea as explaining some “anthropic fine-tunings” without invoking a God who tunes the universe for life.

    The paper that my friends and I wrote in 1997 is one of the most well-known (among physicists) papers proposing the multiverse as a solution to a theoretical puzzle. The authors include an atheist and two Catholics (including me).

    The multiverse idea has real physics arguments in support of it. To the extent that physicists are beginning to take it seriously, it is in spite of the strongly held feelings of most of them, including most atheists.

    Does the multiverse undercut the argument for God based on the “anthropic fine-tunings”? It weakens it, but does not destroy it, as I explain in my book Modern Physics and Ancient Faith.

    Regarding the Multiverse, Dr. Wiker, a philosopher, says,

    1. There is no evidence for it.
    2. There is no way to get evidence for it.
    3. The only reason that it exists as a theory is that certain
    scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and
    fine-tuning.

    Dr. Barr, however, a physicist (and committed Catholic) says, in the quote above:

    The multiverse idea has real physics arguments in support of it. To the extent that physicists are beginning to take it seriously, it is in spite of the strongly held feelings of most of them, including most atheists.

  • John Bell

    "So when scientists discovered the Big Bang—that the universe had a definite beginning, and quite literally came into being out of nothing—they recoiled and rebelled."

    The Big Bang didn't come out of nothing. It was the expansion of a singularity which, far from nothing, was everything - all of space, matter, and time in a single point.

  • Andre Boillot

    Even worse, from the secular perspective, was that the more scientists dug into the beginning of things, the more they discovered that the universe from its birth to its present state is astoundingly fine-tuned, so finely-tuned, so delicately balanced, so excruciatingly calibrated in every aspect that one could only reasonably conclude (to quote physicist Fred Hoyle's famous words) that "a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature."

    Let's start by pointing out that the fact this article is addressing multiple competing explanations suggest that fine-tuning isn't the only reasonable conclusion. While we're quoting famous words:

    ". . . imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in'an interesting hole I find myself in'fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!' This is such a powerful idea that as the sun rises in the sky and the air heats up and as, gradually, the puddle gets smaller and smaller, it's still frantically hanging on to the notion that everything's going to be alright, because this world was meant to have him in it, was built to have him in it; so the moment he disappears catches him rather by surprise. I think this may be something we need to be on the watch out for." - Douglas Adams

    Multiverse Theory appears to be a desperate response to this situation. Exquisite fine-tuning is a scientific fact. The only way around it for the secular-minded was to suggest that there are actually an infinite number of other universes, and that we just happened to be one of the lucky few that by mere chance turned out so nicely.

    I'm curious as to how one squares the supposed scientific fact of "exquisite fine-tuning" with: 1) how inhospitable most of the one planet we know to have life is to humans; 2) how very temporal our existence is likely to be on this one planet; 3) how temporal this planet, star, solar system, etc. will be. I mean, I get it. At this very moment, the world seems *very* fine-tuned for me. Just this morning, my thermostat automatically checked the weather report, saw a cold front was moving in and fine-tuned the contents of my condo to a perfect 65* F. Never mind that I'm living at a latitude that wouldn't allow me to survive year-round on my own. However, that this all "fine-tuning" we're hearing about is mostly an illusion of the snap-shot of time humanities existence represents.

    The cosmic lottery approach has, however, a few serious drawbacks:

    There is no evidence for it.

    There is no way to get evidence for it.

    The only reason that it exists as a theory is that certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning.

    I suppose we'll just have to take it on authority that there is no way to get evidence for this and that it's only proposed b/c atheism.

    Brandon, this is a *welcome* return to form.

    EDIT: a link http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YQZnJoQtZMU/TGNdNwWhIcI/AAAAAAAAAJQ/BBA7S_u8CBY/s1600/world+po+LAT+e+LONG.png

    • Fr.Sean

      HI Andre,

      "Let's start by pointing out that the fact this article is addressing
      multiple competing explanations suggest that fine-tuning isn't the only
      reasonable conclusion. While we're quoting famous words:"

      While I am not an expert in physics, i have read various aspects of the "fine tuning" theory as well as the multiverse. I noticed if you cut through to the core of arguing against the fine tuning argument, questions the method of how the physics data was collected, and thus perhaps it isn't as razor sharp as first thought. But after reading the counter arguments i felt every explanation was simply attempting to muddy the waters. one can only imagine the immense gravitational pull at the point of the initial singularity. if a black hole has the gravitational pull of being able to consume just about everything one can only imagine what happens when you multiply that exponentially to include all of the material in the universe. Thus what ever caused it to to expand would indeed have to be immensely powerful. but again, as Hawkings pointed out, if it was slightly more powerful nothing would have formed, or slightly less powerful and it woudl have collapsed in on itself. so too would be the energy needed for neutorns to keep protons together, or the gravitational pull exhibited by protons neutrons and electrons for large stars to form. calculating how the physics variables were acquired seems to just distract one from the physics itself which seems to posit a very delicate balance.

      The puddle analogy seems to only attempt to take one's mind off of the observable data, to an idea of it being absurd that one would ponder why the data is so fine tuned. But again, this only seems to distract one from how fine tuned that data is. shouldn't we at least ask, why is it so fine tuned? is ignoring how fine tuned the universe is truly being objective?

      "I'm curious as to how one squares the supposed scientific fact of
      "exquisite fine-tuning" with: 1) how inhospitable most of the one planet
      we know to have life is to humans; 2) how very temporal our existence
      is likely to be on this one planet; 3) how temporal this planet, star,
      solar system, etc. will be."

      1. Are you saying that if there is a God than the entire planet should be hospitable to humans?
      2. & 3. Shouldn't those question give credence to a creator and guider of the universe?

      • Andre Boillot

        Fr. Sean,

        I agree that if you change the nature of the laws we observe, that the outcomes are likely vastly different, and that it would be very unlikely for anything resembling humans to be around to observe it in the first place. From their we draw different conclusions.

        "The puddle analogy seems to only attempt to take one's mind off of the observable data, to an idea of it being absurd that one would ponder why the data is so fine tuned."

        I hope I'm not distracting myself from the reality of things. I don't for a moment wish for us to stop looking at the data, much less stop wondering why (or how) things are the way they are. Again, we simply draw different conclusions from the data. To continue with the puddle analogy, I'm happy to continue exploring why the hole is shaped the way it is. I just don't need to presume that it was shaped for the express purpose of containing a puddle, or marvel that the puddle conforms to the exact shape of the hole.

        "1. Are you saying that if there is a God than the entire planet should be hospitable to humans?2. & 3. Shouldn't those question give credence to a creator and guider of the universe?"

        1) No, I'm trying to illustrate how strange the idea that all of "creation" is fine-tuned for us seems to me. 2) & 3) Why would the eventual death of the universe count towards a creator, and not against "fine-tuning". To me it's like you're looking at a snap-shot of wobbling, spinning plate on a stick. In your photo, the plate appears perfectly, almost impossibly balanced. In reality, it's seconds away from shattering on the floor.

        • Fr.Sean

          Hi Andre,

          I'm still having a little trouble understanding how the puddle analogy is an accurate one. i suppose a puddle is something very simple, all you need is a indentation and precipitation. but to have life on our planet you first need physics to be very specific, exactly the way they are, not random or haphazard. then if they were that specific you could have stars and planets. then you would need very fine tuned planet and solar system, at which point one could ponder various "life as we know it" possibilities. It seems to imply the laws of physics aren't that specific. maybe i'm just missing something?

          "1) No, I'm trying to illustrate how strange the idea that all of "creation" is fine-tuned for us seems to me."

          I suppose that's more of a subjective view.

          "2) & 3) Why would the eventual death of the universe count towards a creator, and not against "fine-tuning".

          My point about it being formed and guided by a creator is that if there was a creator and he/she put our solar system into place and guided the laws of physics then the creator could adjust them as necessary, or as Roman's 8 points out in some sense creation shares in redemption.

          • Andre Boillot

            Fr Sean,

            The puddle analogy doesn't speak (at least not directly/primarily) to the complexity of the physics involved, but rather the implications. As I've said before, we appear to be in agreement: if any of the physical laws we observe today would have been different, we wouldn't be around to ask why. Now, does that mean that nothing would be around? We'll never know ;)

            "I suppose that's more of a subjective view."

            Yes, it's a subjective view that it seems strange to claim that the universe was created with us in mind when you would likely die in a few hours (often times far sooner) if placed randomly on the only planet we know to support life.

            "My point about it being formed and guided by a creator is that if there was a creator and he/she put our solar system into place and guided the laws of physics then the creator could adjust them as necessary, or as Roman's 8 points out in some sense creation shares in redemption."

            Fr Sean, I'm confused: you seemingly marvel at how fine-tuned creation seems to be from the get-go (and the theistic implications you believe this has), then appeal to notion that god could adjust the laws as necessary.

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Andre,
            i think we may just misunderstand each other, which i think is usually the cause of a disagreement. My point is that if there's a God, then we can naturally deduce that the laws of physics are so fine tuned because the creator formed them so. thus, the laws of physics are a result of his/her handiwork. if that is true, than the same author of the laws of physics could adjust them if necessary to assure life continues. thus, if there is a God and he/she created the laws of physics it would naturally seem reasonable that he/she could tweek them as necessary if needed. secondly, if roman's 8 is true, and creation shares in redemption than it would seem reasonable that the only thing that would disappear at the end of the universe would be material and time, not life, or if it did expire it would move to the other realm.

          • Andre Boillot

            Fr. Barron,

            "My point is that if there's a God, then we can naturally deduce that the laws of physics are so fine tuned because the creator formed them so. thus, the laws of physics are a result of his/her handiwork. if that is true, than the same author of the laws of physics could adjust them if necessary to assure life continues."

            That's the beauty of your position: with God, *anything* is possible :)

            "thus, if there is a God and he/she created the laws of physics it would naturally seem reasonable that he/she could tweek [sic] them as necessary if needed."

            Sure, though one then wonders why everything wasn't created so as to not require 'tweaks'...but that's a minor quibble.

          • josh

            Fr.Sean,
            The puddle analogy is very apt. It's purpose is to point out that you are considering things from the wrong perspective. The puddle, like life, is extremely 'fine-tuned' to fit exactly into the hole in which it finds itself. Think of the infinite shapes we could imagine a volume of water occupying. But we understand that the shape of the puddle matches that of the hole because the shape of the hole (and the properties of water and gravity) determines the shape of the puddle. In the same way, the features of the universe determine the phenomena in that universe, including the existence of life in a vanishingly small part of ours. However, it is silly to assume that the hole has its particular shape in order to produce the shape of the water. Whatever explains the shape of the hole almost certainly doesn't make any reference to the water.

            Now, you may say, 'but couldn't a human make a hole for the purpose of creating a specific shape of water, like a reflecting pool?' The answer is yes of course, but that is just one of many ways in which the hole could come to be. You could even have a human make the hole without any thought at all to the puddle that might form in it. When we explore the universe we find that 'agent causation', as some philosophers would have it, is an extremely rare and incomplete explanation of phenomena we encounter. Basically, it is just humans and other animals with some ability to model and predict the larger world. When we really want to understand exactly how and why these animals act we come back to the non-personal explanations of physics and chemistry. But without getting into a debate on mind-body problems, it still stands that a physical fact, like alleged fine-tuning, can't point you to a purposeful goal which aims at the results of the fine-tuning.

          • Fr.Sean

            Hi Josh,
            i suppose what i don't agree with in the puddle analogy is that the puddle could have the ground underneath it think that the ground was "formed" perfectly to suit it, but that form would not be indicative to it's existence. the only thing that would be indicative would be temperature, precipitation and an indentation. yet, the laws of physics are much more precise for stars and planets to form. thus, if the chances that the laws of physics would be one in 10 to the 500 billionth power (without even getting into the possibility of life on a planet) than it would seem reasonable for people to marvel at those laws and conclude that it isn't just random chance. but for a puddle to form you only need three variables, temperature, precipitation, and an indentation. I suppose that's why i don't feel the puddle analogy is apt. but i think i understand his point, if it was just chance than one wondering how they formed such would seem superfluous.

  • Paul Boillot

    My first reaction to this article, before we get into the various specifics of what Ben is wrong about, is the following: if StrangeNotions is going to have interesting and informative discussions about scientific matters, it might help to feature authors who understand science.

    When Ben writes that to understand scientific theories "you've got to ask two questions about [them]...What is it? Why was it put forth?" it's clear that we're now approaching these matters from the point of view of someone who doesn't really understand science. To understand a theory and how valid it is, you must know what it is, what it predicts, and how well it's predictions agree with observation. "Why" doesn't enter into it.

    "Why" can be interesting on a personal, philosophical, historical or cultural level, but from the point of view of science it is totally irrelevant. Deconstructing others' motives, even those close to us in our daily lives, even OURSELVES from time to time, is a difficult task...assuming that you can suss out the motivations of people you've never met from cultures you will never experience in a temporal context you don't understand is a game with no rules or winners.

    A theory either predicts with accuracy, or it does not.

    • if StrangeNotions is going to have interesting and informative
      discussions about scientific matters, it might help to feature authors
      who understand science.

      Amen!

    • Geena Safire

      I agree with Paul (and Paul).

      'A' motivation of 'most' scientists is to contribute toward better understanding the world. But their ideas will never be published in reputable journals if the don't meet certain criteria. One of these criteria is that, even if the idea is new, the work has to be based on an understanding of the body of knowledge in the field and, if it is not in alignment with some aspect of these, the scientist/author has to note this difference and support her case.

      Even if the scientist is only motivated by money and fame, or even if she just really wants her idea to be true, the scientific method is designed, at many points, to avoid researcher bias from affecting results, and peer review is another check on that.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      "To understand a theory and how valid it is, you must know what it is,
      what it predicts, and how well it's predictions agree with observation. 'Why' doesn't enter into it."

      I totally agree with you as far as the truth value of the science goes (and that's the most important dimension).

      However, there is this field called the sociology of science which considers the varied motives of scientists and what kinds of things get funded and accepted and why.

      That doesn't in the least excuse this OP, which ascribes motives without evidence.

    • Fr.Sean

      Hi Paul,
      Could you point me to a website that would show how where Dr.Wiker has misrepresented the scientific theories? I realize much of his article is subjective but i can't see where he misrepresented the theories.

    • Micha_Elyi

      When Ben writes that to understand scientific theories "you've got to ask two questions about [them]...What is it? Why was it put forth?" it's
      clear that we're now approaching these matters from the point of view
      of someone who doesn't really understand science.
      --Paul Boillot

      An objection to the theory you know today as "The Big Bang"* is that it was invented by a Catholic priest. People considered to be prominent scientists in their day made that objection.

      * The name "The Big Bang" was invented by one of its deniers in order to mock the theory. Mockery, unfortunately, is often heard in supposedly scientific debates. For example, the proponents of the anthropogenic global warming (AGW) theory routinely mock the skeptics.

  • Imagine that someone alive on the planet earth right now believes that the universe is around 6000 years old. This person may be tempted to say something along the lines of:

    There are many problems in astronomy and geology, such as the distance of stars from Earth, requiring light billions of years to traverse the space in between, and the amounts of different radioisotopes that should be far larger, given their slow decay rate. A billions-of-years-old universe was put forth, in great part, to solve these
    "problems," problems that are only problems if you refuse to infer the
    reasonable conclusion that the creation of our universe took place 6000 years ago with these amounts from the beginning. The billions-of-years-old universe raises many new problems, such as why there are young stars in our universe and why there are still comets.

    Inflation is a good theory because it explains certain flat features of the cosmic microwave background that thus far cannot be otherwise explained by assuming an expansion factor that approximately equal to the speed of light. Inflation does not only explain the flatness of the universe but also its homogeneity and seeming causal disconnectedness between various regions of the cosmic microwave background. I'm not opposed to people rejecting inflation for good reasons, but rejecting inflation because "God did it" is a terrible reason. One might as well go the whole way and adopt special creationism and a 6000 year old earth.

    Although the consequences for rejecting inflation right now are not so dire, cosmologically (it's a well-supported theory, but not yet established, as far as I can tell), rejecting inflation theory will have an interesting although unexpected effect on apologetics. For example, current inflationary theory predicts that the Hubble constant should be greater than zero on average arbitrarily far into the past. If inflation is incorrect, then there is no reason to accept that the Hubble constant is on average greater than zero throughout the history of our early universe, and the Borde, Guth and Vilenkin (2003) theorem can be happily discarded (since they must assume that the Hubble constant is on average greater than zero in order to achieve their conclusions about there being an absolute beginning to classical space-time).

    Given that discarding inflation involves discarding that particular theorem, I'm conflicted. Maybe I should be rooting for Benjamin Wiker's argument. At least it might get future apologists to stop citing Borde's paper.

    • Geena Safire

      There is actually a young-earth creationist who got his Ph.D. in astonomy so he wd be taken seriously when he published his theory that the speed of light was different previously, so the apparent distance of stars that assume a constant speed of light is mistaken.

      • Is this Jason Lisle? I was an undergrad at the same place where he was working on his PhD.

        • Geena Safire

          Yes, that's him. Your impressions?

          • He was a very nice guy at University of Colorado, and I didn't know him all that well then. I ran into him again at the Creation Museum, when I visited (surprised to see him there, because I didn't know what he did after his PhD!). I read some of his articles published while he was a PhD student, and at least one of them gives time-scales on the order of millions of years. I think he's a capable scientist, smart, somewhat dishonest, and sadly has ceased to do any worthwhile work in astronomy.

  • Vasco Gama

    One thing is sure, science is not able to consider God, God is just not in the grasp of science (that is committed to methodological naturalism). In this sense expecting that science could tell us anything about God is delusional (and unfair to scientists).

    Maybe that it is the subject of metaphysics or theology (but not for science). This is very much the same as the error from Thomas Nagel in expecting science to consider teleology, science is not able to deal with teleology (philosophy, metaphysics or theology may do it, not science). That is so sound and reasonable as expecting science to be something else distinct from science.

    • Thank you, Vasco. That's an excellent point.

      On a side note, I can tell that this is an unusual article when I find myself completely agreeing with your responses.

      • Vasco Gama

        In these days the notion of an overreaching science is almost so popular among theists as among atheists.

        • Stop it! You're worrying me.

          • Vasco Gama

            Sorry, I will stop then.

    • Geena Safire

      Actually, the theory (or theories) of God can be considered from the perspective of a scientist, although of course that is not the only perspective.

      Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll gave a speech entitled "Why God is not a Good Theory" at a conference entitled "Is God Explanatory?" (which also included theistic scientists as speakers) a part of the "Philosophy of Cosmology" joint program of the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, UK. (All available on YouTube. Carroll also gives a second talk at same conference called "Poetic Naturalism." All talks have a separate Q&A video.)

      • Vasco Gama

        Of course they can, which doesn't make those theories scientific, but they can be metaphysical, philosophical or theological.

        • Geena Safire

          Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll says, in this talk:

          "I'm going to be approaching the question of the role that the idea of God has to play in explaining the universe we see from the point of view of a scientist - a physicist or a cosmologist, not from the point of view of a professional scientist or theologian. I do think that the point of view of a physicist or a scientist is relevant to this question. It is not the only possible point of view one can have. There are aspects of the idea of God that do not reduce to the roles played by a simple scientific theory. But there are also aspects of the idea of God that do play the role of a scientific theory, and those aspects can be judged by the same criteria as we use to judge scientific theories. The idea of God -- to the extent that almost all believers use the idea of God -- does have aspects of it that can be judged in precisely analogous ways to the way that we judge an ordinary scientific theory.

          • Vasco Gama

            Geena,

            I have to say that the affirmations from Sean Carroll leave me slightly perplexed,

            What exactly is «a point of view of a scientist (a physicist or a cosmologist)» that it is not «the point of view of a professional scientist» (is he referring to amateur scientists or pseudoscientists, or something else perhaps?)

            Or what exactly does he mean with “The idea of God -- to the extent that almost all believers use the idea of God -- does have aspects of it that can be judged …”

            to what aspects is Carroll referring to?

            To the intelligibility of the universe? … I just can’t get it, what is he talking about?

          • Geena Safire

            Vasco: Here's some more of what Carroll said. Maybe this will help.

            I'm very well aware that there is a thread of thought that says the opposite of that, that says the idea of God is something separate, a different kind of idea than the ideas that we have when we have physics theories. 'God is not reproducible' or something like that. I just want to get around that particular definitional problem by putting forward the idea of a 'theory' as something very, very broad. I don't want to pick some very specific 'philosophy of science' definition of a theory. To me, a 'theory' is just an idea about the universe that may be true or false. We should try to figure out how to judge whether this particular idea is true or false.

            One of the problems with God as a theory is that it is not a very precisely specified theory. That is going to be one of my points, that even though we sometimes try to have God play the role of a physical theory that -- making predictions and explaining things, serving some explanatory role -- I'm going to argue that it doesn't do a very good job.

          • Vasco Gama

            Geena,

            The problem with new atheists (even in the case of Carroll with whom I am sympathetic) is that they have a limited knowledge of what really is Catholicism (with is they prime target), or the religious phenomena (at large) and try to criticize a particular absurd mockery they thing is remotely plausible (and their popularity in doing atheist apologetics is just grounded by their professional competence as scientists or philosophers and to the naivety and shallow cultural level of the audience), shooting in every direction, but failing to get even close of the target. At this point I would say that you or any other atheist that regularly comment here at Strange Notions are much better qualified to criticize religion.

            But let us get to the point, when Carroll says:

            «we sometimes try to have God play the role of a physical theory that -- making predictions and explaining things, serving some explanatory role -- I'm going to argue that it doesn't do a very good job»

            Who exactly is that “we” that he is referring to that attributes explanatory power to God. Does this make any sense to you?

            But I guess that this is just a preamble to more substantial and insightful thoughts, as so far Carroll told us nothing really meaningful.

    • josh

      Vasco, this is a No True Scotsman fallacy waiting to happen. Science isn't defined by excluding any particular subject matter. You would be better off saying that teleology, metaphysics and philosophy aren't able to deal with reality, since that is science's purview. I assume you don't want to accept such an arbitrary limitation based on a silly definition. Why do you think scientists would accept the same from you?

      Science considers God the same way it does everything else. What is the observed phenomenon? How can it be quantified and qualified? What theories have been proposed and how much explanatory power do they have? What is the level of evidence for particular theories? What tests can we come up with to provide further evidence for or against?

      • Vasco Gama

        Do you have a point (besides the dislike of what I said)?

        "Science considers God?" what science is it that is able to consider God? metaphysics (I guess that metaphysics is no science)

        • josh

          "Do you have a point (besides the dislike of what I said)?"

          I understand that English is probably not your first language, but I thought the point was pretty clear. You are trying to exempt the idea of God from scientific criticism, you are making a mistake.

          • Vasco Gama

            I am not doing anything of the sort. I just can't conceive a way of giving God a scientific consideration. It happens that I believe in God, so, to me, if there was a way it could be addressed by science that would be amazing. And that is just not my feeling (or a personal particularity), I would say that people have tried for millennia to attain that objective (and still do consider that in the present, recurring not just to science but also to philosophy and metaphysics, without any success), if that would be possible (even remotely) we would most surely know about that. Not the case.

            Sorry about my English.

          • josh

            Your English is far better than my Spanish. :) Just be aware that 'Do you have a point?' comes across as rather rude and lacking in consideration.

            You seem to be saying that you believe in God but don't have good reasons to do so, or won't consider reasons not to do so. I'm saying that science doesn't limit itself in the way you implied. Science would happily explore gods, spirits, or any type of supernatural phenomenon if there were compelling evidence for any of them. But there isn't, instead there is overwhelming evidence that they are a social and psychological phenomena that doesn't reflect the external world.

          • Vasco Gama

            Sorry if it looked rude to you, but it wasn’t meant that way, I just wanted you to address clearly whatever question you had to what I said previously.

            «You seem to be saying that you believe in God but don't have good reasons to do so, or won't consider reasons not to do so.»

            I am not saying that and I don’t understand how you could derive such an idea. No one believes in God on basis of the understanding of nature or on the cosmological insights of the creation from the bible. That was never relevant even in my childhood (personally I was advised not to took the OT writings literally and during my education the OT was not a relevant aspect of formation), I understand that many atheists seem to think that the bible cosmology was very important, or that its explanatory aspects were very relevant to Catholics (maybe it was true for creationists, but then creationism was only an important phenomena in the US and maybe in the UK), but my personal experience says otherwise. Religion doesn’t pretend to describe the creation of the universe (just that God is the creator and sustainer of the universe), so it is not a matter for religion to describe when, where, or how the universe came to be, these matters have been (are and will be) answered by science (and religion is not expected to had anything else, it just states that the universe is intelligible and that our reason is able to grasp the intelligibility of the universe). Plus, I have good reasons to believe in God (however they don’t include the peculiarities of the natural world or anything that science may describe).

            In fact the general idea that the enlightenment and the progress of science render religion meaningless is a complete delusion (in spite of the popularization of this notion by the new atheist apologists). Religion is mostly relevant by the insights referring to the human condition and human existence (to humans as individuals and members of a society), clearly not as an explanation of the material world.

            I guess I have a good insight about what science can address and science can’t address a large variety of issues from our objective reality besides God, spirits, or supernatural phenomena (that is why we call it supernatural in the first place), but it can’t either address morality and ethics, love, aesthetics, love, literature, art, and the major things that are relevant for our daily life (in fact science is mostly irrelevant for our most important concerns in our life). Just before you trying to throw at me arguments about evolution or neuroscience, as for explanatory purposes of morality, or aesthetics, or …, they don’t explain our morality, ethics, aesthetics (they might address how they came to be, that they are useful and functional), and neuroscience doesn’t either (it confirms that we functional brains and that there something that is brain activity, that there are brain events and that they are related to our thoughts (nobody is denying that), so please don’t consider throwing these things at people (they are irrelevant, as I said the world is rational and we look for its rationality with science).

          • josh

            Vasco, thanks for clarifying your stance.

            You say "No one believes in God on basis of the understanding of nature or on the cosmological insights of the creation from the bible." But we are frequently told here that the intelligibility of nature, or the order of nature, or fine-tuning of some natural fact, or human reason, or existence itself somehow proves that God exists. These are traditional Catholic arguments, as well as showing up in many other religious sects. I agree that probably not many people came to be religious through these arguments, but they are the arguments that people point to when trying to support their beliefs.

            Catholics and others in the modern age tend to ignore or reinterpret the OT (and the new) because they have been forced to by modern science and changes in society. But this is not necessarily a legitimate way to regard the Bible. These changes support the idea that the Bible and the entire religion are a man-made creation. HIstorically, Catholicism did think Genesis was very important and often literally true.

            It's also true that even if religious people didn't argue from the observable world to their beliefs, there would be observations in the world that argue against their beliefs.

            You say "it [science] can’t either address morality and ethics, love, aesthetics, love, literature, art, and the major things that are relevant for our daily life." But I disagree and you haven't presented an argument here. If science can potentially explain where these things come from, why people think of them the way they do, how people will react to them based on the broader understanding of how humans fit into the material world; why wouldn't science address these topics? You declare them irrelevant but I don't see any justification for such a sweeping statement.

            But moreover you say "Religion is mostly relevant by the insights referring to the human condition and human existence (to humans as individuals and members of a
            society)..." I have no reason to think that religion has any insight at all here. It usually displays a great ignorance of society and the people in it. The study of these things is sociology, psychology and so on, which are sciences although not as developed in some ways as the 'hard' sciences like physics and chemistry. When Catholicism says that life is hard and people are unhappy because they sin, and this tendency to sin was inherited from the first human couple because they disobeyed God, and God (who set the whole system up) must forgive us, which will let us live happily forever, and forgiveness is dependent upon the worship of Jesus Christ... I have to say that the whole thing is contradicted by science and internally irrational.

          • Vasco Gama

            The intelligibility of nature, or the order of nature, plus our ability to grasp that intelligibility is a basic assumption of science (and Catholicism). In this case if one believes that the world is unintelligible or that we can’t grasp the intelligibility of reality one has good reasons not to believe in God, the inverse reasoning is not valid, reality may seem rational regardless if one believes or not in God (I guess).

            «we are frequently told here that the intelligibility of nature, or the order of nature, or fine-tuning of some natural fact, or human reason, or existence itself somehow proves that God exists»

            In spite of my general agreement with the cosmological arguments I am not impressed by the design (fine-tuning) argument. I guess that the extraordinary recent scientific progress leads people to focus their attention on this subject (both theists and atheists) but in my case, I am not impressed by the argument (the design and the tuning of the physical parameters make me to be amazed and perplexed, but … )

            «Catholics and others in the modern age tend to ignore or reinterpret the OT (and the new) because they have been forced to by modern science and changes in society.»

            That view you have is incorrect, right from the start, it is with Jesus that the idea of a new interpretation of the OT makes a clear presence (it is just not a make-up thing as you suggest). The error of fideism is an error that the Catholic Church opposes from the beginning to the modern times, and that was very clear in the middle ages with appearance of mysticism within some groups from the Church. I am not claiming that the Catholic Church didn’t change some points of view to conform to the changes in the scientific understanding of reality that would not be true. The views from the Genesis hold for so long as there was no way to dismiss it as incorrect.

            You say "it [science] can’t either address morality and ethics, love, aesthetics, love, literature, art, and the major things that are relevant for our daily life." But I disagree and you haven't presented an argument here.

            That is a fact, science has nothing significant to add to our understanding for morals or ethics, or from humanities and philosophy. Nothing. I am not pretending to present you arguments it is a fact. It is beside the point to prove this affirmation, you are free to disagree, but then you might consider the simple exercise of pointing some insight that science could give to our understanding of those areas (even at very basic level) of human knowledge that developed independent from science a long, long time ago.

            Science may at the most provide partial explanations that those things are useful (adaptive, advantageous or whatever…). But we know that they are useful, if they recognized not to be useful, most probably they wouldn’t get much attention. I am not saying that science cannot address those issues, what I said was that the information science can gives us is not meaningful for those areas of knowledge (if not try to present an example of some relevant information science could give you to ethics (or morality), aesthetic, art, music or literature (something we didn’t know before).

            What I said about the irrelevance of science, was in relation to our everyday life, to the things that are important and constitute the basis of our existence (unless one is a scientist or works in scientific facility, but that would be cisrcunstancial). But, feel free to disagree that is only my view of reality (that you are obliged to share).

            «But moreover you say "Religion is mostly relevant by the insights referring to the human condition and human existence (to humans as individuals and members of a society)..." I have no reason to think that religion has any insight at all here.»

            And I am not able to prove that you are wrong (if you don't get it, you don't get it).

      • If God is capable of avoiding detection, then he can avoid being part of science (if God wants, then science will not observe God and will not be able to connect God to any of his effects). Any super-being incapable of avoiding detection should rather be called "aliens" than "gods", in my opinion.

  • Andre Boillot

    "But because it doesn't involve God, it still has traction today among scientists who will take seriously any explanation of the universe, so long as it doesn't involve God."

    Why the constant effort to paint scientific discovery as a conspiracy to do away with god? None of these theories argued against in this piece would preclude god, and religious folk are perfectly happy to co-opt [edit] any scientific theory as god's handywork (why wouldn't you?). I doubt many serious scientists think that they will somehow break believers of this by proposing new theories. I'm pretty sure the "why" will always be there. I'm fine with that. In the mean time, it positions the believer as appearing to discourage scientific inquiry, because they already know "why".

    • Indeed! One of the consequences of inflationary models is the Borde, Guth and Vilenkin theorem for a beginning to the universe, which Bill Craig happily uses in his various road shows. It seems most theists are feeling just fine with inflation.

      • Andre Boillot

        The Bill Craig Roadshow, next on TCN.

  • I keep hearing that the multiverse theory was developed *because* "scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning" but I've never seen evidence, and Dr. Wiker provides none here.

    What's troubling is that Wiker seems to imply that the Scientific American article provides such evidence, but I could find none. (The article was behind a paywall, but you can view it here: http://www.physics.princeton.edu/~steinh/0411036.pdf)

    Did I miss something?

    • Andre Boillot

      "Did I miss something?"

      God, Rob. You missed god.

    • Geena Safire

      Rob, Could you take the 'close parenthesis' ')' out of the end of your link?

      Until Rob does this, if any of the rest of you get a '404 not found' message, just take off the last character.

    • josh

      As a physicist who attends talks on cosmology fairly often, I can tell you that the subject of 'How do we avoid the obvious evidence for God' has yet to come up.' Multiverse ideas (there are a number from different sources) come about from observations and the theories that have been developed from those observations. Actually, phrases like 'either we say God did it or X' occasionally come up. 'God did it' is a euphemism for 'we give up on an actual explanation' in the field.

  • The two most important questions with respect to a scientific theory are, in my view, "What does it explain" and "how well supported is it?"

    Multiverse theory is not at all well-supported and is usually described as a hypothesis. I understand that it is a coherent hypothesis which if true would utterly defeat the teleological argument (so-called fine tuning). If not, the teleological argument is still unsupported. Cosmological constants are either random, designed or necessary. We simply do not know which. Multiverse theory is simply pointed to as a possiblity of how it could necessary. Until you disprove it, you can't say the constants must be designed.

    From what I know inflationary theory is the theory to account for the observation that the galaxies are all moving away from each other, it says nothing of cosmological origins. It is extremely well supported by evidence I believe.

    • Geena Safire

      The multiverse idea is not something some group of scientists dreamed up as a cool idea. It instead is a consequence that emerges from the mathematics of other theories.

      I think Brian may be confusing two different 'inflation' ideas. One is about a huge and very brief period of inflation near the beginning of the Big Bang, proposed by Alan Guth. The other is the BGV inflationary theory about what the universe is likely to do and why. (Vilenkin is working on another theory now, not yet published AFAIK.)

    • Kevin Aldrich

      This was confusing from the OP, but inflationary theory is the theory that at the beginning, the universe had a period of incredible inflation ("~10^26 in only a small fraction of a second!" according to the NASA website), after which it settled down.

  • David Nickol

    The information given about Dr. Benjamin Wiker does not include the fact that he is a Senior Fellow for the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture.

    • A glaring oversight... I don't think it's on purpose, considering that they do mention his book "The Darwin Myth: The Life and Lies of Charles Darwin" (Regnery, 2009), and link to his website.

      • Geena Safire

        The Discovery Institute? Isn't that the small group of folks that work out of a small office with cubicles (and no lab) and have never done experiments to support 'intelligent design'? Aren't they the ones who are trying their best to get creationism "intelligent design" taught in schools? Didn't all of them testify at the Kitzmiller vs. Dover trial, in which intelligent design was found to be not science and also not constitutional to teach in public schools because it was provably a religiously-based idea? Didn't Catholic biologist Miller completely demolish them with his testimony?

        • Pretty-much. A couple of them have labs. Most of them write books with colorful titles like "The Life and Lies of Darwin", and other clearly objective works of fact.

  • Paul Boillot

    For those who agree with Mr. Wiker, have two hours to spare, and are actually interested in the motivations of current cosmologists, this might be an interesting watch. I know it was for me.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYeN66CSQhg

    Plenty of high power intellects arguing over string theory, multiverses, and all the things Mr. Wiker says that scientists agree about because they hate having a cosmic father.

    If you don't have two hours to spare, along with the attendant patience and interest, this might help clear things up more quickly. It's four minutes long.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfjYET8i9Ws

    How could an honest person listen to Greene explicitly state that we should be skeptical and withold belief until and unless the evidence matches the theory, and listen to Greene talk about the theory arising out of the mathematics...and conclude that the only reason the theory exists is to get around god.

    I submit that an honest person who had heard Greene and knew what he was talking about could not.

    • Geena Safire

      Paul, Thanks for this. Although I don't agree with Wiker and thus do not meet your audience criteria, I will nonetheless presume to watch it.

      FYI: If you want to include a link with a title or relevant text (such as 'click here' or 'which supports my point') in Disqus, you use the standard HTML anchor tag code ('a' is for anchor; 'href' is for hyperlink reference) (Disqus supports very few HTML tags.) Example:
      <a href="http://your.webpage.com">Some relevant text</a>
      (The 'http://' is essential, but if you copy from any navigation bar, most browsers will assume it for you.)

      • Paul Boillot

        Ah, thanks for the tip!

        And enjoy, such a pleasure to listen to intelligent people arguing :)

  • Methodological Naturalist

    The motive of every scientist is to discover the truth about reality.

    Unhelpful. Make-believe your audience is comprised only of forensic linguists. Now, try again.

    • Kevin Aldrich

      I have no clue of what point you are making.

  • Here's a request for Dr. Wiker, then: If you have evidence that "The only reason that [the multiverse theory] exists as a theory is that certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning," then please present it.

    Otherwise, can we consider this myth retired?

    • Randy Gritter

      Did Darwin come up with his theory of evolution because he didn't like the theistic implications of the alternative? So what if he did?

      If the multiverse explains nothing and adds complexity it should be discarded as a scientific theory. You can still believe it for other reasons but as science every theory has to earn its keep by actually predicting things correctly.

      • Geena Safire

        As noted elsewhere several times in the comments, the multiverse was not developed as a theory because gosh wouldn't that be nifty to have a gazillion universes. It emerged as a likely consequence of the mathematics that emerged to account for phenomena that we know do exist.

        It is a consequence. It is a consequence. It is a consequence. The scientists didn't predict the multiverse. It emerged from the data and the math. Further, it doesn't add complexity because of the large number of universes any more than our air is super complex because of the enormous number of nitrogen and oxygen molecules. Even though it includes a large number, it is only a single concept.

    • Or maybe you could just explain why you like it?

      • Why I like what? The theistic implications of the Big Bang? I don't believe in them. The big bang itself? It's not a matter of liking or not liking -- rather I defer to the scientific consensus because I like the scientific approach.

        The thing is, Stacy, it's not about liking or not liking. My request is about this recurring claim that the "only reason" the multiverse theory exists is to avoid having to believe in God. That's a slam against the intellectual integrity of the scientists and shouldn't be asserted unless evidence is provided along with it, which Dr. Wiker fails to do.

      • Geena Safire

        There's this thing in philosophy and reasoned discourse called 'the Burden of Proof.' No, really! Look it up. It's pretty cool. See, if one person makes a claim, it's that person's responsibility to prove it or support it with stuff like facts and sources. And do you know what that means? It's also not any other person's responsibility to disprove it! Don't they go together so nicely?

        Here's an example. Let's say you tell me 'I can fly.' I might say, 'I don't believe you. Can you prove it?' Then you might say, 'Do you have any proof that I can't? Why don't you want to believe me? You must be jealous, or you must think I don't deserve to fly. What is your problem? If you can't prove I can't fly, then you have to believe me!' And here's the good part. I can say, 'No, actually, you're the one who made the claim, so the burden of proof is on you!'

        Or if an investment advisor is suggesting you invest in some fund, instead of feeling required to invest unless you can figure or discover something wrong with it, you get to say, 'Can you back up your claims

        Really, Stacy, when you ask questions like this, you sound like those home-schooled kids who are trained to ask, when anyone mentions evolution or the old Earth, 'Were you there?'

        • Take a deep breath, Geena. We're allowed to ask questions. I'm interested in knowing how people arrive at their opinions, and that's okay. Really, it's okay. This theory does have controversy, and rather than demand someone give proof of something so commonly known, I'd rather know what Rob thinks of it himself, which he told me. That's called dialogue, and it's... o-kay.

          • Geena Safire

            o-kay, Stacy. Don't worry. You can make any comment you
            like. But, despite what your teachers may have told you, there are bad questions.

            Your comment showed that you either misunderstood Rob's post or you were intentionally trying to divert the discussion.

            Wiker wrote: "The only reason that [the multiverse theory] exists as a theory is that certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning,"

            Rob wrote: "Here's a request for Dr. Wiker, then: If you have evidence that [above statement] is true then please present it."

            That is, Wiker claimed (a) there is an anti-theistic conspiracy among certain cosmologists, (b) the Big Bang theory and the fine-tuning argument have theistic implications, (c) this anti-theism was the only motivation for proposing the multiverse as an alternative, and (d) they have been able to dupe their cosmologist colleagues that the multiverse math could be real.

            Rob requested that Wiker either (1) provide evidence to back up his assertions or (2) stop making this assertion.

            You then asked Rob: "Or maybe you
            could just explain why you like it?"

            Do you see now how your comment in incongruous with Rob's comment? Specifically what in Rob's comment is the "it" that you think Rob is saying that he likes?

            Rob was also confused by your comment, to wit:

            Rob wrote, in part: "Why I like what?
            The theistic implications of the Big Bang? I don't believe in them. The big bang itself? It's not a matter of liking or not liking."

            Do you see now, Stacy, how Rob was confused by your comment?

            So did you misunderstand Rob's comment? Or were you trying to deflect the very valid request Rob made with respect to Wiker's blatant accusation?

            But wait! There's more!

            In your reply to me, you say, "This theory does have controversy, and rather than demand someone give proof of something so commonly known..."

            Is there controversy about Wiker's allegation about the
            purportedly-fraudulent work of 'certain' deeply unethical, anti-theistic cosmologists?

            Really, Stacy? I hadn't heard that one before. Among whom is it common? Please, if you're familiar with this controversy, perhaps you can provide the evidence that Rob requested. Take a deep breath before replying, Stacy.

            ----------------------------------

            Just in case you forgot from university, scientists, theistic or otherwise, are supposed to be methodological naturalists in research.

          • "But, despite what your teachers may have told you..."

            Wow.

            Rob and I had an exchange, we're good. I have no idea what you're going on about.

            You know, Geena, I ignored the homeschooling jab. The quote you linked "...what you've just said is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever heard"? I let it go the other day after you deleted it, even though you denied it came from you.

            The "...despite what your teachers may have told you" comment just now? Come on? Do you really think those are appropriate things to say?

            I'm sorry if my question to Rob offended you. I'll be more careful about how I ask a question. Could you, also, please consider that your comments offend people?

          • Geena Safire

            I'll be more careful about how I ask a question.

            Sounds good to me!

            And yet here, again, you say: "The quote you linked, ...I let it go the other day after you deleted it, even though you denied it came from you."

            First, I didn't delete the comment. Either Matthew or Brandon probably did. Despite my efforts, it apparently still didn't meet the comment guidelines. Tant pis. The other comments, however, are still on the thread.

            (FYI: Since you may not know the difference: If the mods remove a comment and there are subcomments, the placeholder says, "This comment was deleted." If a Disqus user deletes her own comment, the comment will actually remain in the commbox, but the name will be changed to Guest (and the user can no longer edit it). So should you ever want to delete a comment, it's best to edit it down to a single character -- it can't be blank -- and then 'delete' it from your Disqus dashboard. )

            Second, I didn't deny it. Show me where I denied it. I never denied it.

            All the other comments are still there and I haven't edited them. Here is the link again, in case you don't recall: 'not even wrong' at Rational Wiki.

            If you look back at the rest of the thread (see the links below), you'll see you took a quote from the page I linked to and added "Really? (Your quote)."

            As you can see, both here and there, I didn't deny linking to the page. The quote was not mine and is still not mine. The quote was from a movie and the quote was on the linked page, just 1% of the words on that page btw. I linked to the page; I didn't write the quote. It's not 'my quote.'

            I wrote in one reply: "I linked to a web page that describes the term 'not even wrong.' It does not follow that I wrote the web page, so it is not my quote."

            Your reply was "My bad. I assumed that you read what you linked."

            I replied: "Just because I read it doesn't mean any of it is my quote. So 'your bad' was not in 'assuming I had read it'. 'Your bad' was claiming that something on a linked web page was my quote. Factually wrong, period."

            And here, you say: "The quote you linked, ...I let it go the other day after you deleted it, even though you denied it came from you."

            I didn't deny the link came from me. Read the thread. Read my words: "I linked to a web page..." and "...something on a linked web page..."

            You wrongly accused me in that thread of writing something that was obviously not my words. When I pointed that out, you ducked acknowledging that you had wrongly accused me.

            Now here you wrongly accuse me of denying that I linked to the page. (You also incorrectly stated that I linked to a quote. I didn't. I linked to a page that includes a quote.) I would really like an apology. And please stop lying.

    • I don't know about "only reason" but neither does it seem that it is a myth to say that scientists were trying to escape theistic implications. Like I said, it's controversial. I was interested in your reasons for supporting it, if you do, Rob.

      Here:

      "Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse. Most of those universes are barren, but some, like ours, have conditions suitable for life.

      "The idea is controversial. Critics say it doesn’t even qualify as a scientific theory because the existence of other universes cannot be proved or disproved. Advocates argue that, like it or not, the multiverse may well be the only viable non­religious explanation for what is often called the “fine-tuning problem”—the baffling observation that the laws of the universe seem custom-tailored to favor the emergence of life.

      'For me the reality of many universes is a logical possibility,' Linde says. 'You might say, ‘Maybe this is some mysterious coincidence. Maybe God created the universe for our benefit.’ Well, I don’t know about God, but the universe itself might reproduce itself eternally in all its possible manifestations.”

      http://discovermagazine.com/2008/dec/10-sciences-alternative-to-an-intelligent-creator#.Uo_BU8Ssh8E

      • Stacy, there's a world of difference between:

        (a) Saying that scientists see the multiverse as a non-theist answer to fine tuning, and

        (b) Saying that scientists came up with the multiverse in order to have a non-theistic answer to fine tuning.

        (a) can simply represent a logical consequence of a theory, while (b) is all about the motives of the scientists. However, whenever I ask for evidence of (b), all I receive is evidence of (a), even though (a) does not imply (b).

      • Paul Boillot

        "I don't know about "only reason" but neither does it seem that it is a myth to say that scientists were trying to escape theistic implications."

        It's not a myth, it's a fabrication.

      • David Nickol

        "Short of invoking a benevolent creator, many physicists see only one possible explanation: Our universe may be but one of perhaps infinitely many universes in an inconceivably vast multi­verse.

        If I may put in yet another plug for Stephen Barr, and why I recommend his First Things comments so highly, here's another thing he said. Someone asked why he chose the multiverse as an explanation for the apparent fine-tuning of the universe over the creation of a fine-tuned universe by God. He responded as follows:

        That tuning could be explained by saying that God tuned the laws for the sake of life, or it could be explained by a multiverse scenario,I have no way of knowing which of those possibilities, if either, is correct. In the above piece, I was careful to say, “the only PHYSICS idea” that would be left in the event all the conventional ones failed would be a multiverse scenario. Divine fine-tuning, while I think it quite possibly the correct explanation, is not a “physics explanation”.

        A physicist who explains anything by saying, "This is the way God created it," is not doing physics. Physicists are certainly free to personally believe anything about the universe is the way it is because God created it that way, but conclusions about God lie outside the realm of physics.

        It is the job of physicists to discover the "laws of nature" and to find naturalistic explanations for phenomena involving matter and energy. If even the most devoutly religious physicist is faced with saying either, "The explanation for this is that God made it that way," or, "Here is a startling hypothesis about how this came about naturally," to choose the former over the latter is to abandon physics. Dr. Benjamin Wicker and apparently Fr. Jaki both seem to be trying to discount scientific findings that they find a threat to religion. That is not what true scientists do. According to the Church, there can be no real conflict between science (correctly understood) and religion (correctly understood). Dr. Benjamin Wicker and apparently Fr. Jaki both see contradictions and believe that science must be attacked so as not to allow it to encroach on the area from which they believe they can "prove" the existence of God.

        Scientists who come up with explanations that "avoid God" are doing their job as scientists. Religious people who feel threatened by science and argue that science must have it wrong because science seems to threaten religion are not doing science and not doing religion. They are creating the conflict between science and religion that is allegedly not supposed to exist.

        Why Strange Notions would expect any of its readers, atheists or theists alike, to trust the good sense and objectivity of someone who lumps The Descent of Man and Mein Kampf together on a list of ten books that "screwed up the world" is a complete mystery to me.

        • Andre Boillot

          "Why Strange Notions would expect any of its readers, atheists or theists alike, to trust the good sense and objectivity of someone who lumps The Descent of Man and Mein Kampf together on a list of ten books that "screwed up the world" is a complete mystery to me."

          Oh man, I didn't even recognize him initially - I was TOTALLY given that book as a result of declaring a fondness for The Prince. Spoilers: his analysis was...not that profound.

        • Kevin Aldrich

          I think your comment is very sensible. I would only add that it is also sensible for a philosopher to use this scientific evidence as a starting point to construct a philosophical argument for creation.

          The scientist-as-scientist should never abandon science, but the man-as-scientist can also be man-the-philosopher.

  • Can someone please explain 1) how humans could ever scientifically complete a study of a world with multiple interacting universes, and 2) how, if they did, that would conceptually be any different than a "universe"?

    Please don't play the "science of the gaps" card and say, "Well, maybe we can, therefore, it exists." This is a philosophical question, which probably explains Dr. Wiker's interest. It is a matter for the intellect, not the imagination.

    • Paul Boillot

      The interest of "Doctor" Wiker, holder of a doctorate in Theological Ethics, a Masters in Religion, and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Philosophy, in the cutting edge of theoretical physics research is of no importance.

      A man who says of current working hypotheses which he doesn't understand

      There is no evidence for it.
      There is no way to get evidence for it.
      The only reason that it exists as a theory is that certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning

      is not worth taking seriously as an honest inquirer into the difficult questions of the universe's nature.

      The science and the math will either accurately model current data and make future testable predictions, or it will not, but the musings of an extreme amateur into the motivations of those doing the hard work are uninteresting and unimportant. Ben's imagination is indeed getting the better of him in his attempt to denigrate those using their intellects to study things he can't or won't grasp.

      If you sincerely wanted the answers to your two numbered questions, you might have been bothered to look through the copious comments decrying the OP to find video links to what you're looking for.

      You will be pleased to note that nowhere did I play any "science of the gaps" cards for you :)

      • I have read the comments, thanks. That's why I asked those questions. No one has answered them, and they seem to be fundamental.

        • Paul Boillot

          I'm sorry, did you want me to adequate encapsulate three hours of contentious and high-level physics speak for you in a blurb? I didn't answer your questions, but I provided links for your edification to those who could. (Links which took me under a minute to find)

          1) How could we potentially find out about other 'mini' universerses? Follow the math and check where it leads. (Eg. In one model collisions between our 'membrane' and another might be visible on the CMB. Eg. The equations which we use to study our own big bang seem to indicate that these events are not unique.)
          2) There are many models, but at least in some there would be 'one' universe, which we might call 'the multiverse' which contained many causal bubbles the size of the bubble we now call our universe.

          But if you want to know what the physicists have to say about these questions, don't listen to my incredibly amateurish recap, don't listen to Ben who has actually openly laid out his anti-science agenda.

          Listen to the actual physicists.

          *Edit*

          That 24 minute video is a cut down version of this entire talk, wherein a very skeptical man asks a great deal of interesting questions.

          • I have listened to actual physicists. That's why I'm asking the questions. The term multiverse seems unnecessary.

          • Geena Safire

            It is a matter for the intellect, not the imagination.

            Have you asked these questions of physicists?

            As noted elsewhere, the multiverse is a consequence of the math that best explains different phenomena. It may not ever be able to be detected, but then we never thought we'd be able to view an atom, and now IBM is doing art with them. We never thought we'd be able to manufacture at the nanoscale, but now we can. We thought we'd never be able to do bloodless surgery, and now we have the gamma knife. That's one reply to the 'what if never' question.

            Another reply is that even if we are never able to detect another universe, if the math and experiments increasingly support and confirm the other predictions/consequences of the theory which also predicts/requires a multiverse, then scientists

          • Geena Safire

            ... will say, 'The existence of the multiverse is strongly suggested by the best model we have.'

          • If by "consequence" you mean to imply that we can know something exists by logical inference, I'm not questioning that. That's how some of the proofs of God go, after all. Both require the intellect, not the imagination. I explained the difference here. https://strangenotions.com/pope-benedict-evolution/

            While I'm not a physicist, my interest in the question stems from an interest in science and theology. I have studied the work of the physicist and priest, Fr. Stanley Jaki, who lived during the days when the multiverse theory emerged. He opposed it on the grounds that an inherent inaccuracy in measuring mass was never acknowledged in the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Fundamentally, the error was in taking an "operational" error for an "ontological" one. In other words, to assume that in reality mass pops in and out of existence just because we can't measure it, doesn't mean it's true. It means we can't measure it. If taken for true (he saw it coming) then entire universes can be created with math.

            This is not good science. Recall that the Babylonians mathematically modeled astronomical appearances too, but in their cosmology it is evident that they believed a very different reality existed behind the appearances. The Enuma elish was a portrayal of personified forces engaged in bloody battles; the mother goddess, Tiamat, is dismembered to form the sky, earth, waters, and air -- hardly science, much more an imagined myth.

            Those are my concerns with multiverse theory (although I have Barr's book right here on my desk, a gift from a friend, and intend to read it too). Maybe there's something more rational to the theory now. I don't know.

            As for atoms, it's worth pointing out that under the eternally cycling cosmos of the ancient Greeks, the theory was never more than a mental exercise, not based on any observation. For Lavoisier, a Roman Catholic known as the Father of Modern Chemistry, there was a beginning and an end to time in a created world ordered by the Creator of the universe, and thus a conservation of mass, which led him to his theory of fundamental theory. Invoking atomic theory in the modern day only lends support to the idea that science needed the divine revelation taught by Catholic theology (have fun with that one!).

            As for nano-scale materials, yes *we* absolutely did expect to manufacture at that scale. I can say "we" because that was the focus of my doctoral work in chemistry. Trust me, the word didn't come into popular use because no one expected the manipulation of matter at that scale. Quite the opposite.

          • Andre Boillot

            "Invoking atomic theory in the modern day only lends support to the idea that science needed the divine revelation taught by Catholic theology (have fun with that one!)."

            Stacy,

            Can you please list all the ideas that need divinely revealed Catholic theology? I'd hate to invoke them, accidentally lending my support. Man, I hope the keyboard wasn't divinely inspired...or the internet.

          • Nah, it will derail the conversation. Like I said, have fun with it. I'll be writing more on it later, after the first of the year. It's some research I've done on Fr. Jaki's work.

          • David Nickol

            Fr. Stanley Jaki, who lived during the days when the multiverse theory emerged.

            I couldn't figure out how the uncertainty principle and the multiverse could be connected, so I did some googling, and what Fr. Jaki must have been objecting to was the many-worlds hypothesis, in which (to put it very, very inadequately), every time something can happen either one way or another, the worlds (or universes) branch, and there are now two worlds (or universes), one in which it goes one way and a second in which it goes the other. If the many-worlds hypothesis is true, then there is a multiverse. However, there are many theories that lead to multiverses, and should evidence that we exist in a multiverse continue to mount, that will not be evidence that the many-worlds hypotheses is true.

          • Here's a paraphrased from his autobiography, A Mind's Matter, p. 164-165 (don't know if the symbols work).

            He rewrote Heisenberg's uncertainty relation, Δx.Δp >/= h. The product of the uncertainties in measuring the position Δx and momentum Δp in an interaction cannot be smaller than h (Planck's quantum divided by 4π). There is an equivalent form in ΔE.Δt >/=h, where E is energy and t is time. He used Einstein's E = mc^2, and rewrote it, ΔE.Δt >/=h or Δmc^2.Δt >/= h. Since c (speed of light) is constant, there will necessarily be uncertainty in measuring the mass (m). This margin of error increases inversely with the error in measuring time, so the error in measuring the time of emission of an alpha particle, for example, from a radioactive nucleus turns the "uncertainty of measuring the mass into an ontological uncertainty." The error was in assuming (to quote him) that "an interaction that cannot be measured exactly, cannot take place," (a rephrase from J. E. Turner, Liverpool, 1930, in a letter to Nature). He also discussed this in God and the Cosmologists (1989).

            There's more to it, but that was the connection between the two theories. Looking forward to seeing if Barr dealt with that in his book, probably did. Basically, I think my position is this: A multiverse theory, if taken to be a theory about many worlds besides our own, is not in conflict with Catholic theology. A multiverse theory that concludes the whole multi-uni-verse is chaotic, is inconceivable and inconsistent with observation, and thus, incompatible with Catholic theology. I'm not sure who takes which position between those two yet though.

            Hope that makes sense. Just thinking it through (with kids around). It's interesting. Thanks for the input from Dr. Barr.

          • Geena Safire

            [T]o assume that in reality mass pops in and out of existence just because we can't measure it, doesn't mean it's true. It means we can't measure it

            About 90% of the mass of each and every proton of every atom in the universe comes from virtual particles (quarks and gluons) popping in and out of existence. It's measured.

            wrt nanotechnology, I was referring to 'ancient times' before it was considered possibly feasible, when it was generally considered to be impossible.

          • Paul Boillot

            "Fr. Stanley Jaki, who lived during the days when the multiverse theory emerged. "

            This is false.

          • What do you mean? When do you set the dates?

            Stanley Jaki lived from 1924 to 2009. Hugh Everett proposed his many-worlds interpretation (although not in these words) during 1956. According to Wikipedia, "The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James." So where after 1895 do you place the emergence of the multiverse theory?

          • Paul Boillot

            Paul,

            So, this is interesting, in perusing the various threads of discussion, I stumbled through some of the old posts on the 'science-fiction' article Stacy wrote. It struck me as odd that you brought up Ludwig Boltzmann in a reply on that article, while he is the man I referred to last night when I posted about this inaccuracy.

            This talk by Sean Carroll goes into some detail, but I've noticed a tendency for link to video information being disregarded, so I'll just quickly quote from an article about Boltzmann's hypothesis.

            Boltzmann himself was one of the first to see the importance of this issue. In a letter to Nature in 1895, he suggests an explanation, based on an idea he attributes to ‘my old assistant, Dr Schuetz’. [11] He notes that although low entropy states are very unlikely, they are very likely to occur eventually, given enough time. If the universe is very old, it will have had time to produce the kind of low entropy region we find ourselves inhabiting simply by accident. ‘Assuming the universe great enough, the probability that such a small part of it as our world should be in its present state, is no longer small,’ as Boltzmann puts it.

            Botlzmann is the first record I could find of a scientist postulating high entropy states springing from statistically low-probability fluctuations over large time scales. In 1895.

          • Paul Boillot

            After some more digging, I have found the following site, which has a collection of Boltzmann's letters and journal articles in response to other physicists' and mathematicians' objections to his theories.

            I'll link the page, but in section 4 of his article "On Zermelo's Paper 'On the Mechanical Explanation of Irreversible Processes'", Boltzmann writes the following:

            One has the choice of two kinds of pictures. One can assume that the entire universe finds itself at present in a very improbable state. However, one may suppose that the eons during which this improbable state lasts, and the distance from here to Sirius, are minute compared to the age and size of the universe. There must then be in the universe, which is in thermal equilibrium as a whole and therefore dead, here and there relatively small regions of the size of our galaxy (which we call worlds), which during the relatively short time of eons deviate significantly from thermal equilibrium.

            To be sure he's talking about fluctuations in thermal entropy and not quantum foam, but the first (that I know of) multiverse theorist died 20 years before Jaki was born.

          • Thanks for this. I hadn't seen you post this content before. I knew about this thought of Boltzmann's (it's necessary for his statistical approach to irreversibility), but I never connected it to the multiverse ideas.

            Carroll may have talked in this video, but definitely has elsewhere, about why Boltzmann's notion about low entropy states is almost certainly wrong. Once you hear the argument, it's obvious; you just look outside and see that it's fundamentally flawed (although Boltzmann's insights are still very useful). I always would put the origin of the multiverse theories people are seriously working with at near the time of Everett, but maybe it's sooner. Also, even if by some amazing coincidence Boltzmann's notion happened to be correct, it still wouldn't be a real multiverse theory, in my opinion, because it doesn't fit in any of Max Tegmark's four levels. Still a very interesting connection. Thanks for that!

            Boltzmann is probably the physicist I most admire and the one whose philosophy I most closely agree with.

          • Paul Boillot

            Of course it's almost certainly wrong, he lived before QED, general/special relativity, or the Big Bang/inflation were expounded. Rightness or wrongness is a red herring in this discussion.

            We were told that multiverse theory emerged during the 1950s, presumably, to coincide with Jaki's lifetime. Whether or not the early ideas are right or wrong, being worked on "seriously" by moderns, or not, it seems to me that Carroll is correct in claiming Boltzmann to be one of the first proponents of a multiverse.

            Could you explain in what way(s) his notion of thermal fluctuations in an infinite and long-lived isotropic universe wouldn't correspond to Tegmark's level I Hubble Volume approach?

            "However, one may suppose that the eons during which this improbable state lasts, and the distance from here to Sirius, are minute compared to the age and size of the universe. There must then be in the universe, which is in thermal equilibrium as a whole and therefore dead, here and there relatively small regions of the size of our galaxy (which we call worlds), which during the relatively short time of eons deviate significantly from thermal equilibrium."

          • Much of this is my own opinion on the matter, since I'm not a professional cosmologist. But for what it's worth:

            Of course it's almost certainly wrong, he lived before QED, general/special relativity, or the Big Bang/inflation were expounded. Rightness or wrongness is a red herring in this discussion.

            What I mean is that, even with the knowledge of physics that Boltzmann had at the time, the explanation could be shown to be almost certainly wrong. Also, certain ideas of Boltzmann's survived quantum mechanics mostly intact. This one didn't.

            In my opinion, Boltzmann's multiverse is to modern multiverse theories as Epicurean atomism is to modern chemistry. That's probably saying it too strongly, but it makes the point.

            Could you explain in what way(s) his notion of thermal fluctuations in an infinite and long-lived isotropic universe wouldn't correspond to Tegmark's level I Hubble Volume approach?

            I'd ask Boltzmann what a Hubble volume is.

            I must confess that it's frustrating to hear you say "Carroll may have talked in this video" when I arrived at the view point, which you dismiss, from a video you admit not having seen.

            Sorry for the frustration, but I don't have time to watch the video right now. I'll watch it later.

          • Paul Boillot

            But Paul, I don't understand.

            If Boltzmann had come up with a theory of mulitverses in which he claimed iron atoms decayed into new universes, that would still be a version of multiverse theory, and wrong, and irrelevant.

            The question we are debating is not who first proposed a modernly-accepted multiverse, or if the mechanism is valid. It's when the idea of many-universes first appeared in the scientific literature.

            You choose to respond to my question about the differences between Boltzmann low-entropy-states and a Tegmark level I theory with "I'd ask Boltzmann what a Hubble volume is?"

            My frustration with you is not that you didn't 'have time' to watch the video, though at 10 minutes long I can't help feeling you've spent as much replying.

            I don't mind that you are a busy man, I do find it frustrating that is that you chose to write a reply to a post you were too busy to fully examine.

          • I've watched the video now, and you are right, I should have watched it earlier. It was typical enjoyable Sean Carroll. He makes a strong case that Boltzmann really came up with a speculation that's analogous to multiverse theories. Sean Carroll also does point this out in the lecture that it's clearly wrong.

            I'd imagine some people would be impressed enough by Boltzmann's idea (it is a very impressive idea!), that they may want to go so far as to call it a multiverse theory. I'm not buying it. I'd prefer to call it a theory about a single very large universe. After all, these different regions that Boltzmann talks about cannot be isolated (necessary for the multiverse idea) unless there's a universal speed limit, and Boltzmann didn't know about that.

            So I'm sticking with the 1950's date for the first time a real multiverse theory appears in the scientific literature.

          • Paul Boillot

            You keep bringing up the 'clearly wrong' thing, and it's getting old. Wrong is not the point.

            Boltzmann himself acknowledge that it was a speculation. "I myself have repeatedly warned against placing too much confidence in the extension of our thought pictures beyond the domain of experience, and I am aware that one must consider the form of mechanics, and especially the representation of the smallest particles of bodies as mass-points, to be only provisionally established. With all these reservations, it is still possible for those who wish to give in to their natural impulses to make up a special picture of the universe."

            Carroll doesn't claim that Boltzmann's idea was 'analogous' multiverse theories. He claims that he "invented" the idea of the multiverse.

            Additionally, "I'd prefer to call it a theory about a single very large universe." Come on now, Paul, who are you kidding? There are plenty of accepted versions of currently working multiverse theory in which the individual universes are part of 'a single very large universe,' notably the Tegmark LI and LII and a variety of Greene's listed versions.

            You're claim that universes be necessarily isolated in all multiverse theories is false. In Greene's Brane, Holographic, Simulated and Quantum categories this is not the case, so too with Tegmark LIII MWI.

            Further, even if isolation were necessary, the fact that Boltzmann labels the hypothetical bubble the size of the galaxy, the then-known-limit, indicates that he was talking about non-communicating regions.

            You can stick with whatever date you like, but to my mind Carroll has pointed out the birth of the multiverse idea in scientific literature.

          • You're claim that universes be necessarily isolated in all multiverse theories is false. In Greene's Brane, Holographic, Simulated and Quantum categories this is not the case, so too with Tegmark LIII MWI.

            Tegmark's first level requires understanding of event horizons. Boltzmann's speculation doesn't have that. Boltzmann's speculation definitely doesn't have branes, holographic principles, or anything of quantum mechanics. Still not convinced. I don't think it's a multiverse theory.

            Further, even if isolation were true, the fact that Boltzmann labels the hypothetical bubble the size of the galaxy, the then-known-limit, indicates that he was talking about non-communicating regions.

            Only if he had in his mind a universal speed limit. I don't think that he did.

          • Paul Boillot

            I think you are judging Boltzmann's ideas by our current knowledge, claiming that because he doesn't fit into a theoretical framework you like due to unavoidable-not-having-been-born-yet-itis his hypothesis doesn't deserve to be called 'multiverse'.

            In point of fact, he hypothesized the possibility of galaxies (his known universe) popping into existence as a function of entropic fluctuations in an infinite universe. He proposed many universes in one larger universe.

            Of course it doesn't have the same feature as current theories, if you can point out where I said it did I'll eat my hat.

            I don't currently have a hat, so I'd have to go out and buy one, and thus I'm glad that you won't be able to find such a place, because i never did.

            He theorized about many universes, he was a multiverse theorist. It's startling too to note that he took into account the anthropic principle in his musings.

            I'm sorry you're not convinced, I guess I haven't done my job shoring up Carroll's assertions for him :)

          • I'm not judging Boltzmann's ideas based on our current knowledge. It would be straight-forward to show that Boltzmann's idea is wrong using knowledge that Boltzmann had.

            The way I understand "multiverse", Boltzmann's ideas don't qualify, either as the emergence of the theory of the multiverse or even a private birth of the multiverse theory.

            Carroll argues that Boltzmann conceived the theory. I think it was just foreplay.

          • Paul Boillot

            Hey, wait...Paul...what do you think about the scientific viability of Boltzmann's idea?

            How do you understand "multiverse?" I take it to mean a theory in which there are postulated to be many (sub)universes in one (multi)universe.

            Boltzmann qualifies by that measure for me.

          • Hey, wait...Paul...what do you think about the scientific viability of Boltzmann's idea?

            It was an interesting idea. It can be shown to be probably wrong by observing excess amounts of order in the universe. Carroll quoted Feynman in the talk you linked, and he said it best.

            How do you understand "multiverse?" I take it to mean a theory in which there are postulated to be many (sub)universes in one (multi)universe.

            How do you define "universe"?

          • Paul Boillot

            Hey, wait...Paul...what do you think about the scientific viability of Boltzmann's idea?

            It was an interesting idea. It can be shown to be probably wrong by observing excess amounts of order in the universe. Carroll quoted Feynman in the talk you linked, and he said it best.

            That was actually a joke...because you've mentioned viability in every single reply so far, so instead of complain about it *again* I thought I would be light hearted.

            But since you bring it up, I think there's a kink in that objection itself: Feynman's argument against the predictability of order only holds if intelligent life were as likely to arise in a region of partial order as not. If there is something special about the arrangement which generates intelligent life which necessitates event-horizon-wide (galaxy-wide to Boltzmann) order, then there is nothing odd about seeing order everywhere we look.

            I define 'universe' as the entirety of reality, I suppose, which for now is our Hubble bubble.

            I define 'multiverse' as the theoretical wider universe in which ours is but a part, and thus no longer a 'uni'verse.

            And you?

          • I thought there was a joke in there, but I couldn't pick it out! Forgive my obtuse sense of humor.

          • What do you mean by "our universe"? Do you mean our Hubble bubble?

            The definition I used somewhere in this comments section was something along the lines of: a universe is any region of space-time where at some point a hypothetical observer would find a cosmic microwave background, and where the physical laws would be approximately the same throughout.

            Multiverse is multiple universes.

            I'm not sure that mine is the best definition for this particular conversation. Boltzmann's ideas would be trivially excluded, so it's probably too specific a definition here.

          • Paul Boillot

            Well, I take from the word's etymology that it would encompass reality. "Uni" "verse" all the changing things.

            We have no evidence of anything but our Hubble bubble, so for now they are synonymous in my mind.

            Hubble bubble = universe.

            However I'm not sure that I understand all the science behind trying to study the topology of spacetime. There might be good grounds for amending that definition to "the volume allowed by known expansion constants from a single point at the Big Bang" or something like that.

          • That's a great answer, but it leaves me curious: Multiverse means multiple of something. If there is a multiverse, what's multiplied?

          • Paul Boillot

            In the first fourty seconds of this video :)
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfjYET8i9Ws

            Greene gets into the semantics, but ultimately 'Universe' and 'Multiverse' are just terms, to my mind.

            Currently I use the word 'universe' as I stated above, 'the entirety of reality', and I use 'multiverse' to refer to the hypothetical existence of a collection of other similarly-sized realities. Maybe they're right next to ours in other dimensions, so the 4D space requirements aren't larger. If so, are they on planes which are mostly paralell and sometimes bump ours?

            Maybe 4D space extends beyond our Hubble bubble infinitely, to contain many causal bubbles, so we conserve the number of dimensions but not their size.

            Those are just some of my understandings of the various ideas, and I think Boltzmann's is in that last category.

            But if we talk about 'the universe' being 'all reality,' and we find experimental evidence that there are other bubbles, then we will either have to amend the definition of universe, or start calling what we now call the multiverse the universe and find a new name for our old Hubble bubble universe.

            Subverse? Localverse? Solverse? Hubbleverse?

          • In 1277 at the University of Paris, scholars used the term "other worlds" within the universe to refer to the possibility that such things existed.

          • Paul Boillot

            Well then, we've even MORE conclusively exploded Wiker's assertion that multiverses were an answer to big-bang cosmology.

          • I don't know. My interests are in trying to figure out what in science actually does conflict with Catholic theology, and what does not. Perhaps you see the benefit in clarifying these distinctions though. It could save a lot of confusion.

            The only conflict I see (in my developing and incomplete opinion) is the conclusion that multiverse = chaos, no order.

            From what I'm gathering, multiverse theory not only means no order, it means more order than was realized. Is that right, or not? (Simple statements help with clarification when communicating this.)

          • Paul Boillot

            " My interests are in trying to figure out what in science actually does conflict with Catholic theology, and what does not. "

            I can appreciate that point of view. I don't think your aims in that regard are furthered by an article which claims that the idea of a multiverse was cooked up specifically to avoid admitting God.

            No matter what physics comes up with, you'll always have the position that God is architect, for one, so it's totally inane (Ben's assertion, not your point of view) on that account.
            Secondly, both the ideas of Boltzmann and of the theoreticians who have codified the categories which my implacable antagonist Mr. Rimmer is more comfortable with, arose as hypothetical conclusions out of their investigations into useful maths and frameworks which already had explanatory power in our bubble.

            The arrow of time reads thus:
            Math -> Deductions -> Potential for Multiverse
            Not:
            Hate God -> Fine tuning problem -> Multiverse

            If you're asking me for specifics on the implications of multiverse theories, I'm not a) a physicist (or *cough* astrophysicist *cough*) b) or a multiverse expert.

            Certainly some of the multiverse ideas seem like they complicate things beyond what Occam has taught us to expect, though they simplify others.

            Do they imply chaos? I suppose that depends on your definition of chaos, but even so granted, is chaos anti-Catholic?

            I remember being comfortable with divine mysteries and creatio-ex-nihilo. Is using evolution to design man any more or less elegant than using multiverses to create reality?

            I guess what I'm saying is that for whatever is true in science, you should expect to find nothing in conflict with Catholic theology.

          • Last sentence -- Bingo! You understand what my interests.

            For instance, take this:

            The arrow of time reads thus:
            Math -> Deductions -> Potential for Multiverse
            Not:
            Hate God -> Fine tuning problem -> Multiverse

            ^^^That is helpful. In my opinion, THAT is what we need to be discussing in an atheist/Catholic forum.

            So if there's a misconception about something such as this multiverse theory, it helps to understand what is meant by it, which I've been trying to do. I need to read Barr's book. He seems to find the middle ground.

            "Certainly some of the multiverse ideas seem like they complicate things beyond what Occam has taught us to expect, though they simplify others."

            OK!

            "Do they imply chaos? I suppose that depends on your definition of chaos, but even so granted, is chaos anti-Catholic?"

            A clarification/definition of chaos is definitely needed. Is chaos anti-Catholic? Yes, it would contradict the Bible and observation. Science depends on order. That's why understanding what is meant by "chaos" would be helpful.

            An example: Gas molecules move randomly in a container, chaotic one might say. But that doesn't mean there isn't an order to the system overall. Right? There are numerous examples of such a thing.

            Looking for something...hang on. Will edit in a sec.

          • Paul Boillot

            That's interesting, although it's not looking good for the likes of me.

            (Frome page 541)
            "For they say that these things are true according to philosophy but not according to the Catholic faith, as if there were two contradictory truths"

            ...fair enough so far, seems to jive with my understanding of the Catholic idea of religion v. science, namely: red herring.
            But, what's this, oh noooooo....

            "... and as if the truth of Sacred Scripture were contradicted by the truth in the sayings of of the accursed pagans, of whom it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise'"

            I'm in trouble.

          • I know it was tongue-in-cheek.

            But consider what that passage is about. They are saying that the ancient Greeks were wrong here (not everything, but in these props), and that truth cannot contradict truth. They called this "false wisdom" to hold that there could be such contradictions. In that time, there were Catholics who were promoting the idea that truths of philosophy could contradict truths of theology. These condemnations were to guard against that.

            I think we all could heed the next quote there, especially myself:

            "If you have understanding, answer your neighbor; but if not, let your hand be upon your mouth, lest you be surprised in an unskillful word and be confounded."

            Haha!

            Thanks for this Paul. I'm glad we had this discussion. I could learn a lot from you.

          • Paul Boillot

            I don't know how true that is...I mean, the truth sneaks up on me as much as anyone else. We all have to be careful, she's a beautiful, but unforgiving, mistress.

            But that's all false modesty, thanks for the kind words.

          • In the first fourty seconds of this video :)

            I'm sorry. I don't have the free time to watch long segments of youtube videos. ;)

            I appreciate your definition of universe, and think it's useful, although it does make it somewhat difficult to talk about what is being multiplied for the multiverse (that and there are several options).

            Thanks for the answer.

          • Paul Boillot

            I'm not so sure the Boltzmann's idea get excluded, less so trivially, by your definition as 'multiple universes.'

            What is your definition of 'universe?'

          • That made me laugh.

            My thinking is that Boltzmann didn't have a sufficient idea about what the universe was to come up with a multiverse theory. In his time, if I remember correctly, the galaxy was the universe. It was mentioned during one of my astronomy classes that there was a debate among astronomers at the beginning of the 20th century, along the lines of "Are some nebulae other universes?" I'll try to find the references. They were talking about finding other galaxies. There's a sense you could call that a debate on multiverse theory, but I wouldn't.

            It does work organically with your definition of "universe", though. The definition gets adapted based on when new things are discovered.

          • Carroll doesn't claim that Boltzmann's idea was 'analogous' multiverse theories. He claims that he "invented" the idea of the multiverse.

            He claims that. I don't find that he makes a convincing case for the claim. I find he makes a convincing case for there being some sort of analogy between multiverse theories and Boltzmann's notion.

          • I respectfully add a clarification for your ongoing arguing, that when I said "emerged" I meant in the definitional sense of, "to come forth into view; to pass out, issue, from an enclosed space, area of obscuration."

            Now you could call birth an emergence as well, but I think what you mean Paul B. by "birth" is "when the idea originated," which is not what I meant, as evidenced by the fact that I was referring to a criticism of the theory by another scientist who was not intimately connected with the origin of it.

            As a mother, I invoke my experience here. There's a big difference between emerging forth from the womb in the privacy of an enclosed room and emerging forth into the world to be known and discussed by others.

          • Paul Boillot

            Yes, you're right, I was talking about when the idea originated.

          • The discussion is fascinating though. Both emergences are important. Thank you. It seems like you're both right, just in different ways.

          • David Nickol

            The term multiverse seems unnecessary.

            As in a previous message, I recommend Stephen M. Barr's post of a while back over at First Things titled The Large Hadron Collider, the Multiverse, and Me (and my friends) partly because Dr. Barr should be "above suspicion" to the theists here, and partly because he is a great explainer.

            If you insist on using the word universe to mean "all matter and energy, past, present, future, and outside of time, observable and unobservable" then multiverse might be considered unnecessary. But if you use the word universe to mean "our universe, which we believe came into existence 13.8 billion years ago with the big bang," then our universe may be just one of an unknown number. I think there are many theories about how there could be other universes, but I will go out on a limb and say I think it is the case that if there is a multiverse in the way that Dr. Barr believes there may be, we will forever be restricted to knowing only our own universe. You can't get from one universe to another, and presumably the laws of physics are different in different universes, and it boggles the mind even to think of going from one universe to another.

            Dr. Barr argues that in general physicists don't like the idea of the multiverse, because (as I understand it) it means that physicists will never be able to discover and study anything but our own universe, which would be an infinitesimal part of the multiverse, and it would also mean that it can never be discovered why the laws of nature are what they are (in our universe), because they will be essentially arbitrary. The laws of nature in our universe will not be what they are because that is what they must be, but rather because the possible laws of nature and their many combinations and permutations can be pretty much anything, and our own are the way they are because that's how the dice landed.

            Dr. Barr has written once piece for Strange Notions that, as I recall, was well received by all the various factions. Perhaps he can be persuaded to write something about the multiverse, a topic he is highly qualified to address.

          • Actually I have his book on modern physics sitting here. I think your interpretation is good, except for the dice part, but I need to read the whole book. I've also appreciated his clarity.

            He seems to argue from a philosophical standpoint, which I agree with. This is more of a question of "Is it conceivable?" than "Is it imaginable?" He refutes the idea that so many universes, or as he said the "so-called many-worlds interpretation of quantum theory," rule out the order of the creation. Multiverse theory is about chaos, he (seems to) argue that, no, this theory doesn't ultimately point to chaos at all, but an order beyond what we thought we knew, or ever will know.

            I find this interesting because it is consistent with the Condemnations of 1277 at the University of Paris. Are you familiar with those?

            As Catholic scholars interpreted Aristotle's works received from the Greeks, they had to deny aspects of it that were in contradiction with the Christian Creed. Aristotle held that there could only be one world. Proposition 27 (of 219) asserted that God can make as many universes as He wills. “That the first cause cannot make more than one world."

            Catholics corrected this assumption 736 years ago, so it's not that we can't accept the idea of "many worlds" in our universe. It's that, I think, the math is still questionable. See my remarks about Fr. Jaki to Geena. (Dr. Barr also wrote about Fr. Jaki's death for First Things.)

    • 1) I don't know.
      2) As I understand it, the laws of physics could vary from "verse" to "verse," in ways that they do not within what we've traditionally called the universe. But I imagine we'd have to rethink our definition of "universe" if we wanted to be true to the word's linguistic roots.

    • There seem to be several different ways to define "multiverse" or set of multiple universes, and getting into this question reminds me of the anonymous quote "Define the universe and give me three examples." It's not so easy, and can become somewhat arbitrary, as far as I can tell.

      One possible way to define a "universe" is any region of space-time where at some point a hypothetical observer would observe a cosmic microwave background, and where all the constants are relatively the same throughout this region. I think that gets at your second question.

      I'm not sure this answers your first question, but we can imagine a theory that has a bunch of predictions. One of its predictions is that there are x many different universes expressing a whole range of possible physical constants, and that where these x universes overlap the constants are the same. Another of its predictions involves seeing a particular set of new particles as a result of high energy collisions in particle accelerators. It also predicts the way that the cosmic microwave background should look at different scales, or maybe predicts something interesting for the cosmic neutrino background. If all the predictions about the high energy collisions and cosmological observations worked out, then I think there would be good reason to accept the x different universes also.

      The present problem, in my not-well-investigated opinion, is that proposed theories of this type, like M-theory, aren't well enough understood. No one has told me anything in the cosmic microwave background or from "reasonably-sized" particle accelerators that, if we didn't see it, would falsify M-theory. This means that the current theories seem untestable today. But who knows about tomorrow?

  • Paul Boillot

    I wrote my initial top-level post on this topic to show where Ben Wiker goes wrong with his opening point about the "why" of science. I wrote the second to provide an easy link to the evidence of the reasoning of some of the scientists behind ongoing research into inflation, multiverse, dark matter, none of which are talking about fine-tuning or trying to get around the god problem. (Which, as has been pointed out elsewhere in these comments, would be moot anyway. Just as religionists attacked Darwin for trying to kill god in his day, so now the RCC accepts that god can use any mechanism he wants.)

    I would've stopped there, only commenting on others' replies, but one of Strange Notions' main contributors, Stacy Trasancos decided to come to Mr. Wiker's aid. As Dr. Trasancos has a prominent status in this venue, and often refers to her scientific background to give her opinions weight, I thought it necessary to take her seriously and answer her and Ben point by point.

    • Paul Boillot

      I. First, let us focus strictly on Ben's article. He claims that we must know the 'why' to understand a theory, we've covered that: he's wrong, but let's follow him down his rabbit hole.

      1. He claims that the various Multiverse theories are "almost entirely" explained by "the why." He goes on to assert, without apparent shame or self-consciousness, that they were born out of a philosophical revulsion, unanimous amongst all theoretical physicists mind you, against the necessarily deistic implications of the standard Big Bang model first proposed by LeMaitre in 1927. This is wrong, but I only found out why after some research, so I'll give Benjamin and Stacy a pass on this error. I only figured it out after following the first linked footnote on the wikipedia entry Wiker gave us.

      The first person to use the term "multiverse" in print was William James in an article he titled Is Life Worth Living in the "International Journal of Ethics." James was a philosopher and psychologist, deeply interested in the philosophy of religion and mystical experiences. He was not an atheist. He first used the term in a passage where he criticizes Nature itself for being disinterested to the point of being abhorrent, and thus not a suitable residing place of any potential divine being.

      Coincidentally, in the same year (1895) as the publication of that article, the first description of what we would recognize as a modern "multiverse" theory was proposed by Ludwig Boltzmann. Boltzmann was physicist, philosopher, and importantly for Mister Wiker a Deist who devolved statistical mechanics. His work on entropy and the dynamics of ideal gases lead him to the conclusion that in a perfectly distributed universe with high entropy, given enough time low entropy states will eventually occur. That is, fluctuations in local entropy levels will produce 'unlikely' complexity states (low probability at any given time) "by accident." (As a side-note, it took me slightly more non-trivial research to find this information: I googled multiverse, found a Sean Carroll talk about it where he cites Boltzmann, and then googled Boltzmann. I'm surprised that two Doctorate-level intellects didn't have the imagination to follow in these arduous footsteps.)

      Neither of the two people at the origin of the idea of 'the multiverse' were rebelling against god. Neither were horrified by the implications of the Big-Bang theory, as they were both dead before LeMaitre proposed it. James was talking about the unacceptable role of nature-as-divine-revelation view of some deists and naturalists (arguably theistic point of view), and Boltzmann was following his investigations into thermodynamics to their logical conclusions. (Following working paradigms to their conclusions is going to be a theme in this discussion of theoretical physics.)

      Doctor Ben's assertion that Multiverse theories were developed because "certain scientists do not like the theistic implications of the Big Bang and fine-tuning" is a flat out lie.

      2. Wiker's next claims are about the insurmountability of the fine-tuning problem and, again with these 'whys', the motivation behind finding an answer to the 'flatness problem.' Fine tuning has been dealt with by many many people, and I don't feel like doing the homework for this one. Just google "anthropic principle." Whether you find the anthropic principle personally compelling or not doesn't matter, there clearly exists a rational response to the fine-tuning problem, one which Ben says the only reasonable answer for is God.

      His poor understanding of the dialectic surrounding fine-tuning is unstartling, it is also less interesting than his next lie about the origin for the need for inflation. He claims that the inflationary model was developed to "avoid" the "flatness problem," which really wouldn't be a problem if we could just accept God.

      This is a lie. The inflationary model was not developed to "avoid" flatness, but to explain it.

      Why is the observable universe so homogeneous? Why are the distributions of galaxies so uniform? Why is there so little variation in the CMB radiation fluctuations? How did the universe go from a singularity to what we see around us today? Those were the questions which were answered by the model, not avoided because people are scared of YHWH. Wiker leans heavily on cosmologist Paul Reinhardt in this section, specifically Reinhardts scepticism regarding the plausibility of fine tuning. Reinhardt has two main objections to the status of the theory he fathered, the first is the goldilocks problem about the number of ways in which inflation could have gone wrong, which brings us back to the anthropic principle, and the second is that perpetual inflation into the future presents us with the same problem Boltzmann gave us: that is a universe where anything that can happen will, given enough time. Reinhardt doesn't like this because it renders inflation useless, in his estimation, as a predictive force, for there is no way to know what sort of universe we're in if we're one of the random coalescing of entropy fluctuations.

      You can see exactly how addled Wiker's understanding of the topic is when he writes

      The only way around it for the secular-minded was to suggest that there are actually an infinite number of other universes, and that we just happened to be one of the lucky few that by mere chance turned out so nicely

      The logical implication of an infinity of universes is that, no matter how unlikely, there will be an infinity of cases where the outcomes are right for life. We are not "one of the lucky few," there are literally copies without end of you and me right now arguing out there. Nowhere in his article does Reinhardt attack inflation as a theory borne out of the need to avoid theistic implications and his greatest problem with it, the infinity of universes, was described over a hundred years ago by Boltzmann. This has nothing to do with rebelling against the God of the Big Bang.

      • Paul Boillot

        II. Now that we've eviscerated Ben's piece as thoroughly as possible, let's look at Stacy's claims and questions.

        1. Ben is using his intellect, instead of his imagination. Leave to the side, for the moment, that this is a distinction without a difference; forgetting that the entire act of a theoretician is to try to envisage models which accurately describe current phenomena, and then test the predictions of the model against future events.

        Not only is Mister Wiker wrong in his claims, he has fabricated them out of thin air, innuendo, misunderstood quotes from one-of-many experts, and vitriol. Who's using their imaginations again?

        2. "how humans could ever scientifically complete a study of a world with multiple interacting universes"

        I'm not sure I understand the implication of 'complete a study of a world,' but I take her to be asking 'how could we ever find evidence, is the theory falsifiable?' That's a great question! Unfortunately, our topic is a theory in it's early stages, one closer to a well-developed hypothesis, and verifiable/falsifiable tests are difficult to come by. Wikipedia has a section on this search, perturbations in the CMB might be indicative of other universes, as recently claimed. A team in England is looking for collision patterns in the data. All of this information was found with trivial effort through google and wikipedia.

        3. "That's why I asked those questions. No one has answered them, and they seem to be fundamental."

        Not only are the answers very easy to find on ones own, multiple links were given to video of experts discussing these topics for her. Experts who are earnestly struggling to find truth together through honest research and vigorous debate...and they do it live for us and invite us to participate and try to understand with them. Claiming that 'no one' has answered these questions for her is not only incorrect, it seems at odds with the picture Dr. Transancos paints of herself as full of scientific inquiry.

        4. "I have listened to actual physicists. That's why I'm asking the questions. The term multiverse seems unnecessary."

        Literally the first question that the theoretical physicist Brian Greene addresses in this 4 minute long video is the question of terminology and why we might be semantically served by the term "multiverse." Dr. Trasancos claims to have listened to the experts, to have read the comments, and that no one has addressed her concerns, and yet it's the first thing talked about by an expert in this video submitted in the comments. "Multiverse" is a useful word for thinking about what may lie beyond our normally considered observable universe, nothing more.

        The first video I posted is a panel of seven of the most respected names in theoretical string theory, cosmology, and astrophysics arguing about the topics Ben mentions and much more. The questions they ask each other are orders of magnitude deeper than "why do we need the term multiverse," they contentiously debate aspects of physics which they all believe they understand well and have mathematical proof of. The moderator himself is an astrophysicist who is doing his best to ask pointed, incisive questions and to force the panellists to give their explanations in a way that lay people might have a chance of understanding. They are actual physicists, asking actually tough questions of each other.

  • Now what about Inflationary Theory? ... As it turns out, Inflationary Theory shares this, at least, with Multiverse Theory: it was put forth to avoid a fine-tuning "problem," the so-called "flatness problem." ... Inflationary Theory was put forth, in great part, to solve that "problem," a problem that is only a problem if you refuse to infer the reasonable conclusion that the creation of our universe was too profoundly well-orchestrated for it to be put down to a cosmic accident. Inflationary theorists tried to get around the God problem by assuming that all that was needed was a fantastic growth spurt right at the very beginning of the Big Bang that ironed out all the wrinkles so to speak, and ensured that the universe would be, as it is, remarkably uniform, with only a very, very few tiny variations in the distribution of matter and energy. ...

    Today let's celebrate the progress of scientific discovery, which has relegated yet another instance in the endless stream of misbegotten "God-of-the-gaps" arguments to the trashbin of history.

    Just the news: http://www.space.com/25092-cosmic-inflation-gravitational-waves-complete-coverage-of-major-discovery.html

    An emotionally moving personal angle on the news: http://www.theverge.com/2014/3/17/5518346/first-evidence-gravitational-waves-supports-big-bang-inflation

  • Starr

    If multiverse theory is true, then like Robert Heinlein's Number of the Beast, every imaginable reality would exist somewhere. There would be an Oz, a Barsoum, a Middle Earth, a Narnia, a world where Valentine Michael Smith is meeting his martyrdom with open arms, a world where "Winter is coming" and Jon Snow may or may not be dead. Think of the amazing vacations you could take if we learned how to access those worlds (if we didn't get annihilated first by nasties from a neighboring space-time).