The Faith of an atheist

Interesting story from the BBC about multiverse theory (parallel universes).  I’m not sure why it hit the top of their news cycle, but I couldn’t pass up commenting on this.

If you have any interest in the origin of things, you should become familiar with this idea. In brief, there isn’t just one universe, but many. An infinite number in fact. An amusing (but overly simplistic) way to describe the situation is that there’s this universe in which I’m right-handed, but another in which I’m left-handed. This one in which I chose to be a scientist, but another in which I’m the president of Antarctica. The situation is actually much stranger than that: universes in which physical constants like the speed of light or strengths of various fundamental forces have different values or strengths than is the case in our current universe.  For example, universes in which the strong nuclear force (holds atomic nuclei together) is a little bit smaller than its current value such that none of the elementary particles created in the Big Bang would have been turned into carbon within the nuclear furnaces of stars.  And other universes in which that strong nuclear force is a little larger than the current value such that all of that carbon would have been processed further into oxygen.  Either way, we’d have no carbon around on which to base life. Or universes in which the gravitational constant is a bit different such that the Big Bang only produces diffuse clouds of dust on the one hand, or everything congeals into massive stars: either way you don’t get galaxies and solar systems, which in turn means again you don’t get life on earth.

This concept of multiverse theory is incredibly valuable to anyone who wants to posit explanations which involve random, undirected events, such as the origin of the matter in the universe, the origin of life, and the origin of species. It’s a trump card: anything that is possible in theory but is highly rare or unexpected – such as having everyone in the world pick out the six of diamonds when presented with a thoroughly shuffled standard deck of 52 cards – may be unlikely in one universe, even when that event is attempted a gajillion times, but is bound to happen at least once if you have an infinite number of universes all trying out that event gajillions of times.

To the theists out there: there’s been a lot of talk about  this idea  recently, and there’s going to be much more.  You should look into exactly what this is about and  how it might impact your faith.  It certainly helps proponents of any completely random, undirected origin-of-everything theory.  It has a lot of mathematical support and a lot of acceptance from the scientific community.  Don’t put your head in the sand.

To the atheists out there: please be honest enough to  admit that this is an example in which you move beyond  fact and plant one foot firmly on faith-territory.  I’m not saying that multiverse theory is wrong, just that there’s no way to prove it as right.  There never can be hard evidence because by definition we can’t leave our own universe to get the evidence. I don’t mean simply that we don’t yet have a fast enough rocket or alternative mode of transport (like warp drive or the transporter on Star Trek); instead, any point in space and time that we might in theory be able to reach is, by definition, within our own universe. So there’s absolutely no way we can get outside of our universe to collect direct hard evidence of alternative ones.

Theists and atheists alike hold their world views with one foot firmly planted on faith (and fact). Atheists can’t claim that they consistently and without bias reject any claims which are not backed up by hard evidence and data, and can no longer accuse theists of having the monopoly on belief.


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