'Cosmic demotion’ is good for us

Josh Larsen

March 4, 2011

As an astronomer and a Christian, I do find multi-verses disturbing. First, let me say, I don't have any problem with the universe getting wonderfully complex, and humanity seemingly less significant in the universe. I would love it if we found life on other planets.

But multiple or parallel universes simply is beyond science. People can dress up the ideas valid mathematics. But unless it can be experimentally tested, make some testable predictions, it's really just in the realm of speculation and philosophy. I could be wrong about this, but the primary motivation for multiple universes is to explain the apparent "specialness" that our universe has toward allowing life. It is dressed up as a scientific theory to not need a designer, or to explain why our universe even had a beginning. Another Christian astronomer (formerly an atheist) finds the whole idea absurd - why believe in infinite universes that you can't see or test instead of one God you can't see or test. So multi-verses disturb me because I don't think their proponents are being honest about what is scientific and what is not. If it is outside our universe, or before our universe, it is inherently not scientifically accessible. Just because it can be described mathematically does not make the theory scientific. It is fine to discuss philosophically, but theologically, I don't think there is much for Christians to worry about because the whole thing is conjecture anyway.

March 4, 2011

I can't begin to wrap my head around quantum theory but I think it's cool.

Last summer the Large Hadron Collider went online. It is a large particle accelerator that causes protons to collide at a higher speed than ever before and is already yielding data that validates but does not prove string theory. It is also focusing on super-symmetry, extra dimensions, how black holes are produced and the existence of the Higgs Bosun also known as the "God particle," which is it's current focus.

The theory is that a Higgs field formed as the universe cooled after the Big Bang and that matter acquired mass by passing through this field. Without mass, matter in the universe would have no structure, recalling Genesis' "without form and void" because there would be no gravity, inertia, or energy. The Higgs particle is the one missing particle in the standard model (theory of everything). But Higgs does not account for gravitational or mathematical inconsistencies. We need string theory for that.

This all smacks of Luke's words in Act's 17 "in Him we live and move and have our being" and Paul's in Colossians "he is before all things and in him all things hold together."

String theory also proposes that the universe has 10 or 11 dimensions instead of the 4 we know about: length, breadth, depth, and time. Another aspect of string theory, supersymmetry proposes that every particle has an unseen, related "superpartner" dark particle. Perhaps Genesis' "separate light from dark" or "divide the waters of heaven from the waters of earth" could have something to do with this.

LHC is trying to create tiny black holes which would prove the existence of dark matter that supposedly makes up 25% of the universe and shed some light on parallel universes. Like Job says there is no way we can "discover everything about the Almighty" but Romans tells us that "His invisible nature and attributes" are visible in his creation." I suspect this is even true of the creation we have not seen.

Dan Vander Plaats
March 4, 2011

What was Christ speaking of when He said the Kingdom of God was "at hand?" To my understanding, he was describing a parallel universe, at the very least. There is the way things are: broken, sin-laden, pain-riden - the kingdom in which we now reside (the universe or reality we inhabit). And then there is the way things ought to be. That kingdom is already and not yet. It is above us yet it is around us. It descends upon us yet lives with us. I can think of no better way to envision God's kingdom than to accept the concept of a parallel universe, one to which we actually belong, and to which God alone can grant us access.

But aside from reading these ideas in a Dallas Willard book, maybe I've been influenced by too much Lewis and L'Engle as well.

Jessica Dickson
March 4, 2011

I have always been interested in multiple universes and stuff like that. I think it's pretty cool, actually. We don't know if there are or if there aren't. And I love that about God's creation! I'd love it if there were!

March 4, 2011

Read Trevor Persaud's fine article on this topic in the December issue of Christianity Today: http://www.christianitytoday.c...

March 4, 2011

I was just listening to a helpful and informative podcast at Reasonable Faith by Bill Craig which covers this topic. See http://www.reasonablefaith.org...
episode dated 31st Jan

March 5, 2011

The concept of multiple universes is interesting, but thinking about it is more entertainment for 99.99999999999992345% of the population than anything else.

Even if society comes to believe in multiple universes, so what? This changes nothing for anybody unless people from the alternate universe invade ours or we invade one of the other universes.

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
March 5, 2011

True, I don't actively think about the parameters of the universe on a daily basis, but don't you believe it's always somewhere in the back of our minds? When these parameters change with a new scientific possibility, that can certainly be a source of angst - or, as I argue here, amazement at God's infinite creativity.

Tony Mammano
March 5, 2011

Why not? Any good Christian thinking individual could easily argue the existance of demons and the Devil. I would credit that with at least being a parallel reality. We immediately allow a supernatural realm in our pursuit of the Creator, the devil and his demons, etc. So why not?

Could we possibly be so egotistic as to state that we know this to be untrue? I believe that science has always upheld, and in some cases, argued in favor of an intelligent designer, and His presence is more obvious as we learn about of the workings of our world, solar system and universe. With God, all things are possible.

March 5, 2011

I suppose it always is in the back of our minds. If it wasn't, then I don't think there would be any interest in learning more about it. Honestly, an individual who doesn't think about the universe at least occasionally just might be too self-centered for thier own good.

This said, it gets really dangerous for people when they hinge their theological conclusions on flimsy scientific thought. The keys to whether or not God exists seems to exist in the facts or our perceptions of them for many. It is sad - but that seems to be the way that many think.

Great essay though. I like hearing what others think about these thigns.

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