multiverse

Genuine Design or Apparent Design?

The fact that the universe exhibits numerous finely-tuned, life-supporting design features is undisputed, even by staunch atheists.  What is disputed is whether the features were actually designed by an intelligent designer for the purpose of supporting life or whether the design features are a natural by-product of random chance.  Naturalists maintain our universe is just one of an infinite number of randomly operating universes and we just happen to live in a universe (perhaps the only universe) that randomly exhibits all of the features necessary to support life.

This article addresses challenges Christian apologists contend naturalists face in proposing the existence of an infinite number of randomly operating universes. The article further discusses the reasons why Christian apologists maintain it is more reasonable to believe the finely-tuned design features observed in the universe point to the existence of an intelligent designer (like the self-existing, transcendent, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God described in the Bible) who purposed that the universe would operate in a just-right way to support life.

Article Index

Discussion of the Undisputed Design Features Exhibited in the Universe (skip to>>)

Challenges Naturalists Face in Proposing Multi-Universe Theories to Support the Apparent Design Argument (skip to>>)

  • Challenge No. 1: Naturalists Will Always Have to Speculate that a Natural External Mechanism Exists that has Produced an Infinite Number of Universes (skip to>>)
  • Challenge No. 2: Multi-Universe Theories Only Help the Naturalist if All the Hypothesized Universes Operate Randomly (skip to>>)
  • Challenge No. 3: Multi-Universe Theorists Must Assume the Laws of Physics Can be Violated Which Has Never Been Demonstrated (skip to>>)
  • Challenge No. 4: Even the Existence of Multiple Universes May Just be More Evidence of Genuine Design (skip to>>)

Conclusion (skip to>>)

Discussion of the Undisputed Design Features Exhibited in the Universe

There is no dispute that the universe exhibits numerous design characteristics which are fine-tuned in a very precise way which permits life to exist.  Dr. Robin Collins expresses it this way:

Over the past thirty years or so, scientists have discovered that just about everything about the basic structure of the universe is balanced on a razor’s edge for life to exist….When scientists talk about the fine-tuning of the universe, . . . they’re generally referring to the extraordinary balancing of the fundamental laws and parameters of physics and the initial conditions of the universe. Our minds can’t comprehend the precision of some of them. (Emphasis added.) [Lee Strobel, Case for a Creator, pgs. 130-131 (2004) citing to his discussions with Robin Collins, Ph.D.]

Christian apologists and scientists contend the finely-tuned, life-supporting design characteristics of the universe (more>>) point to the existence of an intelligent designer (like the self-existent, transcendent, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God described in the Bible). As argued by Christian apologists, such as Hugh Ross and Robin Collins, the so-called coincidences are far too fantastic to reasonably attribute them to blind chance. In the view of Christian apologists, a more rational conclusion is that an intelligent being (like the God described in the Bible) intentionally designed the universe to operate in a just-right way for the purpose of supporting life.  Even secular scientists have come to similar conclusions.  For example, Fred Hoyle, an English astronomer and mathematician (primarily known for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis) is noted for stating the following:

A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests 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. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” (Emphasis added). [Fred Hoyle, “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics 20, pg. 16 (1982)]

Although naturalists agree the universe exhibits design characteristics, they do not agree the universe was actually designed.  Instead, they are convinced the universe only appears to be designed.  In the view of the naturalist, the reason the universe appears to be designed is because a natural mechanism (a non-designed mechanism) exists outside the universe which is popping an infinite number of universe buds into existence.  Some of those universe buds blossom into full grown universes – some with no design and others which exhibit different levels of design.  Since our universe is the only universe we can observe, naturalists allege we simply assume the finely-tuned and life-supporting characteristics of our universe were designed for the purpose of supporting life. However, naturalists maintain that if we could see all the infinite number of other existing universes which exhibit no design or varying levels of design, we would realize that the design features we observe in our universe are only illusory, not real. 

In sum, naturalists propose that if one assumes the existence of an infinite number (or almost infinite number) of universes that randomly exhibit various levels of so-called design, chances are there will be at least one universe which exhibits all the life-supporting design characteristics our universe exhibits.

Challenges Naturalists Face in Proposing Multi-Universe Theories to Support the Apparent Design Argument

As argued by Christian astrophysicists  Hugh Ross and Jeff Zweerink (see, www.reasons.org), proponents of multi-universe theories (aka multiverse theories) face the following significant challenges in relying on the existence of multiple universes to explain the finely-tuned, life-supporting design characteristics exhibited in our universe.

Challenge No. 1

Naturalists Will Always Have to Speculate that a Natural External Mechanism Exists which has Produced an Infinite Number of Universes

Since “chance” does not have the power to produce anything (more>>), naturalists who propose multi-universe theories are rationally compelled to identify a mechanism outside of this universe which is capable of producing other universes.  Additionally, because of the enormous improbabilities involved with random chance explanations (numbers like 1060, 10120 10215, and 1040,000, 10,000,000,000124 (more>>)) naturalists must talk in terms of an infinite number of other existing universes (or at least an almost infinite number of other existing universes) for randomly operating events to arbitrarily exhibit even one universe like our life-supporting universe.

However, no natural mechanism capable of producing even one other universe (much less an almost infinite number of universes) has ever been identified.  Moreover, since Einstein’s theory of General Relativity establishes no observer in this universe can ever directly observe or test for anything which might exist outside the space-time envelope of this universe, no one in our universe will ever be able to directly identify any such mechanism.  For the same reason, the existence of even one other universe can only be hypothesized.  Consequently, multi-universe theorists will always have to speculate that a mechanism exists outside of the space-time envelope of this universe which is capable of producing an infinite number of universes and that an almost infinite number of universes have actually been produced. Arno Penzias, a Nobel laureate in physics, suggests an answer as to why multi-universe theorists would rely on such speculation:

Some people are uncomfortable with the purposeful created world [because a purposeful created world implies the existence of a purposeful Agent].  To come up with other things that contradict purpose, they tend to speculate about things they haven’t seen.

Challenge No. 2

Multi-Universe Theories Only Help the Naturalist if All the Hypothesized Universes Operate Randomly

If all the infinite number of hypothesized universes operate in accordance with the same laws of physics that govern our universe, then all the universes would have the same finely-tuned design characteristics our universe has which point to an intelligent designer (like the self-existing, transcendent, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God described in the Bible). In other words, if all the multi-universes exhibit finely-tuned, life-supporting characteristics, then it can be inferred that the existence of the other universes only demonstrates an intelligent designer designed all the universes.  Consequently, an appeal to multi-universe theories to explain the design exhibited in our universe only assists the case of the naturalist if all the universes operate randomly such that some of the universes exhibit no design and others exhibit varying degrees of design. Only if such randomness is exhibited would it be reasonable to conclude our universe only appears to be designed because we happen to live in the one universe which randomly operates in accordance with laws of physics which make life possible in the universe.

Challenge No. 3

Multi-Universe Theories Must Assume the Laws of Physics Can be Violated Which Has Never Been Demonstrated to Be Possible

For as far as scientists have been able to look back into the history of the universe (which is back to less than a fraction of a second of the universe coming into existence), the finely-tuned laws of physics which govern our universe were already in operation and working together in a just-right way (more>>) . Even the famed atheist Richard Dawkins admits he is intrigued as to how the universe came into existence with the laws of nature already written into it. [See, Alister McGrath, Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, Foundations of Apologetics, “The Existence of God” (2007), aired on NRB, 2/24/10]  Moreover, no exception to the laws of physics has ever been demonstrated to have occurred or even to be possible.

Nevertheless, in proposing multi-universe theories, naturalists must assume a mechanism outside of our universe is bringing an infinite number of other universes into existence which do not operate in accordance with the laws of physics and, therefore, operate randomly — some which exhibit no design and others which exhibit varying levels of design.

Since there is no reasonable basis for assuming the laws of physics can be violated, it is unreasonable for multi-universe theorists to insist the only reason our universe appears to have been designed is because we cannot see all the other existing universes which operate randomly in violation of the laws of physics.

Challenge No. 4

Even the Existence of Multiple Universes May Just be More Evidence of Genuine Design

It would seem that any mechanism existing outside of the space-time envelope of this universe which is responsible for bringing all of the hypothesized infinite universes into existence would itself require fine-tuning. Therefore, instead of eliminating the need for an intelligent designer, such a mechanism may simply be more evidence that an intelligent designer (like the self-existing, transcendent, eternal, omniscient and omnipotent God described in the Bible.)

Just as scientists have discovered that a universe as vast as our own is necessary for even one planet to be capable of supporting life, it may be that an infinite number of other universes are necessary for our universe to exist and/or exhibit the finely-tuned design features which are necessary to support life in this universe.

Conclusion

As summarized by astrophysicist and Christian apologist, Hugh Ross, those who rely on the existence of multi-universes to explain why the universe contains so many finely-tuned, life-supporting design characteristics can only do so by speculating as follows:

  • If a natural (non-designed) mechanism exists outside the space-time envelope of this universe,
  • and if this mechanism somehow has naturally created an infinite number of universe buds,
  • and if some of those universe buds have blossomed into universes,
  • and if each of those universes operate randomly in violation of the established laws of physics,
  • then it is not necessary for our universe, which has so many finely-tuned life-supporting characteristics, to have been designed by an intelligent designer because then our universe might only appear to be designed because we just happen to live in the one universe that has all the just-right characteristics necessary to support life.

As argued by Hugh Ross, since all of these “ifs” can only be speculated, a person who chooses to believe in the existence of multi-universes must be willing to bet a natural (non-designed) mechanism exists outside the universe and must make that bet knowing neither the proposed mechanism nor any of the proposed randomly operating multi-universes can ever be directly observed or tested by anyone in this universe and they must also bet the mechanism is capable of producing universes which operate in violation of the established laws of physics, which has never been demonstrated to have occurred. 

Due to the significant challenges multi-universe theorists face in relying on the existence of an infinite number of other universes to explain the design of our universe, Christian apologists maintain naturalists are unreasonable in their insistence that the universe only appears to have been designed.

For further discussion as to the reasons why Christian apologists maintain naturalists are unreasonable in their insistence that our universe only appears to have been designed because our universe is just one of an infinite number of randomly operating universes, go here.

© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson

Published:  July 3, 2012 / Last updated:  April 27, 2013

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QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE

William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010)

Alister McGrath, Foundations of Apologetics, “The Existence of God” (RZIM, 2007) DVDs available at http://rzim.christianbook.com/foundations-of-apologetics-all-digital-version/9781612562124/pd/1314BD

J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig, Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview(IVP Academic, 2003)

Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995)

Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is(Baker Books, 2008)

R.C. Sproul, Not a Chance: The Myth of Chance in Modern Science and Cosmology(Baker Books, 1999)

Lee Strobel, The Case For A Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God (Strobel, Lee) (Zondervan, 2005)

Jeff Zweerink, Who’s Afraid of the Multiverse (Reasons To Believe; 1st Edition (2008)

IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING

Slideshow Photo: This artist’s concept of a multiverse was downloaded from wikipedia.org which states the image was released into the public domain by the author, Silver Spoon.

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