Saturday, April 08, 2006

Anthropic Coincidences & the Non-Verifiability of the Multiverse Theory

“Anthropic coincidences” provide a powerful reason to believe in a Creator God. Physicist Andre Linde of Stanford University agrees: “If you change the mass of the proton, the charge on the electron,” or any of an array of other constants, “we’d all be dead,” he argued. Why is this so, Linde asked—“did someone create this special universe for us?”
Now Linde is not advocating that there is a God, only that the many anthropic coincidences make it difficult not to believe that our universe has been “fine-tuned” for human life (anthropos).
If this is not true, what’s the alternative? For Linde and some other physicists the answer – to their atheistic relief – is the “multiverse” theory. Which states: If there are an infinite number of universes, each one can have different physical laws, then it is probable that some of them will have those physical laws that are just right for us.
But a real problem arises for multiverse theorists: how can the existence of not only an infinite number of universes, but for that matter the existence of just one different universe, be empirically verified? How could, in principle, such a theory be tested? The answer appears to be: such a theory is not empirically testable and verifiable.
Consider this from the on-line article “One universe or many? Panel holds unusual debate” (from which the above Linde quotes are also taken).
“Lawrence Krauss, a physicist and astronomer at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said the whole multiverse idea is so speculative as to border on nonsense. It’s an outcome of an old impulse, which also gave rise to the correct notion that other planets exist, he argued: “We don’t want to be alone.”It also caters to our desire for stability, he added: the universe changes, but “the multiverse is always the same.” And if there are many universes, you don’t have to make any predictions that will subject your pet theory to awkward tests, “because there’s always one in which the answers work out.”Krauss allowed that he might buy the multiverse idea if it’s a consequence of some new theory that also successfully accounts for many other unexplained phenomena. But otherwise, multiverse concepts “are extending into philosophy” rather than science, he added, “and may not be testable.””