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Column: Where is God in the multiverse?

Sophia Maltese, Campus Editor

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I have often seen science fiction characters transcend dimensional constraints. The characters will typically escape to either a utopia or a desolate landscape, each holding an alternate version of the character’s reality (i.e. the same people and places have/do exist.)

This is an extremely limited view of the scope of the multiverse, a theory that supports the existence of infinite realities, unfalsifiable and utilized by the secular world to explain the mystery of creation.

The realities of the multiverse, contrary to their portrayal on mainstream television, are not just earth-centered. Some, according to the theory, may have as many as 10 dimensions, an inconceivable actuality that dwarfs the priority of human life.

According to scientist Stephen Hawking in his book “Brief Answers to the Big Questions,” the universe began at a single point, a point the size of a proton. Then, at a random moment, the Big Bang turned this small concentration of matter into everything we know. But, how did it all fit in there? And where did that proton-sized mass exist?

One hypothesis, to answer the first question, is that the space-time plane is infinite. The space-time plane is the place where all universes occur, each one being laid out like a floor tile in a never-ending corridor.

But still, where does all the stuff come from?

Everything in our universe, according to Hawking, adds up to zero. Space is negative matter, if you will, and matter as we understand it is positive matter – the planets and stars and people. Hawking instructs readers to think of it as if you were digging in the ground. If you dug a hole and put the resulting dirt in a pile, you would, in effect, have made negative and positive matter. If you put both piles together again, it would result in flat ground, which has a value of zero.

The flat ground is representative of the theoretical space-time plane, in which there are unending opportunities for every conceivable reality to play out. Interestingly, particle configurations are finite, meaning that the foundational elements must be arranged in a repeating sequence if the space-time plane is infinite. Simply put, if I exist, then a version of myself exists that picked turkey instead of ham at the omelet station on Sunday.

This is not to say that a reality where humans subsist on oxygen alone, or something to that effect, is currently thriving. We cannot change the stuff we’re given, only what we do with it. Herein lies the foundation of everything — probability. If there is even a .0001 chance that we will act a certain way, though we might not act that way in our present reality, other manifestations of ourselves will. An infinite number.

Our universe came to be, a fact from which we can deduce that there was a probability a proton-sized point would explode and create what we know today, no matter how slight. In infinity, a probability of .0001 is also an infinity.

Therefore, we are the evidence of further existence. Because you and I are alive, we can theorize that other versions of ourselves are as well.

At the present time, we cannot prove or disprove the hypothesis of the multiverse.

I recognize this evidence and have been greatly struggling with it. I cannot understand why God, an all-loving creator, would need to create multiple versions of myself and others. Why would a creator who loves me need to create millions of variations of myself? Is earth Sophia not good enough?

I could simply say the studies of theoretical physicists are invalid, but I won’t. I will not feign ignorance to popular, mathematics-based, scientific belief, nor will I understand it as fact. Instead, I will move forward with a caution indicative of my values and curiosity.

So then, did God create every universe? Is Jesus the constant factor, awake in every plane? Or, I hesitate to say, is there something larger at work? Is God tied only to this minuscule macrocosm?

This line of thought is a dangerous road to venture down. In doing so, we are left with our own form of the Euthyphro dilemma, from Plato’s dialogue “Euthyphro”, in which Socrates asks: “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” It’s a question that has plagued philosophers for hundreds of years, and one that is renewed in multiverse theory. If God created every universe, then he cannot be the loving father we understand him to be. But if God did not create every universe, then there is something greater than God at work. It’s a dilemma neither theorists nor theologians are pleased with.

“The natural sciences are in a steady search for truth, and so is theology,” said Werner Arber, molecular scientist and Nobel laureate, as quoted in LiveScience.

In fact, the Catholic Church has not ignored or prohibited scientific progress when the sanctity of human life is maintained. With the exception of the initial treatment of Galileo, the Church has responded candidly to pervasive scientific theories like evolution and the Big Bang.

However, considering the impactfulness of truths contingent upon the fruition of multiverse theory, such as the preponderance of individuals, I cannot locate an appropriate response that would explain the mechanics of the multiverse while leaving Catholic doctrine uncompromised.

I strain to see the creator I love in the random, brutal, explosive indifference of the unending space-time plane, leading me to the conclusion that they are incompatible, a paradox.

Not only would the existence of the multiverse indicate that our persons are nonspecific, but also that free will is limited. The command of choice cannot be exercised when every choice is ground into the fabric of being.

This is not to say that the multiverse survives and God does not, only that they are irreconcilable.

The Church cannot adapt to multiverse theory, though in my opinion, she will not have to, as the evidence for intelligent design is more potent.

Still, I ask you, reader, do you discover God in the multiverse? How does the church react to such a radical assertion? If it were true, how would Catholicism stay alive?

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Column: Where is God in the multiverse?”

  1. Scott Day on February 13th, 2019 5:15 am

    Sophia,
    It is good that you think about these things. However, I am wondering, about the metaphor of the tiles in the never-ending corridor, which you suggest as an illustration of the many universes in the “multiverse” theory. Did you borrow this metaphor? Whether you did or not, I am guessing you meant for this corridor to be, not only infinite, but also distorted and warped and, well, “non-Euclidean,” as they say?

    My father (JCU alum) discovered your article as we spent our Sunday at the DeCarlo Varsity Center watching my nephew in the wrestling tournament. He passed the article on to me knowing that I have interests in physics and cosmology. However, he was concerned that your worries are not justified: if there is a “multiverse,” you should rest assured God is God and can manage it just fine. “God’s ways are not our ways,” is the idea, from Isaiah 55.

    Whether we can manage it (manage the idea) is another matter. Just as you fear that the nature of the universe becomes too “random” with more and more discoveries in science, I think we all fear this. I think we have to hope that scientific theories gain more and more clarity to keep up with all of the discoveries which are made.

    I also think we are getting a little ahead of ourselves asking if Jesus could be a constant across a multiverse, or maybe I should simply ask you to answer this first: There are less than 2 billion Christians across the globe, according to one estimate (http://www.adherents.com/misc/rel_by_adh_CSM.html). What does that mean to you?

    To try to answer your questions:
    Do I discover God in the “Multiverse”?
    Honestly I cannot wrap my head around the multiverse theory. I cannot wrap my head around a single universe either, especially one in which light has only had 13 and some billion years (only!) to travel, and yet expands even beyond that “window” of visibility for us. I cannot wrap my head around the fact that there are billions of people on the globe today (and millions who have gone before) who have many differences but also share many things in common.
    I guess I would say I can’t “discover” God in the potential Multiverse, or the plain old Universe, but I still have faith God is there.
    Will Catholicism survive? It will, if you are right and the Catholic Church continues to be candid with the best science of the day. The trouble is that, just like space-time is not always linear, neither is progress in science, but it is my belief that God does wish for us to make that progress.

    Thank you for a thought-provoking article. Keep writing!

    Scott

  2. Dominic on February 13th, 2019 10:23 pm

    Have you ever thought about a Deterministic worldview? The idea that every universe is simply an endless cycle beyond nothing we can control or act upon. A infinite number of timelines of every possible variation in existence. Perhaps society imagines God all wrong. We are a world of order in chaos. I think when most people look for God, they want an ordered world that makes logical sense. What if God is simply the law of Chaos?

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Column: Where is God in the multiverse?