Friday, June 20, 2008

Could God live in an infinite sea of universes? Depends ...

Toronto journalist David Warren notes, in Crisis magazine, that the multiverse concept is compatible with Christianity in the sense that God could make many universes if he wished. But all would be rationally ordered (though not necessarily ordered as we would wish), and follow knowable laws. He recounts,

There was a famous controversy between Fr Georges LemaƮtre, the Belgian priest who first presented the "hypothesis of the primaeval atom," and Pope Pius XII, who leapt upon the idea as evidence that science had proved God. LemaƮtre warned the Pope not to put his faith in transient empirical science.

Among those taking Pope Pius's side of this controversy is the great living American physicist, Frank Tipler. His recent book, The Physics of Christianity (Doubleday) is the latest of three (The Physics of Immortality, 1994, and before that, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, 1986, co-written with John Barrow) in which he develops the notion that a candid view of quantum mechanics enables us to hypothesize not only an Alpha but an Omega point to our actual universe, and further requires the existence of a finite but large number of parallel, "multiple universes" pointing towards a third singularity, completing the set. (Three-in-one and one-in-three.)

I leave the interested reader to struggle with his contentions alone. What most interests me in Prof Tipler's works are not his worldly interpretations of physical theory, but his core argument. For he is saying (apparently, along with Galileo) that our universe (or "multiverse") must be all of one piece, and that all of the (often extraordinary) claims of the Christian religion can be made compatible with unchanging and knowable physical laws.
I've always had a soft spot for Christian physicist Tipler. I don't get his point of view at all, for reasons explained here, but I agree with Bryan Appleyard that he is a good head, even if somewhat askew.