Sunday, August 10, 2008

Multiverse incompatible with naturalism (materialism)?

Just as extraterrestrial life is a key theme of the grand narrative of atheistic materialism, infinite universes (the multiverse) is fast becoming another. One hears it more and more - it props up theses that would otherwise be entirely dismissable, and in turn it is propped up by the tiniest whiff of possibility. A friend points me to philosopher William Lane Craig's justifiably skeptical response:

Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of our universe’s low entropy condition obtaining by chance alone are on the order of 1:1010(123), an inconceivable number. If our universe were but one member of a multiverse of randomly ordered worlds, then it is vastly more probable that we should be observing a much smaller universe. For example, the odds of our solar system’s being formed instantly by the random collision of particles is about 1:1010(60), a vast number, but inconceivably smaller than 1010(123). (Penrose calls it “utter chicken feed” by comparison [The Road to Reality (Knopf, 2005), pp. 762-5]). Or again, if our universe is but one member of a multiverse, then we ought to be observing highly extraordinary events, like horses’ popping into and out of existence by random collisions, or perpetual motion machines, since these are vastly more probable than all of nature’s constants and quantities’ falling by chance into the virtually infinitesimal life-permitting range. Observable universes like those strange worlds are simply much more plenteous in the ensemble of universes than worlds like ours and, therefore, ought to be observed by us if the universe were but a random member of a multiverse of worlds. Since we do not have such observations, that fact strongly disconfirms the multiverse hypothesis. On naturalism, at least, it is therefore highly probable that there is no multiverse.

So naturalism both needs it, and disconfirms it? Well then, contrary to the grand narrative, neither naturalism nor the multiverse is true or well-founded.