If the multiverse is the final stage of the Copernican revolution, with our universe but a speck in an infinite megacosmos, where does humanity fit in? If the life-friendly fine-tuning of our universe is just a chance occurrence, something that inevitably arises in an endless array of universes, is there any need for a fine-tuner—for a god?
“I don’t think that the multiverse idea destroys the possibility of an intelligent, benevolent creator,” [physicist and Nobel laureate Steven] Weinberg says. “What it does is remove one of the arguments for it, just as Darwin’s theory of evolution made it unnecessary to appeal to a benevolent designer to understand how life developed with such remarkable abilities to survive and breed.”
On the other hand, if there is no multiverse, where does that leave physicists? “If there is only one universe,” [cosmologist Bernard] Carr says, “you might have to have a fine-tuner. If you don’t want God, you’d better have a multiverse.”
As for [multiverse supporting physicist Andrei] Linde, he is especially interested in the mystery of consciousness and has speculated that consciousness may be a fundamental component of the universe, much like space and time. He wonders whether the physical universe, its laws, and conscious observers might form an integrated whole. A complete description of reality, he says, could require all three of those components, which he posits emerged simultaneously. “Without someone observing the universe,” he says, “the universe is actually dead.”
Yet for all of his boldness, Linde hesitates when I ask whether he truly believes that the multiverse idea will one day be as well established as Newton’s law of gravity and the Big Bang. “I do not want to predict the future,” he answers. “I once predicted my own future. I had a very firm prediction. I knew that I was going to die in the hospital at the Academy of Sciences in Moscow near where I worked. I would go there for all my physical examinations. Once, when I had an ulcer, I was lying there in bed, thinking I knew this was the place where I was going to die. Why? Because I knew I would always be living in Russia. Moscow was the only place in Russia where I could do physics. This was the only hospital for the Academy of Sciences, and so on. It was quite completely predictable.
“Then I ended up in the United States. On one of my returns to Moscow, I looked at this hospital at the Academy of Sciences, and it was in ruins. There was a tree growing from the roof. And I looked at it and I thought, What can you predict? What can you know about the future?”
I especially like Andrei Lind’s anecdote about modesty with regard to what the future might hold.
I think that it is suggestive of the idea that agnosticism is the most reasonable way to approach questions concerning multiverses and the existence of gods (or God).