Is God, Faith and the Multiverse a Paradox?
In the last couple of years, there has been a proliferation of multiple multiverse movies being churned out by Hollywood! Think Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021), Doctor Strange: In The Multiverse Of Madness (2022), the Oscar-winning Everything Everywhere All At Once (2022) featuring our very own Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, The Flash (2023) and the latest Spidey franchise, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse (2023).
In my review of Everything Everywhere All at Once, I broke down the four key messages of the movie and what the Bible has to say about themes like existentialism, life’s significance, passion and love. In this article, I’d like to touch on what effect, if any, the multiverse concept can or should have on our Christian faith.
Is the multiverse a biblical concept? Could God have created our universe, and others too? Is there even a multiverse? If there is, does it affect our view on God? Let’s begin by examining the underlying idea of what a multiverse is, and why it’s been such a popular recurrent motif in storytelling and in Hollywood films.
What is the multiverse?
The concept of a multiverse is not a new one. In fact, the idea can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosophers. Democritus (c. 460-370 BC) and Epicurus (c. 341-270 BC) thought that the universe is boundless, consisting of an infinite number of atoms arranged to form an infinite array of worlds within itself. Interestingly, modern science today hypothesises a similar multiplicity of worlds, but arrives at the proposed multiverse in a variety of ways.
Cosmology extrapolates, from the rapid expansion of our universe, that this process of inflation repeats itself again and again to produce a constellation of bubble universes. String theory proposes that universes float around in a higher spatial dimension, producing Big Bangs when they collide and birthing new universes.
Quantum mechanics suggests that every time something happens, other universes are born in which it doesn’t happen or in which something else happens (this is the model on which the Everything movie is based – Evelyn chooses to stay in China and a new universe is born; she chooses to go to America with Waymond and another new universe is born; and so on).
The scientific explanation for a multiverse
All these models of the multiverse are speculative, conjectural, and unproven; some opponents of the idea even say that it’s unscientific and unprovable. So this raises the question, why are we giving serious thought to this idea at all?
Many scientists who put forward the multiverse do so because they are doing their best to follow where the evidence leads them. This is well and good, and should be a principle followed not only by scientists, but by all of us.
However, there are some who propose the concept in order to explain the apparent fine-tuning of our universe. In a nutshell, the conditions in our universe are just right for us to live in it. If certain physical forces, such as electromagnetism, gravity, strong nuclear force and others were just a little bit stronger or weaker, it would produce a world in which life as we know it could not exist.
For Christians, this poses no great problem. After all, as Genesis 1:1 says, God is the one who created our universe. It comes as no surprise to us that the universe appears to have been designed in this very specific way, because after all, we know the Designer.
For scientists, however, that answer is understandably unacceptable. You can’t make much progress if your answer to every scientific question is, “God did it.” To them, a natural answer must be sought. And so, then, they suggest a multiverse.
If there are an infinite number of universes, all with different values for those physical forces, then it’s not that our universe is fine-tuned; it’s just that this is the particular universe we happened to evolve in. In a nutshell, this is the big idea underlying movies like “Everything”.
God and the Multiverse
As such, the proposed multiverse theory might explain why our universe appears to be finely-tuned for life, but it certainly does not successfully exclude God from the picture. As Christians, we are already convinced that the simple existence of our single universe cries out for an explanation; and because God has made Himself known to us (Hebrews 1:1-2), we believe that He is that explanation.
[As a side note, the word, “universe” in Hebrews 1:2 is actually aionas, the plural form of aion, an age, from which we have the English word, “aeon”. That plurality may be why a few translations translate it as, “he made the worlds.” Now, I’m not suggesting that the author of Hebrews had anything like the multiverse in mind when he wrote that, but it’s just interesting to note that the word is plural and can be translated in various ways.]
Coming back to the main point, if the existence of our one universe is taken as evidence of God’s existence, then suggesting a multiverse actually compounds the problem for an atheist. For if that hypothesis is correct, then there is an infinite conglomeration of universes, each one with its own uniqueness and complexities, each one needing an explanation for its existence.
In short, if there really is a multiverse – and this is a big ‘if,’ considering the conjectural, unproven nature of the concept – our God is still the Creator of the entire superstructure and He still reigns supreme over it all. As Hebrews 11:3 says, “Through faith we understand that the worlds (aionas again) were framed by the Word of God” (KJV).
To quote John Lennox, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at Oxford University, “God could create as many universes as He pleases. However, the multiverse concept of itself does not and cannot rule God out.”
So even if there were a multiverse, which is really unproven, God would still be the Creator who is sovereign over all the universes and He would still deserve our worship. As Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
Surely this is true not only in our universe, but in every universe which may or may not exist in the hypothesised multiverse. If the complexity and beauty of our one universe reveals God’s goodness and glory to us, how much more so should the wonder of the multiverse – if it really does exist – bring us to bow down before Him in worship. Indeed, let’s take some time to give Him the worship and adoration that He alone deserves.
About the Author
Kiew Sieh Jin is a member of Taman Ujong Methodist Church, where he serves as a lay preacher, worship leader, and Captain of the Boys’ Brigade. He is happily married to Chen May and has two often endearing, sometimes naughty, but always beloved children.
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