ABC Extra – On The Multiverse

September 20, 2010 at 5:15 am 1 comment

This past weekend in worship and ABC, we continued our series ”Credo!” with a look at the doctrine of creation.  As part of our study, talked about how the how the modern, broad consensus among scientists concerning the universe’s origins is often antagonistic and dismissive toward the biblical account of creation.  Thus, many scientists and theologians alike have sought to reconcile these two seemingly conflicting accounts using different theories, two of which I briefly mentioned in ABC:  the “Day-Age Theory” and the “Theistic Evolution Theory.”

In order for the theory of evolution to be correct, two things are needed:  lots and lots of time and lots and lots of death.  You need lots and lots of time because one species does not evolve into another overnight.  Rather, billions of years are needed for one species to adapt in such a way that it actually becomes another species.  You needs lots and lots of death because the mechanism by which evolution functions is natural selection, a.k.a., the survival of the fittest.   In other words, for evolution to happen, species with less desirable traits must die out and give rise to species with more desirable traits.  The “Day-Age Theory” of creation, which asserts that each of the days in Genesis 1 are equal to thousands, and probably millions, of years, accounts for the lots and lots of time that evolution requires, while the theory of Theistic Evolution, which states that God got the ball rolling on creation, but then it pretty much evolved the way scientists say it did, accounts for the lots and lots of death demanded by natural selection.

And yet, there is something else needed.  Scientists have long noted that the earth and, indeed, even our solar system and universe, seems “fine-tuned” to support our life.  In other words, there is a constellation of factors, each of which, if they were even the slightest bit different, would not have allowed evolution to happen at all because the environment would not have supported any life at all, no matter how strong or desirable an organism’s traits might have been!  Scientists describe this as the “anthropic principle.”  In a recent article for the Wall Street Journal, Stephen Hawking, professor at the University of Cambridge, explains:

The emergence of the complex structures capable of supporting intelligent observers seems to be very fragile. The laws of nature form a system that is extremely fine-tuned. What can we make of these coincidences? Luck in the precise form and nature of fundamental physical law is a different kind of luck from the luck we find in environmental factors. It raises the natural question of why it is that way. (Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, “Why God Did Not Create the Universe,” Wall Street Journal, 9/3/10)

It is Hawking’s final question, posed as a statement, “It raises the natural question of why it is that way,” that he spends the balance of his article seeking to address.  And he seeks to address it apart from God:

Our universe seems to be one of many, each with different laws…Each universe has many possible histories and many possible states. Only a very few would allow creatures like us to exist.

Stephen Hawking adds another need to the arsenal of requirements for our existence.  Not only does our existence require lots and lots of time and lots and lots of death according to the theory of evolution, it also needs lots and lots of space according to the theory of the origins of the universe.  For evolution, as it stands, can account only for the existence of life on this planet, not the existence of this planet itself.  Something else must account for that.  If this something else is not accounted for, then evolution becomes somewhat of a “red herring” theory, for how can evolution account for one form of life giving rise to another form of life, and even a form of non-life giving rise to the first form of life, if it cannot account for that non-life material itself?  Enter Stephen Hawking’s theory.  Hawking postulates that there are an infinite number of universes, each with their own laws, which have spontaneously arisen out of nothing.  Thus, if there are “multiverses” which, taken in toto, exhaust every possible combination of astrophysical laws, it is not surprising at all that our universe and our solar system and our planet with our life should exist.  It is merely the inevitable consequence of a countless number of universes doing a countless number of different things.

How does Hawking know these multiple universes exist?  Has he observed them?  Has he tested them?  No!  Instead, the multiverse theory “is a consequence predicted by many theories in modern cosmology.”  In other words, it is a theory predicated on other theories.  Is it just me, or does that sound a little speculative for science?  Thus, according to Hawking, “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”  It is here that we find Hawking’s real motive for postulating the multiverse:  it makes the need for God’s creative hand even more obsolete than does evolution.  It puts God out of business, so to speak.

It is important to note that Hawking’s theory is nothing new.  He, along with other scientists, have promoted the multiverse theory before.  And there are many who are scrambling to explain why God is still needed even if there are indeed many universes.  But we need not join them in their scramble.  For rather than adopting a “God-in-the-gaps” strategy, where we seek to shoehorn God into the spots that science cannot answer by means of its speculative, naturalistic mechanisms, I would suggest that it’s better to take the creation account as it stands, believing in the best intentions of its human author and the divine inspiration of its giver.  For the doctrine of creation does not exist merely to explain how God set into motion all the stuff for which science cannot account.  Rather, it assures that we have a God who not only created the heavens and the earth a long time ago, but also:

Has given me my body and soul, eyes, ears, and all my limbs, my reason, and all my senses, and still preserves them…He provides me richly and daily with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me from all danger, and guards me and preserves me from all evil; and all this out of pure, fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me…This is most certainly true! (Martin Luther, Small Catechism, First Article of the Creed)

And this is most certainly the proper doctrine of creation!

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ABC Extra – Credo! The History and Value of the Creeds Weekend Extra – The Incarnation

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Rev. Kevin Jennings  |  September 20, 2010 at 10:53 am

    Hi, Zach!

    A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, when I still wanted to be a school administrator and was taking classes at UT, I had to take a class on Organizational Theory. One of the great lessons I learned from Dr. Thomas was the definition of “theory”: An explanation based on a model.

    To Hawkings’ defense, he is giving an explanation based on a model. Unfortunately for him, the model is based on another model, based on another mode, ad nauseum. This whole string of models is based on faulty reasoning. All the elements which this type of science requires of a creation theory are somehow bypassed for the sake of the scientist’s theory.

    The result of this observation (a scientific thing) is ironic. Unfortunately again for Hawkings, evolution is not a scientific theory, but a religion. Its god is man, for that is who is placed as the sum of all things. While I haven’t read the article in question, I probably have a good idea of the argument. Let’s deconstruct the whole creation idea in favor this other idea so we can get rid of the whole God thing in favor of science.

    The problem is, this isn’t good science! Credible evidence is lacking, the theories themselves change like the weather, and the experiment has never been duplicated. The theories expounded by Hawkings and others tell of infinite numbers, which science cannot abide. How could an infinite universe possibly fit with a big bang of limited mass?

    On the other side of the argument are those who believe science and theology cannot coexist. This is simply bad theology. The truth is that good science knows its limits in the laws of nature.

    So, how do we not fall into the God of the gaps and still not trumpet bad theology to the exclusion of good science? I think you’ve hit it right: the proper creation account! And, we know the creation account properly through Christ – John 1:1-3.

    God bless!


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