God vs The Multiverse (Part 9: The Scientific Method)

Rabbis E. Feder & E. Zimmer

In the previous post we showed that it is faulty to use the multiverse theory to explain anything because it is a theory which can equally explain everything. Therefore, explaining fine tuning with a multiverse is a 'multiverse of the gaps' argument which is desperately put forth to deny the indications of Intelligent Design.  In this post we will put that problem aside and explain why we believe that multiverse theory is not even science, but is rather bad philosophy of science.

One of the pillars of the scientific method has been the requirement that a theory should make predictions which can be reasonably tested.  This has allowed science to build solid foundations, as consensus forms only when there is objective confirmation in reality that a theory is true (or close to it).

Every theory of a multiverse is, almost by definition, not testable.  Sometimes its proponents invent far-fetched hypothetical tests (mentioned by Greene in the article), like maybe our universe collided with another universe and maybe we could somehow see the effects of that collision in the background radiation.  That is not what it means in science for something to be reasonably testable.  (In any event, even if we could somehow observe such a collision between one other universe, that still does not mean we could observe an infinite number of multiverses.  Nor could we ever know if the constants of nature or the laws themselves varied in these other multiverses.)

The question of whether the cause of the universe is intelligent or not, is a philosophical question.  The answer does not lead to testable conclusions.  It could be proven in the positive, if for example, the Intelligent Cause communicated its existence before millions of witnesses.  But that is not a reasonably repeatable test, and would therefore not come under the scientific method either.  Not all knowledge is subject to the scientific method (i.e., certain historical knowledge).

Our answer to this philosophical question, that the cause of the universe is Intelligent, is based upon mankind's understanding of modern physics.  It is a testament to the efficacy of the scientific method that we have enough knowledge about the physical universe to answer this philosophical question by virtue of our understanding of the fine tuning of the constants.  It is a philosophical conclusion rooted in verified scientific facts.

The theory of the multiverse is an attempt to answer a philosophical question with a near infinite number of unobservable universes and some hypothesized unintelligent number generator which randomly selects the values of the constants.  Despite what its proponents profess, the multiverse theory is not science.  It is untestable, non-falsifiable, metaphysics. In fact, because it is clear that it is not science, multiverse theorists are beginning to suggest that the definition of science (the requirements of prediction and testability) be changed.  (See the Carr/Ellis article.)

The inquiry into the ultimate cause of the physical universe is bound to go beyond science and into philosophy.  Nevertheless, it is a worth while pursuit, and an important question that we would like to know as much about as the human mind is capable of comprehending (which might not be that much).  However, the answer cannot be tested, as it makes no concrete predictions.

It is therefore of paramount importance in this area to exercise proper methodology in thought.  One false step, based on poor philosophical reasoning, can send a person into the world of fiction and fantasy.  Without the check that empirical testing provides, a person's speculations can run reckless.  Physicists need to clearly separate between science and metaphysics.  To confuse the two areas of thought in a speculative theory of infinite physical universes with an unintelligent random number generator, is to do injury to both science and philosophy.

We would like to quote from the opening paragraphs Stephen Hawking's book The Grand Design (2010), which is indicative of a general attitude of disdain physicists have towards philosophy.  This attitude has severely hampered their ability to develop proper methodology in philosophical thought.

"What is the nature of reality?  Where did all this come from?  Did the universe need a Creator?...Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead.  Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics.  Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge."

(Needless to say, philosophers do not take too kindly to this sentiment.)

Physicists steal the crown of science, the prestige that science has rightly attained because of its adherence to the scientific method, and use it to impress upon people the belief that the multiverse is a credible scientific theory. The multiverse is bad philosophy if believed to be true, and decent science fiction when it is recognized as a form of entertainment.

We have illustrated that based upon a correct knowledge of modern physics (which demonstrates fine tuning in the constants of nature), a reasonable person will conclude that the best, most likely explanation is that the constants have their specific values in order to bring about the unique universe that we observe.  This conclusion is not scientific knowledge itself, but rather philosophical knowledge derived from scientific knowledge.  There is no experiment we can set up to prove or disprove it.  It is philosophical reasoning applied to understanding the laws of physics and the constants, as they have been understood by science.

The division of Natural Philosophy into the two separate branches of knowledge of 'Science' and the 'Philosophy of Science', was the foundational move that gave rise to modern Science, and greatly improved both areas of knowledge.  If the foundation of Science is removed, the scientific model that rests upon it crumbles.  Scientific knowledge is the inheritance of Mankind, not the possession of a  community of people who do not practice the methodology of science itself.

The leading physicists of our generation, in their attempt to deny an Intelligent Agent, are destroying the bedrock of science.  When they put forth a philosophical theory of randomness and infinite possibilities under the guise of science, when they hide behind mathematical equations in an effort to avoid common sense reasoning, they are abandoning the methods of the great men of science who bequeathed to them the invaluable tools of proper investigation into the ways of nature.  They are replacing science with bad philosophy.

We have included a video of Richard Feynman discussing the scientific method.  What do you think he would say about the scientific merit of the theory of the multiverse?