Why the Multiverse Isn’t Just Madness
Marcus Woo (2017)
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What is the Science?

Science fiction writers have been speculating about other dimensions and universes for decades, but recently a growing number of physicists have brought this idea into the mainstream conversation. At its most basic level, the multiverse theory understands the cosmos to be made up of an infinite amount of “bubble” universes. Just as our universe started with rapid inflation (i.e. the big bang), other universes have emerged through similar circumstances. However, these “bubbles” are likely so far apart, with such different laws of physics, that finding evidence to support this theory will prove difficult as the chances of detecting another universe are likely slim. Physicists who advocate for this theory argue that it makes sense of several puzzles facing physicists today, while others argue that it is ultimately untestable and circumstantial. Both are seeking increased knowledge and understanding as they interpret the complexities of the vast universe.

“Theoretically, infinite universes might stretch beyond our own, like endless bubbles in a sea of boiling water.” – Marcus Woo

What is the Theology?

This article illustrates one ongoing conversation that is taking place among scientists. By entering these conversations as they are occurring, pastors can demystify the natural sciences and illustrate what it looks like to pursue truth with creativity and determination. Pastors can also work to foster an environment that encourages intellectual humility by allowing tough subjects to be discussed and doubt to be expressed.

The multiverse theory also provides many opportunities to connect with sermons. Pastors can link this with Genesis 1:1-2:4. Or they might show how vast the “visible and invisible” is (NRSV, Col 1:16), including black holes, gravitational waves, dark matter, and other universes. Feel like a little creative speculation? Consider this: How might we understand the new creation in a multiverse? What might the presence of a multiverse mean for the incarnation or the atonement? What might God’s redemptive plans look like on another universe? These avenues of thought can not only be intellectually fun, they can also help pastors and congregants understand their beliefs as they retell it in a speculative alien context.

What to Consider

  • How would the presence of other universes change your understanding of the relationship between God and humanity?
  • What if life was present in another universe? Alternatively, what if we are the only universe and planet that has life?
  • How might the multiverse theory change the way that you read creation narratives such as Genesis 1:1-2:4 and 2:4-3:24?
  • What is the role of humility in discussing theories about the origins and complexity of the universe?

How to go Deeper

  • Invite physicists from your congregation or community to share about their work and how they live out their Christian faith in their vocation. Ask them to highlight how they deal with uncertainty and intellectual disagreement in their occupation.
  • Hold a stargazing party and invite an astronomer to describe the different objects in the sky. You might prepare participants by watching “The Big Story” or Louie Giglio’s “How Great Is Our God?”
  • Invite scientists in your congregation to lead a forum discussing different theories about the origins of the universe. You might consider including the multiverse theory, intelligent design, evolutionary creation, young earth creationism, and old earth creationism. Make sure to emphasize the similarities, differences, and overlap between different theories.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

Related Research

“4 Multiverses You Might Be Leaving In” – NOVA PBS

“Universe and Multiverse” – BioLogos

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About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

3 Comments

  1. Weabz April 13, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Such an interesting topic and our God is no doubt HUGE and so an infinite universe isn’t hard to believe. However when it comes to alien life I think we have to be careful. Not to say that the idea is ridiculous but instead to not let the thoughts and beliefs and even one day the reality of them deceive us. I mean imagine if aliens came and said they were our “Creators” and they made us and watched us (Matt 24:24)…I know that is getting into another bag of worms but so is thinking about the what ifs of a multiverse, especially asking what it means for the atonement.

    We have the Bible proven and true that must be the basis for truth and everything else must be seen through that worldview or else we have no anchor or worse our anchor is the wisdom of the fallen world that does and will lead us into deceit as we see in many texts of Scripture.

  2. Reed Metcalf April 14, 2017 at 9:21 pm

    I agree with the sentiment that a Christian understanding of God’s infinite nature makes it so that a multiverse is not problematic. What I do find interesting about the multiverse theory is the issue of “observable evidence.” Sure, science is a lot more than simply the ability to falsify a theory, but it does ultimately rest on observable evidence first and foremost. That the multiverse is so speculative and supported only by indirect evidence makes it more metaphysics than science currently. It might be a way of explaining the anthropic principle, but if it really is subject to the issues that Steinhardt suggests, it–and the inflation theory from which it is derived–is not a scientific explanation. As it stands, it might simply be a placeholder until a more robust theory fills the same gap, or there are significant advances in detecting evidence of the multiverse. Until that time, I think it is important for pastors and theologians to be aware of the multiverse theory, but I am unsure whether we need to seriously engage it as a hard science as much as a competing metaphysic.

  3. Rich Gideons August 6, 2017 at 7:17 pm

    I like to believe as Louie Giglio describes in “Indescribeable” that God created so vast a cosmos just to show us how big He is, not because there are other universes or life forms out there. Science isn’t always looking for answers as much as they are trying to explain away the unknown that points to a Divine Creator, the Almighty God. Interesting concept but not something that I beleive preachers should dwell on or entertain much discussion on other than to support the Truth of the Bible.

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