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New book: “Strong hints” of a multiverse mean ours isn’t fine-tuned

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The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us
It could be multiverses.

As we noted earlier, in “Why the universe wasn’t fine-tuned for life” (New Scientist, 14 June 2011), Marcus Chown reports on physicist Victor Stenger’s “devastating demolition” of the argument that the laws of physics of our universe were “fine-tuned” to foster life, in The Fallacy of Fine-tuning:

Even if some parameters turn out to be fine-tuned, Stenger argues this could be explained if ours is just one universe in a “multiverse” – an infinite number of universes, each with different physical parameters. We would then have ended up in the one where the laws of physics are fine-tuned to life because, well, how could we not have?Religious people say that, by invoking a multiverse, physicists are going to extraordinary lengths to avoid God. But physicists have to go where the data lead them. And, currently, there are strong hints from string theory, the standard picture of cosmology and fine-tuning itself to suggest that the universe we can see with our biggest telescopes is only a small part of all that is there.


15 Replies to “New book: “Strong hints” of a multiverse mean ours isn’t fine-tuned

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:


    Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law:
    Peter Woit, a PhD. in theoretical physics and a lecturer in mathematics at Columbia, points out—again and again—that string theory, despite its two decades of dominance, is just a hunch aspiring to be a theory. It hasn’t predicted anything, as theories are required to do, and its practitioners have become so desperate, says Woit, that they’re willing to redefine what doing science means in order to justify their labors.

    ‘What is referred to as M-theory isn’t even a theory. It’s a collection of ideas, hopes, aspirations. It’s not even a theory and I think the book is a bit misleading in that respect. It gives you the impression that here is this new theory which is going to explain everything. It is nothing of the sort. It is not even a theory and certainly has no observational (evidence),,, I think the book suffers rather more strongly than many (other books). It’s not a uncommon thing in popular descriptions of science to latch onto some idea, particularly things to do with string theory, which have absolutely no support from observations.,,, They are very far from any kind of observational (testability). Yes, they (the ideas of M-theory) are hardly science.” – Roger Penrose – former close colleague of Stephen Hawking – in critique of Hawking’s new book ‘The Grand Design’ the exact quote in the following video clip:

    Roger Penrose Debunks Stephen Hawking’s New Book ‘The Grand Design’ – video

    of related note:

    Quantum Mechanics and Relativity – The Collapse Of Physics? – video – with notes as to plausible reconciliation missed by materialists

  2. 2
    kairosfocus says:

    Quick thoughts:

    The first challenge that this sort of speculation faces, is the need for observational evidence for a claim to move out of speculative philosophy to the realms of warranted scientific claims.

    Secondly, as is discussed here, the multiverse still does not evade the fine tuning problem, it only kicks it up a notch.

    Here is John Leslie’s reply (follow the just linked to get the onward links, and let me go wash off some beach sand):

    . . . the need for such explanations [[for fine-tuning] does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor [[emphasis original] alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    [[Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998. The force of this point is deepened once we think about what has to be done to get a rifle into “tack-driving” condition. That is, a “tack-driving” rifle is a classic example of a finely tuned, complex system, i.e. we are back at the force of Collins’ point on a multiverse model needing a well adjusted Cosmos bakery. (Slide show, ppt. “Simple” summary, doc.)]

    GEM of TKI

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Of related note; Here is Professor Peter Woit’s blog where he has been fairly busy showing the failure of string theory to pass any of the tests put to any of its predictions:

    String Theory Fails Another Test, the “Supertest”

  4. 4
    nullasalus says:

    Multiverses. It always amazes me, knowing that it’s come to this for some atheists.

  5. 5
    aedgar says:

    Wishful thinking!

  6. 6
    Dick says:

    Actually the existence of a multiverse, so far from being a defeater for ID, actually makes intelligent design almost certainly true – for two reasons:

    Paul Davies in The Goldilocks Enigma explains that in an infinite number of pocket worlds it is probable that some of them would be inhabited by beings advanced enough to create simulated universes. The sims, for reasons he discusses, would far exceed in number the real universes. Thus, our universe is most likely a “fake” world, designed by a superintellect.

    The second reason is that if there are an infinity of different worlds then every logically possible world would be actualized. Since a world that is the product of a designer is a logically possible world then such a world must exist somewhere.

    Whether ours is that world or not, it must still be true to say that there is an intelligent designer that has designed at least one world in the multiverse. The question then becomes, “Are there any good reasons to think that ours is not it?”

  7. 7
    nullasalus says:


    Good eye. You hit on something I plan to do a post on recently, and I’m glad someone else has noticed this little problem with infinite multiverses.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    In a prior work Stenger argues that science shows that God does not exist.

    Physicist Victor J Stenger contends that, if God exists, some evidence for this existence should be detectable by scientific means, especially considering the central role that God is alleged to play in the operation of the universe and the lives of humans.

    It would be interesting to know whether the arguments for a multiverse in any way invalidate Stenger’s argument in his earlier book.

  9. 9
    Shazard says:

    Only thing they have left is to proove that we didn’t ended in the very Universe which was created by Higher Beeing. As in the Multiverse which is Infinite any logical possiible outcome from potentiality becomes actuality. That means, that there should be plenty of Universes which are created by other Higher Beeings.
    How can we find out if ours is NOT the one?

    And shouldnt Infinite Multiverse which is capable of producing all the truth (logically possible outcome of anything), and the product of such Multiverse is higher order outcome then Intellect we know can produce, isn’t this the God we speak about?

    Infinite Entity which is able to actialise anything logically possible and the Entitities product is compatible with Intellects product.

    What’s the difference how you call Him, He’s not going to disapear 🙂 Chaning names for known beings doesn’t change the very beeing of the beeing 🙂

  10. 10
    tjguy says:

    Just goes to show the ridiculous extent to which people will go to say their pet theories, no matter what weird things they are forced to place their faith in.

  11. 11
    Meleagar says:

    A further problem with Stenger’s and Hawkings’ views is the Boltzmann Brain problem; if infinite numbers of universes can be spontaneously generated from nothing, then there should be even more spontaneously existing brains that pop into existence (since it is easier to manufacture the brain from nothing than a set of conditions that over billions of years lead to billions of brains) that are only imagining, in one sense or another, a universal history and that other beings exist (although I posit this would be probably be indistinguishable from an actual universe with an actual god).

    It becomes more and more, every day, like watching people who are otherwise very intelligent and reasonable, being driven mad by their adamant refusal to accept the obvious.

  12. 12

    While all of your comments are true, and should keep any sane person from spouting multiverse nonsense, there needs to be a more rigorous way to show it is nonsense. That is, if wild-eyed hypothesizing is an acceptable way to do science, then shouldn’t we be able to show an even more probable theory that out-does theirs?

    As they often criticize ID, we shouldn’t merely point out the improbability of their examples, but offer a replacement. Along that line, I’d like to offer a dozen or so replacements for infinity.

  13. 13
    CannuckianYankee says:

    “As they often criticize ID, we shouldn’t merely point out the improbability of their examples, but offer a replacement. Along that line, I’d like to offer a dozen or so replacements for infinity.”

    What? You mean you can’t come up with an infinite number of replacements for infinity? 🙂

    “there needs to be a more rigorous way to show it is nonsense.”

    I’m not certain if this is “rigorous,” but in the Kalam cosmological argument there is the a reliance upon the “impossibility of traversing an actual infinite.”

    I personally think the issue is confined to the narrow philosophical field of logic. We wont ever be able to prove the non-existence of multiverses with the kind of empirical rigor you appear to be suggesting.

    Of course multiverse thinking demonstrates an inability to do pure logic, so I don’t think it will be helpful.

    I’ve always imagined that since we have fairly reliable empirical evidence that our universe will one day decay into the nothingness from whence it came, that the whole idea of infinities is defeated. Try subtracting one from an infinite set. You still have an infinite set minus one, which to me seems quite absurd.

    And since we’re dealing with space and not with abstractions, it becomes even more absurd. If one among an infinite set of spaces or universes ceases to exist, what will fill the void? Is there a void? If there is such a void then why haven’t we noticed our own universe moving in to fill such a void? It would seem to me that if there is an infinite number of universes, the creating of these voids should be a common occurrence.

    I’m sure there are those who could find fault in my thinking here and point out how my arguments don’t exactly nullify an infinite set of universes. There could be something about infinite sets that we don’t quite understand. But that would be part of the point. If we don’t understand how infinite sets work, then why are we positing their existence in physical reality when we have no experience with them, and our current common sense thinking coupled with our experience renders them absurd?

    I think I’ll invent another hypothesis that is just as logical as multiverses. My hypothesis is that nothing truly exists at all. We are not even imagining that things exist, because we in fact don’t exist. Anyone arguing that we do exist has no argument because arguments themselves do not exist. I think I could live logically consistent with this hypothesis, since neither me nor my actions exist either, so consistency (since it doesn’t exist either is not a concern: which also don’t exist).

  14. 14
    Dick says:

    Re: Following Cannuckian Yankee’s claim (13) that nothing exists it might be added that:

    In an infinite number of universes such as most multiverse theories posit there would be at least one universe in which the exercise of rational thought on metaphysical questions would always result in false conclusions.

    Since we can’t be sure we’re not in such a universe we have no epistemic business thinking that reason gives us any reason to believe in a multiverse.

    Or put differently, belief in a multiverse is incompatible with belief in the reliability of reason.

  15. 15
    uchitrakar says:

    If total energy of the universe is zero, then it can be shown that multiverse theory cannot be true. This is because total energy being zero, total mass will also be zero due to mass-energy equivalence. Scientists have shown that anything having mass will always occupy some space. So anything that fails to occupy any space cannot have any mass. Our universe perhaps fails to occupy any space, and that is why its mass is zero. But if multiverse theory is true, then our universe will definitely occupy some space within the multiverse, and thus in that case its mass cannot be zero. But as this mass is zero, therefore multiverse theory cannot be true.
    Here it may be argued that radiation occupies space but its mass is zero. So here is an example that something occupying space can still be without mass. So our universe can also be without mass even if it occupies some space within the multiverse. In reply we will say that the example cited here is a bad example, because our universe is not any kind of radiation. So if it is without mass, then that can only be due to its not occupying any space, and not due to its being some sort of radiation.
    However, if the total energy of the universe cannot be taken to be zero, then the conclusion drawn here will not stand.

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