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Did medieval theologians believe in a multiverse?

soap bubbles/Timothy Pilgrim

A friend writes to say, “Some noted medieval theologians were quite wiling to consider that God had created other inhabited worlds. They saw no logical or scientific difficulty in assuming that such worlds might indeed exist.” Our friend cites in evidence:

– When Tempier [d. 1279] declared that the omnipotent God could create a vacuum if he so desired, Tempier insisted that God could break any Aristotelian law. God could create life on other worlds if he wished. There could be thousands of other Earths, each teeming with creatures; it was certainly within God’s power, whether Aristotle agrees or not.

– Nicholas of Cusa [1401 – 1464] was bold enough to say that God must have done so. The regions of the other stars are similar to this,” he said, “for we believe that none of them is deprived of inhabitants.” … Nicholas was sure that God had, indeed, created an infinite number of other worlds. Earth was no longer at the center of the universe. Yet Nicholas was not declared a heretic, and the church didn’t react to the new idea. —Zero, The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, Charles Seife, p. 88


– Finally, radical Augustinianism affirmed the plurality of worlds, even a plurality of inhabited worlds other than the earth. Again, this inadvertent support for an Epicurean position was the result of the rejection of Aristotle, in particular the rejection of Aristotle’s argument (rooted in his rather complicated doctrine of natural place) that there could only be one world. —Moral Darwinism, How We Became Hedonists, Benjamin Wiker, p. 106

Fair enough, but they were saying only that God could create an infinite number of worlds, including perhaps worlds that operate on different principles from the only one we can study.

Today’s multiverser is saying something quite different: The overwhelming evidence for fine-tuning of our universe only shows that there must be an enormous number of randomly flopped universes, of which ours is a random success. One wonders how many medieval thinkers would warm to infinite random flops (IRF) cosmology… they had a passion for hierarchy and order.

The fact that there is no evidence for the IRFs has caused them to start dumping on the idea of relying on evidence, which hinges nicely with the naturalist idea that consciousness is an illusion.

See also: Cosmologist Sean Carroll: A multiverse is “beyond falsifiability” – and that’s okay with him

What becomes of science when the evidence does not matter?


The illusion of consciousness sees through itself.


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