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Multiverse is not an alternative to God, Part II

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soap bubbles/Timothy Pilgrim

From Jeff Miller at Apologetics Press:

As with inflation theory, the multiverse is untestable and unobservable, making it unscientific. Astrophysicist and Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University Adam Riess and astrophysicist Mario Livio, previously at the Space Telescope Science Institute, stated: “Even just mentioning the multiverse idea…raises the blood pressure of some physicists. The notion seems hard to swallow and harder to test—perhaps signifying the end of the classical scientific method as we know it. Historically this method has required that hypotheses should be directly testable by new experiments or observations.”1 But observation, direct testing, and experimentation are not possible with the multiverse. More.

But then, objectivity is so sexist now. The multiverse is an alternative to science!

See also: Multiverse cosmology at your fingertips

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Note: Part 1 is here.

Eric - yes, I agree with "currently untestable". I think the suggested tests have relied on indirect observations (some multiverse theories have universes floating around in some sort of meta-universe, and occasionally colliding with each other, so we might be able to observe the effects of these collisions). I've no problems with hypotheses needing things like infinite string: they are only models of the universe, and all models are wrong. As long as the infinite string assumption isn't that vital to the explanation, it's fine. It's the way the rest of science works, anyway. But at some point the maths needs to be compared to reality, and I think that's the problem - the theoreticians have been able to move far ahead of what we can observe, so perhaps they have moved too far. BTW, I think infinite string is what you get when you milk a spherical cow. Bob O'H
Bob O'H: Fair point. So we should probably say that multiverse theories are currently untestable, rather than untestable in all respects? I think one of the challenges is that anything outside our universe is, somewhat by definition, unobservable. So a lot of people are really skeptical about whether another universe could, even in principle, be observed in any way. Perhaps there could be some indirect observation in our universe that would belie the presence of something beyond our universe? We'll have to see if the proponents come up with anything concrete. In the meantime, I think a lot of people are getting fed up with the fact that all we have are theoretical ideas, coupled with convenient math. If a hypothesis depends, for example, on a hypothetical construct like an "infinite string", then it might be hard to convince people that you are doing actual science, rather than just playing math games. Who knows? It might all be true. But for me, at least, it is going to require a lot more than hypothetical ideas and convenient math constructs to convince me that the multiverse should be taken seriously. Eric Anderson
Is it actually true that "the multiverse" (whatever that means: there are several multiverse theories. See Brian Greene's book) actually untestable, or is it that we haven't yet worked out how to test the theory? My impression was that proponents of multiverse theories were at least trying to work out how to test them. Bob O'H

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