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CalTech cosmologist says “God is not a good theory”

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He defends the multiverse instead.

Incidentally, Sean Carroll also published a piece on this topic at Uncommon Descent in 2011: “No God Needed” CalTech physicist responds to Uncommon Descent’s questions. Guy gets around.

(A lecture published on Jun 5, 2013, from the 2nd mini-series (Is “God” Explanatory) from the “Philosophy of Cosmology” project. A University of Oxford and Cambridge Collaboration.)

23 Replies to “CalTech cosmologist says “God is not a good theory”

  1. 1
    Barb says:

    In efforts to explain by natural processes alone the design and fine-tuning evident in the cosmos, still others turn to what has been called the multiverse, or many-universe, theory. According to this hypothesis, perhaps we live in just one of countless universes—all of which have different conditions, but none of which have any purpose or design. Now according to that line of reasoning and the laws of probability, if you have enough universes, eventually one of them should have the right conditions to support life. However, there actually is no scientific evidence to support the multiverse theory. It is pure speculation.

  2. 2
    wentzelitis says:

    there is no god necessary if i can think up of a much less possible explanation …. it’s possible, that’s all that matters. why believe in 1 non-provable god when i can believe in an infinite amount of non-provable universes

  3. 3
    sigaba says:

    it’s possible, that’s all that matters. why believe in 1 non-provable god when i can believe in an infinite amount of non-provable universes

    But multiverses (at least string-theoretic ones) are discoverable. We may be able to detect their gravitational effects or their signature in cosmic background radiation. If we find it, they exist. If we don’t find it, we can keep looking. Philosophical multiverses are nonscientific and nobody seriously disagrees with that.

    Rigorous multiverse theories are based on physical models that can be verified, given sufficient time and equipment. The existence of a deity is an analytic a priori proposition that cannot be resolved.

  4. 4
    Blue_Savannah says:

    *sigh* Once again we see atheists promoting their religion and basically declaring that ANYTHING is possible, except GOD. As Dr Hunter always says: “Religion drives science, and it matters”

  5. 5
    Steve says:


    what’s the difference?

    it seems rather that you are bothered by an intelligence that speaks a language you are not inclined/capble/willing… to decipher.

    True enough, non-provable universes are clearly a ‘comfortable’ alternative….

    but god is the more intellectually stimulating option…it takes thinking to wrap your brain around an existence outside of your comfort zone.

  6. 6
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba claims @ 3 that we may someday detect string theoretic multiverses but that we can never detect God. It may surprise sigaba to learn that string theoretic multiverses have been a big bust as far as efforts at detecting them, or ever detecting them in the future, are concerned, and, contrary to what sigaba holds, and due to advances in quantum mechanics, WE CAN detect God. Here are a few notes to that effect::

    F-theory Phenomenology – Peter Woit – March 2012
    Excerpt: So, the long-standing ideology that supersymmetry stabilizes the weak scale, and seeing its effects will finally give evidence for string theory unification looks like it is crumbling. With this hope gone, string theory unification becomes a completely unpredictive subject, with no hope of connection to experiment. One has an infinite array of mathematically highly complex models one can spend time studying, but it’s hard to characterize doing so as any recognizable form of physical science.

    Integral challenges physics beyond Einstein – June 30, 2011
    Excerpt: However, Integral’s observations are about 10,000 times more accurate than any previous and show that any quantum graininess must be at a level of 10-48 m or smaller.,,, “This is a very important result in fundamental physics and will rule out some string theories and quantum loop gravity theories,” says Dr Laurent.

    Pouring Some Cold Water on Higgs Hype – July 2012
    Excerpt: As I’ve pointed out previously, string theory, loop-space theory and other popular candidates for a unified theory postulate phenomena far too minuscule to be detected by any existing or even conceivable (except in a sci-fi way) experiment. Obtaining the kind of evidence of a string or loop that we have for, say, the top quark would require building an accelerator as big as the Milky Way.”

    This Week’s Hype – August 2011
    Excerpt: ‘It’s well-known that one can find Stephen Hawking’s initials, and just about any other pattern one can think of somewhere in the CMB data.,, So, the bottom line is that they see nothing, but a press release has been issued about how wonderful it is that they have looked for evidence of a Multiverse, without mentioning that they found nothing.’ – Peter Woit PhD.

    So multiverse enthusiasts are severely disappointed in their quest to empirically verify their theory, whereas Theists, due to advances in the experiments of quantum mechanics, can now frame the argument for God from consciousness like this:

    1. Consciousness either preceded all of material reality or is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality.
    2. If consciousness is a ‘epi-phenomena’ of material reality then consciousness will be found to have no special position within material reality. Whereas conversely, if consciousness precedes material reality then consciousness will be found to have a special position within material reality.
    3. Consciousness is found to have a special, even central, position within material reality.
    4. Therefore, consciousness is found to precede material reality.

    Four intersecting lines of experimental evidence from quantum mechanics that shows that consciousness precedes material reality (Wigner’s Quantum Symmetries, Wheeler’s Delayed Choice, Leggett’s Inequalities, Quantum Zeno effect):

    Quantum physics says goodbye to reality – Apr 20, 2007
    Excerpt: They found that, just as in the realizations of Bell’s thought experiment, Leggett’s inequality is violated – thus stressing the quantum-mechanical assertion that reality does not exist when we’re not observing it. “Our study shows that ‘just’ giving up the concept of locality would not be enough to obtain a more complete description of quantum mechanics,” Aspelmeyer told Physics Web. “You would also have to give up certain intuitive features of realism.”

    Of note: Leggett’s inequality was confirmed to 80 orders of magnitude – per ‘Seed magazine’:

    “I’m going to talk about the Bell inequality, and more importantly a new inequality that you might not have heard of called the Leggett inequality, that was recently measured. It was actually formulated almost 30 years ago by Professor Leggett, who is a Nobel Prize winner, but it wasn’t tested until about a year and a half ago (in 2007), when an article appeared in Nature, that the measurement was made by this prominent quantum group in Vienna led by Anton Zeilinger, which they measured the Leggett inequality, which actually goes a step deeper than the Bell inequality and rules out any possible interpretation other than consciousness creates reality when the measurement is made.” – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Calphysics Institute, is an astrophysicist and author of over 130 scientific publications.
    – Preceding quote taken from this following video;
    Quantum Mechanics and Consciousness – A New Measurement – Bernard Haisch, Ph.D (Shortened version of entire video with notes in description of video)

    Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University
    Excerpt: Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (i.e. Leggett’s inequality)

    Verse and music:

    Colossians 1:17
    And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

    Apocalypitca – Nothing Else Matters –

  7. 7
    bornagain77 says:

    Metallica & San Francisco Symphony Orchestra – Nothing Else Matters

  8. 8
    sigaba says:


    I’m not sure how this philosophical argument is sustainable, given that all the provided evidence of the designer is physical, and thus not reliable without your presupposition of a deity.

    Intelligent Design proves God -> God proves that our knowledge of the physical world is reliable -> our reliable knowledge of the physical world proves intelligent design.

  9. 9
    sigaba says:

    Sorry, permit me to make the point more responsive:

    Quantum Mechanics necessarily entails God -> God necessarily entails that our knowledge of the physical world is reliable -> our reliable knowledge of the physical world necessarily entails QM.

    This is the sort of circular reasoning that’s common to epistemological arguments about presuppositions. Once you’re abandoned the concept of objective reality you need a deity to make the world sensible, but proving the deity is impossible within the world because the deity is your only proof that the world is sensible.

    And in the end all of this is just philosophical arglebargle with no relation to science.

  10. 10
    wentzelitis says:

    steve- i was being sarcastic. sorry if it was not more obvious

  11. 11
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, it might surprise you to learn that as a Darwinist you are forced to deny the reliability of your senses to inform you about reality in the first place (Plantinga’s Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism) much less can you rely empirical/observational science. Thus why should I believe anything you have to say since you are more than willing to accept insanity rather than ever admitting to the necessity of God for a world that is comprehensible to the human mind in the first place? i.e. Dog, tail, circle!

  12. 12
    sigaba says:


    It should be said that Plantinga’s argument is a non-empircal conjecture, but even if I were to grant it arguendo, it does not provide a basis for proving the existence or non-existence of a designer, only for disproving reliable beliefs of all kinds, for a designer, for objective reality or for anything else.

    The EAAN, taken on the merits, is problematic. P creates a dualistic concept of truth wherein “that which aids in survival” is independent of “that which is real,” and his argument hinges on the idea that these two realms don’t conjoin, which is highly suspicious, considering survival and challenges to survival are real things. In order to get around this he constructs a very abstruse statistical argument attempts to categorically organize all possible beliefs, and then assign (made-up) statistical likelihoods to them, in order to prove that all beliefs have equal, and quite low, probability of realism. To Plantinga, all beliefs, regardless of their particular warrant or basis, are equally unreliable.

    I don’t really accept reliablist ideas, I think they’re silly, and there’s nothing that can convince anyone either way on the issue, it’s just an interpretation. I know you do not accept the truth of EAAN, BornAgain, because I know you don’t accept unguided evolution, which is a compulsory premise of EAAN; I don’t accept it because I think it’s bad philosophy. Let’s not waste time with it!

    Disclaimer: Again this is all philosophy and neither science nor intelligent design.

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, Okie Dokie, forget philosophy (seeing as you are pretty inept in it anyway), in 3 you said that we would one day be able to detect string theoretic multiverses, I showed in post 6 that you are living in a pipe dream if you believe that to be so, moreover I showed you that consciousness is foundational to reality, by 80 orders of magnitude within Leggett’s inequality. Thus why were you willing to accept empirical confirmation for a string theoretic multiverse if you were to have been able to get it but you are not willing to accept empirical evidence if it implies a Theistic universe, even by 80 orders of magnitude? Why should you care one way or the other unless you are biased philosophically beforehand.

  14. 14
    sigaba says:

    in 3 you said that we would one day be able to detect string theoretic multiverses,

    Actually I didn’t, I just said that there was a way to see them or not see them. I have not accepted empirical confirmation of a string-theoretic multiverse. The point is that it’s a falsifiable proposition that makes predictive claims, which your account of theism is not.

    you are not willing to accept empirical evidence if it implies a Theistic universe, even by 80 orders of magnitude?

    The problem with your argument, as far as I can see it, is that your account of QM makes it impossible for QM to produce empirically verifiable observations without a deity being presupposed. Without a deity to protect QM from “solipsism,” QM cannot prove anything, according to your account.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, you don’t even make sense to me. Perhaps you need to read the history of Leggett’s inequality before you start making false claims against it as to what it tests:

    A team of physicists in Vienna has devised experiments that may answer one of the enduring riddles of science: Do we create the world just by looking at it? – 2008

    here are a few more subsequent experiments

    A simple approach to test Leggett’s model of nonlocal quantum correlations – 2009
    Excerpt of Abstract: Bell’s strong sentence “Correlations cry out for explanations” remains relevant,,,we go beyond Leggett’s model, and show that one cannot ascribe even partially defined individual properties to the components of a maximally entangled pair.

    Violation of Leggett inequalities in orbital angular momentum subspaces – 2010
    Main results. We extend the violation of Leggett inequalities to the orbital angular momentum (OAM) state space of photons, which is associated with their helical wavefronts. We define our measurements in a Bloch sphere for OAM and measure the Leggett parameter LN (where N is the number of settings for the signal photon) as we change the angle ? (see figure). We observe excellent agreement with quantum mechanical predictions (red line), and show a violation of five and six standard deviations for N = 3 and N = 4, respectively.

    Looking Beyond Space and Time to Cope With Quantum Theory – (Oct. 28, 2012)
    Excerpt: To derive their inequality, which sets up a measurement of entanglement between four particles, the researchers considered what behaviours are possible for four particles that are connected by influences that stay hidden and that travel at some arbitrary finite speed.
    Mathematically (and mind-bogglingly), these constraints define an 80-dimensional object. The testable hidden influence inequality is the boundary of the shadow this 80-dimensional shape casts in 44 dimensions. The researchers showed that quantum predictions can lie outside this boundary, which means they are going against one of the assumptions. Outside the boundary, either the influences can’t stay hidden, or they must have infinite speed.,,,
    The remaining option is to accept that (quantum) influences must be infinitely fast,,,
    “Our result gives weight to the idea that quantum correlations somehow arise from outside spacetime, in the sense that no story in space and time can describe them,” says Nicolas Gisin, Professor at the University of Geneva, Switzerland,,,

  16. 16
    sigaba says:

    All of the scientific experiments used to investigate Leggett’s inequalities are unavailing unless you accept realism in the first place. I think the problem may be that you’re equivocating between scientific realism, which these experiments would tend to disprove, and metaphysical realism, which is an analytic a priori proposition that neither relies on nor provides natural justification.

    Empiricism requires that the senses be capable of producing accurate knowledge of the world, and this knowledge is not consistent without philosophical realism. You can’t deny one without fatally compromising the other.

    There is also the issue of scope, it’s not clear that losing certain realist assumptions, within a certain convoluted quantum mechanics experiment, actually has real macro effects in the wider world; it can’t be used to convey information or change the outcome of other experiments. In other words, the loss of such realism isn’t instrumental and the conclusions you draw are not pragmatic.

    Disclaimer: Again this is all philosophy and neither science nor intelligent design.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, you are completely incoherent. And I hold that you are willingly so! I shall respond no more to you save to counter any actual empirics you may dare to provide as I see no reasonableness on your part.

  18. 18
    sigaba says:

    Oh well, nice try anyway.

    But I think your position would be much stronger if you separated your scientific claims from your philosophical ones, put all of the philosophical conclusions prior to the scientific ones, and developed a clear line of argument on wether or not you accepted empiricism, and to what extent.

  19. 19
    bornagain77 says:

    sigaba, you have yet to reference any empirical evidence whatsoever, whereas I have, Go figure and adios!

  20. 20
    sigaba says:

    I don’t think you understand the criticism… You see, there’s a contradiction between your position that consciousness precedes material reality, and your position that the violation of the Leggett Inequality disproves realism.

    If consciousness precedes material reality, that means that the senses are unreliable, and that reality is an illusion of consciousness. As you quote:

    a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism

    Your position that is that solipsism and theism are the only two possibilities, and in the absence of a God there is only solipsism. The contradiction comes that if solipsism is the case, no experiment can actually tell us anything ontologically valid — the only way experiments can tell us about the world is by having a deity (you don’t actually say that God guarantees the validity of experiments, but since you’re a Christian you do not accept a deceitful God, so I read this in.) In any case, this makes the existence of God a prior requirement for any experiment, and thus, no experiment can verify the existence of God.

    It’s a really simple application of presuppositionalism; you need to ground your epistemic approach in scripture, like Van Til would, or just do like most normal people (even most serious theologians) and accept realism.

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    You are incoherent in your argument and I don’t want to spend the time disentangling for you..

  22. 22
    sigaba says:

    I guess I’ll just have to take your word on that :/

  23. 23
    Phinehas says:


    I’m curious about this:

    The existence of a deity is an analytic a priori proposition that cannot be resolved.

    How do you mean? Why cannot the existence of a deity be resolved? No doubt resolving a deity’s non-existence would be problematic, but why would it be impossible for a deity to resolve his own existence just as readily as a blog poster?

    Also, you say:

    If consciousness precedes material reality, that means that the senses are unreliable, and that reality is an illusion of consciousness.

    I’m not sure this is strictly true. It seems to me it is a non sequitur unless you assume that the consciousness in question is itself unreliable. A reliable material reality could proceed from a reliable Consciousness, could it not?

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