Written by Vladimir Moss



     Of all the crazy ideas thought up by the wit of man, perhaps the most absurd is the new physical idea of the “multiverse”. Frank Close, professor of physics at Oxford University, explains that the idea of the “multiverse” – the existence of multiple universes – is, together with string theory, one of the “two leading theories that attempt to explain the most fundamental characteristics of the physical world”.[1] But Close readily admits that it has one or two problems… 

     The first is that it is untestable and unfalsifiable, which makes it, strictly speaking, not science at all. “As there is no possibility of communication between us and other universes, there is no empirical way to test the multiverse theory. George Ellis makes the point explicitly: ‘In a general multiverse model, everything that can happen will happen somewhere, so any data whatever can be accommodated. Hence it cannot be disproved by an observational test at all.’ By implication, the multiverse concept lies outside science.’”[2] 

     So one of the two main mega-theories of contemporary physical science is not science at all. (Close thinks that the situation is a little better with the other mega-theory, string theory, but only just!) Physics was meant to exclude the need for metaphysics, untestable philosophy – but it seems that metaphysics is making a come-back!

     And this is not the only problem. According to Close, the different universes of the “multiverse” can “implement different laws of physics”, with the consequence that “if such diverse regions of space exist, then the ‘universe’ as we’ve defined it is not the whole of reality.”[3]

     “Ellis and his cosmologist colleague Joe Silk, a professor at the Université de Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris, call this ‘a kaleidoscopic multiverse comprising a myriad of universes’. They, as proxy for many physicists, then pose the basic challenge: the suggestion that another universe need not have the same fundamental constants of nature as ours inspires the question of what determines the values in our universe. Of the variety of universes that could exist, the conditions for the narrow range of parameters for which intelligent life could exist are trifling. The odds that we exist are therefore so vanishingly small, that multiverse theory claims that there is a ‘landscape’ of universes ‘out there’ in which all possible values of these parameters exist. Thus one universe will exist somewhere with conditions just right for life, and we are the proof…”[4]

      This reveals what is perhaps the main motivation for multiverse theory in physics: to help out evolution theory in biology in what should be the very first and easiest step in the ladder of evolution: the origin of life. The problem is that, as the physicist Close readily admits, – most biologists are much less sincere, - “the odds that we exist are vanishingly small” because the odds on the existence of all of the ten major constants that make life on earth possible (for example, the distance of the earth from the sun) are also “vanishingly small”. So in order to help out their biological colleagues in their little difficulty (of course, this is only the beginning of the vast difficulties faced by Darwinist theory), the physicists are forced to resort to the fantastical theory that all possible universes exist somewhere in the “multiverse” – including our own fantastically unlikely universe with its life-bearing planet, the Earth.

      The Lord said that with God all things are possible. But He did not say that all possibilities will in fact become actual. In fact, He definitively excluded certain possibilities: for example, that falsehood should finally triumph over truth, or good over evil, or that the world will not come to an end by His Second Coming. God can do anything – except contradict His own all-holy will. It is His will that decrees which possibilities become reality, and which will never be fulfilled – in any universe.

     The concept of the will is crucial here. For what is an act of will if not the elimination of a range of possibilities in favour of one reality?As I write these words, I am making what I write, not just a possibility, but reality, while at the same time excluding all other possibilities from being actualized. Thus freedom to will this as opposed to that is the freedom to create reality out of mere possibility. As I write these words I am not simply banishing the things I am not writing to some other universe in which they exist on equal terms with what I am writing: I am excluding the very possibility of their being written anywhere – at any rate, at this point in my life.

     If, on the other hand, I assert, as the multiverse theorists seem to be asserting, that I am writing an infinite number of other versions of this article in an infinite number of other universes, the very concept of “I”, of personal identity, seems to disappear. Physicists appear to have become reconciled to the idea – enormously paradoxical though it is - that a sub-atomic particle can exist in two places at the same time. But this paradox is as nothing by comparison with the idea there are an infinity of universes in which I write an infinite number of different versions of this article. Some of these alternative versions will be gibberish, or represent something completely different from what I actually believe. How, then, can they be said to be what I write? Will they not in fact be the products of completely different people? Indeed, if different universes comprise different possibilities that cannot communicate with each other, and which may obey completely different laws of nature, what basis is there for saying that the I who am writing this article in this universe am the same as any of the Is who are writing it in other universes?

     Let us remind ourselves of the first difficulty Close finds in multiverse theory: that there is no empirical evidence for the existence any other universe than our own – that is, the one single concatenation of events in space and time that all human beings with the exception of contemporary physicists consider to be reality and not mere possibility. Indeed, not only is there no empirical evidence for other universes: even theoretically there cannot be any such evidence. For if there were, it would show that those other universes were interacting with our own and therefore formed part of our reality. As for there being an infinity of other universes, this is even more out of the question. For as the German mathematician David Hilbert says: “Although infinity is needed to complete mathematics, it occurs nowhere in the physical universe.”[5] 

     Scientists used to pride themselves on their hard-headedness, on their insistence on facts, facts that can be empirically seen, heard or touched. Now, however, they deal, not in facts, but in possibilities, infinite numbers of them, none of which is more real than any other. They have become other-worldly to the most extreme degree, indulging in fantasies about other universes no less real – or unreal - than our ours but with which we can have no communication and about which we can have no information whatsoever. 

     Truly the modern physicist echoes the words of Shakespeare’s Prospero: 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Ye all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

     However, let us stop dreaming, wake up and face the reality: there is only one reality, one universe. We are real, our decisions are real, and the reward for our actions is real. We cannot escape from reality – and moral responsibility – by claiming that here is any other reality in any other world. The idea of multiple universes is an old one: we find it in Hinduism, and we find it in the dualistic religions of the Middle East. Just as the idea is old, so is its refutation – the Holy Fathers long ago rejected the idea of two universes, one ruled by a good God and the other by a bad one following different laws.

     A famous modern apologist, C.S. Lewis, discerns in all forms of the dualistic (and by inference, multiverse) error two major difficulties, one metaphysical and the other moral. The metaphysical difficulty consists in the in the fact that neither of the two worlds “can claim to be the Ultimate. More ultimate than either of them is the inexplicable fact of there being there together. Neither of them chose this tête-à-tête. Each of them therefore is conditioned – finds [itself] willy nilly in a situation; and either that situation itself, or some unknown force which produced that situation, is the real Ultimate. Dualism has not yet reached the ground of being. You cannot accept two conditioned and mutually independent beings as the self-grounded, self-comprehending Absolute.” In trying to understand the dualistic multiverse in pictorial terms, we cannot avoid “smuggling in the idea of a common space in which they can be together, and thus confessing that we are not yet dealing with the source of the universe but only with two members contained in it. Dualism is a truncated philosophy.”[6]

     The moral difficulty is similar. It consists in the fact that if one universe has one system of values, which we from our point of view would call good, and the other a completely different, or contradictory one, which we would call bad, there is no basis on which to judge between the two. “In what sense can one party [or universe] be said to be right and the other wrong? If evil has the same kind of reality as good, the same autonomy and completeness, our allegiance to good becomes the arbitrarily chosen loyalty of a partisan. A sound theory of value demands something very different…”[7]

     It does indeed. However, physicists do not generally concern themselves with moral questions, or the origins of morality, so one might argue that this consequence of their theory is irrelevant to physical truth. But this would be disingenuous; for physical, cosmological theories are so ambitious that they quite unashamedly claim to be “Theories of Everything” (TOEs). Everything is everything. You cannot claim to have a theory of everything if “everything” excludes life, consciousness, conscience, science, art and morality…

     Not to mention God… But then we have come to expect that “theories of everything” would exclude God. The ironic thing is that in the brave new world of modern science in which everything that is remotely possible must be true in some universe or other, the possibility of God remains firmly excluded. The trouble is: it is not only in a moral, but also in a physical sense that modern man wishes to believe that “if God does not exist, everything is possible”. The motive of modern science remains atheistic. Only the determination not to believe in God can explain how they would prefer the most fantastical of all theories to the knowledge of God… It is truly the fool that has said in his heart: there is no God.

     Science has obviously discovered many truths. But they are minor truths, almost trivialities. “The big picture”, the “everything”, has escaped it - totally.

     As the holy Bishop Ignatius Brianchaninov, who had a thorough training in physics, mathematics and engineering, writes: “You ask what is my opinion of the human sciences? After the fall men began to need clothing and numerous other things that accompany our earthly wanderings; in a word, they began to need material development, the striving for which has become the distinguishing feature of our age. The sciences are the fruit of our fall, the production of our damaged fallen reason. Scholarship is the acquisition and retention of impressions and knowledge that have been stored up by men during the time of the life of the fallen world. Scholarship is a lamp by which ‘the gloom of darkness is guarded to the ages’. The Redeemer returned to men that lamp which was given to them at creation by the Creator, of which they were deprived because of their sinfulness. This lamp is the Holy Spirit, He is the Spirit of Truth, who teaches every truth, searches out the deep things of God, opens and explains mysteries, and also bestows material knowledge when that is necessary for the spiritual benefit of man. Scholarship is not properly speaking wisdom, but an opinion about wisdom. The knowledge of the Truth that was revealed to men by the Lord, access to which is only by faith, which is inaccessible for the fallen mind of man, is replaced in scholarship by guesses and presuppositions. The wisdom of this world, in which many pagans and atheists occupy honoured positions, is directly contrary according to its very origins with spiritual, Divine wisdom: it is impossible to be a follower of the one and the other at the same time; one must unfailingly be renounced. The fallen man is ‘falsehood’, and from his reasonings ‘science falsely so-called’ is composed, that form and collection of false concepts and knowledge that has only the appearance of reasons, but is in essence vacillation, madness, the raving of the mind infected with the deadly plague of sin and the fall. This infirmity of the mind is revealed in special fullness in the philosophical sciences.”[8] 

     There is only one world, but that world includes and is embraced by God. It is precisely the Kingdom that is not of this world that makes this world real; in God it lives and moves and has its being; through Him reality acquires its stubborn, tangible, ineluctable quality. He is the Absolute and Ultimate which makes any dualism or multiversism unnecessary and unthinkable. Unlike the mutually uncommunicating universes of the multiverse, He communicates with us, giving us “infallible proofs” (Acts 1.3) of His existence and of His goodness. “He gives to all life, breath, and all things” (Acts 17.25). He is “the Beginning of every beginning(I Chronicles 29.12), and the End of every end. He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, Who is and Who was and Who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1.8). Amen.


June 1/14, 2015.

St. Justin the Philosopher.



[1] Close, “The Limits of Knowledge”, Prospect, June, 2015, p. 64.

[2] Close, op. cit., p. 65.

[3] Close, op. cit., p. 65.

[4] Close, op. cit., p. 65. 

[5] Hilbert, in Close, op. cit., p. 66.

[6] Lewis, “Evil and God”, in Faith, Christianity and the Church, London: HarperCollins, 2002, p. 94.

[7] Lewis, op. cit., p. 94.

[8] Bishop Ignatius, Sochinenia (Works), volume 4, letter N 45 (in Russian).

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