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Creation 39(4):49–51, October 2017

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The universe of the lone brain




Famous atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins has claimed:

“The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference.”1

His remarks are no doubt provocative, but are they accurate? What would a universe of sheer randomness and chance really look like? Dawkins concedes elsewhere that biology gives at least the appearance of design.2 It is not only biology, though, that leads one to question Dawkins’ assessment. The cosmos itself provides a strong indication of intelligence—the universe, along with the physical laws and constants which govern its day-to-day operation, gives every indication of being finely tuned to allow complex life such as ourselves to exist and flourish.3 This is so well established that it has even been given its own title, the ‘anthropic principle’.4

The ‘multiverse’ escape hatch

The implications of a Designer are so strong, in fact, that atheists have been forced to come up with a mechanism to ‘explain away’ this extremely odd fact (odd only from the atheist perspective, of course). One of the ways this is done is by appealing to ‘multiverse theory’.5 In a reality in which only chance rules, the universe we observe is highly unlikely to occur. But, they reason, if our universe was only one of an infinite number of universes, then perhaps ours just happens to be the one that hit the lucky jackpot. It’s only natural that we should observe it, since if we were in any of the other ones, we wouldn’t be able to exist at all!6

As a response to cosmic fine tuning, this is hardly an acceptable scientific answer; rather, this is an ad hoc ‘way out’ of the fine tuning problem. There is no empirical evidence for the existence of other universes—all our data are, by definition, part of the universe in which we exist!

Evolutionary astrophysicist Paul Davies explains:

“How seriously can we take this explanation for the friendliness of nature? Not very, I think. For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification.

Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.

At the same time, the multiverse theory also explains too much. Appealing to everything in general to explain something in particular is really no explanation at all. To a scientist, it is just as unsatisfying as simply declaring, ‘God made it that way!’”7

The anthropic principle is much more elegantly and simply explained by the existence of a Designer (a concept for which there is ample scientific evidence coming from a myriad of other fields!). Thus, by applying the universally accepted principle of reasoning known as Ockham’s Razor, we can dismiss the multiverse hypothesis as unnecessary.8

Pockets of order?

Ludwig Boltzmann was the Austrian physicist who pioneered statistical thermodynamics, and was a contemporary of Darwin. He hypothesized that the overall universe is already in a state of equilibrium, but that there exist, scattered randomly throughout, little pockets of order which he called ‘worlds’, which spontaneously pop up as random fluctuations. Thus, he thought, our universe must be just such a random pocket of order in a much larger system.9 He was appealing to what has come to be called the ‘observer self-selection effect’ (we observe order because without it, there could be no observers!).

The modern scientific community has, however, rejected this hypothesis; if this universe were merely a random fluctuation of order in an overall system of disorder, then by the laws of probability we should not observe nearly the vastness that we do.10 It would be overwhelmingly more probable for us to observe a much smaller pocket, since there’s a lot more order in our universe than what is needed merely to allow observers like us. In fact, this can be carried to an extreme (i.e. reductio ad absurdum): the most probable randomly-generated ‘world’ in which an observer could exist would be a world just large enough to contain a single brain capable of observation! This is known as a ‘Boltzmann Brain’.11 Since we observe a great deal more order than that, it follows that we are very unlikely to exist in such a random pocket of order.

Paul Davies had previously pointed out something similar with multiverse theory:

“Problems also crop up in the small print. Among the myriad universes similar to ours will be some in which technological civilizations advance to the point of being able to simulate consciousness. Eventually, entire virtual worlds will be created inside computers, their conscious inhabitants unaware that they are the simulated products of somebody else’s technology. For every original world, there will be a stupendous number of available virtual worlds—some of which would even include machines simulating virtual worlds of their own, and so on ad infinitum.

Taking the multiverse theory at face value, therefore, means accepting that virtual worlds are more numerous than ‘real’ ones. There is no reason to expect our world—the one in which you are reading this right now—to be real as opposed to a simulation. And the simulated inhabitants of a virtual world stand in the same relationship to the simulating system as human beings stand in relation to the traditional Creator.”12

But while the scientific community has, in general, rejected Boltzmann’s version of the multiverse hypothesis, the multiverse theory continues to be invoked as an explanation for the stunning order and fine tuning of our cosmos, as does the so-called observer self-selection effect. Given that fact, it seems the force of the Boltzmann Brain problem has yet to be sufficiently felt by the secular academic community. Since their ultimate vision of our universe is, in Dawkins’ words, one of “no design, no purpose … nothing but blind, pitiless indifference,” it becomes extremely hard (read: impossible) to explain why we see as much order as we do.

God’s love and creativity

We may now return to Dawkins’ original statement that the universe we observe has exactly the properties we should expect, given nothing but pure randomness and no design. It should be obvious at this point just how completely wrong-headed, even absurd, this statement really is. The sheer amount of multi-layered complexity in our universe is staggering even to contemplate, and there are so many facets of our existence that go far beyond the ‘grunt work’ of mere survival and reproduction.

Our universe cries out that God exists and furthermore, He cares for us! He has given us many pleasures and abilities in this life—without which our existence would be much more tedious and miserable. At the same time, the faults we find in this world speak to the fallen state of creation after the original sin of mankind. We should make sure not to take for granted the many blessings God has bestowed, and remember, as always, what the Apostle Paul said about God on this topic:

“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20)

Multiverse vs many-worlds: not the same

The modern origin of many-worlds thinking in the scientific community may go back to the jocular proposal of Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961) of a ‘many-worlds’ interpretation of quantum mechanics.1

This was more seriously proposed by Hugh Everett III (1930–1982), who called it the ‘relative state’ interpretation. The normal interpretation is that the so-called wave function predicts the probabilities of certain events, e.g. the unpredictable random decay of an atomic particle (upon which, in Schrödinger’s famous cat-in-a-sealed-box thought experiment, the release of a poison and thus the life or death of the cat depends). When the event actually happens, this is now the reality, and the other possible events can no longer occur.

In the many-worlds interpretation, all the events occur in different universes. Note the important difference here with the normal multiverse theory: multiverse theory presupposes the appearance of multiple universes at the beginning, while many-worlds states that multiple realities are constantly being generated.

  1. Sarfati, J., Should creationists accept quantum mechanics? creation.com/creationists-quantum-mechanics, 2011.

References and notes

  1. Dawkins, R., River out of Eden, Basic Books, New York, USA, p. 133, 1995. Return to text.
  2. Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, USA, p. 1, 1986. See also:Catchpoole, D., Dawkins and design, creation.com/dawkins-and-design. Return to text.
  3. Sarfati, J., The universe is finely tuned for life, creation.com/tuned, updated 2015. Return to text.
  4. DeYoung, D., selected questions and answers excerpted from Astronomy and the Bible; creation.com/astronomy-and-the-bible. Return to text.
  5. Bates, G., Multiverse theory—unknown science or illogical raison d’être? creation.com/multiverse-theory, June 2009. Return to text.
  6. This pseudo-response to fine tuning is nothing more than a tautology. An explanation for the improbable fine tuning is still needed! See ref. 3. Return to text.
  7. Davies, P., A brief history of the multiverse, New York Times, 12 April 2003; nytimes.com. Return to text.
  8. Moreland, J. and Craig, W., Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview, Inter Varsity Press, Downers Grove, USA, p. 487, 2003. See also Grigg, R., William of Ockham ‘The first Protestant’, Creation 39(2):52–55, April 2017. Return to text.
  9. Cited in Moreland and Craig, Ref. 8, p. 488. Return to text.
  10. Cited in Moreland and Craig, Ref. 8, pp. 488–489. Return to text.
  11. Craig, W.L. Invasion of the Boltzmann Brains, reasonablefaith.org, 30 September 2012. Return to text.
  12. Davies, Ref. 7. Return to text.

Readers’ comments

Phillip B.
I have a question that is probably not that much associated to this presentation and also difficult to answer completely or unequivocally but I would like to ask if you have any insight on where within the universe do Angels exist in a physical sense? Surely they don't just float throughout the Galaxy. Do Angels have a physical or spiritual base or headquarters? Does our Lord Jesus sit at the right hand of the father in a physical dimension? and where could that be? Where is Heaven? Where is Hell? I sometimes think that Hell will be on the Earth and Heaven a place where we as Christians are transported to after the Millennial reign of Christ. I wouldn't mind if you just take a stab at it. Good Luck and blessings to you all at Creation .com
Paul Price
This is not the kind of answer you wanted, but I think it's wisest for us to remain silent about things the Scriptures do not explicitly lay out for us-at least as often as we can. We do know from Scripture that angels can take physical form, but the extent to which the physical and spiritual realms overlap and interact is not really known to us.
Kenneth M.
@Terry L.

You seem to miss the whole point of this article. It wasn’t arguing against science, nor was it written in ignorance of the scientific process, hypothesis, theories, or knowledge at all; in fact, if you would take the time to actually comprehend what has been written instead of just simply reading it through your own perspective lens you would understand that.

In all honesty, which the author has admitted, no origin theory, concept, idea, hypothesis or any thing else anyone can ever come up with can be said to be truth without faith. In fact, all science is founded on faith, and if you want to get down to it, all knowledge is simply a product of faith. Your very being is a product of faith based on the senses of your body. Everything you touch, observe, and experience produce what you call knowledge, but that knowledge is a product of the faith you have in your senses, observations, and experiences. If our very being and reality are products of great faith in our own ability to think and process data given by our material bodies, how much more faith is being used in accepting what another beings are communicating to us about things we have not, cannot, and could not experience in our own vapor of a lifetime? I tell you the truth: science must change to be science, but faith is the singularity for which all science is searching. The biggest problem with secular science is that it seeks to always change the knowledge we have of our universe when it should be seeking to grow in the knowledge that all of us already have. The truth that so many miss, and I so often forget is that this universe was not made for us to figure out: no, this universe was simple made for us... period.
Terry L.
Clearly the person writing this article doesnt understand the scientific process and cherry picked info to support his arguement id love to have a one on one arguement with him to give him a better understanding the difference between hypothesis, theory and knowledge. For this person to play on religious ignorance of science is sad. Science does nothing but seek knowledge and proposes theorys from a hypothesis then test the theory to achieve knowledge.
Where religion goes on blind belief attacks scientists for there lack of knowledge that in time will change as they acquire more knowledge.
So hopefully one day believers one day will realize there own ignorance and seek knowledge actually making the world a better place.
Paul Price
I suggest you carefully read:

It's Not Science

Biblical roots of modern science
Mike D.
Evolution at its basic roots stands on Faith & the Supernatural! That's what I start proving to atheist etc first. I start with the question. Do you believe in Eternal Existence? It doesn't matter which way they answer because either way will lead me to proving evolution from the start is based on Faith & the Supernatural. If No then they have to explain the origin of original energy w/o using Faith & Supernatural esp based on law of energy. If Yes. Then I say so why do you have a problem with God being eternal because someone or somehow you have to get to the creation of that original energy. Energy law is. Energy can't be created nor destroyed it can only change forms. Ultimately Evolution has to be responsible for creating the very laws it breaks on the way to creating mankind. I don't have time here to go over my whole method. But it works. When I'm finished they have to admit evolution is very much Faith & Supernaturally based. No different than having God. Yet there has to be an Intelligent Designer. I go through that too. How I converted a man with 2 Dr.s in Engineering from active atheism to Christian over 2 yrs the Friday before he died of a heart attack that weekend. Praise God. He challenged me to the debate. He was so used to defeating theistic " Christian" evolutionist. Praise God He was lead to me & I had the info from sites like this!!!
Carl N.
The reason why there can only be an universe and not a multiverse is that a definition of a singularity (eg the universe) is a prerequisite for multiplication. The science world acknowledges that they do not know what the magnitide and boundaries of the universe is and therefor
also not have a definition of the singularity
- and thus rules out multiplication (multiverse). Thos is a principle in theoretical mathematics.
Edmond C.
As a Bible believing Christian, I do consider the possibility that our reality is in fact a construct of a larger reality. This would make perfect sense from a Biblical perspective. Perhaps we are a simulated reality or a virtual reality at least when compared to God's reality. There are some things to consider that really make sense in light of a reality within a reality. The biggest being that God is transcendent of this reality. He exist in it, but does not depend on it for existence. And how did God directly interact with people? He did so through a person, Jesus Christ, who took on the substance of this reality, even though his person would also have to be transcendent of this reality. The Bible also claims that our reality is in fact held together by God. So not only is God necessary to create our reality, but his continuity and the continuity of the higher reality is necessary for our reality to continue. To me this suggest that if it were possible for God to no longer exist, all existence would also not exist including the higher reality that makes our reality possible. So, in a way, yes, our existence might be a virtual reality from God's perspective as he has the power to shut it down at anytime of his choosing and that it was created by him in a reality of higher existence. Honestly, I don't see anyway of getting around that, but for us, this is reality.
Paul Price
It doesn't sound like you're saying anything that would disagree with Scripture, but you're using terminology that is not normally associated with Scriptural concepts. Instead of a "reality within a reality", we would normally say "Heaven and Earth" or "The spiritual realm and the physical realm."
Chuck R.
Romans 1:20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse,
Considering all the confusion, contortion, and mysticism atheists resort to attempting to explain away the obvious, they are truly without excuse.
Frank S.
Thank you Paul. Clarifies somewhat a somewhat mystifying subject.
Praise God for an understandable and sensible revelation in the Bible!

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