O Me of Little Faith

So here’s how I roll. Every once in awhile I’ll just be browsing ye olde Internets and I’ll see a story or a blog post or a website and think to myself, “Hmmm, self. That might make some interesting fodder for the blog. Let’s bookmark it and riff on it tomorrow.”

Then I make fun of myself for having used riff as a verb. Dork.

Anyway, I’ll save the link. Then, inevitably, I’ll think of something new to write about. Or I’ll look at the story again and think it’s lame. Or I’ll forget all about it. So if you were to take a look through the back door of this blog, you’d see a bunch of never-published drafts of posts containing nothing but obscure links. Stuff I considered writing about but never did.

I feel bad for these lonesome, unclicked links. So I thought I’d give them their day in the sun by going back and actually posting my unposted ideas from time to time. Here’s one blog topic I found interesting once but never came back to: The Multiverse Theory.

Back in November, I came across this article in Discover Magazine (tagline: “Read proudly by nerds”) about multiverses. It’s a partly theological article. One thing a lot of Christian apologists point to, in trying to “prove” the existence of God — or, at least, an intelligent creator — is the fact that our universe seems to be fine-tuned for our existence. Tweak any number of factors, from the salinity of the ocean to the tilt of Earth’s axis to the amount of nitrogen in the atmosphere, and human survival on this planet would be impossible. Earth seems to have been designed especially for us. For Christians, this normally causes choirs of angels to begin singing reverently. Theologians have always seen it as proof Someone knew we were coming, and set the table for us. (This is known as the anthropic principle.) Physicists are even a bit awestruck about this, but in an uncomfortable way. Because not all of them are believers. They’ve been looking for other answers.

So far, they’ve come up with one fascinating theory that disputes the anthropic principle. It’s called the multiverse theory. It says that our universe could be one of an infinite number of parallel universes (“multiverses”), or infinite variations of the universe we currently inhabit. Each universe is slightly different. The vast majority of them are barren and unsuitable for life. But ours — glory be! — happens to have all the right conditions for human survival. Other universes might have completely different laws of physics, completely different galaxies, and planets where life might end up being possible (according to those different laws of physics).

But if you have an infinite number of variations to play around with, eventually you’re going to have a universe develop that is perfect — just right for humans to evolve.

So, these scientists say, that might be why the universe seems custom-built for us. We’re in the one universe where all the pieces stacked up just right. So everything’s cool. No need for a deity!

Why did you first think this would be a good idea for a blog post?
One: Because how awesome is it to think about the existence of millions and millions of multiple universes, all with different rules and characteristics?

Two: Because it has theological implications since one of the factors driving the multiverse theory is the attempt to make sense of the anthropic principle, which religious people love but atheists find annoying.

Three: Parallel universes! Have you even been paying attention?!?

Why didn’t you ever post about it?
One: Because it’s complex science, and not everyone likes complex science.

Two: Because it’s nerdy: Only people in the chess club would ever link to Discover Magazine. (Note: I was in the chess club in high school. No lie.)

Three: Because I wasn’t sure I’d be able to properly explain multiverses anyway.

What could be added to this post to make it more entertaining?
Well, if the idea behind multiverses is that there could be infinite variations on our standard universe, then it might be fun to come up with a list of possibilities of those variations.

Then why don’t you do that? Because I am totally not following this post. You should have let it stay rejected. Complete Nerdville.

Ignoring the theological implications of the existence of multiverses, what infinitely varied parallel universes would you like to see?

1. A universe where chimpanzees are the highest form of intelligent life, and they all walk around in suits and ties and carrying iPhones and messenger bags, while humans swing around in trees eating bananas. Also, Howie Mandel doesn’t exist.

2. A universe where living matter is comprised of the same stuff as super balls, so everything is exactly the same only we bounce everywhere, randomly, with surprising force. This would make football games difficult to watch but really exciting.

3. A universe where nachos, chili-cheese dogs, and chocolate-chip cookies are considered health foods.

4. A universe where gravity was inconstant. Like some days it would work as normal, but occasionally that law of physics would just kind of not fire up for the day, so we’d be all floating around and unable to do much of anything. And we’d also be kind of nervous about where we might end up when gravity turns back on. This would be a world where a person could make a lot of money selling, like, leashes or something.

5. A universe in which you could eat salads made out of butterflies. Because who among us has never seen a butterfly and thought “That thing looks delicious, and a bunch of them sure would make for a nice salad”? I know this thought occurs to me all the time.

6. A universe in which the common cliches of the cartoon world — eyes popping out of the head, running off a cliff but not falling until you looked down, being smashed like a pancake by an anvil only to spring up immediately later — actually happened in real life, to real people. Or to the earth’s monkey rulers, if #1 was also true.

7. A universe in which there was a secret train platform in London which, if you discovered it and got on that train, would take you to a special school for witches and wizards with cool sporting events and quirky professors and magickal beasts and occasionally nefarious occurences. And invisibility cloaks, too.


Those are some of the multiverses I’d like to see. What a
bout you?

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus