Many of the great minds of science have been fascinated with ultimate questions of God and creation, taking strong stands for or against belief. This Beliefnet series runs regular thumbnail sketches of how prominent scientists, past and present, have thought on the subject.

     Paul Davies. Australian physicist who has become the most prominent advocate of the view that the findings of modern science, far from disproving God, are actually producing proof of a divine hand. Davies's best book, God and the New Physics, concerns the "anthropic principle," meaning scientific indications that the universe was tailored to make biological life possible. Consider just a few facts. Calculations show that at the moment of the Big Bang, unless the ratio of the matter and energy to the volume of space was within one quadrillionth of one percent of the ideal figure, the incipient universe would have collapsed back onto itself, or suffered runaway relativity distortions that would have rendered the firmament uninhabitable. Had gravity been only about one percent stronger at the moment of the Big Bang, the incipient universe would have collapsed back onto itself. Had gravity been about five percent weaker, stars could not have coalesced, leaving the universe forever dark and cold. Lawrence Krauss, a physicist at Case Western University, has estimated that the chances of the initial condition of the universe being the ones were observe are about the same as the chances of guessing the exact number of atoms in the sun.

Of course, even if the physical laws and constants of our universe are spectacularly unlikely, they still might have happened by chance, in the same way that a royal house is spectacularly unlikely, yet still can happen. And even if the universe seems to have been designed, this does not prove that there is a designer. As more has become known of the seeming unlikeliness of our habitable, stable universe -- cosmologists call ours a "smooth" universe, a lovely term -- some scientists have proposed the "multiverse" theory. This idea holds that there are thousands or billions of universes, existing both today and stretched across an infinite past. Some are created with the "wrong" rules, and remain forever barren. Some, by chance, receive auspicious physical laws, and evolve into life as our did.

Multiverse theory is a way to suppose how our cosmos might have emerged with the "right" laws, without calling on either God or wild improbability, merely calling on the laws of chance. Maybe the multiverse idea is true. But bear in mind, no scientists has the slightest glimmer of physical evidence of the existence of any other universe. The existence of the multiverse is no more proven than the existence of God; and in some ways, the divine requires less suspension of disbelief, since there only needs to be one unseen God for that explanation to be true, while there must be billions of unseen universes for the multiverse theory to explain it all. As Charles Townes, a Nobel Prize winning physicist, has said, "Positing that essential features of the natural world are explained by billions of variables that cannot be observed strikes me as much more freewheeling than any of the church's claims."

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