- Hardcover: 447 pages
- Publisher: Prometheus Books; 2nd Printing edition (September 9, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1616149701
- ISBN-13: 978-1616149703
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God and the Multiverse: Humanity's Expanding View of the Cosmos 2nd Printing Edition
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“God and the Multiverse takes you on a cosmological trek through eternal inflation, multiple universes, quantum gravity, and God. This book will forever change the way you view reality.”
—Dr. Peter Boghossian, author of A Manual for Creating Atheists
“A masterful lesson on cutting-edge cosmology. It also presents a broad and penetrating rebuttal to claims that science offers anything approaching proof of the existence of supernatural gods. When people say that Earth was intelligently fine-tuned for life or that the universe reveals itself to be a magical creation, this is the perfect book to place in their hands. Light on speculations and heavy with evidence-based conclusions, God and the Multiverse is a remarkable tour through reality that is sure to deepen anyone’s understanding of the cosmos.”
—Guy P. Harrison, author of Think: Why You Should Question Everything
“Victor J. Stenger provides a methodical, comprehensive review of the scientific developments necessary to grasp the fundamental problems and current ideas in cosmology, the origin of the universe, and the notions of god that emerge from these. An informative read, indispensable for audiences interested in these and similar issues.”
—Demos Kazanas, NASA, Goddard Space Flight Center
“The multiverse is one of the most exciting and controversial ideas in all of science today, with implications for both cosmology and theology, and there is no one writing on these topics better than Victor Stenger. His exposition of difficult topics in physics is brilliantly lucid; and his treatment of theologians and their religious beliefs, unfailingly fair. With this book you are in the hands of a masterful thinker and writer. If you are going to read just one book on science and religion, this is that work.”
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, and author of The Moral Arc, Why Darwin Matters, and The Believing Brain
“In this fascinating and provocative book, Stenger takes us on an eye-opening journey down the road of scientific progress from the earliest of creation myths and cosmologies to the frontiers of modern science—including the growing consensus that our universe is part of a much vaster, perhaps infinite, multiverse. Along the way we find the roadside littered with failed cosmologies, discarded creator gods, and antiquated ways of thinking about the cosmos and our place in it. This books is truly a must read for anyone interested in the development of scientific cosmology and the various ways it clashes with the religions of yesterday and today!”
—Gregg D. Caruso, author of Free Will and Consciousness, editor in chief of Science, Religion & Culture
“Although a prominent and outspoken atheist, Stenger has never opposed the existence of God, per se. What he passionately repudiates is the unwarranted acceptance and celebration of anything not found in the data. Equally egregious to this prolific writer is the plague of intellectual laziness and its profligate yield. Avoiding the miasma of bloviating bluster, Stenger skillfully articulates the reasons why science is uniquely qualified to enlighten curious minds and advance empirical understandings. God and the Multiverse is chock-full of compelling arguments why God is supererogatory and that any discussion of divine providence is an unproductive exercise.”
—Dr. Kim M. Clark, author of Escaping the Darkness of Religious Light
“With insight and sometimes with personal stories, Stenger takes us in eminently readable fashion through the history of the universe and of our understanding of it. He is a friendly guide, and both historically minded readers and those searching for the latest about the Higgs boson, dark matter, inflation, and gravity waves are accommodated. He evaluates the relevance of religion at many points, as a theme, but the book can be happily read with or without that interest.”
—Jay M. Pasachoff, Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College and chair of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society
“Stenger has recorded the entire history of multiverse theory from antiquity through the middle ages and all the way to the present. You won’t find this story written anywhere else in such detail. Every important figure, from philosopher to scientist, is placed in the sequence of events, and the strongest evidence confirming the big bang theory is surveyed. And from there we learn why the multiverse is not a flight of fancy but a plausible scientific theory based on hundreds of years of empirical discoveries and observations, which Stenger rightly contrasts with the ridiculous speculations of theologians standing on no evidence whatsoever.”
—Richard Carrier, PhD, author of Proving History: Bayes's Theorem and the Quest for the Historical Jesus
About the Author
Victor J. Stenger (1935 - 2014) was an adjunct professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado and emeritus professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Hawaii. He was the author of the New York Times bestseller God: The Failed Hypothesis, God and the Atom, God and the Folly of Faith, The Comprehensible Cosmos, and many other books.
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If you are interested in getting a good, detailed summary of current thinking in physics, this book is excellent. If you are looking for a book debating science versus religion, there are better books for that subject.
This book, with its dramatic and beautifully designed cover, is not of course free of marketing hype, but within its pages one will find a highly interesting and informative account of the physics and astronomy behind some of the new conceptions that are beginning to be hotly debated among physicists and astronomers. It also serves as a counterweight to those assertions made by religious apologists who want to use astrophysical research to support their beliefs as to the divine origin of the things that be. Both the author and the religionists he quotes are biased, but the author is aware of his biases and freely admits them, knowing full well that a privileged apodictic point of view is not possible in science (or even desired).
Along these lines, the author describes himself as being an instrumentalist, and promotes instrumentalism as the view that the models built by scientists don't correspond exactly to reality. His opinion on the reality of quantum fields in the book is a clear example of his stance on the "ontological status" of scientific models. He is careful to distance himself though from some religious apologists who want to label him and others as subscribing to what is called "ontological pluralism", which as the name implies assets that there are many independent "valid" realities. Some readers, even of a purely scientific persuasion, may object to the instrumentalist "worldview", and might be tempted, because of its emphasis on empirical results, to classify it as yet another manifestation of positivism, the latter of which has become almost a dirty word in some professional circles in the philosophy of science.
One should not view the contents of this book as promoting an instrumentalist worldview however, and there are many surprising scientific facts that will be encountered between its covers, even for readers with a solid background in physics or astronomy. One example of this is the discussion of the entropy at the Planck time, and another is the discussion (albeit brief) on the ACDM model. And as is always the case in rational discussion of physical models, charts and data abound. For readers who are pressed for time and are not able to consult the original literature, these are welcome additions.
One could argue perhaps that the author has wasted page space in attempting to refute or even address the arguments of religionists such as William Lane Craig and Robin Collins that the author feels he has to deal with in this book, even if they appear to be "physics savvy" as the author describes them. These individuals, as well as physicists who are interested in this problem, need to show that life, even if based strictly on carbon chemistry, would be impossible without the "fine-tuning" hypothesis. To show this would require a solution of the bound state problem in quantum field theory, which to this date is the major unsolved problem in quantum field theory. But the reviewer has not found any written record that fine-tuning religious apologists are interested in solving physics problems of this kind, difficult as they are and requiring massive commitments of time and resources. As it stands, and the author gives several examples showing the weaknesses of their assertions, colloquially speaking their arguments are to be viewed as a slice of bread lying in a bowl of milk. When picked up for examination, it falls to pieces.
He wrote in the Prologue to this 2014 book, “Inflation [of the universe] strongly implies that our universe is not alone but is just one of an unlimited number of universes in what has been termed the ‘multiverse.’ This multiverse exists endlessly in space and time. It had no beginning, no creation. It always existed and always will… The aim of ‘God and the Multiverse’ is to show how the current picture of our vast universe and the real possibility of multiple universes developed over the millennia since humans first looked at the sky and asked what was out there. We will examine how the ancient notion of a supernatural creation arose to explain what eventually became explicable by purely natural processes.” (Pg. 18)
He adds in the Preface, “In this book I … examine how humanity’s view of the cosmos has dramatically changed over the last ten thousand years… We will explore how the disciplines of particle physics and cosmology have collaborated to give a common picture of a boundless and eternal multiverse in which our universe is just one among countless others and has neither a beginning nor an end. Of course, the existence of other universes besides our own has not been empirically established---at least not yet. We will see that the verification of the multiverse is not beyond the realm of possibility.” (Pg. 19)
He gives a lengthy history of ancient to modern cosmology, noting that “Today there is no dispute that [Georges] Lemaître was the first to associate the redshifts of galaxies with the expansion of the universe. However, Lemaître was not an observer, and theories in science are useless without data to verify them. [Edwin] Hubble’s role… was to provide the clinching observations.” (Pg. 158) Later, he adds, “[Edward Arthur] Milne’s theory suffered the fate of most theories that put too much emphasis on reason, logic, and mathematics… and not enough on data: it failed to provide a falsifiable empirical test. In science, a theory that is not falsifiable is history… and so Milne’s cosmology was ultimately ignored as general relativistic cosmology and the big bang, aided by developments in submicroscopic physics came to the fore.” (Pg. 167)
Still later, he states, “In science, a model that is not falsifiable is not science. But when a model passes a very risky, falsifiable test … it earns the right to be taken seriously. Still, a note of caution must be added based on the history of science. Even when a model passes a test that could have falsified it, this does not mean that the model has been proved conclusively and will not someday be superseded by a better model.” (Pg. 265)
In chapter 15 [“The Eternal Multiverse] he further cautions us, “The reader should keep in mind that I do not claim to depict what actually exists in some ultimate, metaphysical reality… my philosophical position is that we cannot access precise knowledge of that reality. All we can do is make observations, as quantitative as possible, and describe those with mathematical models. These are based on our own human notions, operationally defined, such as time, space, and temperature… it is a simplified model and certainly not the final word.” (Pg. 309)
He states, “we can’t look forward to a ‘big crunch’ in which the expansion stops, the universe contracts back down … and everything begins all over again. This ‘oscillatory universe’ was once very popular, but that was before the discovery of dark energy… If the source of dark energy is a cosmological constant, or something that looks very much like it, the energy density will remain constant while the radiation and matter die away and the universe continues to expand forever.” (Pg. 316-317)
He critiques Christian apologist and philosopher William Lane Craig, who “proceed[s] to argue, without theoretical proof of empirical evidence, that anything that begins has a cause and, in the case of the universe, in a huge leap of incongruity, that cause must be the personal God of Christianity… Craig has come up with yet another argument for everything having a beginning and thus a creator. If it did not, Craig says, then it would have begun an infinite time ago, in which case we would never have reached the present… However… an eternal universe would not have had a beginning, an infinite time ago. It had no beginning… there is no reason for it to have an end. Cosmology indicates that our current universe will simply go on expanding forever… even if we can identify a point in the past as the beginning of the big bang, that need not have been the beginning of everything. If there is no end, there must be no beginning.” (Pg. 317-320)
Of his own theories, he states, “While I cannot prove this is how our universe came to be, no one has proved that it did not. That is, we have a plausible scenario for the natural, uncreated origin of the universe based on established physics and cosmology. It … strikes me as by far the simplest since it requires no new assumptions… If nothing else, the biverse serves to refute any claim that our universe could have originated only by means of a supernatural creation.” (Pg. 327)
He suggests, “A common argument against other universes is that we have no way of ever observing them. However, perhaps we can. Early in our universe another universe may have been sufficiently close for its gravity to affect the isotropy of the CMB. Or, the bubbles may have collided, leaving a bruise on each. A detection of a large-scale anisotropy in the CMB could provide evidence for a universe outside our own. The Planck space telescope has confirmed several unexplained anomalies of this nature… Since the observation of another universe beside our own would be the greatest scientific discovery in history, don’t expect any cosmologists to make such a claim until they have ruled out every other possibility … In the case of Planck, the investigating team has not deemed the evidence sufficiently significant to make any published claim… At some point, our theories may be able to make a prediction of the quantitative derivation from spherical symmetry expected in the multiverse model. And, at some point, the CMB data from future experiments may become sufficiently precise to test that prediction. This would make the multiverse hypothesis falsifiable. This prospect alone should be sufficient to permit the notion of multiple universes to remain a part of legitimate scientific discourse.” (Pg. 333)
He asserts, “The multiverse provides a very simple, purely natural, solution to the fine-tuning problem. Suppose our universe is just one of an unlimited number of individual universes that extend for an unlimited distance in all directions and for an unlimited time in the past and future. If that’s the case, we just happen to live in that universe that is suited for our kind of life. Our particular universe is not fine-tuned to us; we are fine-tuned to it… Note the multiverse does not need to be proved to exist to refute fine-tuning claims. It just must be plausible. Those who dispute this have the burden of proving otherwise. This they have not done.” (Pg. 351) Later, he adds, “The fine-tuners are … wrong to reject the multiverse solution as ‘unscientific.’ It is not unscientific to speculate about invisible, unconfirmed phenomena that are predicted by existing models that, so far, agree with all the available data.” (Pg. 364)
He contends, “Why is there something rather than nothing, that is, why is there ‘being’ rather than ‘nonbeing’? … I have a simple retort… Why should nonbeing… be the default state of existence rather than being? Why is some creative act needed to convert nonbeing to being?... If nonbeing is the natural state, then why is there God? Once theologians assert that there is a God as opposed to nonbeing, they can’t turn around and demand a cosmologist explain why there is a universe as opposed to nonbeing. They claim God is a necessary entity. Why can’t a godless universe be a necessary entity?” (Pg. 368) He adds, “we must recognize that currently God is an additional hypothesis not required by the data… we know of no observed fact that requires the existence of God. Indeed, many observed facts that are inconsistent with the God hypothesis serve to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a God who plays an active role in the universe and in human lives does not exist… God has left no footprints in the snows of time.” (Pg. 371)
He concludes, “cosmologists have inferred that our universe is but one in an unbounded, eternal multiverse that contains an unlimited number of other universes. Although one has not yet been observed, the possibility exists that another universe may have left a detectable imprint on ours. While the multiverse hypothesis is hardly confirmed, it has sufficient backing to take it seriously and consider the philosophical and theological consequences.” (Pg. 372)
Whether or not one agrees with all of Stenger’s proposals and conclusions, this is a book that will be “must reading” for anyone interested in such cosmological theories.