1. notleia says:

    Wat? I’ve derped around in more atheistic corners of the Internet, but I’ve yet to hear that multiverse theory is the New, ImprovedTM way of disproving God. They think this universe alone offers enough evidence for that.
    Also, the site lists Rebecca as author. I’m guessing she just published it here, but at least Bruce’s bio is at the bottom, though looking a bit unformatted, compared with the other bios.
    But anyway, on to literary argle-bargle. MacDonald in Phantasies borrows a lot from the idea of Faerie or Fairy Land (particularly Spencer’s Faerie Queene, flavored with the Romantics), and so does that mean that Fairy Land is the proto-multiverse theory? It was pretty well parallel in structure to the human world, though it had different laws and rules (granted, some of those were cultural, but some seemed to be physics-ish related. Vaguely). Honestly, this vague idea of multiverse has been around in literature longer than in modern science. I don’t think we’re in danger of being challenged by scientists, because literature and science are very different genres, so to speak.

    • C. S. Lewis is an example of a literary apologist. He wrote fiction. And, he wrote excellent works on apologetics in which he discusses science. And, it is not the scientists I fear. It is the philosophers, the naturalists who base their philosophy ON science. Naturalism is winning the battle of ideas in modern society. Who else can better engage in that battle than the author? Where do ideas come from? From stories! Literature is our foundation for promoting and exploring ideas. I think the danger is not necessarily from science, but the philosophy of science hiding behind the smoke screen of modernity.
      True, the idea of alternate worlds has been around for as long as man can tell stories. But, the multiverse is a solid, well accepted, modern scientific concept based on theories that is gaining acceptance as reality. And, as I mentioned above, my fear is that the more we accept these “ideas” based on “sound science” and their influence in our society, the more we will see naturalism eclipsing theism. Literature is a tool to challenge these philosophies.

      • notleia says:

        I think you’re jumping at shadows. Literary naturalism has been around since Jack London and Stephen Crane and Frank Norris. Heck, Calvinists could be considered naturalists because they hold with predestination, which is a fancy spiritual word for predeterminism, i.e., a solid portion of naturalism. Though secular naturalism was based on genetics and social class and not so much on whether/how God rigs your game. You’re using “naturalism” as a scare-word rather than as something to be discussed.
        And Lewis is one of the rare apologists I like, but he spent less time apologizing and more time philosophizing. Also, he was at least familiar with academia’s train of thought. I think you need to spend some time on atheist blogs to figure out what they talk about and get a better idea of what they actually believe.

        • Definition of naturalism I am using:

          doctrine rejecting spiritual explanations of world: a system of thought that rejects all spiritual and supernatural explanations of the world and holds that science is the sole basis of what can be known

          Thanks for your comments.

  2. Ashlee says:

    Thanks so much for an intriguing post … a lot to think about!

  3. Stephen Gordon says:

    The multiverse brings Darwinian thinking into cosmology.  How is it that the universe is so precisely structured for life?  This is a question that makes atheists uncomfortable.  The multiverse idea allows adherents to say: “There are many universes – most are sterile – but of course we would have to be in one that is suited for life.”

    • notleia says:

      …………………….Okay, then. Still haven’t heard it directly from atheists.

      • Peter Woit on Lawrence Krauss’ use of the multiverse as an argument against God(http://christian-apologetics.org/2012/peter-woit-on-the-multiverse-as-a-weapon-against-religion/):

        Krauss is no fan of string theory, which he regards as overhyped, but he seems to have developed an attraction to multiverse studies recently, perhaps motivated by their use in arguments with those who see the Big Bang as a place for God to hang out.
        Personally I’ve no interest in arguments about the existence of God, which epitomize to me an empty waste of time. Given the real dangers of religious fundamentalism in the US though, I’m glad that others like Krauss make the effort to answer some of these arguments. I’m less happy to see him and others adopting the multiverse as their weapon of choice in this battle, since it’s a lousy one and not going to convince anyone. In the New York Times piece we’re told:
        “Maybe in the true eternal multiverse there are truly no laws,” Dr. Krauss said in an e-mail. “Maybe indeed randomness is all there is and everything that can happen happens somewhere.”
        Given the choice between this vision of fundamental science and “God did it” as explanations for the nature of the universe, one can’t be surprised if people go for the man in the white robes…

        • notleia says:

          It’s the first I’ve heard of this guy. This is only a semi-educated guess, but I don’t think he’s terribly popular. Most of the atheist arguments I’ve heard are pretty Earth-centric.
          In any case, I don’t think multiverse is a battle to pick. You still have the basic headlock of “blah-blah-science” and “blah-blah-Creator.” Not any more of a decisive throwdown than any other topic in the arena of science/religion headbutting.

    • That is exactly the point I made in my post. The multiverse is another way to avoid the uniqueness of our universe — its orderliness, its structure, is design. The “teleological” argument from design is one of the most troublesome to those who question the existence of a creator God. As you point out, an infinite number of parallel universes allows ours to be the exception to the rule!

  4. I have been reading Lawhead’s Bright Empires series with a bit of a troubled mind. I know Lawhead is a Christian. But why is he running with atheist Stephen Hawking’s favorite apology for evolution’s very low odds? As you mentioned, that apology says that though the odds of complex life occurring by accident are extremely slim, if you multiply earth and its universe by an infinite number of possible universes, sooner or later you’ll find a universe where evolution is actually probable.
    I think Lawhead has said he finds the multiverse idea to be a fun one to play with. And so his series is fun to read. Still I am a bit troubled by it.

    • I agree with your assertion. The problem I have with “playing around” with the multiverse in Christian fiction is the danger of misleading those who read our fiction into thinking we agree with Darwinism and naturalism. That is why I think we should be very careful. How do we do that? It takes more than just a token understanding of scientific apologetics to get your world building right. C. S. Lewis did it in Narnia and Perelandra. But we must be cautious with just “playing” around. I found the Bright Empires series intriguing so far but I also sense a great many ideas and concepts that could be construed as New Age or Eastern philosophy in nature. Maybe I am over reading the intent of the author, but I too am, at times troubled and this is why I decided to share my thoughts in this post.

  5. Julie D says:

    I don’t generally care about the science of other universes, unless something supposedly set in our world violates our laws of science.

  6. *sigh* I keep coming back to the thought that “Christian fiction” is simply 1) fiction written by a Christian and/or 2) fiction written for Christians. A man sculpts a beautiful eagle. Is it Christian art because the man who sculpted it is Christian? Does it become Christian art if a non-Christian sculpts it and puts a Bible verse on it and sells it to a Christian? What makes the sculpted eagle a Christian work of art? If the eagle is stylized in some way so that it is less realistic and more interpretive, is it any less “true”, any less an eagle?
    Although it’s an admirable and noble goal to write fiction that reflects the Truth, and I personally strive for that, I do get tired of the number of discussions we have about how it has to look one way or another, or contain this or that, or portray God a certain way or portray the Truth accurately. Just sculpt the bird! Or, in the case of speculative fiction, sculpt the griffon!
    It’s fiction, folks. Yes, strive to portray things from a worldview that doesn’t detract from God or His work in the heart of your reader. But most of all, write the story that’s inside you to the best of your ability. It’s your story. 
    We are imperfect humans. None of us sees God clearly and accurately. We see Him through a glass darkly. We bring our filters to our reading of the Scriptures. Our writing comes out through the filter of our limited understanding. We may (consciously or unconsciously) use our storytelling to process and think through our understanding of the world and of God and of the meaning of human existence. Which means, we’ll make mistakes. Our understanding will grow over time. So our stories will never perfectly portray Him or His ways. And that’s okay. God allows for that.
    To me, there’s a place for exhortation to stay true to the Truth in our art, but also for couching such in terms of grace and the process of living in relationship with Him.  Cautions like, “We can indulge in the possibilities of multiple worlds and universes, but let us be very careful with the worlds we build… Above all else, we must tell the Truth!” (in this article and another recent one) start to feel tiresome and heavy. Like shackles where God has given us freedom. “Above all else”? I guess it’s the wording, the ultimatums, that tire me.
    Ah, well. I suppose that’s okay, too. If the authors of these articles are feeling the need to preach this message, let them preach. Maybe this is exactly what some folks need to hear. It’s not that I disagree with the principle. I’m just sensitive to the human tendency to make and glorify rules where relationship should be in ascendance. It bugs me.
    I don’t want to hear an admonition about how I have to be careful that my fiction tells the Truth (with an unsaid implication that if my story strays from the truth boundaries of the article author’s understanding, or some other arbitrary doctrinal standard, then I’m disobeying God).
    I want to hear an admonition to draw close to God and stay in His Word, to steep myself in His Presence so that my writing drips and oozes with His anointing. I want to hear a reminder and encouragement that my words have influence and they can have mighty power for good when I’m writing what He gives me to write. Yes, to be reminded that this is a weighty responsibility, but also to be uplifted by the fact that He dwells in us and will show us the way and give us the grace needed to do it.
    I want to be reminded that there are great and mighty things that we do not know, but that God desires to reveal to those who seek Him. I want to be encouraged that I am made in the image of God, and like Him, I have the ability and the desire to create and imagine new things. When I’m sculpting a griffon, I don’t want to be told how it should stay true to the eagle or the lion. I want to create the most fantastic griffon that my imagination, guided by the infinitely-creative Holy Spirit, can come up with. Fearlessly. Boldly.
    Thanks for the chance to discuss. Again, it’s not that I disagree with the importance of the Truth. I just so keenly feel the need to press beyond the boundaries that Christian culture sets for us as fiction writers, and even outside the box in which mainstream Christianity tends to keep God. I suppose it’s because in my experience, the real Truth is outside the comfort zone of most Christians.

    • Teddi, did you see my clarifications in the discussion of that previous column about 1) personal motivations, 2) the difference between actively in fiction subverting God’s nature and artistically imaginating a different world?

      If you merely want to enjoy make great stories/art/whatever — either explicitly or implicitly for God’s glory — then I promise: no one here has any beef with thee. 😀

    • notleia says:

      It helps me to be more accepting that this guy’s an apologist, and it might just be that he’s best at expressing himself in the form of debate and not much practiced at anything else — you know, like a discussion where you actually pay attention to what the other person says instead of rehearsing your canned rebuttals.
      *checks “take cheap shot at someone on the Internet” off to-do list*
      But yeah, I’m not necessarily a fan of apologists because a large portion of the ones I’ve been exposed to are like the talking heads on Fox News that constantly interrupt and talk over each other.

      • I agree with you about most apologists. I was in a meeting of our local group of apologists and the discussion became so heady and so academic. I shouted everyone down and asked a simple question. “Why are you here?” The answers were somewhat disturbing and ultimately illuminating. I entered into the discipline of apologetics so I could defend Christianity to my scientific colleagues with rational, reasonable answers that showed the truthfulness of the Bible. To me, apologetics is a tool to fulfill 1 Peter 3 — always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within us. Unfortunately, we don’t live in Jerusalem anymore where Peter could preach to a crowd using the scriptures and win 5000. We live in Athens, where Paul has to resort to basing his testimony on the philosophy and science understood by his listeners. If you check out that account, most went away disinterested but a few were convinced and some said they wanted to hear more. My goal as an apologist is not to be a “talking head” but to be able to answer questions in such a way as to create a dialogue and have a civil conversation. It has worked for me. But, I guess I am the exception to the rule!

    • dmdutcher says:

      I think it would be a little simpler point. It seems so much energy is spent saying “Yes, it’s okay to like fantasy and science fiction,” and sometimes I feel it would be nice to assume people here are interested in both and don’t really need the justification to consume it. 

    • Your point is well taken. I, too, want to write stories outside the Christian fiction box. Too often, we let the message rule at the expense of story. When the story is well written, well plotted, well constructed and the author is writing from a heart in tune with Christ, then the message will seep through. And sometimes, that is all we can hope for. If it is too obvious; if we raise Truth to a powerful weapon to pound our readers with, I agree we lose the battle. We come across as “preachy” as you said. The last thing I want to do is to be Preacy in my prose! Preaching belongs in a sermon, not in a novel. Stories can serve a preacher as part of a sermon. I have been asked to review far too many books where the message is so overpowering, I cannot finish reading the story. And, we have discussed this ad nauseum in this and other posts. I just thought it might be interesting and stimulating to look a the multiverse idea more closely. You can read some of the other posts and replies above to see where this could be “dangerous” and could lead one astray from the “Truth”. Thanks for the comments.

  7. Becky says:

    Interesting article. I’ve never heard this warning about using parallel worlds before. As long as the fundamentals of Truth are established within the story (to whatever degree), I don’t think the writer will be in any danger. The point is to write the best story possible.

    • For me personally, the danger in world building another place and time is I become the Creator of that world. And, I am a very poor reflection of God in that respect. I know I will mess it up. After reading the posts and replies to my article I sense that maybe I have a problem with world building myself. I don’t want to build a world that is so attractive, but ultimately misrepresents the Gospel. Recently, I used an analogy in my third book that was proposed by, I think and I’ll have to check on this, Paul Copan. In his proposal, he suggested when talking to others about the universality of religion — that is all roads lead to God– that Jesus is viewed very favorably in all major religions. He is elevated above the status of a mere man or good teacher, even in Islam. His suggestion, then, is “why not start with Jesus”? But, a reader responded and accused me of making Jesus a universal figure and diminishing His unique identity as one of the Trinity. That was never my intention. This happens, I think, more than we realize and it underscores the responsibility we carry as published authors to keep the “fundamentals” of the Truth straight in our own minds and anticipate how our words will be taken. True, we can’t please everyone, as comments to the post clearly illustrate. But, we should strive to be “gentle and respectful” to our readers as 1 Peter 3 commands. Thanks for the comments.

  8. HG Ferguson says:

    Biblically speaking, as we should always, the “multiverse” already exists, if you wish to call it that.  The Word teaches there are at least three “verses” that we know of: what is called Heaven, what is called Hell (by various terms in scripture) and this present world in which we live.  So the idea of being afraid of “multiverse” is not, to me, a major concern.  The concern is, as the post author so ably demonstrates, remaining true to the Truth as it is revealed to us, both in our lives and in what we write.  Well done.  
    The three “verses” spoken of in scripture — these are the ones we KNOW.  It does not mean there may be no others.  “Infinite” may be pushing it, but I for one will be greatly surprised and perhaps not a little disappointed to learn that the “three is it.” Personally, I do definitely believe there are other worlds, places, “verses” if you wish to call them such.  The three we know, do they exhaust the creativity, majesty and glory of God? (Even Hell does that — glorifies God — as an expression of divine judgment).  Only three?  This is it?  I think not.  I think…not….

    • bainespal says:

      It does not mean there may be no others.  ”Infinite” may be pushing it, but I for one will be greatly surprised and perhaps not a little disappointed to learn that the “three is it.”

      Yes! I want to believe in other forms of existence, that the expression of the divine is not limited by our dim apprehension of our dingy world. I don’t know if I have enough faith to suspect that God really has created other worlds; I feel depressed enough about this one. But hearing the confirmation of this subjective need from a Biblical absolutist encourages me.
      This is why I hope Ken Ham is wrong about his 6,000 years. I want to believe that God’s story is greater than that. But I could have better accepted Ham’s strict interpretation better if he would have admitted that somewhere, somehow, outside of our frame of reference, there really is infinite wonder and transcendent meaning. As Bill Nye said in the debate, that thing that was before Big Bang really is with us right now, and that is wonderful.

  9. Walter Martin touches on this in his excellent work, “The Kingdom of the Occult” and outlines these other “dimensions”. As to the Ken Ham debate, let’s not even go there! These comments would never end. I always think about William Lane Craig’s invitation to debate Richard Dawkins. Dawkins refused and his own atheist colleagues vilified him for refusing. In other words, put your money where your mouth is, they said. When Craig went to London, he debated an empty chair!
    As an apologist, and a published author, my gift is not debating. I find that debates tend to be sharply divided between the two sides and I wonder if anyone’s mind is ever truly changed. Just know that there are many more Christian apologists out there than Ken Ham who have alternate views of the age of the universe and the Biblical interpretation. Ken Ham does not represent all Christians nor does he represent all apologists. I could have given Bill Nye a short list of much better apologists to debate: Ravi Zacharias, Bill Craig, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek, or Stephen Meyers. Anyone of them would have made that debate much more interesting and more challenging for Bill Nye.
    Let’s face it. Being a Christian by default makes us creationists. And, we have to move beyond our own bickering among ourselves about the age of the universe. Stephen Meyers made an excellent point in a conference in 2012. We are arguing about the age of the universe and the naturalists are laughing themselves silly. They have us fighting among ourselves while they win the battle for the intellectual mind of society. Instead, we should be asserting what we know is true: the universe has a Creator and it is the God of the Bible. And, we can know Him!

  10. dmdutcher says:

    I wouldn’t worry about the multiverse idea because at heart, it requires just as much faith as believing in a God if not more. They key thing linking all the types is that they are nonobservable and unrepeatable almost by definition. Type 1’s are beyond the observable universe and always will be. Type 2’s are not only that, but are impossible to enter due to the differing physical constants; they’d be walled up to the point where possibly light itself couldn’t penetrate it. 
    Type 3’s are pure wishful thinking. It assumes that all choices are binary choices, and it would postulate an infinite multiverse. The thing is, apart from God nothing discrete is infinite without losing its meaning. A hotel with infinite rooms can’t exist as a real thing as opposed to a mathematical construct, and I don’t think choices can be expressed at a quantum level either. Type 4 is just whatever.
    In any case, I think these all came about more as out-there theories to reflect the fact that the universe continually defies explanation. The math is off, and people keep trying to make it work. It’s not something strong enough to lose or gain faith over because we’re talking something that exists as at highly theoretical level and can never really be directly observed, only theorized as one way to explain certain mathematical irregularities in the universe. 
    I’d also point out that a literary multiverse is something completely different, especially in Christian fiction. Essentially most multiverses are treated as America was before the age of Columbus; a separate land with its own people and virtually impossible for people to access apart from miracle. More a convenient device than anything. Same with many worlds fiction; usually it’s just a coarse device to say “what if?”
    You could have fun with it though, but it would really lead to heresy or something to assume a type three. One way would be universalism; if a new universe splits off with each decision, there is one universe somewhere where everyone becomes saved by freely accepting Christ’s sacrifice. At the end of time God could simply recall that quantum state without violating free will and “bam!” everyone is saved. Or that it would be wrong because human beings would suddenly  become infinite too; an infinite number of D.M’s exist because in essence, the set of choices I have in my life are functionally infinite. It’s a smaller infinity than the set of all countable numbers, but still. 
    But these are thought experiments and not real things. 

  11. One last comment. Atheists do use science and literature to promote their “beliefs”. Here is an excerpt from an interview with Phillip Pullman:
     “I’ve been surprised by how little criticism I’ve got. Harry Potter’s been taking all the flak. I’m a great fan of J.K. Rowling, but the people – mainly from America’s Bible Belt – who complain that Harry Potter promotes Satanism or witchcraft obviously haven’t got enough in their lives. Meanwhile, I’ve been flying under the radar, saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God.”
    Note that he uses the multiverse in his books, therefore, he appeals to science and also note that he has an agenda — to kill God. And he is not alone.
    Thanks to everyone for the comments both positive and critical. I welcome the chance to exchange ideas. For those of us who are Christians please remember 1 Peter 3: 15 — “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,”

What do you think?