The Multiverse Fad in Fiction and Science

The Multiverse Fad in Fiction and Science
Scene from It’s A Wonderful Life

Science fiction has toyed with the idea that there are many universes parallel to one another, each having people like us on a planet like ours – but different. Hollywood has used this theme in ever-increasing numbers of films in which characters move from one universe to another. The current Academy Award-winning movie Everything Everywhere All at Once is a prime example. Or who can forget the famous Christmas film It’s a Wonderful Life in which George Bailey (James Stewart) sees an alternative universe in which he never lived. Between It’s a Wonderful Life 75 years ago and today’s Everything Everywhere All at Once, the multiverse fad has been used to present many stories. But is it real?

Movies and TV often depict parallel universes that resemble our own but with opposing characters or circumstances, such as in the Star Trek episode Mirror, Mirror, or the 1998 movie Sliding Doors. Atheists have proposed the idea of multiple universes entirely different from each other. Knowing that the odds of explaining the fine-tuning of our universe without design or purpose are infinitely small, they suggest that with an infinite number of universes, life will eventually happen by chance alone. We just happen to live in the one universe that got everything right.

However, the multiverse fad is not confined to entertainment and atheism. Some scientists, both unbelievers and believers, propose a multiverse theory. There are three main versions: (1) Eternal inflation presents the idea that pocket universes continuously pop into existence with stars, planets, and galaxies like ours. (2) String theory suggests the cosmos is made up of tiny, undetectable vibrating strings in the fabric of space-time in which an unlimited number of universes come into existence all by chance. (3) The many worlds idea is a product of quantum mechanics in which the splitting of space/time produces an ever-growing array of universes. In this concept, every universe would look the same and have the same history – so in another universe, there would be a copy of you reading an article like this one.

These ideas may be helpful for producing science fiction books or movies or giving imaginative material for debate among intellectuals, but they are not science. To be scientific, something must have evidence that allows it to be tested and falsified. If you can’t test a theory, it is pure speculation and has no scientific basis. No multiverse theory is supported by evidence. The mathematics used to support the theories have literally billions of possible solutions and don’t contribute to their validity.

The bottom line is that the multiverse fad is an interesting facet of human imagination. Skeptics can try to use it to discount God’s creation of the cosmos, but that is not science and does not contribute to our knowledge. Massive evidence shows God created the cosmos and created humans uniquely in His image. Science and faith are friends, and the Bible equips us to live in this constantly changing world.

— John N. Clayton © 2023

Reference: “Mapping the Multiverse” in the March/April 2023 issue of Discover magazine