Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 9 (the Strong Anthropic Principle and Multiverses)

Science and ReligionTo avoid the force of the finely tuned universe argument, many people have argued that there must be so many universes that, by sheer luck, eventually the dice must roll in a way that life could occur — and even more so — enough universes would be created capable of producing life that the extremely long odds in favor of life arising randomly would be inevitable.

And mathematically it’s true that, no matter how improbable an event is, if the odds of it happening are greater than zero, and if you roll the dice enough times, it will certainly happen.

But how many rolls of the dice would be required? Well, as you see in the prior post, the tolerances are so fine that there’d have to be many, many more universes than there are atoms in our universe. That wouldn’t be nearly enough, but it’s enough of an example to give you a sense of the absurdity of the claim.

Now, I should first note that the multiverse theory is not science because it’s not testable. There is no experiment possible to test whether there are universes outside of this one — science fiction and “Fringe” notwithstanding.

Here’s my argument against this speculation based on what I know as a mathematician.


You can prove a lot with an infinity or two. Nearly anything.

Now, here’s the disproof. (Warning. Mathematics to follow.)

If you have literally infinite chances to try any unlikely thing, it will happen — no matter how unlikely. This should be obvious, but I want you think hard about it. What are the odds of rolling a 12 a million times in a row? Well (1/36)^1,000,000. (^ means the next number is an exponent. I can’t do superscripts with this software so I’m using the Excel/Lotus 1-2-3 symbol.) That number is so tiny that I can’t get Excel to figure it. It would not happen in several universes of constant dice rolling. But give me an infinite number of chances, it’ll happen.

How many times?

With an infinite number of dice rolls, how many times will you roll 36 one million times in a row? Answer: infinity. Right?

How many times will it not happen? Well, infinity.

Strange? Yes. True. Very.

Now consider this. If the odds of this particular life-friendly universe are extremely unlikely, how likely is it to happen given infinite tries? 100%.

How many time? Infinity.

You see, the multiverse theory predicts not only that this universe will be created and that life will just happen to emerge, despite extraordinarily long odds, it predicts that it will happen an infinite number of times.

And what are the odds of Jay evolving in such a universe and typing this very post at this very time? Pretty small.

Given infinite tries, will it happen? Yes.

How many times? Infinity.

Scary, huh?

I personally have a lot of trouble putting faith in a hypothesis that makes it absolutely certain that I exist infinite times living the exact same life infinite times.

Now we introduce some physics into the discussion. You see, at the subatomic level, atoms and electrons, quarks and bosons, all behave randomly. Their behavior has no cause in this universe.

But the randomness is governed by strict laws of probability. While you don’t know what will happen in any one instance, you know very precisely how large numbers of atoms will act. And physicists can figure the odds of some very strange things happening.

If light shines on a single atom of iron, it might reflect. It might be absorbed and become heat. It might pass right through. But given a shiny iron surface, I can predict with great precision what will happen. And I know for a fact that a flashlight cannot shine through a cast iron skillet. It’s impossible.

Well, not really. It’s just incredibly unlikely. You see, each and every iron atom could randomly allow the light to pass. All of it. It won’t happen in the history of this universe. But it could happen. And given infinite tries, it will. And it will happen infinite times.

Hmm …

In a multiverse, not only are there infinite Jays typing infinite blogs, there are infinite Jays typing infinite blogs where light shines all the way through cast iron skillets every time. Purely by crazy coincidence.

There are infinite universes where my keyboard spontaneously fuses into a pile of uranium. It’s not likely, but it could happen. And it would probably kill everyone in my city. Unless, improbably, every alpha particle and gamma and beta ray were to pass through everything and everyone without reacting. Which could happen. You can figure the odds. And therefore, that too will happen. Infinitely.

So what gives me the confidence that I live in a universe where none of these crazy things happen? Or do I live in one of the infinite number of universes where tomorrow everything starts going crazy with ridiculously improbable events happening all the time? You see, there are an infinite number of universes where tomorrow lots of wildly improbable things happen. Like light shining through a skillet. Like Dennis Kucinich being elected president.

What are the odds? Well, infinity divided by infinity. Which could be 100% or infinitely close to zero. Infinite numbers are strange and just don’t lend themselves to probability calculations.

So, as Immanuel Kant taught, that which proves too much proves nothing (Lectures on Logic). It’s a ridiculous theory, because it proves ridiculous things.

And I take great comfort in this — because I can’t imagine living in an existence with infinite Paris Hiltons.


By the way, the first time I posted this, I followed the post with several dozen pictures of Paris Hilton — and the first comment was by … Paris Hilton.

I thought it was a hoax, but I checked the source of the email address, and it was an ISP near Beverly Hills, California. And, sorry, but blogger/reader confidentiality bars me from giving away her email address.

About Jay F Guin

My name is Jay Guin, and I’m a retired elder. I wrote The Holy Spirit and Revolutionary Grace about 18 years ago. I’ve spoken at the Pepperdine, Lipscomb, ACU, Harding, and Tulsa lectureships and at ElderLink. My wife’s name is Denise, and I have four sons, Chris, Jonathan, Tyler, and Philip. I have two grandchildren. And I practice law.
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23 Responses to Apologetics: The Bible and Science, Part 9 (the Strong Anthropic Principle and Multiverses)

  1. I love it – especially the bit about not living in an infinity of universes with an infinity of Paris Hiltons. Just think. In an infinity of those infinite universes you would have her as your dearly loved wife – and she would be a loving Christian lady.

  2. laymond says:

    I doubt you will find many here who are clamoring for Paris Hilton’s e-mail address. but if I were to have to make a choice between living in an existence with infinite Paris Hiltons, or Jay Guins , well she probably looks more like the angels than either you or I.
    Oh by the way if Paris calls you for my e-mail just go ahead and give it to her.

  3. laymond says:

    Jay, just go ahead and give her Jerry’s too, it sounds like he wouldn’t object 🙂

  4. Alan says:

    When you roll a single fair die, there are six possible outcomes, each equally probable. When you roll the die multiple times, each trial is an independent event, unaffected by the others. It’s a very simple trial and very easy to understand.

    Now, extrapolating that to multiverses is, shall we say, a quantum leap. How many possible outcomes are there? Are all conceivable outcomes actually possible? The complexities are beyond the imagination – not to mention, beyond scientific experimentation. You can’t test it. It may be fun to think about such things, but it’s not science. People who put their faith in a theory based on multiverses do so for reasons other than science.

    And even if you accept the theory of multiverses, that doesn’t exclude the possibility that a Creator caused it all. In a discussion of origins, multiverse theories are a red herring.

  5. rich constant says:

    jay don’t quantum physicist’s consider a random possibly in number theory. that is greater than 1 to the 10th to the 72 ed power and above a mathematical impossibility ????
    seem to remember that…:-)
    blessings rich

  6. rich constant says:


    Hoyle confessed that it looked as if a ‘super intellect has monkeyed with physics as well as with chemistry and biology’ and that ‘there were no blind forces in nature worth talking about’.

    “Astrophysicists Hoyle and Salpeter worked out that this process of forming carbon works only because of a strange feature: a mode of vibration or resonance with a very specific energy. If this was changed by more than 1% either way then there would be no carbon to make life. Hoyle confessed that it looked as if a ‘super intellect has monkeyed with physics as well as with chemistry and biology’ and that ‘there were no blind forces in nature worth talking about’.6

  7. rich constant says:


  8. rich constant says:

    AGAIN IN THE FIRST post you did in this series the tipping point is
    the forth telling of fulfilled prophecy….


  9. rich constant says:

    3:1 Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision? 3:2 Actually, there are many advantages.1 First of all,2 the Jews3 were entrusted with the oracles of God.4 3:3 What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God? 3:4 Absolutely not! Let God be proven true, and every human being5 shown up as a liar,6 just as it is written: “so that you will be justified7 in your words and will prevail when you are judged.”8

  10. David Wickenden says:

    The Multiverse fails to answer anything for several reasons:

    1. All it does is to push the problem one level higher. Instead of asking how “what are the odds of a universe’s initial conditions being such that it can support life?” The question becomes “What were the initial conditions in the Multiverse that allow even one universe that can support life to exist?”

    2. It either assumes that time is infinite into the past, or there was a beginning. If the later, the (atheist) proponents of the multiverse must explain how come the uncaused initial conditions of the Multiverse happen to allow for the development of universes that can support life.

    3. But Alexander Vilenkin, Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University, has stated, discussing a past eternal universe/multiverse, “cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe.”Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006

    Even if the multiverse should one day be shown to be true, it still doesn’t solve the problem of origins for the atheist, because they are asking the wrong question.

  11. Monty says:

    Thanks David,

    Just a case of misdirection. Given infinite time, or universes, the question still remains the same. And they still have no answer, although, surely, they can see the absurdity in their arguments and reasoning.

  12. Justin says:

    This article had me from “multiverses”!

  13. Justin says:

    And..in a strange twist of fate…Paris Hilton comments on Jay Guin’s blog…but given infinite chances…haha

  14. Justin says:

    On a related topic – I think you should sometime post about theological lessons from “fringe”

  15. X-Ray says:

    Even in the Multiverse, each legalistic Church of Christ will disfellowship all of its “mirror” congregations in other universes because they will each claim to be in the OTU (One True Universe).


  16. Chris says:

    So, in addition to life originating, what are the odds that life sustaining food come into existence as well?

  17. Jay Guin says:


    You made my day. And good to hear from you.

  18. Jay Guin says:


    If Fringes teaches us anything, it’s to stay in our own universe. Sounds like wise advise to me. Besides, who would want to live in a world that still uses Zeppelins?

  19. Jay Guin says:


    Indeed, how many universes would there have to be for Paris Hilton to comment on my blog? For that matter, how many universes would be required for Auburn to appear in two national championship games in the same decade? Maybe the theory has some real credibility ….

  20. Jay Guin says:

    David W,

    Thanks for the comment. I agree with it all.

  21. Skip says:

    Rich, Random numbers are not the central concern of quantum mechanics . Random processes are which is very different. Any number in mathematics can have any power.

  22. Since Google has gotten us email connection with the multiverse, I have an infinite number of monkeys trying to sell me a script that is eerily similar to MacBeth.

  23. R.J. says:

    She might even find a Universe where Walmart offers bundles of walls.:)

Comments are closed.