The Case for Cosmic Pantheism


Einstein, a professed pantheist, wrote that he experienced a “cosmic religious feeling,” a persistent awe at the “sublimity and marvelous order” of the universe. He was not alone. Credit. Internet Archive
Aren’t those opposites?” people often ask me, when they discover I study science and religion. As a professor of religious studies, I am particularly drawn to the places where religion and science seem antagonistic, but turn out to be entwined. The multiverse, I would argue, is one of those places. This may come as a surprise, because the multiverse is so often used as an argument against the existence of God.

By Mary-Jane Rubenstein | Nautilus

The multiverse hypothesis has been around since the late 1950s, but it gained traction in the late 1990s when physicists discovered dark energy, or the cosmological constant. When it comes to the mass of the electron or the strength of the nuclear forces, nearly any other value would have prevented the emergence of life as we know it. As for the cosmological constant, nearly any other value would have prevented the emergence of the universe itself. So, this discovery forced physicists to confront a question they had been avoiding for decades: Why is the universe so well suited to our existence? The weakest answer is that it’s just a brute fact. If the constants of nature were any different, then we wouldn’t be here to ask why we’re here. The strongest answer verges on theism: The cosmological constant is so improbably small that a godlike fine-tuner must have fashioned it into existence.

But maybe there is another explanation. Physicist Steven Weinberg argues that the multiverse explains our existence without appealing to an extra-cosmic creator, because if there are an infinite number of universes, then every possible value is out there somewhere. We just happen to live in one of those Goldilocks universes where the constants are just right, but there are an infinite number of other universes where they aren’t. This purported resolution to the fine-tuning problem has prompted other physicists in addition to Weinberg, such as Lawrence Krauss, Stephen Hawking, and Leonard Susskind to argue that the multiverse obliterates God as an explanatory principle.

There are deities emerging from multiverse scenarios that we might miss if we’re only focused on the father-God of classical theism.

Of course, the multiverse does not disprove the existence of God. A theist can always argue that God created the multiverse that created the universe. But it seems to me there are other sorts of deities emerging from numerous multiverse scenarios—unexpected figures that we might miss if we are only focused on proving or disproving the father-God of classical theism.

read more