In a previous post, “Richard Dawkins’s Cosmology Delusion,” I warned Dawkins not to invoke the anthropic principle or multiple-universe theories as a way to explain why we find ourselves in a universe so peculiarly suited to our existence. But does he listen? Noooooooooooooooo!
TIME’s current cover story on “God vs. Science” features a debate between Dawkins and Francis Collins, director of the National Human Genome Research Initiative and an evangelical Christian. David Van Biema, the TIME interviewer (who deserves a pat for good questions), asks both men to comment on the observation that “if the universal constants, the six or more characteristics of our universe, had varied at all, it would have made life impossible.”
Dawkins responds that “maybe the universe we are in is one of a very large number of universes. The vast majority will not contain life because they have the wrong gravitational constant or the wrong this constant or that constant. But as the number of universes climbs, the odds mount that a tiny minority of universes will have the right fine-tuning.”
Collins, no fool, pounces: “This is an interesting choice. Barring a theoretical resolution, which I think is unlikely, you either have to say there are zillions of parallel universes out there that we can't observe at present or you have to say there was a plan. I actually find the argument of the existence of a God who did the planning more compelling than the bubbling of all these multiverses. So Occam's razor--Occam says you should choose the explanation that is most simple and straightforward--leads me more to believe in God than in the multiverse, which seems quite a stretch of the imagination.”
I hate to say this, but Collins is right. The multiverse theory is just as preposterous and lacking in evidence as divine creation. Dawkins is often denounced for his arrogance, bluntness, rudeness--in short, his style. When it comes to multiverses, substance, not style, is Dawkins’s problem. Incredibly, Dawkins’s defense of multiverses has allowed Collins--a Christian who believes in miracles, fer crissake--to score a rhetorical victory in a national forum.
Earth to Richard: Forget that multiverse crap! It’s a loser!