New lyrics: “For every theory, squirm, squirm, squirm / There is a season, squirm, squirm, squirm. / The search to knock out God goes on forever.”
That’s my homage to Pete Seeger’s song, based on Chapter 3 of Ecclesiastes, which when covered by The Byrds reached No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart in December 1965: “To everything, turn, turn, turn / There is a season, turn, turn, turn …”
It’s also a hat tip to Quanta magazine, which covers developments in math and science. Quanta published last week a story by Natalie Wolchover headlined, “Radical New Theory Could Kill the Multiverse Hypothesis.” Wired reprinted it on Monday.
I picked up on this because I’ve long been amused by the desperate efforts of some scientists to respond to calculations indicating the incredible improbability of human life developing anywhere in our universe. Some have argued that our universe must be one of many. In short, we need a multiverse to avoid believing in God’s intelligent design.
Here’s what Quanta reported:
“As the logical conclusion of prevailing assumptions, the multiverse hypothesis has surged in begrudging popularity in recent years. But the argument feels like a cop-out to many, or at least a huge letdown. A universe shaped by chance cancellations eludes understanding, and the existence of unreachable, alien universes may be impossible to prove. ‘And it’s pretty unsatisfactory to use the multiverse hypothesis to explain only things we don’t understand,’ said Graham Ross, an emeritus professor of theoretical physics at the University of Oxford.”
Unsatisfactory, yes: I’d call it “multiverse of the gaps”—when we’re stuck and the existence of God is a much more probable alternative, we trot out the multiverse hypothesis. Quanta summarized the impasse this way: “The multiverse ennui can’t last forever.”
As we run from God, what can take the place of the multiverse? “Scale symmetry” based on “adimensional gravity” may be the new new thing—see Quanta for several paragraphs of explanation—but “the theory has what most experts consider a serious flaw: It requires the existence of strange particle-like entities called ‘ghosts.’ Ghosts either have negative energies or negative probabilities of existing—both of which wreak havoc on the equations of the quantum world.”
Maybe they’re friendly ghosts—and “the new models require a calculation technique that some experts consider mathematically dubious.” But, as University of California, Santa Cruz, physics professor Michael Dine put it, “We’re not in a position where we can afford to be particularly arrogant about our understanding of what the laws of nature must look like. … Things that I might have been skeptical about before, I’m willing to entertain.”