And He (Allah) gave you all that you wanted of Him; and if you try to count the favors of Allah, you will not be able to number them. Indeed, man is very unjust, very ungrateful. (Al Quran 14:35)
Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times
Let me start off by saying, if my articles are boring to you, it may be that you need to read more of them, as was suggested by John Cage, who was a famous American composer of the twentieth century, “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.”
The title of Stephen Hawking’s recent book that he has co-authored with Leonard Mlodinow is The Grand Design. In this book the authors have described their agnostic or atheistic world view, through the glasses of contemporary physics. However, the title itself is a Freudian slip revealing the underlying conflict of Hawking’s premise. He cannot express his proposition, even briefly so, without borrowing a phrase that argues the exact opposite and suggests a Designer, a Creator, a First cause, Alpha and Omega! The authors do not offer us any new evidence to prove their premise. The book repackages commonly known scientific information.
Nowhere in the book have the authors told us what could science have discovered that would have proved a Transcendent God, in other words their conclusion is in fact, only their starting premise.
The main thesis of the book seems to rely on the multiverse theory and M Theory, which is used to rescue the sinking ship of atheism. These are invoked in one form or the other in concluding paragraphs of almost every chapter, of this book, after the fifth one. The multiverse theory, however, may belong to science fiction rather than science as we do not have access to multiverse to examine it through scientific methods. Hawking teaches us in the final paragraphs of the fifth chapter that the M theory allows for ten raised to the power 500 different universes, together represented with the term multiverse, each universe with its own laws.
Now, any universe outside our own by its very definition cannot be observed, so multiverse theory lies outside the realm of science, but paraphrasing Hawking’s number of possible universes, there may be ten raised to the power 500 variables that make our universe biophylic, which are as many reasons to believe in our Gracious God.
Introduction of Multiverse:
The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of infinite or finite possible universes (including the historical universe we consistently experience) that together comprise everything that exists and can exist: the entirety of space, time, matter, and energy as well as the physical laws and constants that describe them. The term was coined in 1895 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James. The various universes within the multiverse are sometimes called parallel universes.
The structure of the multiverse, the nature of each universe within it and the relationship between the various constituent universes, depend on the specific multiverse hypothesis considered. Multiple universes have been hypothesized in cosmology, physics, astronomy, religion, philosophy, transpersonal psychology and fiction, particularly in science fiction and fantasy. In these contexts, parallel universes are also called “alternative universes”, “quantum universes”, “interpenetrating dimensions”, “parallel dimensions”, “parallel worlds”, “alternative realities”, “alternative timelines”, and “dimensional planes,” among others.
Plato would make Socrates say in the Republic (7.514a ff.), the human condition is comparable to that of prisoners of an underground cave, whose unfortunate fate is to confuse reality with passing shadows created by a fire inside their miserable abode and kept in motion by clever manipulators, who in the name of politics, religion, science, and tradition control the human herd.
What I am going to write in this article, I put briefly in a comment, in response to a question that an atheist had raised to my previous comment, in the Huffington Post, in a recent article by Victor Stenger and the moderators conveniently censored and deleted my comment. I quickly realized that we do not live in a straight forward world, many a times, freedom of dialogue is perhaps an illusion and Plato’s observations are still, as true today as they were 2300 years ago.
If accomplished and decorated physicist and mathematicians can take argument for relatively simple and understandable issues, into the realm of complex quantum physics and mathematics, then the masses have little choice but to yield their intelligence to the priests of physics, mathematics and science.
Richard Feynman, who received Nobel Prize in 1965, was voted to be one of the the ten greatest physicists of all times, once famously said, “I think I can safely say that nobody understands quantum mechanics.” Gathering strength from his demystification of the Universal Church of Physics, I believe, I can explain the quantum mechanics and M theory and any reader, with high school education, can understand it.
Baron John Rees, President of the Royal Society of UK writes in his book, Just Six Numbers: the Deep Forces That Shape the Universe, describes our biophylic universe in the following words:
I have highlighted these six because each plays a crucial and distinctive role in our universe, and together they determine how the universe evolves and what its internal potentialities are; moreover, three of them (those that pertain to the large-scale universe) are only now being measured with any precision.These six numbers constitute a ‘recipe’ for a universe. Moreover, the outcome is sensitive to their values: if anyone of them were to be ‘untuned’, there would be no stars and no life. Is this tuning just a brute fact, a coincidence? Or is it the providence of a benign Creator?
There are various ways of reacting to the apparent fine tuning of our six numbers. One hard-headed response is that we couldn’t exist if these numbers weren’t adjusted in the appropriate ‘special’ way: we manifestly are here, so there’s nothing to be surprise about. Many scientists take this line, but it certainly leaves me unsatisfied. I‘m impressed by a metaphor given by the Canadian philosopher John Leslie. Suppose you are facing a firing squad. Fifty marksmen take aim, but they all miss. If they hadn’t all missed, you wouldn’t have survived to ponder the matter. But you wouldn’t just leave it at that – you’d still be baffled, and would seek some further reason for your good fortune.
So, the validity and eloquence of the argument of fine tuning of our universe is self evident. What would the atheists do to wriggle out of this? They believe multiverse is the magical wand, hymn, mantra or panacea, they need to invoke in every moment of difficulty or distress, as Hawking does in many of the chapters of his book.
Let me quote from Hawking’s book itself and use it here, in refutation of his thesis:
Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, archbishop of Vienna, wrote, ‘Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, faced with scientific claims like neo-Darwinism and the multiverse [many universes] hypothesis in cosmology invented to avoid the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design found in modern science, the Catholic Church will again defend human nature by proclaiming that the immanent design in nature is real?’ In cosmology the overwhelming evidence for purpose and design to which the cardinal was referring is the fine tuning of physical law we described above.
I agree with the Cardinal completely in his assesment of the multiverse. It is the preconceived atheism that makes many scientists weave artificial explanation for the order, beauty and organization that they have observed in the universe and in the living organisms on our planet earth. Multiverse is the main ploy of the atheists to wriggle out of the evidence of the finely tuned universe. Antony Flew explains, “This fine tuning has been explained in two ways. Some scientists have said the fine tuning is evidence for divine design; many others have speculated that our universe is one of multiple others—a ‘multiverse’—with the difference that ours happened to have the right conditions for life. Virtually no major scientist today claims that the fine tuning was purely a result of chance factors at work in a single universe.”
A true scientific explanation, says Paul Davies, is like a single well-aimed bullet. The idea of a multiverse replaces the rationally ordered real world with an infinitely complex charade and makes the whole idea of ‘explanation’ meaningless. Richard Swinburne is just as strong in his disdain for the multiverse explanation: “It is crazy to postulate a trillion (causally unconnected) universes to explain the features of one universe, when postulating one entity (God) will do the job.”
I quoted Martin Rees above to make my points but as he wanders away and drifts into an agnostic or atheist world view, in the last chapter of his book. I have to be critical of his elusive defense of multiverse. Now watch how he starts manufacturing smoke screens in the concluding chapter of the book Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. The chapter is titled, Coincidence, providence—or multiverse, he writes trying to be an apologist for agnosticism or atheism:
Some people may be inclined to dismiss such concepts (multiverse) as ‘metaphysics’ (a damning put-down from a physicist’s viewpoint). But I think the multiverse genuinely lies within the province of science, even though it is plainly still no more than a tentative hypothesis. This is because we can already map out what questions must be addressed in order to put it on a more credible footing; more importantly (since any good scientific theory must be vulnerable to being refuted), we can envisage some developments that might rule out the concept.
He chooses to put multiverse genuinely in the province of science while the multiverse is by definition outside of our universe and there is no hope of us ever studying or observing it, except in make belief stories. He knows it himself also as a little bit later he confesses, “These universes would never be directly observable; we couldn’t even meaningfully say whether they existed ‘before’, ‘after’ or ‘alongside’ our own.”
You would recall the interesting metaphor of the fifty marksmen, who conveniently missed their target, Antony Flew who used to be formally a well known champion of atheism, has presented another interesting metaphor to look at the biophylic universe. He writes:
Imagine entering a hotel room on your next vacation. The CD player on the bedside table is softly playing a track from your favorite recording. The framed print over the bed is identical to the image that hangs over the fireplace at home. The room is scented with your favorite fragrance. You shake your head in amazement and drop your bags on the floor.
You’re suddenly very alert. You step over to the minibar, open the door, and stare in wonder at the contents. Your favorite beverages. Your favorite cookies and candy. Even the brand of bottled water you prefer.
You turn from the mini bar, then, and gaze around the room. You notice the book on the desk: it’s the latest volume by your favorite author. You glance into the bathroom, where personal care and grooming products are lined up on the counter, each one as if it was chosen specifically for you. You switch on the television; it is tuned to your favorite channel.
Chances are, with each new discovery about your hospitable new environment, you would be less inclined to think it was all a mere coincidence, right? You might wonder how the hotel managers acquired such detailed information about you. You might marvel at their meticulous preparation. You might even double-check what all this is going to cost you. But you would certainly be inclined to believe that someone knew you were coming.
Let’s take the most basic laws of physics. It has been calculated that if the value of even one of the fundamental constants-the speed of light or the mass of an electron, for instance-had been to the slightest degree different, then no planet capable of permitting the evolution of human life could have formed.
This fine tuning has been explained in two ways. Some scientists have said the fine tuning is evidence for divine design; many others have speculated that our universe is one of multiple others-a ‘multiverse’-with the difference that ours happened to have the right conditions for life. Virtually no major scientist today claims that the fine tuning was purely a result of chance factors at work in a single universe.
That vacation scenario is a clumsy, limited parallel to the so-called fine-tuning argument. The recent popularity of this argument has highlighted a new dimension of the laws of nature. ‘The more I examine the universe and study the details of its architecture,’ writes physicist Freeman Dyson, ‘the more evidence I find that the universe in some sense knew we were coming.’ In other words, the laws of nature seem to have been crafted so as to move the universe toward the emergence and sustenance of life. This is the anthropic principle, popularized by such thinkers as Martin Rees, John Barrow, and John Leslie.
In his book Infinite Minds, John Leslie, a leading anthropic theorist, argues that fine tuning is best explained by divine design. He says that he is impressed not by particular arguments for instances of fine tuning, but by the fact that these arguments exist in such profusion. ‘If, then, there were aspects of nature’s workings that appeared very fortunate and also entirely fundamental,’ he writes, ‘then these might well be seen as evidence specially favoring belief in God.’
I am a physician, working as a Pulmonologist and a Sleep Disorder’s Specialist in the state of New York for the last twenty years.
In medical research and literature, when the odds of something happening by pure chance or accident, is less than 5%, then it is attributed to the medicine or treatment under consideration. This is simply based on the logic that 95% is nineteen times more likely than 5%.
But, in the field of physics, cosmology and astronomy the odds can rise to one in a trillion or more precisely, one in ten raised to the power of five hundred, yet those with an atheistic bend of mind, do not stop weaving their atheistic theories and world view.
Given their lack of understanding of simple mathematics and statistics, the theist readers are no longer indebted to stand in awe of scholarship and accomplishments of these agnostic and atheist scientists, when they go against the Provident and Gracious God, who has given us ten raised to the power of five hundred reasons, to adore, love and worship Him.
The well informed Muslims should never propose a God of the gaps, for we know that God is Subtle and Hidden and is called Al Lateef and Al Baatin in the Holy Quran. He works through the Laws of Nature and His Creativity and Providence do not ever violate the Laws of Nature, for given His Omniscience, this is how He has designed our universe or multiverse! Even miracles fall in the realm of Laws of Nature, even though we may not know of those Laws at the given time.
When physicists, mathematicians and biologists talk about metaphysics and religion, we do not have to genuflex to them rather we genuflex to the evidence as we best see it.
I worship my God, who I believe, created the multiverse through Laws of Nature, to make our universe biophylic and created me and every person and thing that I love. Therefore, I cannot thank Him enough.
1. John Rees. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Basic Books, 2000. Page 4.
2. John Rees. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Basic Books, 2000. Page 4.
3. John Rees. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Basic Books, 2000. Page 165-166.
4. Antony Flew. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Harper One, 2007. Page 115.
5. Paul Davies, “Universes Galore: Where Will It All End?” http://cosmos.asu.edu/publications/chapters/Universes%20galore.pdf
6. Richard Swinburne, “Design Defended,” Think (Spring 2004): page 17.
7. John Rees. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Basic Books, 2000. Page 166-167.
8. John Rees. Just Six Numbers: The Deep Forces That Shape the Universe. Basic Books, 2000. Page 168.
9. Antony Flew. There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind. Harper One, 2007. Page 113-115.