Infinite Problems with Infinite Universes

A Reader with the binary name of The Deuce wrote a post on the self-defeating nature of multiverse arguments. I reprint it here as a guest post.

The biggest problem with the multiverse idea (beyond the fact that it’s simply a post-hoc rationalization to explain away the necessity of an intellect behind the natural world) is that it ultimately has to assume what it’s trying to disprove: Namely that mind is real and irreducible to the action of blind, physical matter.

Conjuring up infinite chance resources to explain things has no limiting principle. The logic that multiverse proponents use to explain away cosmic-fine tuning, the origin of life, the evolution of conscious rational creatures, etc., could in principle be used to explain away *any* observation. Eg. “No, I didn’t steal the cookie from the cookie jar. It’s just that given infinite universes, there had to be infinite ones where the cookie dematerialized at the same time that I entered the kitchen alone, and that’s what happened here.”

Followed consistently, such thinking would be fatal to all empirical inferences of causality and science itself.

(As an aside, materialists often accuse theists of undermining empirical inference of causality with “God of the gaps” arguments, but their willingness to entertain multiverse proposals shows that this is a mere metaphysical bias on their part, not a sincere objection.)

In order to prevent chance explanations from “taking over” as it were and destroying all scientific reasoning, multiverse proponents are forced to say that only those events that led to the existence of rational conscious observers (the fine-tuning of laws in our universe, the origin of our solar system and planet, the origin of life, the direction of evolution, etc) can be explained away by chance using infinite universes, the reasoning being that only in those universes where such events happened will there be rational observers to observe that they happened and rationally deduce that they were extremely unlikely.

But in order to make an objective distinction between events that led to the existence of rational observers and those that didn’t, you must be able to make a fundamental, ontological distinction between conscious rational intellects and everything else in the universe. This requires that conscious rational creatures are substances in the Aristotelean terminology, with irreducible powers of their own. If conscious rational intellect is reducible to the blind material components of which they are composed, the necessary distinction cannot be made.

But if rational conscious intellect as a category is irreducible to blind mechanistic matter, then the ultimate explanation for it must lie outside the physical universe, and it must implicitly exist in whatever caused the multiverse to exist in the first place. At that point, you’re back to God, and then it’s more parsimonious to attribute the unlikely events that led to rational conscious creatures to his intentional act, rendering the idea of infinite universes entirely superfluous and indeed the most un-parsimonious violation of “Occam’s razor” imaginable.