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Rational Faith in the Multiverse
Rational Faith in the Multiverse

Faith and Science

During a period of great change and upheaval in the role of organized religion and faith, Mary-Jane Rubenstein in her book "Worlds without End" asks whether examining existence through the lens of multiverse theory points the way to a closer relationship between scientific thought and faith, and can create greater relevancy for faith movements like Unitarian Universalism that are non-dogmatic and encourage a rational basis for faith.

 

The search for spiritual meaning and faith in endless universes of possibility

The scientific theory of "multiverse" – the possibility that there are many universes in existence – first expressed by the Atomists in ancient Greece, is described by researchers as a, "hell without fire", because it is at the same time an unanswerable and compelling area of inquiry. Rubenstein examines the relationship between faith and science. Must they be mutually exclusive, or can they inform each other, commenting,  "... the stories we tell and the concepts we use determine the kinds of questions we ask." Rubenstein's comment highlights the importance of non-dogmatic seeking and the value of the Unitarian Universalist 4th Principle of "a free and responsible search for truth and meaning" mobilizing faith and scientific inquiry.

Can science breath life into faith?

Rubenstein notes the paradoxical questions posed by quantum physics make it harder to accept faith devoid of questioning or scientific inquiry without a certain amount of faith, stating, "What quantum physics teaches us is that nothing is itself all by itself... (T)his insight throws into question all our ordinary ways of speaking about self and other, human and nonhuman, and "being" itself. So it seems to me the modern natural sciences are trying to figure out what anything is when everything is a complex product of mixtures, relations, and recombinations of stuff-and-ideas..."

Rubenstein hints at the limited relevancy of dogmatic or doctrinal religious faith or practice, and which is confirmed as more and more people profess no religious affiliation. But her work also lifts up the value of living, evolving faith that can enables spiritual fulfillment in a rapidly atomizing world. Rubenstein, "The image of an active God breathing life into inert matter becomes far less compelling in the face of new paradigms in the human, social, and natural sciences, which show that new organisms are "created" and changed all the time through complex interrelations of matter, culture, and energy. What would it mean politically, ethically, and ecologically to say that the cosmo- and biodiversity that constantly brings forth new worlds and forms is what we mean by "God"?

Read the full interview of Mary-Jane Rubenstein by Andrew Aghapour on Religion Dispatches. Learn about Unitarian Universalism, a non-dogmatic and welcoming religious faith. Read more: Science's Alternative to an Intelligent Creator: the Multiverse Theory "Our universe is perfectly tailored for life. That may be the work of God or the result of our universe being one of many." (Discover Magazine)

About the Author

  • Ted joined the staff of the Office of Youth and Young Adult Ministries in February 2010. He brings more than twenty years' experience using media to create social change by creating communications strategies and content for progressive non-profits, political campaigns, and cause...

Comments (1)

Collin Merenoff (not verified) 2 years 2 days ago

The multiverse is not science. It can't be; science is not capable of asking about the absolutely unobservable. The multiverse is, however, part of the Western culture that currently sponsors science. The recent popularity of the multiverse is a symptom of the worldwide political dysfunction that conflates Westernism, science, and truth.

Saying the universe is fine-tuned for "life" makes no sense. There is no precise definition of life except as a rare, and probably unique, phenomenon that occurs on this one little rock we call Earth.

The purpose of the fine-tuning can only be ascribed to features of the universe at large, such as the existence of solid matter, or the symmetry of the effective physical laws. If there is a God that created us, then evolution is His signature. And there is already evidence -- real scientific evidence -- of universal evolution, that scientists already have and don't realize it. (Or refuse to realize it, for political purposes.)

The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. There are good arguments that space is discrete at a very small scale. That means the universe is a countable set of points, which could easily be assumed to undergo a process of reproduction and selection.

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