Why the multiverse is religion, not science.

Why the multiverse is religion, not science.


Today I want to explain why the multiverse
is religion. This is not a polemical argument and it is
not meant as an insult. But believing in the multiverse is logically
equivalent to believing in god, therefore it’s religion, not science. To see why, let me pull together what I laid
out in my previous videos. Scientists say that something exists if it
is useful to describe observations. By “useful” I mean it is simpler than
just collecting data. You can postulate the existence of things
that are not useful to describe observations, such as gods, but this is no longer science. Universes besides our own are logically equivalent
to gods. They are unobservable by assumption, therefore
they can exist only in a religious sense. You can believe in them if you want to, but
they are not part of science. I know that this is not a particularly remarkable
argument. But physicists seem to have a hard time following
it, especially those who happen to work on the multiverse. Therefore, let me sort out some common misunderstandings. First. The major misunderstanding is that I am saying
the multiverse does not exist. But this is not what I am saying. I am saying science does not tell us anything
about universes we cannot observe, therefore claiming they exist is not science. Second. They will argue the multiverse is simple. Most physicists who are in favor of the multiverse
say it’s scientific because it’s simpler to assume that all universes of a certain
type exist than it is to assume that only one of them exist. That’s a questionable claim. But more importantly, it’s beside the point. The simplest assumption is no assumption. And you do not need to make any statement
about the existence of the multiverse to explain our observations. Therefore, science says, you should not. As I said, it’s the same with the multiverse
as with god. It’s an unnecessary assumption. Not wrong, but superfluous. You also do not need to postulate the existence
of our universe, of course. No scientist ever does that. That would be totally ridiculous. Third. They’ll claim the existence of the multiverse
is a prediction of their theory. It’s not. That’s just wrong. Theories don’t predict what does and does
not exist. We determine that something exists, in the
scientific sense, if it is useful to describe observation. That’s exactly what the multiverse is not. Fourth. But then you are saying that discussing what’s
inside a black hole is also not science That’s equally wrong. Other universes are not science because you
cannot observe them. But you can totally observe what’s inside
a black hole. You just cannot come back and tell us about
it. Besides, no one really thinks that the inside
of a black hole will remain inaccessible forever. For reasons, the situation is entirely different
for black holes. If it was correct that the inside of black
holes cannot be observed, this would indeed mean that postulating its existence is not
scientific. Fifth. But there are types of multiverses that have
observable consequences. That’s right. Physicists have come up with certain types
of multiverses that can be falsified. The problem with these ideas is conceptually
entirely different. It’s that there is no reason to think we
live in such multiverses to begin with. The requirement that a hypothesis must be
falsifiable is certainly necessary to make the hypothesis scientific, but not sufficient. We will talk about this some other time. To sum it. The multiverse is certainly an interesting
idea and it attracts a lot of public attention. There is nothing wrong with that in principle. Entertainment has a value and so has thought-stimulating
discussion. But do not confuse the multiverse with science,
because it is not.

55 Replies to “Why the multiverse is religion, not science.”

  1. Great video. It really frustrates me that so many popularizers of string theory and the multiverse are banging on about them as though they are on the verge of taking our understanding of reality to the next level. Michio Kaku was on NPR last week just gushing about the multiverse so enthusiastically that he really did sound like a religious fanatic. (For laughs, do a little mental exercise of replacing the word "multiverse" with the word "Jesus" every time you hear him say it.)

  2. Religion and science are closely related.
    Both follows some philosophy, and means & ways.
    Our observations are limited because our sensors and intelligence are limited. Even if we are built up from bacteria to humans, basics of our evolution is survival, and not observation and thinking. Also, our environment could be limited for evolution as compared to properties of the universe.
    If we could exploit our genes to the fullest level, may be we can come up with science and will be able to observer multiverse.
    I can specify how religion and science are related without specifics :
    Non-living forgives.
    Universe follows causality.
    Observation is believing and observation influences reality.
    Universe follows harmony and peace, but it also highly reactive.
    As we are part of the universe, our consciousness and emotions are not beyond the universe, like worship emotion. Those vibrations from our brain are part of the universe.
    Vibrations like devotion transforms nonlinearly like quantum entanglement and the universe caters to it, as total energy contents of the universe are constant.

  3. This is a complete straw man. The multiverse is not postulated to explain observation, it is the PREDICTION of theories that have high agreement with observation. And since the multiverse also has the criteria of being testable, I think scientists who refer to it as "religion" are either being disingenuous or lack expertise in the relevant cosmological models.

  4. Interesting, it appears that science, which is just a word, is searching for the beginning of TRUTH. If you found it and creation responded back; truth is what I have allowed you to see but you have no understanding of what it is.

  5. a multiverse hypothesis assumes that we know more about the beginning of our own universe than we can observe. a reference to what happened before the big bang.

  6. I wouldn't call it religion. More like a hypothesis based on some models of inflationary theory. Time will tell us better.

  7. Wait, why should we not assume our universe exists? I don't understand why that's ridiculous. Is the concept of the universe useful for collecting observations? I'd say it is. You now have the most general word possible for describing the position of something. I think I have the wrong idea about what she's saying though.

  8. I really appreciate your candor and logical reasoning here. Stephen Hawking said much the same in his final paper.

    The reason why multiverse theories are so attractive, IMHO, is that if you assume only the universe we observe, you're stuck with the First Cause argument and Anthropic Principle, which theists like me argue (philosophically, not scientifically) require not only a god, but specifically the type of God described in the Bible. That is, a being which isn't matter, energy, space-time, or the physical constants of this universe which is eternal, functionally omnipotent and omniscient, orders of magnitude more intelligent than us, very interested in creating life other than himself, etc.

    So, those who reject one religious claim simply make another, the infinite multiverse theory, then slap some equations on it, and call it "science" even though it is, as you point out, unnecessary to our observations of this universe and untestable-and likely forever so.

  9. Some people agree, some don't, but we are alll–l ! stuck in this thing called reality. Bigfoot, Aliens, and Gods are all in the same category. We call it mythology " period " (speaker of the house ref.) I do however like Sabines explanation much better. Is string theory reality ? This why we have the ?

  10. But what about the data from the cosmic microwave background radiation that suggests interaction between our universe and another? Or the multiworlds interpretation of the double-slit experiment? To say that the multiverse definitely exists is akin to religious declarations, but we can say that it's an interesting hypothesis with some promise of being confirmed.

  11. The idea of a multiverse is not a faith belief and multiverses are not supernatural, so belief in a multiverse is not religious.
    Did Sean Carroll say that a multiverse is the only idea consistent with all observations of quantum physics? That does not prove that it exists, but it is evidence far beyond what any religion has and takes the idea of a multiverse out of the realm of religion, since it is based on evidence, not faith. Also, there is nothing supernatural about a multiverse, so it is not a religious idea.

  12. Multi verse does not even come close to being a religion, to suggest this is a very bad way to express the idea that the multi verse is more philosophy than hard science.
    1. The multi verse can be put to the test, God cannot.
    2. Any serious multi verse proponents will readily admit it is an idea that is not supported by solid evidence, a religion on the other hand claims its assertions are the truth and cannot be debated.
    3, Religion is based on belief without evidence while at the same time insisting it is true. No reasonable multi verse proponent will tell non believers they are wrong for not believing it, and will readily admit they could be wrong.

  13. so, was Einstein's theory of relativity religion before it was confirmed? no, it was a hypothesis which made predictions that later could be verified. theoretically, it is the same with The Multiverse and String Theory. religion doesn't make any sufficiently stringent predictions to ever be verifiable or disproven

  14. Not arguing for the multiverse but the argument about prediction seems to me to be wrong. Throughout the history of science many unobserved things have been predicted … the Higgs Boson is a prime example, as are the existence of outer planets and even elements in the periodic table. Methods to establish the fact after the prediction had to be discovered/invented after the prediction was made – or would you argue they were also religions until proven?

    Surely the multiverse can exist in the form of a prediction – we just need to find a way to validate or disprove the prediction.

    When Higgs predicted his boson there was no method established to check the validity but large sums of money were spent to answer the question once a method was established. Who is to say a method to detect the multiverse is impossible?

    Interesting that you mention Hawking radiation … when that was predicted we had yet to even confirm the existence of Black Holes and it has taken 40 years for anyone to collect any data that could be considered evidence for it.

  15. "You can observe what is inside of a black hole" really? No we observe and quantify the surrounding affected matter/energy around a black hole – this is science. Hawking radiation, gravitation effects etc. This leads us to believe back holes are justifiable. It is inductive. I think an argument can be made for the same inductive suggestion for a multiverse If we see/quantify affects that lead to that conclusion. It is not proof of but evidence for. It largely is unfalsifiable but as theories are best explanations of observable facts and phenomena, we may well conclude a multiverse is such a "best explanation". If we were to say there is no evidence (direct or indirect) for anything beyond our local representation of the universe then yes a multiverse is not a best explanation for anything and is speculation/religion.

  16. If we are made from star dust then the star must be a god since mankind has a soul that lives after the body turns back to dust. This spirit comes from the dust that the star god made.

  17. On further pondering I realize you are employing false equivocation and equivalency fallacies here. Religion is a system of institutionalized beliefs traits and practices. Bad science is bad science and unless it can be established that this is anything other than bad science it cannot be called a religion either in a direct or comparative manner. At this point a multi-verse is a hypothesis and not a theory yes but not a religion.

  18. While we’re at it let’s see what else is not science: Big Bang, Black Holes, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Expansion of the Universe, Spacetime as well as String Theory, Relativity and all other purely conceptual and computational “descriptions” of reality.

  19. I did support this perspective 2 weeks ago and still do but upon some careful thought I must retort somewhat on this issue:Yes,science has no applicable grounds for the existence of a Multiverse yet as I stated but it cannot be classified as a religion since research at this point in time culminates evidence of other Universes—not faith,spiritual guidance,or belief in a higher power as religion is based.Like I stated before,Multiverse is currently a hypothesis,but is waiting to graduate to be a theory (like the Big Bang) so that can only happen through scientific research that is not religion.Basically saying—crawl before you can walk,walk before you can run.We may be a long way from proof of a Multiverse but only hard work backed by a scientific perspective will get us there.

  20. Darwinian Evolution (macro evolution) is suppose to have occurred over billions of years and is therefore "unobservable". So, does that mean that macroevolution is not science?

  21. Throughout this video, if you replace the word "God" with "Consciousness/Intelligence" would your statements still be true?

  22. Fair point, but you can say that it is "possible" that the multiverse exists based upon certain theories. Likewise with God – you can say that it is possible that God exists based upon certain theological/philosophical frameworks. Beyond "possible" you are in the realm of belief.

  23. Religion, true but. Religion with strong scientific suggestions it really exist. Both in math and the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background) also suggest it. But you're right for the moment it's nothing more then bunch of hypothesis.

  24. I'll bet Hugh Everett was kind of sorry he ever cooked up the whole idea up in the 1st place. https://www.quora.com/Why-was-Niels-Bohr-so-opposed-to-Everetts-many-worlds-interpretation-of-quantum-mechanics

  25. The way they taught it when I was in school was that a scientific theory needs to be subject to falsifiable test(s) that have a good chance of revealing the falsehood, if it fact it is false. Put that together with the "Russell's Teapot" argument that you don't have to refute ideas that are thrown out there with no evidence, and I reached the same conclusions Dr. Hossenfelder did. She is much smarter than I am, so she can rationalize the steps of the argument better, but I'm bright enough to get from A to Z, with rough patches along the way.

  26. Sabine IS the true FRAU FARBISSINA !!! >>> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WNmB7HQmwv0

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qb1_UjIPCTE

  27. A hypothesis is not a faith,may be some persons have faith that this multiverse exist,but many see it only as an unproofed hypothsis,for example Murray Gellmann.To say,that the muliverse is religion,is nonsens. It is not religion,it is a hyphothesis.And this physicist use this lack of honesty,because she don't like the hypthesis of a multiverse.That's all.

  28. The multiverse gives the same results as a single universe going through many big bang big crunch cycles so in a way the multiverse could be statistically correct.

  29. Dont agree. If the universe condensed out of some barionic soup then it's possible there were many condensation sites. CBM map may Indicate such possibilities

  30. If our universe is the only one, and we also say it has a beginning, we have to conclude that that the big bang has not been created by a physical mechanism, hence by some superpower. On the other hand if we believe the big bang is due to a physical mechanism, it should have happened more than once and it probably still happens, hence creating other universes.

  31. Is the fourth dimension real? We can't enter that either, but it does make mathematical sense and we can make proper conclusions about it. Is the fourth dimension real or is it just mathematical fiction?

  32. Sabine, I love your videos but you must position your arms better while speaking. Having them hang straight down is not appealing and detracts from the excellence of your talk. You might want to simply have the camera come in closer, or hold a microphone, or fold your hands in front of you.

  33. Don't think I agree. You said black, the interior, may be accessible in the future, but as we know for the time being, that as difficult as going to another universe. And if the problem is not that we can't look, just that we cannot go out to tell… Well, that's an assumption until it happens. And then we cannot tell, so maybe it doesn't happen. As science must be repetitive, we would run out of people before making the interior of the black hole, complete science.
    That's why I think you are being biased against the multiverse theories, or at least some of them.

  34. But studying the possibility of the multiverse existence and a believe in its existence is different no? A believe in god is mostly due to humans being aware of their inevitable demise. I'm not a multiverse fan nor a string theory fan, nor Einsteins fan for that matter although his theory is an incredible approximation of our observations.

  35. The same mathematics that predicted black holes are the same mathematics which predicts white holes. The multiverse is supposed to exist at least mathematically.

  36. it's not a good idea to assert that multiverse is not science at all. we've heard about the same in the past concerning black holes and gravitational waves – although they were following from the equations, Einstain by himself didn't believe that these things will be ever possible to detect and to prove their existance.

    the same is with the idea (or its better to say with the interpretation of some theoretical results) of the possibility of different worlds (as in many-worlds interpretation) or even the worlds with different physics as following from the string theory. who knows, might be rather soon some new John Bell will appear to suggest the way how we can check these theoris about multiverses in laboratory experiments.

    in any case, only one possible single version of the universe in which we live inevitably means, that we are living in a matrix, in which everything is fully preditermined. such world must be very depressing..

  37. Science only explains the physical world and not the spiritual one.
    Science is cold logic, while religion is human oriented, brings out the feelings and destiny of people or society.
    Religion can build great things through science , when science can't use religion.

  38. What if the simplest theory that describes reality turns out to predict that another universe exists besides our own, and removing this second universe makes the equations more complicated? Shouldn't we then believe in the multiverse because of Okhams Razor?

  39. Is Occams Razor Science? If yes, than multiverse is science:
    https://www.lesswrong.com/posts/Atu4teGvob5vKvEAF/decoherence-is-simple
    https://www.lesswrong.com/s/Kqs6GR7F5xziuSyGZ/p/DFxoaWGEh9ndwtZhk

  40. The simplest assumption isn't having no assumption. That's like saying the smallest hamster is vacuum. No, you just don't have a hamster at all. You do know why we have the word "assumption", right? It's for ideas we don't yet know are true or not. If the scientists Ms. Hossenfelder strawmans in this video made any claims of certainty, they wouldn't use that word. Sean Carrol is a great example since he constantly repeats the many worlds interpretation is just one possible explanation.

    Rather than hurt science, trying to figure out what might explain things is what gives it life and inspiration. Many people have made bold claims and sought to verify it scientifically. Most have failed, and that made both them and us smarter. As an example of how this might benefit us in the future, let's say we actually do live in a simulation. If there are scientists that entertain this possibility, they are much more likely to figure out ways to test it while the likes of Ms. Hossenfelder would chastize them for being "religious" and halt that progress.

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