Powerful Hallucinations and the Multiverse
To his credit, Professor Greene acknowledges that “the subject of parallel universes is highly speculative. No experiment or observation has established that any version of the idea is realize in nature.” (p. 8). He’s “laid out a general prescription for how a multiverse proposal might be testable, but at our current level of understanding none of the mutliverse theories we’ve encountered yet meet the criteria.” (p. 313). And, “gaining experimental or observational insight into the validity of any of the mutliverse proposals is surely a longshot.” (p. 314).
This is a best-selling book by a physics professor at a leading university writing about mysterious universes buried in the imagination of scientists but treating them as if they are truly the next big thing. But one has to wonder why these scientists speculate about trillions upon trillions of other universes when no one has yet to devise a coherent explanation — a theory of everything — for the one we know exists. Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, authors of The Grand Design, another multiverse book, are more direct about the function the multiverse serves in modern cosmology: it allows science to explain away the stunning cosmic coincidences that allow life to exist. As they write in their article, “Why God Did not Create the Universe,” (Wall St. J., Sept 4-5, 2010), if the multiverse turns out to be true, it “means that our cosmic habitat — now the entire observable universe — is just one among many.” (emphasis added). Yes, just one universe among many. The only problem is that the “many” remains a figment of the scientific imagination.
Brian Greene, in The Hidden Reality, tells a personal story that is not just a figment of the scientific imagination. He writes about a feverish flu he once had that produced “hallucinations far more vivid than any ordinary dream or nightmare.” He writes,
In one that has stayed with me, I’d find myself with a group of people sitting in a sparse hotel room, locked in a hallucination within a hallucination. I was absolutely certain that days and weeks went by — until I was thrust back into the primary hallucination, where I’d learn, shockingly, that hardly any time had passed at all. Each time I felt myself drifting back to the room, I resisted strenuously, since I knew from previous iterations that once there I’d be swallowed whole, unable to recognize the real as false until found myself back in the primary hallucination, where I’d again be distraught to learn that what I’d thought real was illusory. Periodically, when the fever subsided, I’d pull out one level further, back to ordinary life, and realize that all those translocations had been taking place with my own swirling mind.
Hidden Reality, 281.
It is surprising that Professor Greene, in a book about imagined other worlds, does not realize the significance of this powerful hallucination — an event he personally experienced and has no doubt actually happened. This sort of vivid, powerful hallucination, presents a clear choice for those who approach the problem with an open mind. Here’s the choice:
Option One: A universe worth of matter, space, and time came out of the void and exploded in the Big Bang. Out of the same void, the laws of nature appeared, directing this matter to form into stars, planets, and a solar system containing the planet Earth. Then, through a further series of completely fortuitous events, this matter decided to form into the DNA molecule and then into a living cell. This first living thing then evolved according to Natural Selection into beings possessing a complicated and intricate organ known as the human brain. This brain then somehow gained the skill of projecting a three-dimensional world in a vivid hallucination of such power that it is mistaken for the world at large.
Option Two: A vivid hallucination like Professor Greene’s shows the power of the mind to conjure up a real-seeming world from nothing. If the mind of one person can create this sort of intense private world, then it is reasonable to conclude that the united mind of humankind can dream the natural world.
Which option seems more logical? Less contrived? Simpler? Which requires less assumptions? Which explains more?
The real possibility that Option Two is the right answer should be considered because it offers a logical way to explain the one world we do experience: the product of a mind some call God. With this theory we do not need a multiverse to explain the cosmic coincidences; the world fits us because we made it that way.