From Ethan in Nashville, Tennessee
First, I want to thank you so much for all that you do. You've certainly stretched my brain in ways I didn't really think were possible. I guess my question is a testament to that. My question involves the concept of multiple, or rather, infinite histories within the frame of the multiverse. I think I remember reading in one of the many multiverse articles that Jeff wrote that an infinite universe…is purely physical or something along those lines. So, from that I concluded that things like Scripture are unaffected since they talk about spiritual things and truth is a non-physical thing. However, I've begun to wonder, if there are indeed infinite histories, is it not possible that in the reaches of the infinite universe there is another planet just like ours, with humans like us, with a Bible just like ours, with a savior just like Jesus who claimed to be the Son of God, except that this Jesus died by some other method or taught some other truth? So, from this how can we really know if spirituality, or the human soul, exists, or even if truth exists, if it's all just a product of the multiverse? I hope to hear from you all and God bless.
Good question, Ethan. To start, I would argue that humans on planet Earth are unique regardless of the existence/size of our universe/multiverse. And, no, Jesus does not take on another human nature as savior on some other planet. But a couple of things need clarification.
First, the reason that more scientists think an infinitely large multiverse exists ultimately derives from inflation. Recent evidence strongly argues for an inflationary epoch early in our universe’s history. As scientists seek to understand how inflation works they repeatedly encounter the situation that the very process driving inflation produces an extremely large (if not infinite) universe—a universe that is one member of a vast multiverse.
Second, in this scenario, the size of our universe (extremely large and possibly infinite) raises the question of whether everything we can see actually occurs repeatedly in other parts of the universe. To clarify, consider a five-card hand dealt from a standard deck (no jokers). Each new five-card hand will likely differ from the others because more than two million—2,598,960 to be exact—possible hands exist. However, dealing the 2,598,961st hand guarantees at least two identical hands. The same situation arises when considering our observable universe. Although it is extremely large, the number of arrangements of all the space, time, matter, and energy is finite and our observable universe is much smaller than the whole inflationary universe. Thus, it would appear that the whole history visible to humanity would repeat in distant regions of the universe.
Why, then, do I argue for the uniqueness of humanity? Because the scenario described above occurs only for the physical stuff (like atoms, photons, electrons, etc.). Yet, the Bible describes humanity as being made in God's image, which seems to include an inherently non-physical component. Even leading atheistic thinkers to acknowledge that consciousness does not reduce to physical components. If humans possess an inherently non-physical component, then no amount of rearranging the matter of the cosmos will reproduce humanity somewhere else (although a planet similar to Earth will happen). So, we are the only humans in the universe.
One powerful way to determine truth is to test claims against reality. Time and time again, the claims of the Bible match the data derived from studying this universe. Given that record, we can trust what it says about the uniqueness of humanity with confidence that future tests will continue to affirm its truthfulness.