Over at John Horgan’s blog, he quotes an e-mail from Princeton cosmologist Paul Steinhardt, who corrects Horgan’s account of a recent conversation between them, writing
I said that I thought that the idea of a string landscape and the notion of anthropic selection had run its course. I think it is too early to give up on string theory.
While Steinhardt sees anthropic selection of our universe out of a multiverse as an idea that has run its course and is on its way out, it’s still quite popular in certain quarters. The Templeton Foundation, through the FQXI organization, is a major source of funding for anthropic multiverse research. FQXI’s web-site has a new story up entitled Philosophy of the Multiverse, which asks “On what side of the borderline between science and philosophy are multiverses?” The writer evidently couldn’t locate anyone to take the “it’s philosophy, not science” side of the argument, quoting Sean Carroll, Anthony Aguirre, Alexander Vilenkin and Aurelien Barrau as supporters of anthropics as science. Barrau suggests that we may need to change the definition of science to accomodate the multiverse.
Whatever Steinhardt says, at least the Mormons are getting on the multiverse bandwagon, with their journal Dialogue recently publishing a long article entitled Eternal Progression in a Multiverse: An Explorative Mormon Cosmology. The article begins:
This article is an examination of the Mormon doctrine of eternal progression within the context of big-bang cosmology, a description of a finite universe that appears to contradict that doctrine. I argue that a multiverse cosmology, a theory that posits a multiplicity of universes, resolves many of the problems posed by big-bang cosmology.
and goes on to explain how the multiverse agrees well with the doctriine of “eternal progression” in Mormon theology:
In a Mormon multiverse cosmology, God does indeed manifest his infinite creative prowess in the respect that God (any god along the infinite chain of gods) creates children, some of whom progress to become gods, who in turn create their own universes and children, some of whom progress to become gods, and so on, forever. Each universe in the ensemble of universes becomes an extension and continuation of the creativity of every “ancestral god” in an eternal family of deities. The creativity and glory of each god increases exponentially with the production of new universes. In this cosmology, the multiverse is a hallmark and witness of the infinite work and glory of God and the dwelling place for an infinite number of eternal progressing beings.
While solving the problem of justifying eternal progression, the multiverse idea leads to all sorts of new possible research directions:
In a Mormon multiverse cosmology, many questions remain open. Are there communication and movement of the gods and other premortal and postmortal beings between universes? When a universe experiences a big crunch or big freeze, does the god of that universe generate a new universe or “relocate” to another universe fit for carrying out the “great plan of happiness” for a new household of spirit children? Did God, our Father in Heaven, achieve godhood in this universe or a prior one? If God was exalted in a prior universe, how many universes has he governed? Jesus Christ is the redeemer for this universe, but is he the redeemer for others? Are some universes “stillborn” in the sense that they do not have the required values of the physical constants for a universe capable of sustaining life? Because the multiverse is infinite, are there replicas of us in other universes as postulated by the replication paradox? Cosmologists speculate whether the physical laws are the same across the ensemble of universes, but what about the spiritual laws? Are the spiritual laws “multiversal” or just “universal”? As multiverse cosmologies develop scientifically, these questions and others will stimulate much discussion.
The author ends the piece with a quote from Andrei Linde: “Universes can have babies — it’s nice.”