Five: Big Fizz and Big Divide Quantum Cosmologies
Quantum Cosmologies add quantum theory to relativity theory and apply them to the universe as a whole. If, as previously indicated, the laws and concepts of quantum physics apply only to tiny, definite, and discrete quanta of energy, the whole enterprise of Quantum Cosmology is doomed from the start. When compacted to the size of a quantum object like an electron, all the energy of an entire universe is just too great for quantum physics to apply; but for the sake of a lively debate, let us assume that it does apply. Even so, Quantum Cosmology in its many forms still has far too many problems to be very plausible. From the vantage points of common sense and classical Newtonian physics, quantum theory involves many oddities. Two strange quantum effects, quantum indefiniteness and quantum discreteness, may be used as evidence against initial singularities, as previously explained. A third, quantum fluctuations, is used in Big Fizz Cosmologies to account for the origin of bubble universes and for the bubbles within bubbles that give rise to galactic and supergalactic structures. A fourth, plenitude or the actualization of all possibilities, spawns infinitely many universes. A fifth, Quantum Observership, results in an Idealistic Metaphysics according to which the universe exists only because we perceive it.
Quantum Cosmologies modify Standard Big Bang Cosmology by introducing quantum oddities like indefiniteness, discreteness, fluctuations, plenitude, and observership and by applying these to the beginning of the universe. Plenitude from quantum physics spills over into astrophysics, resulting in at least two distinct world-ensemble cosmologies: (1) the Big Fizz view of John A. Wheeler, Stephen Hawking, Alan Guth, and a number of Russian and other cosmologists who proclaim that primordial Superspacetime generates multiple inflationary universes by quantum fluctuations to create all possible worlds; and (2) the Big Divide view, originating with Hugh Everett, III in 1957,1 which affirms that every universe branches every instant into multiple parallel universes to actualize all possibilities. These world-ensemble cosmologies proliferate worlds to infinity through bizarre Big Fizz and Big Divide processes.2
1. Big Fizz Quantum Cosmology
Russian astrophysicists like A. A. Starobinsky,3 Andrei Linde,4 and M. A. Markov5 affirm and defend oscillating universes without singularities, as do other astrophysicists. They also envision other and more fundamental ways of generating universes without appealing to preceding oscillations. They locate
their imagined worlds within an infinite Superspacetime that endlessly ejects, then reabsorbs, and ejects again, an infinite number of co-present universes that may or may not oscillate. I shall call this multi-ejection Quantum Cosmology the "Big Fizz" theory of origins. Stephen Hawking and many others are strongly attracted to the Big Fizz position. What does it have to say about the origin of our universe?
A. Mother Spacetime
Big Fizz Cosmology affirms that an infinite number of universes are created by, and co-exist within, infinite Superspacetime, which includes but infinitely transcends the finite spacetime of our own universe. Oscillation and Quantum Cosmologies are not mutually exclusive. Once co-existent universes originate in infinite Superspace through spontaneous fluctuations, they may then oscillate forever after within Supertime, say Big Fizz proponents. Even parallel universes with a finite past can have an infinite future. Oscillation variants are plagued by all the difficulties discussed in Chapter Four, but let us begin with the novel element that Quantum Cosmologies introduce-Superspacetime. Both Oscillation and Big Fizz theories are Antecedent Universe Cosmologies. Universes expand into nothingness in pure Oscillation Cosmologies, but they expand into preexisting Superspacetime in Big Fizz Cosmologies. Superspacetime, not a singularity or an antecedent cosmic epoch, is the ultimate Antecedent Universe in these theories; it produces all Big Bangs, including our own. Maternal Superspacetime is the space beyond our space and the time before, during, and after our time.
According to I. L. Rozental, for whom "metagalaxies" are independent, co-existing universes, including ours, "A multidimensional background space exists, filled with a physical vacuum subject to perturbations. These perturbations give rise to the evolution of objects like the Metagalaxy. "6 Rozental says that "The Universe-eternal and infinite-lives a stormy life reminiscent (metaphorically, of course) of a pot of boiling liquid. Like vapor bubbles, metagalaxies arise, expand, and finally die, giving birth to new metagalaxies. "7 In discussing many worlds cosmologies, John Gribbin calls this infinite multidimensional background spacetime "'super' spacetime."8 Katsuhiko Sato and his co-authors call it "the original 'mother' universe.''9 Willem B. Drees called it "Mother Spacetime."10 This maternalistic metaphor is illuminating. Mother or Super spacetime is the primordial progenitor of all particular spatiotemporal universes, an infinite number of them, so Quantum Cosmologists claim.
Pure Oscillation Cosmologies postulate a single infinitely long strand of consecutive universes, each of which gives rises to its successor after it collapses. In Big Fizz world-ensemble cosmologies, Mother Spacetime spontaneously generates an infinite number of co-existing universes, some of which may also oscillate once initiated. Mother Spacetime is infinitely creative in both
space and time, but of what is she composed? Rozental likens her to a pot of boiling water. In more technical terms, how is she depicted? Infinitely transcendent Superspacetime is composed of: the physical vacuum or minimal mass/ density of"empty space" as an actualized energy field having a bubbly or fizzy structure that results from spontaneous quantum fluctuations.
John Hick thinks that Big Fizz Cosmology is religiously ambiguous with respect to Theism and Naturalism because "It remains no less conceivable that the super-universe, with ours as one component, is itself the ultimate uncreated reality. "11 However, if the super-universe consists entirely of contingent universes, contingent Superspacetime, a contingent physical vacuum, contingent quantum fluctuations, and contingent laws of quantum mechanics, it is definitely not a necessary being, or what Hick calls "the ultimate uncreated reality." As explained in depth in Chapter Twelve, as far as experience takes us, which is all that we have to go on, any whole composed entirely of contingent parts is a contingent whole, not an ultimate necessary being. This means that as contingent wholes, our universe and any transcendent Superuniverse do not exist self-sufficiently and indestructibly. Certainly, no self-contradiction is involved in denying their existence. Our own universe was definitely created by something and is not everlasting. Contingent wholes exist dependently; their non-existence is possible, so their existence is not self-explanatory. As a contingent whole, Superspacetime itself requires an explanation, one that ultimately comes to rest in a transcendent Necessary Being; but the case for this is yet to be made.
B. The Physical Vacuum and Pure energy
Mother Spacetime includes or is a physical vacuum.12 Do not read too much common sense into this notion. As quantum physicists understand the concept, a physical vacuum is not a state of complete nothingness or emptiness. If it were, it would be indistinguishable from a singularity, understood as empirical emptiness; and the creation of the universe from it would be identical with creation ex nihilo.
Big Fizz proponents clearly repudiate both creation ex nihilo and the identification of Superspacetime with absolute nothingness. A physical vacuum has ephemeral but still real ingredients. Alan Guth writes that "To the particle theorist, the word 'vacuum' is defined as the state of lowest possible energy density."13 The physical vacuum is "empty space"; but empty space is not empty! It contains no enduring particles like electrons and protons, but it does contain the actualized mass/energy/density of space as space14 which has not yet been converted to enduring particles; and it contains virtual particles15 that become actual particles for only a tiny fraction of a second before being annihilated by their antiparticles. It also may contain the "Higgs field" that interacts with electrons to give them mass.16 Charles Misner, Kip Thome, and John A. Wheeler thus describe the vacuum state:
No point is more central than this, that empty space is not empty. It is the seat of the most violent physics. The electromagnetic field fluctuates. Virtual pairs of positive and negative electrons, in effect, are continually being created and annihilated, and likewise pairs of mu mesons, pairs of baryons, and pairs of other particles. All these fluctuations coexist with the quantum fluctuations in the geometry and topology of space.17
The physical vacuum of "empty" space is not just vacuous nothingness. "Empty" space itself is not empty; it has a fine-grained bubbly structure. It seethes with particles waiting to be born. It even has its own physical mass/ density.18 Its measurable effects can push two metal plates together after all physical particles have been siphoned away.
The Uncertainty Principle permits very short-lived suspensions of the Principle of the Conservation of Energy, so in "empty space" actual particles and antiparticles are constantly being born. Usually, they immediately lapse back into pure potentiality, or mutually annihilate one another. Occasionally, however, a particle gets away, Big Fizz theorists claim, though this has never been confirmed. Now and then, they say, one of these newly escaped particles or bubbles inflates spontaneously into an entire universe. This, too, has never been confirmed. These metaphysical claims are unabashed conjectures.
C. Forever Blowing Bubbles
Mother Spacetime also consists of bubbles or froth.19 She spawns a really big fizz, an infinite number ofbubbles, interminable primordial foam. At its deepest level, spacetime itself is foamy or granular rather than smooth; but theorists are not clear about whether the bubbles are composed merely of space, or consist in the transient virtual/actual matter/antimatter particles that constantly arise. Big Fizz Cosmologists recognize that most bubbles do not inflate into entire universes; but, randomly, innumerable bubbles do inflate at the speed of light into self-contained worlds, some of which are mini and some maxi universes. Andrei Linde calls this "chaotic inflation." According to this theory, each mini-universe may subdivide into innumerable distinct mini-universes. As Linde puts it, "Instead of one single big bang producing a single-bubble Universe, we are speaking now about inflationary bubbles producing new bubbles, producing new bubbles, ad infinitum."20 In one way or another, Mother Spacetime gives birth to an infinite number of"child universes," as they are called by Alan Guth21 and Andrei Linde.22
Progeny universes pinch off and become detached from one another, though in some instances wormhole tubes might link them, some speculate.23 Child universes are so far apart in Mother Spacetime that they cannot act causally on one another, even at the speed of light-except possibly through wormholes.24 In infinite Superspacetime, an infinite number of co-existent universes
could all be infinitely far apart. After birth, most child universes exist in complete causal independence. Relativity theory defines simultaneous co-existence as mutual causal independence. Co-existing postnatal offspring universes live and move and have their being within the womb of Mother Spacetime, the Infinite Universe in the largest possible sense, without influencing one another. Within all-encompassing Mother Spacetime, they have spatiotemporal but not causal relations with one another. Only the Infinite Mother herself, if She is omniscient, can know their relative times and positions within infinite Superspacetime. Just be aware that all of this is wild, unconfirmed, and unconfirmable conjecture! Our universe is one such bubble-child, says the theory. Offspring universes begin with their own Bang. According to Andrei Linde, "If one wishes to reserve this name [big bang] for the first 'big bang' (if there was one), one may think about such names as a 'small bang' or 'pretty big bang. "'25 Viewed from within, each child universe seems to be everything, for it cannot contact its brothers and sisters and is not at all sure that they even exist. After its spontaneous generation by Mother Spacetime, a child universe may expand, contract, expand, contract, forever. Linde describes such an oscillating universe as "an infinite chain reaction of creation and self-reproduction which has no end and which may have no beginning."26 Linde emphasizes closed oscillating universes, but if Mother Spacetime actualizes all possible universes, she must also include all possible open, flat, and non-oscillating universes.
D. Spontaneous Fluctuations
Supposedly, spontaneous fluctuation is Mother Spacetime's mechanism for world-making. The Uncertainty Principle in quantum theory says that the behavior of entities at the atomic and sub-atomic quantum level is random, indeterminate, and unpredictable. Quantum-size entities (sub-atomic particles or wavicles) cannot simultaneously exemplify velocity and locus and are not bound by rigid causal bonds. Even "empty space" has a tenacious case of the jitters. Unpredictable spontaneous deviations are the rule, not the exception. No hidden variables exist to restore classical causal determinism and reduce physical indeterminacy to mere human ignorance or to uncertainties in the experimental situation. Quantum fields and particles in themselves are not fully determinate in position and velocity; they are not fully determined causally by conditions that we cannot find. Quantum entities fluctuate spontaneously and unpredictably. No one can make accurate predictions about when individual molecules of radioactive elements will spontaneously disintegrate, or when particular electrons will jump orbits without passing through the intervening space, though en masse vast numbers of individually unpredictable events give rise to statistical regularities.
Big Fizz Cosmology avows that tiny bubbles form in the supercosmic physical vacuum through spontaneous fluctuations. Most bubbles in the primordial fizz are stillborn. Others inflate into child universes, but not all at the same time, as Mother Spacetime might apprehend sameness and time. Universeproducing bubble inflation is creative, spontaneous, random, unpredictable, acausal, and accidental.
Child universes are almost, but not quite, created by nothing as well as from nothing in moderate Big Fizz Quantum Cosmologies. More extreme Big Accident Quantum Cosmologies, later considered, will take this final step; but moderate Big Fizz Cosmologists like Linde, Rozental, and Guth do not go this far. They hold that Mother Spacetime, the ephemeral energy of the physical vacuum of empty space, spontaneous energy fluctuations, and the laws of quantum physics, are necessary causal conditions for all Big Bangs. Causes are either necessary or sufficient conditions, or both together. In the absence of necessary conditions, effects cannot come to be; in the presence of sufficient conditions, effects must come to be. In Big Fizz theory, Mother Spacetime, quantum laws, quantum fluctuations, and the pure energy of the physical vacuum are necessary causal conditions for the spontaneous generation of all universes, including our own. In their absence, neither our universe nor any other would exist. Since its birth was in part spontaneous, our universe did not have a sufficient cause (unless it was the abstract Principle of Plenitude); no antecedent physical conditions were perfectly adequate for its emergence. Given Mother Spacetime, our universe is the ultimate manifestation of spontaneous creativity; but getting an enormous and magnificent universe like ours from nearly nothing may not be quite so easy.
A. Karel V elan indicates that no actual particles or universes ever emerge spontaneously from a physical vacuum alone. Particle accelerators disclose that virtual particles become actual only in the presence of an actualized electromagnetic energy field. lf he is right, contingent actualities require additional external actualities for their being, even in a quantum multiuniverse. V elan indicates that an actualized primordial electronic radiation field must exist within the physical vacuum of Superspacetime itself if it is to spawn any universes, including our own.27 This cosmic energy field, he thinks, is "the fundamental tool of divine power."28
After next explaining and exploring Big Divide Cosmology, we will see that it and the Big Fizz suffer from common defects.
2. Big Divide Many Worlds Cosmology
Under the direction of John A. Wheeler, Hugh Everett, III wrote a doctoral dissertation in 1957 titled The Theory of the Universal Wave Function in which he developed the Big Divide many worlds interpretation of Quantum Cosmology. This position was later expanded and defended in several of Everett's
published articles, and by Bryce De Witt and others.29 More recent defenses and critiques are also available.30
According to quantum physics, indefiniteness, discreteness, and spontaneity permeate entities at the atomic and sub-atomic levels. In many interpretations, quantum-size entities exist only in an indefinite, indeterminate wavefunction state; and they achieve definiteness only if something happens to collapse their wave-function. Prior to this collapse, all possibilities are on an equal footing. If and when its wave-function collapses, a quantum object then acquires definiteness and determination. In the theory of Quantum Observership, presented in a later chapter, wave functions collapse only when physical process are observed and measured; but in the Everett\DeWitt Big Divide theory, wave-functions never collapse.
If wave-functions never collapse, why do we experience a definite and determinate world? Everett and DeWitt gave a peculiar answer. A wave-function is merely an infinite set of potentials or possibilities; and everything, large and small, including the universe, has one. Also, potentiality is identical with actuality in this perspective; so everything' sand everyone's infinite possibilities are somehow actualized. How can all the potentialities of every conceivable particle, person, life-form, thing, and cosmos be actualized? Actualization of infinite possibilities is a time-asymmetrical process; any universe divides into an infinite number of additional universes at every moment of time and every point of space. Once created, branch universes sprout branches, which also sprout branches-to infinity. Big Divide theorists do not call attention to them, but divisions must contain dead end branches that go nowhere, since these too are logically possible.
We conscious observers experience a definite world every time we have a sensation or make a measurement or an observation. Conscious observers as such also divide endlessly at every moment into multiple copies, and these too actualize all possibilities. Everett focused primarily on infinite divisions of minds in a "many minds theory," but DeWitt emphasized infinite divisions of both minds and worlds. Every time we conscious subjects divide, the entire universe divides with us. For a fleeting moment, we observe a fleeting determinate universe; but this does not mean that the infinite potentialities of our wavefunction have collapsed into one concrete actuality within one determinate universe. Instead, it means that we have suddenly and imperceptibly sub-divided or branched into an infinite number of observing subjects in an infinite number of new universes. Definiteness emerges from infinite potentiality because infinite partitions into endless branching universes actualize all possibilities for everything, from quarks to Quakers.
Because "universe" may have more than one meaning, says Frank J. Tipler, Everett's Big Divide interpretation of quantum physics is often misunderstood. "Universe" may mean "all spatiotemporal reality;" but Everett's cosmology does not assert that all spatiotemporal reality constantly branches
into infinitely many worlds, Tipler says. In Everett's theory, "universe" refers only to the limited domain of observer and observed; and the theory affirms that "Only the observed/observer system splits; only that restricted portion of the universe acted on by the Measurement operation M splits";31 but the unobserved portion of the universe does not split.
Tipler's efforts to make an infinitely counter-intuitive theory less so do not succeed, however. Suppose that an observer tries to measure or observe the universe as a whole, the totality of spacetime, instead of just a restricted part of it. Then DeWitt's more extreme interpretation of the Big Divide becomes operational. Tipler himself concedes that "if it is the radius of the Universe that is being measured, the first measurement of the universal radius will split the Universe into universes, which collectively have all possible radii."32 To avoid initial conditions, Tipler affirms that "The Universe consists of all logically possible universes";33 but that is just what the more extreme view espoused by Bryce DeWitt, and occasionally by Paul Davies, affirms all along.
Quantum theorists disagree sharply about whether the indeterminateness found at microscopic atomic and sub-atomic levels carries over to macroscopic perceptible objects like rocks, houses, cats, and people. De Witt's variety of Big Divide Cosmology offers a peculiar solution to this problem. Schrodinger's cat illustrates both the problem and the weird solution that Big Divide many worlds cosmology adopts to account for relationships between microscopic and macroscopic worlds.
A. Schrodinger's Cat
Erwin Schrodinger proposed a notorious experiment in 1935 to demonstrate how imperceptible sub-atomic quantum events could have perceptible macroscopic effects. First, put a live cat and a bit ofradioactive material into a small box with a vial of cyanide that will be broken by a hammer if a Geiger counter detects the radioactive decay of just one atom. Assuming classical physics and a bit of common sense, if an atom decays before the cat in the chamber is examined a short time later, the experimenter will find a dead cat; but if an atom does not decay, the cat will be alive. So far, so good.
However, the indeterminateness of quantum physics creates a profound paradox. Quantum theory, as some interpret it, says that an unobserved atom like the one detected by the Geiger counter is nothing in itself except a superposition or collection of all its potentialities. If we know the sum of its possibilities, we can calculate the probability that an observer will find it in a particular determinate state; but, unobserved, it is largely, perhaps completely, nothing more than an indeterminate set of possibilities.
So, what does quantum indeterminacy predict for Schrodinger's cat? The unobserved decaying atoms to be detected by the Geiger counter are nothing more than the sum of all their possibilities. A negative possibility corresponds
to every positive possibility. Possibly, any particular atom decays; possibly not. So, is the cat dead or alive? From the perspective of quantum physics, the macroscopic cat itself is also nothing more than a wave-function superposition of dead and alive states, both before and after the chamber is opened. Is the cat both dead and alive? Has quantum physics disproved the logical principle of non-contradiction, according to which a proposition cannot be both true and false? Has it shown, as some muddled mystics suggest, that Schrodinger's cat is both dead and not dead? Has quantum theory proved the truth of illogical irrationalism?
B. Schrodinger's Cat in Many Worlds
DeWitt's version of Big Divide Cosmology renounces illogicality for its own brand of logically consistent occultism. The Big Divide answer is that the cat is both alive and dead-in at least two different universes. When a trunk universe confronts alternatives, it branches into parallel universes to actualize all of them; so SchrOdinger's cat is alive in one universe and dead in another. The dead cat is in an infinite number of states of decay in an additional infinity ofuniverses, and the live cat is instantiated in an infinite number of life-states in yet another infinity of universes. This avoids contradiction, but the price of saving logic is very high! An infinite violation of the principles of parsimony and of the conservation of energy is required to produce an infinity of entirely new universes at every worldly impasse. Needless to say, De Witt's Big Divide Cosmology is not popular with most physicists. Richard A. Healey understates the situation: "Few working physicists take it seriously."34
The paradox of Schrodinger' scat may have less drastic but still perplexing solutions. Less radical interpretations of quantum mechanics say that definiteness is achieved for microscopic events because their wave function collapses into determinateness when perceived or measured by an observer using a macroscopic measuring instrument. More radical DeWitt Big Divide Cosmology affirms that definiteness is achieved because world-division into infinitely many universes actualizes every possibility. The Quantum Observership option says that conscious measurement creates all definiteness; but before turning to it, we must consider problems that are common to both Big Fizz and Big Divide cosmological perspectives.
3. Critique of World-Ensemble Cosmologies
Difficulties for Big Fizz and Big Divide world-ensemble cosmologies focus around A. their lack of empirical foundations and B. their plenitudinal equating of actuality with possibility. These cosmologies are much more other-worldly than traditional theology. Their affirmation of other worlds and the Principle of Plenitude has no empirical basis whatsoever.
A. Lack of Empirical Foundations and Meaning
In many respects, world-ensemble Quantum Cosmology is speculative theoretical science gone absolutely mad. Experience without theory is blind, but theory without experience is vacuous. We human beings have no direct experience of other antecedent or contemporary universes of any kind, including transcendent Mother Spacetime, the infinite froth or fizz in her womb, the co-existent universes she supposedly spawns, or the endless branches that each allegedly sprouts. No matter how ingenious they are, human scientists cannot experience infinitely extended time and space. This much is patently obvious. Big Fizz Cosmology's physical vacuum in pre-existing infinite Superspacetime is a product of pure theory and brazen speculation, but it is not delivered or confirmed by experience. Blau and Guth concede that "A false vacuum has never been observed. "35 Then they confidently proceed to give a theoretical account of it, as do other Big Fizz Cosmologists. Rozental concedes that it is not possible to check the validity of the Big Fizz creation scenario: "As far as a direct experimental verification is concerned, no approach is in sight";36 but he anticipates that the development of theory alone will eventually solve the problem of the birth of our metagalaxy.
This is precisely the difficulty. Big Fizz Quantum Cosmology is spun solely out of thin air, ponderous theory, intricate calculations, and audacious speculation. It touches base with experience much too infrequently, and on the most crucial issues, not at all. Theologians conjure up non-empirical cosmologies, and pure mathematicians do abstract calculations, but where is the empirical science in this Big Fizz version of Quantum Cosmology?
When considering contingently existing things, entities that might or might not exist, experience alone can distinguish between actuality and abstruse possibility. Only highly dubious theoretical conjectures support many worlds Quantum Cosmologies. Michael White and John Gribbin say that Stephen Hawking, one influential sponsor of Quantum Cosmology, has never won the Nobel Prize because candidates for the award are considered
only if a discovery can be supported by verifiable experimental or observational evidence. Hawking's work is, of course, unproved. Although the mathematics of his theories is considered beautiful and elegant, science is still unable even to prove the existence of black holes, let alone verify Hawking Radiation or any of his other theoretical proposals. 37
Since this was written, the Hubble Space Telescope has located black holes, but no parallel universes. This shows the critical importance, not the unimportance, of balancing theory with experience, for both truth and meaningfulness. "Meaningful" has many meanings; and empirical meaningfulness is just one of many kinds. Meaninglessness logically correlates with meaningfulness.
No matter what we think of Logical Positivism, some beliefs really are empirically meaningless to us because no human experiences whatsoever could ever verify or falsify them. But claims may be empirically unverifiable or unfalsifiable in at least two ways.
First, the possible referent of a proposition can be inaccessible in principle because we cannot imagine experiences in our world or elsewhere that would count for or against it. For Positivism, only sensory experiences count-not religious, moral, or aesthetic experiences. We can imagine sense experiences that would count for or against life in the Andromeda Galaxy, or even in other universes, though we have no practical way to get there; but we cannot imagine how to verify or falsify the proposition that nothing at all exists, because someone must exist to think the thought and make the relevant observation. We also can't imagine observing a thing that both is and is not itself; logic forbids it. No sensory images, the very stuff of positivistic science, correspond with many concepts widely employed in contemporary cosmology; we cannot imagine nothingness fluctuating, or what a singularity would look like. By positivistic standards, much of contemporary cosmology is utterly meaningless. The ultimate limits of imagination are not fixed, however.
Second, claims cannot be verified or falsified if the objects to which they refer are physically inaccessible to us because they allegedly belong to some other world or universe. We might be able to imagine what they would look like if they were accessible, if we were there; but since other worlds do not belong to our spacetime system, they are physically unavailable to us; no lawful causal or spatiotemporal relations link them to us. In this second sense, all propositions about other worlds, whether religious or quantum-cosmological, are unverifiable, unfalsifiable, and thus empirically meaningless to us. This second type of empirical meaninglessness is based mainly upon causal inaccessibility. No matter what we do or what experiments we perform while alive in this world, totally other worlds are inaccessible to us. This is true even if we could time travel back to the beginning or our own universe. We can imagine how statements about Heaven, Hell, other worlds, antecedent universes, co-existing world-ensembles, and Mother Spacetime could be verified or falsified if we could only take an all-inclusive God's-eye view that encompasses them all; but we mortals just cannot get there from here (alive) to take a look. We cannot go to transcendent worlds, and entities and messages from them cannot get to here from there. Statements about other worlds are not accompanied by instructions on what to observe in this world to make them either plausible or implausible. In this second sense of verifiability, Big Fizz and Big Divide world-ensemble cosmologies are perfect examples of vacuous or meaningless metaphysics gone mad. Empirically, we cannot know whether they are true or false. They literally make no sense to us. Alternate spacetime systems and their contents are physically inaccessible to us no matter what we do because they do not belong to our system of space, time, and causation; and they predict nothing about our
world that cannot be explained in much simpler and more obvious ways. We can perform no operations, make no observations, that would give us empirical access to what goes on in other worlds.
A sturdy streak of Logical Positivism runs through most interpretations of quantum mechanics, but it is often applied with a highly selective bias. In quantum mechanics, statements about things that cannot be observed or measured no matter what we do-like hidden variables, photons spinning unobserved, and electrons having definite position and velocity-are consistently dismissed as meaningless. Yet, by their own admission, Big Fizz and Big Divide metaphysicians posit the reality of innumerable entities belonging to other worlds that are totally inaccessible to us no matter what.
Reflecting on Big Divide parallel universes, Hugh Everett, III wrote that the "total lack of effect of one branch on another also implies that no observer will ever be aware of any "splitting" process,"38 and Bryce DeWitt claims that multiple worlds are "mutually unobservable but equally real."39 By positivistic quantum logic, however, unobservable multiple worlds should be just as unreal or nonsensical as all other states that are totally inaccessible physically, like simultaneous position and velocity for sub-atomic particles; and statements about them really should be regarded not as lies but as gibberish. Does purely theoretical system-building count as good natural science simply because brilliant scientists are doing it? Not so, suggests Eric Lerner, who correctly affirms that "The ultimate test of scientific theories is observation," and that legitimate scientists use an empirical method. By contrast, "The other method, advocated by mainstream cosmologists and particle theorists, is the deductive method, mathematically deducing how the universe must be."40
Theory and experience are indeed mutually supporting in good science, but many versions of Quantum Cosmology go too far beyond anything experiential. Illustrative of Lerner's point, Heinz R. Pagels says that scientists once tried to deduce the laws of nature from experiment and observation, but "Today this method has been abandoned and physicists do not directly deduce the laws from experiment. Instead they try to intuit the basic laws from mathematical reasoning. "41 Sadly, theory and intuition alone cannot construct a true and meaningful account of contingently existing empirical actuality. Quantum Cosmologists easily confuse eccentric theory with empirical reality, variable private intuitions with public truth, and abstruse possibilities with determinate actualities. Not only is infinite world-ensemble metaphysics unverifiable and unfalsifiable, but it also flagrantly violates the rational, scientific (albeit aesthetic) criterion of simplicity. As Abner Shimony says, "The continuous evolution of the total quantum state is obtained by Everett at the price of an extreme violation ofOckham's principle, the entities being entire universes."42 Richard A. Healey argues that the theory of many spacetime systems in Big Divide Cosmology "offers no interpretative advantages" over a theory which affirms that "all but one of the many worlds which emerge from a quantum measurement are merely
possible worlds." According to Healey, "The intuition behind the argument is just Ockham's razor: the many-spaces version postulates a proliferation of extra entities (spaces, "copy" quantum systems) with no corresponding gain in explanatory power or conceptual clarity."43 Victor J. Stenger doubts that the "luminaries" who affirm the existence of infinitely many unexperienced coexisting parallel universes actually believe it.44 He brands the many worlds parallel universe hypothesis as a "bizarre, nontestable notion"45 and pronounces it to be "uneconomical speculation."46 The claim that all possibilities are actual, when only one set will do for experience, is empirically untested, untestable, unnecessary, unintelligible, incoherent, and an inexcusable violation of parsimony.
B. Possibility= Actuality, and World-Ensembles
Many Quantum Cosmologists thoroughly confuse mental constructs with reality by identifying possibility with actuality. They catapult conceptually from mere possibilities to the actual existence of infinitely many worlds. Both Big Divide and Big Fizz world-ensemble cosmologists declare that all possibilities are actualized somewhere. Philosophical theologians, influenced by Plato's Principle of Plenitude, once regularly vaulted from possibility to actuality. Today, world-ensemble cosmologists make the same jump with wild abandon. As Arthur Lovejoy indicated, Plato believed that God would be imperfect if He actually created anything less than everything that He possibly could create.47 Equating possibility with actuality was a prominent feature of Greek and Medieval theology, and somehow it found its way into today's Quantum Cosmology. As Dennis W. Sciama expressed it in 1993, "All logically possible universes exist in an ensemble of disjoint universes,"48 and "Everything which is not forbidden is compulsory."49 Stephen Hawking agrees: "In quantum theory, anything that is not actually forbidden can and will happen."50 Many serious philosophical questions must be raised about such claims. How do these speculative cosmologists know all possibilities are actualized? What is their observational evidence? Even if microscopic quantum-level events actualize all possibilities, can Plenitude then be generalized to entire macroscopic universes? Where does the energy come from to actualize infinite universes? Is this really natural science? Or is it just sloppy reasoning, wishful thinking?
Quantum physics unearthed a tenuous connection between possibility and actuality at the sub-atomic quantum level with the discovery that individual photons traveling through two nearby pinholes or slits seem to pass through both of them. From this finding, some physicists hastily concluded that physical particles do not move continuously along single paths. Instead, they take every route possible, that is, an infinite number of routes, to reach their objective. 51 Of course, if a third slit is added to the two slit experiment, the photon will not go through all three of them, so there are very strict limits after all, even at the level of quantum events;52 and Quantum Plenitude cannot be reconciled with the well
established quantum truths that electrons can not take every orbit possible, that particles can not take every spin possible, and thus that everything possible can not be actual!
Furthermore, equating actuality with possibility greatly exaggerates and distorts the "sum over histories" account of quantum processes, according to which most possibilities simply cancel one another out, and only a finite number of paths are actually open to moving particles. But why don't all possibilities cancel out one another since for every "possibly so" there is always a corresponding "possibly not"? Possibilities cannot be perfectly identical with probabilities or with actualities. If they were, every coherent contingent possibility would be canceled out by its own negation-which is also logically possible. For every possible p, not p is also possible; for every live cat, a dead cat is also possible. For every live you, a dead you is possible. Clearly, not everything possible is actual in our world, so Quantum Plenitude has to postulate an actual infinity of worlds to make a place for the actualization of all possibilities. For many good reasons, we should repudiate Quantum Plenitude!
Big Fizz and Big Divide Quantum Cosmologists really do take seriously the rule that everything actually occurs that is not logically forbidden. They extend this sweeping, hasty, and erroneous generalization from the sub-microscopic level to the macroscopic level of everyday experience, ordinary sense objects, and entire universes. Rozental rejects the leap from the microscopic to the macroscopic,53 but he still affirms the existence of infinitely many worlds. Leaping hastily from a sub-microscopic to a macroscopic identity of possibility with actuality, Quantum Cosmologists reason that since sub-atomic quantum level entities realize all possibilities (which is false to begin with, as just noted), then everything realizes all possibilities. All things that are logically possible are also actual, including universes. From a dubious interpretation of the mysterious behavior of photons, unbridled speculation conjures up infinitely many worlds! Theologians are left in the dust by such preposterous hasty generalizations and spectacular leaps of faith!
According to Andrei Linde,
The evolution of the inflationary universe has no end and may have no beginning. As a result, the universe becomes divided into many different domains (mini-universes) of exponentially large size, inside of which all possible (metastable) vacuum states are realized. One may say therefore that not only could God create the universe differently, but in His wisdom He created a universe which has been unceasingly producing different universes of all possible types. 54
How many universes does it take to cover "all possible types"? Obviously, an infinite number.55 Since possibility equals actuality, an infinite number of
physically and qualitatively diverse universes really exist, according to Big Fizz and Big Divide infinite world-ensemble metaphysics.
C. You and I in Many Worlds
You may be thinking: "If possibility is identical with actuality, why ain't I rich?" You are, but only in another "parallel" universe, if that's any consolation. In many worlds Quantum Cosmology, new universes are spawned not only in the primordial fizz, but at every turn of events within every cosmos. The Big Divide version implies that when your past self confronted the possibility of being either rich or poor, the whole universe, yourself included, branched. The rich you entered at least one universe, and the poor you entered at least one other. If you are poor, there is a rich you, and if you are rich, there is a poor you, somewhere in another cosmos. Ain't that grand! Mother Spacetime knows! Serious problems about personal and cosmic identity abound here. If all possible universes exist that are not logically prohibited, then a real universe exists in which England won the Revolutionary War, the South won the Civil War, and Germany won both World Wars. A universe exists somewhere in which fundamentalistic creationism is true in every detail, and another universe exists in which it is false in every detail. In some universe, Hitler was a saintly born-again religious believer, and Jesus was the Devil incarnate! Surely anyone who believes this sort of thing has been sipping too much bubbly! Don't just take my word for it. In explaining the Big Divide outlook, Bryce S. DeWitt concedes that
The idea of 10100+ slightly imperfect copies of oneself all constantly splitting into further copies, which ultimately become unrecognizable, is not easy to reconcile with common sense. Here is schizophrenia with a vengeance. 56
Yet, DeWitt does not repudiate this multiple-world multiple-personality madness! He affirms it! Quantum Cosmology is quantum mechanics gone absolutely nuts! Eric Lerner ridicules and disavows what I call Big Fizz and Big Divide Quantum Cosmologies with these words:
Some cosmologists, such as Hawking, answer with even weirder ideas: perhaps, they speculate, tiny pulsations in the space around us, even within us, are at every instant giving birth to submicroscopic universes, tiny bubbles of space-time, that then pinch off from our universe to form another universe. From every point, even the tip of one's nose, quadrillions of universes are forming every second. Ours is only one among them, formed presumably from the tip of someone's nose in another, more ancient universe. 57
Quantum Cosmologists may not comprehend fully the absurd implications of their revitalized Principle of Plenitude that equates possibility with actuality. World-ensemble theorists repeatedly emphasize that even though an infinite number of universes exist, most are unsuitable for life of any form, especially intelligent life. The other side of this coin also needs to be emphasized. Though improbable, many logically consistent and thus possible worlds would be suitable for forms of life that far surpass the excellencies of any life-form on earth. Indeed, some such worlds would approximate, indeed achieve, perfection, no matter how conceived. World-ensemble metaphysics predicts that everyone 's concept of Heaven is actualized somewhere! So, by the way, is everyone's Hell! And every possible condition in between! And we (or copies ofus) are in all of them! We are also in none of them, since that too is logically possible. Does all of this make good sense to you?
The small problem of getting from here to there, from earth to Heaven (or Hell) is really no difficulty at all if everything possible is also actual. Possibly, souls could be transported through wormholes to proper Big Fizz Beyonds. Or, as John Hick suggested, when we die in this world, God could simply recreate us instantly in another world-like being beamed up by Scotty! Or, as Frank Tipler maintains, the immensely complex computers of the future could just emulate our virtual reality, along with that of all other logically possible entities and events. If actualities and possibilities are identical, all of the foregoing possibilities would be actual in some universe: Because possible, therefore actual! Even God(s) and the Devil(s) must exist in all worlds if all possibilities are actual! Yet, if they are contingent beings, they may not exist in many or even in any worlds, for that too is possible! Patrons of cosmic plenitude really have not thought it through very carefully!
Just how ridiculous can plenitude get? In his 1994 book, The Physics of Immortality, Frank Tipler contends that billions of years from now, the complex computers of the future will raise us (or our ciberspacetime virtual emulations) from the dead, once computer technology becomes sufficiently complex to create the virtual reality of all logically possible universes, individuals, and their relations.58 Yet, because he accepts quantum many worlds metaphysics,59 Tipler need not wait even a second for what he calls immortality. In Big Divide Cosmology, Heavenly and Hellacious universes, with natural Jaws and empirical conditions sufficiently different to make them truly heavenly and hellacious, are created for each of us every instant! Is this not a fitting reductio ad absurdum of all varieties of infinite world-ensemble metaphysics?
In sum, Quantum Cosmologies modify Standard Big Bang theory by postulating cosmic or supercosmic-level quantum conditions like indefiniteness, discreteness, fluctuations, the physical vacuum, and Superspacetime. Our universe was preceded by, and is included within, Infinite Superspacetime; and through quantum fluctuations in the primordial physical vacuum, the womb of infinitely many worlds, Motherspacetime endlessly proliferates bubbles and/or
branches that inflate or divide into full fledged co-existent child universes. These child universes themselves bubble or branch indefinitely to produce infinitely many additional universes that actualize all possible worlds with and without living things.
Do Big Fizz and Big Divide Quantum Cosmologists really know what they are talking about? This is very doubtful. No one really knows that collapsed universes will exemplify quantum laws or conditions, or that tiny bubbles in transcendent Superspacetime inflate into real universes. What we do know indicates that these things are mere figments of human imagination gone wild. Other problems are also quite serious. Quantum Cosmologists confuse conceptual constructs and theories with reality. The Principle of Plenitude applied metaphysically affirms that all possibilities are actualized in an infinite number of universes; but this is scientifically groundless and logically incoherent. No empirical evidence whatsoever discloses other universes constantly being created out of a primordial supercosmic fizz, or at every tum of events within or without our own cosmos. You and I could never see it happen. Frank Tipler correctly concedes that "We cannot see the other worlds of the Many Worlds Interpretation."60 This explicitly acknowledges that other worlds exist only in theory, and that there is no scientific, that is, empirical, evidence for them. So why mess around with them?
We experience no antecedent or co-existing universes, no prior oscillating cosmic epochs, no contemporary worlds in transcendent Mother Spacetime, and no parallel universes branching from our own world at every instant. Timothy Ferris correctly acknowledges that "We have but a single universe to examine. "61 Like the Santa Claus fable, Quantum Plenitude explains nothing for which better, simpler, more empirical, more scientific explanations are not readily available. God might be able to collect empirical evidence for or against infinite worlds metaphysics, but we cannot. Empirically, we can only be Positivists or agnostics about the other-worldly ramifications of Big Fizz and Big Divide Quantum Cosmologies. Even so, we have not come to the end of it. Additional serious difficulties for many worlds metaphysics will be discussed in later chapters, especially in connection with Anthropic Cosmology.
1. See: B. S. DeWitt and N. Graham, eds. The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. A Fundamental Exposition by Hugh Everett, III, with Papers by J A. Wheeler, B. S. DeWitt, L. N. Cooper and D. Van Vechten, and N. Graham (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973).
2. Michael D. Lemonick, "Visions 21 /Science & Space: Will We Discover Another Universe?" Time (10 April 2000), pp. 82ff.
3. A. A. Starobinsky, "A New Type of lsotropic Cosmological Models Without Singularity," Physics Letters, 91B (1980), pp. 99-102.
4. Andrei Linde, "Inflation and Quantum Cosmology," in Three Hundred Years of Gravitation, eds. Stephen Hawking and Werner Israel (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 604--630.
5. M. A. Markov, "Problems of a Perpetually Oscillating Universe," Annals of Physics, 155 (1987), pp. 333-357. J.M. Amanand M.A. Markov, "Oscillating Universe in the State p 0," Preprint P-0290 (1983).
6. I. L. Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1988), pp. 123-124.
7. Ibid., p. 124.
8. John Gribbin, In the Beginning: After COBE and Before the Big Bang (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1993, p. 244.
9. Katsuhiko Sato, Hideo Kodama. Misao Sasaki, and Kei-ichi Madea. "MultiProduction of Universes by First-Order Phase Transition ofa Vacuum," Physics Letters, l08B:2 (14 January 1982), p. 105. See also John D. Barrow, Theories of Everything: The Quest for Ultimate Explanation (Oxford: The Clarendon Press, 1991), p. 107.
10. Willem B. Drees, Beyond the Big Bang: Quantum Cosmologies and God (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1990), p. 47, fig. 2.
11. John Hick, An Interpretation of Religion (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 87.
12. See Sato et al., "Multi-Production ofUniverses by First-Order Phase Transition ofa Vacuum," pp. 103-107; Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce, pp. 107-110; Charles W. Misner, Kip S. Thorne, and John A. Wheeler, Gravitation (New York: W. H. Freeman and Co., 1973), pp. 1202-1203; Milton Munitz, Cosmic Understanding: Philosophy and Science of the Universe (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), pp. 131-13 7; Paul Davies and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992), pp. 142-148, 162-164; A. Karel Velan, The Multi-Universe Cosmos: The First Complete Story of the Origin of the Universe (New York: Plenum Press, 1992), Ch. 14; Robert Matthews, "Nothing Like a Vacuum," New Scientist, (February 1995), pp. 30ff; Sten Odenwald, "Space-Time: The Final Frontier," Sky & Telescope, 91 :2 (February 1996), pp. 24-29.
13. Alan Guth, "Starting the Universe," in Bubbles, Voids, and Bumps in Time: The New Cosmology, ed. James Cornell (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989), p. 128.
14. Rozental. Big Bang, Big Bounce, p. 109; Victor J. Stenger, Not by Design: The Origin of the Universe (Buffalo: Prometheus Books, 1988), p. 168.
15. Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce, p. 107.
16. Odenwald, "Space-Time: The Final Frontier," pp., 26-27.
17. Misner, Thorne, and Wheeler, Gravitation, p. 1202.
18. George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time (New York: Avon Books, 1993), p. 188.
19. See Steven K. Blau and Alan Guth, "Inflationary Cosmology," in Three Hundred Years of Gravitation, eds. Stephen Hawking and Werner Israel (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1987), pp. 542, 550-555; John Gribbin and Martin Rees, Cosmic Coincidences: Dark Matter, Mankind, and Anthropic Cosmology (New York: Bantam Books, 1989), pp. 280-283; Leon M. Lederman and David N. Schramm, From Quarks to the Cosmos: Tools of Discovery (New York: Scientific American Library, 1989), pp. 176-180; Heinz Pagels, Perfect Symmetry: The Search for the Beginning of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), pp. 339 ff.
20. Andrei Linde, Dmitri Linde, Arthur Mezhlumian, "From the Big Bang Theory to the Theory of a Stationary Universe," Physical Review D, 49:4 (15 February 1994), p. 1784.
21. Blau and Guth, "Inflationary Cosmology," pp. 592, 593.
22. Linde, "Inflation and Quantum Cosmology," p. 625.
23. Ibid., p. 625, fig. 13.2.
24. See Barrow, Theories of Everything, pp. 106-111; Davies and Gribbin, The Matter Myth, pp. 273-279; Paul Halpern, Cosmic Wormholes: The Search for Interstellar Shortcuts (New York: NAL-Dutton, 1992).
25. Linde, Linde, and Mezhlumian, "From the Big Bang Theory to the Theory of a Stationary Universe," p. 1803.
26. Linde, "Inflation and Quantum Cosmology;" p. 618.
27. Velan, The Multi-Universe Cosmos, Ch. 16 and pp. 148-150, 193, 200.
28. lbid., p. 187.
29. See Hugh Everett, III in DeWitt and Graham, eds. The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, 1973.
30. See all the articles in the special edition of Noils devoted to the "Foundations of Quantum Mechanics," 18:4 (November 1984).
31. Frank J. Tipler, "The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics in Quantum Cosmology," in Quantum Concepts in Space and Time. eds. R. Penrose and C. J. Isham (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1986), p. 206.
32. Ibid., p. 210.
33. Ibid., p. 208.
34. Richard A. Healey, "How Many Worlds?" in Nous, 18:4 (November 1984), p. 591.
35. Blau and Guth, "Inflationary Cosmology," p. 541.
36. Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce, p. 124.
37. Michael White and John Gribbin, Stephen Hawking; A Life in Science (New York: Penguin Books, 1992), p. 188.
38. Hugh Everett, III, "'Relative State' Formulation of Quantum Mechanics," Reviews of Modern Physics, 29:3 (July 1957), p. 460 n.
39. Bryce S. DeWitt, "Quantum Mechanics and Reality," Physics Today, 23:9 (September 1970), p. 30.
40. From THE BIG BANG NEVER HAPPENED by Eric Lerner, p. 5. Copyright © 1991 by Eric J. Lerner. Reprinted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a Division of Random House Inc.
41. Heinz R. Pagels, Perfect Symmetry, The Search for the Beginning of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1986), pp. 264-265.
42. Abner Shimony, "Role of the Observer in Quantum Theory," American Journal of Physics, 36 (1963), p. 773, n. 33.
43. Healey, "How Many Worlds?" p. 599.
44. Victor J. Stenger, The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics and Cosmology (Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1995), p. 176.
45. Ibid., p. 198.
46. Ibid., p. 144.
47. Arthur 0. Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1961, pp. 52ff.
48. Dennis W. Sciama, "The Anthropic Principle and the Non-Uniqueness of the Universe," in The Anthropic Principle: Proceedings of the Second Venice Conference on Cosmology and Philosophy, eds. F. Bertola and U. Curi (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1993), p. 107.
49. Ibid., p. 108.
50. Stephen Hawking, Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), p. 95.
51. See Steven Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1988), p. 134. See also his Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays, pp. 45, 78-80, 92-93.
52. Thanks to my student Rob Dalton for pointing this out to me.
53. Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce, p. 8.
54. Linde, "Inflation and Quantum Cosmology," p. 607.
55. Ibid., p. 621. See also Rozental, Big Bang, Big Bounce, pp. ix, 91.
56. DeWitt, "Quantum Mechanics and Reality," p. 33.
57. Lerner, The Big Bang Never Happened, p. 55.
58. Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality (New York: Anchor Books, 1994), pp. 220-225.
59. Ibid., 167-173.
60. Ibid., p. 213.
61. Timothy Ferris, Coming of Age in the Milky Way (New York: William Morrow and Co., 1988), p. 369.