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Einstein asked this question originally :

What really interests me is whether God could have created the world any differently; in other words, whether the requirement of logical simplicity admits a margin of freedom.

The way I see it the creation of our universe could have been proceeded by either of two ways:

  1. Everything came from nothing: There is a special property of nothingness that doesn't exitinguish all that is there to be extinguished. This means something remains when all has been taken out of the vacuum, even the quantum foam that spawns virtual particles. Abstract mathematical and logical structures come to mind as a candidate for this. Maybe nothing was ever created, and reality as we see it is just mathematical structure because logical incositencies would cause various kinds of collapses and thus nature prefers the consistency.
  2. Everything existed eternally: If mathematical structures and logic doesn't exist eternally then maybe the multiverse theory of the eternally inflating universe is true. The basic proposition is that in an infinitely energetic field, universes of various kinds are spawned and we happen to find ourselves in that which is most consistent with our existence. However I find this begs the question even more, is infinite energy even comprehensible and does that mean there are inifinite copies of me in infinite other universes?

I believe it is hard to reach a consensus based on the information we currently have, but it seems to me that in both scenarios, we are more or less trying to wrap our heads around the concept of eternity. We are saying that something has to exist to cause our universe. Is this not a limitation of human thinking that supposes a cause to every effect? Even if we say God created the universe, God still has the property of being eternal or timeless and we are back to the same problem.

But I very much believe the question of whether only one kind of universe (aka our universe) can exist is much more answerable than the question of eternity. We find ourselves in a universe obeying self-consitent logical rules, so can we not find out if really our universe with its laws and constants: is the only kind of universe that is possible for nature to concieve? Phrased differently: does the multiverse theory support a self consistent logical structure like ours with different laws of physics and fundamental constant to be self sustaining or does the multiverse theory only support multiple universes of our kind i.e. with the same fundamental constants and laws.

Does God have a choice when creating universes?

  • This is the article that inspired me to ask this question for anyone who's interested: blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/… – Weezy Dec 11 '19 at 5:13
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    Your two questions are unrelated to each other. "Self consistent logical structure" has nothing to do with the universe, it is what we adopted to reason with. There are plenty of alternative universes that support complex structures, if that's what "life" is. But God is not bound by any of this, he is free to create at will or not at all. It was Leibniz, originally, who suggested that God chose to create "the best of all possible worlds" (whatever that means), but even if so, it was still his choice. – Conifold Dec 11 '19 at 6:19
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    @Bread God is used as a metaphor. I have no hard assumption about God. Saying causal force too many times seems a bit tiring. – Weezy Dec 11 '19 at 12:05
  • Spinoza maintains that if the universe were not infinite, eternal and completely unchangeably whole, this would indicate something missing in God. In other words if God could have created some alternative universe, this would mark something outside of God which is impossible and an absurdity. See Ethics Part 1- Concerning God. Or my 'To Discern Divinity' at charlessaunders5@academia.edu. This is a book on Spinoza's Ethics Part 1. CMS – Charles M Saunders Dec 12 '19 at 1:27
  • You give two options for Creation, neither of which work, but there are more. You ignore the Perennial explanation. The idea that God has a choice makes no sense, and surely it is more reasonable to imagine that the world is as it is because God is as He is. Lao Tsu tells us the world is as it is 'Tao being what it is'. No mention of will, intention, choice or options, and no need for ex nihilo creation or 'everything existing eternally'. Existence would be reducible. . . – user20253 Dec 12 '19 at 12:13
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In your first point where you say "everything came from nothing", we should be clear that what you're describing isn't really nothing. From the rest of your post, I think you understand this and meant something more like "nothing physical" but I just wanted to emphasize this. From nothing comes nothing. You talk about a "property of nothingness", but nothing isn't a thing, and it can't bear properties (and if there was really nothing, there would be no properties either). You also mention quantum foam, virtual particles, and abstract mathematical structures, but these too aren't nothing; these are very much things posited by physics. If there was literally nothing, there would be no laws or rules that tell nothing how to evolve into something.

Your first and second points describe two different levels in the multiverse hierarchy. See Tegmark's four-level classification under the section titled "Classification schemes". As far as the different levels of multiverses answer the philosophical question "why does this universe exist, as opposed to another one?", they each suffer from difficulties. Some multiverses fix some laws of nature, and allow the constants to vary from universe to universe. These multiverses might answer why physical constants take the values that they do (because all values are instantiated in some universe), but there is still the "bigger" problem of the laws themselves ("why these laws and not other consistent laws?"). The mathematical universe hypothesis is Tegmark's own contribution and is the most general type of multiverse. Any universe that is isomorphic to any consistent mathematical structure exists. This solves the question of why both the laws and constants are what they are (all laws and all constants are instantiated somewhere, as long as they don't lead to contradictions). But the mathematical universe and similar theories lead to other problems. In addition to the criticisms in the Wikipedia article, the most devastating objection (to my mind) is that it undercuts the observed regularity of physical laws. There is a mathematical structure that corresponds to our universe with its laws that hold at all moments in time. There is also a mathematical structure that corresponds to our universe with its laws that hold up to the present moment, and then obeys different laws (think of a piecewise function). The number of different laws it can obey from the present moment onward is infinite (or at least very large), for every moment in time. Since the number of "ad-hoc" universes is far greater than the number of regular universes, we should expect regularity to fail all the time. But it doesn't.

Richard Gale and Alexander Pruss make this point in their article Cosmological and Design Arguments. "MUAP" stands for many universes anthropic principle. David Lewis's theory that they mention is modal realism, and is in spirit the same as Tegmark's multiverse. (They're also arguing for the existence of God in this article, but that's perhaps not immediately relevant to your question so you can ignore those bits if they don't interest you.)

There are two forms the MUAP takes. First, it might be that, necessarily, all logically possible universes concretely exist, as in David Lewis's (1986) extreme modal realism. Unfortunately, Lewis's theory runs into a multitude of paradoxes. To give just the simplest, note that Lewis's theory undercuts inductive reasoning. Suppose God phoned you and, after having assured you with sufficiently impressive miracles that he is God, told you that he created at least as many universes with the same past as yours in which gravity fails to hold tomorrow as ones in which gravity continues tomorrow, but neglected to tell you which kind of universe he put you in. By standard canons of reasoning, you would be rationally required to assign at least as great epistemic probability to the claim that the law of gravitation will not hold tomorrow as to the claim that it will. Therefore, your inductive inference that tomorrow gravity will hold as it has always held would be undercut. But Lewis's theory is just like this call from God: Lewis tells us that all logically possible universes exist, and certainly then there will be at least as many worlds that have the same past as this world in which gravity will fail to hold tomorrow as ones where gravity will continue as before. Thus, Lewis's theory gives data undercutting induction, and hence we should reject Lewis's theory.

Alternatively, it could be that all or infinitely many universes exist satisfying the same basic laws of nature, albeit with different constants in them. It does not matter here whether these universes exist simultaneously or sequentially. This version of MUAP, however, fails to block the question of why these basic laws of nature hold rather than others. It might, after all, be that the vast majority of possible sets of laws of nature could not support intelligent enmattered life because the vast majority would involve massive irregularity. For instance, intuitively, there are a lot more possible laws of gravitation that involve many discontinuities and irregularities in the formula for the force as a function of the distance than there are highly regular laws, and it might be that life could exist only in what is intuitively only a small fraction of the universes governed by such irregular laws, though making these intuitions more precise would be a nontrivial task.

You may also like the article Why Anything? Why This? by Derek Parfit.

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  • It seems that you are proposing that mathematical concepts and the apparent laws of nature that we think how nature works are not nothing. Ideas and concepts are not nothing is that what you are proposing? – Weezy Dec 12 '19 at 10:17
  • @Weezy I'm not necessarily proposing it (although some people do indeed think mathematical entities are more than just concepts, see Platonism), but I thought it is what you meant when you wrote: "Maybe nothing was ever created, and reality as we see it is just mathematical structure because logical inconsistencies would cause various kinds of collapses and thus nature prefers the consistency". You're describing a model with things in it (albeit mathematical things) to try and explain the universe. – Adam Sharpe Dec 12 '19 at 16:40
  • we have to start somewhere. – Weezy Dec 12 '19 at 18:16
  • @Weezy I agree. But that somewhere isn't nothing, was my point. – Adam Sharpe Dec 12 '19 at 18:36
  • @Weezy Anyways, we may be arguing semantics of "nothing" at this point. I took your question to be roughly the same one that Parfit asks. Why is there something rather than nothing? (since nothing seems like the most 'natural state'), and why this particular something, rather than some other something? Obviously nobody has a definite answer, but I thought I'd offer some of the critiques of multiverse theories since you mentioned them, and they seem to be popular these days. Did I misunderstand your question? – Adam Sharpe Dec 12 '19 at 18:44
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If something is logically necessary, then it should be logically incoherent to question it. And theoretical physicists postulate all sorts of alternatives as to how our universe works, and effectively postulate what turn out to be alternate universes when (most of) their speculations end up not matching this one. This, in general, is how all science works -- postulate ideas, then test for whether they hold in this world, or at least with a limited data set in this world. Our universe therefore is not logically necessary, its nature and properties are contingent.

This is a pretty radical contingency. You refer to physical laws -- but physicists accept that their "laws" are only regularities, not any sort of logical constraint. Laws of physics are all broken. https://www.pnas.org/content/93/25/14256

Even worse for any effort to define the universe, even a multiverse, as necessary, even LOGIC appears to be contingent: https://math.vanderbilt.edu/schectex/logics/.

And something that is contingent, needs a contingent explanation, per the principle of sufficient reason. But Munchausen's Trilemma shows that one can never provide a sufficient reason for any belief. And by extension, that any causation must reference either an infinite series, circularity, or brute fact.

This leaves the effort of explaining the "why" of this universe, stuck among an option of fallacies.

The only way out I have found, is to adopt pragmatism and tentative working solutions, rather than absolutism relative to "truth". This is not a widely accepted solution, so mileage may vary.

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i think the question that should be asked first is that did god have some purpose to create the universe. If there was a purpose then there would be some limitations and if He was playing then he could have done whatever he wanted and hence all choices available.

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