By Roland Watson
In this article, I will consider the question: How many universes are there? Well, obviously, the answer is one - the one we inhabit. But, perhaps this is not correct. Perhaps there are many, many universes.
To begin, let's presume that our common sense view, of one universe, is correct. In this case, there is not necessarily a Big Crunch, a universal collapse at some indeterminate time in the future. Instead, matter keeps recycling through the formation and destruction of stars, and their associated planets, as long as entropy permits. The sum total animate options achieved would be all the life that had been able to develop on such planets, during this very, very long, but still finite, period.
Also, in this case there is no universal recycling. The totality of god would be its stage of unlimited potential, and then the manifestation of this potential into this universe, through which a finite amount of life would come into being, although at the point of complete entropy it - the remains of the universe - presumably would continue to exist in a stable but disordered condition, forever. This assumes, of course, that time would continue, if only as some sort of null state.
A variation on this is to add universal recycling. In this case, the universe eventually collapses onto itself. Gravity ultimately overwhelms entropy, as the initial expansionary force of the universe is depleted. There is a Big Crunch, which ends this particular cycle, but there is a subsequent Big Bang, a new universal configuration, the development of new animate life, and then the next Big Crunch. One could term this idea "sequential" universes, and it is important to recognize that there would be no links whatsoever between the different cycles. Each one would be self-contained; a completely new start.
As an aside, the idea from some eastern religions that there would be links between sequential universes, and also that lives themselves are sequential, and linked, through reincarnation, is at variance with this.
Indeed, if we did have, and could remember, past lives - as some people have suggested we can, possibly a very large number of them, this would imply that our minds should be full of such memories. I might add, we would effectively be immortal and ignorant. We would never have complete knowledge of the universe.
One possible explanation for the development of this idea is that early eastern thinkers recognized that death was not an escape from form. They saw that our matter survives our demise, and that it can be recycled. Reincarnation, then, is a formal presentation of one hypothetical structure of such recycling. Even more, nirvana, in its supernatural guise, is provided as the solution, as the ultimate escape: the means by which universal form can be left behind.
There is another variation on the single universe idea as well, which is that the universe that we observe is only a single "region" of a far larger universe. Furthermore, its other regions may have entirely different structures. For example, where in our region matter and energy is uniformly distributed, such other regions may be "lumpy." Also, these other regions may follow entirely different laws and principles, and even have additional dimensions. But, while this may be possible - anything is possible, it does raise the issue of why there are different regions, and what constitutes the borders between them such that they maintain their own self-containment.
Another perspective on multiple universes is the "dual" universe idea of western religions: that god has "his" universe, heaven, from which he made this one, and that the two are inextricably linked. This universe, and all the life in it, is totally dependent on him. Indeed, he is omnipotent, and can choose to intervene, at any time, in the universe and in our lives. In addition, a variation on this, without the religious dogma - and male chauvinism, is that there is another life-source universe, from which life is inserted or flows into this one.
Quoting Daniel Drake's essay A Commentary on the Being Electric once again: "We worry considerably about who we are and where we are going as individuals. Upon rare occasions we even ponder where we are going as a people. But it seems to me that the question of what life is, and where it is going, should be the primary focus of our energies. Our responsibility is surely to live in the best interest of life itself, that it may evolve through us."
This idea also effectively assumes that the ultimate purpose of the universe - our universe - is to enable the formation and evolution of life. It gives us a picture of an alternative structure through which this may occur.
Under this view, life cycles between our universe and a "non-molecular universe," which is "everywhere and no place." Life itself is conserved. The two universes together are self-contained. Further, quoting Drake again, "what life is doing through us humans is moving us forward in perceptual ways." So, our perceptual evolution - the evolution of our consciousness - is seen as the non-molecular parallel of our physical evolution. In addition, the ultimate goal of life is to bring about the integration, or unity, of the two universes. Finally, during dreams, it may be possible that our mind interacts with both.
Quoting Andre Breton again: "I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a 'surreality,' if one may so speak. It is in the quest of this surreality that I am going, certain not to find it but too unmindful of my death not to calculate to some small degree the joy of its possession."
Such a dual universe idea is interesting, because it provides another explanation for the development of advanced consciousness, meaning an alternative to the basic evolutionary idea that having such a consciousness better enables us to survive, and one that is consistent with the observed absolute unity of being state, which has no apparent link to this ability. Further, Drake posits only two fundamental forces of nature: the first, that of "configuration," or "the force of form," which shapes the universe such that it can accept life; and, secondly, the force of life.
It is an attractive and elegant model, but it has a number of difficulties. First, there is no way to test it, to observe and study the non-molecular universe. Secondly, there is no explanation for why there must be two universes, one for life's source, and another into which it can flow and live and evolve. However, one possibility for this would be a variation of the infinite potential translated into finite reality idea that I have presented. And thirdly, it does not explain why the life force declines in vitality with age, such that it must die in this universe and - perhaps - return to its source.
Yet another speculation on multiple universes derives from black hole theory. In this view, the matter that is sucked into black holes is expelled into other regions of the universe, or even into other universes, via "worm holes" to quasars. A quasar, in effect, is the exit point of a black hole. One can visualize such a model, with multiple universes, as a collection of bubbles, with their points of contact as black holes and quasars. Of course, there is little insight into why such a structure - of interconnected universes - might exist, nor of how many such universes there are. Nonetheless, it does not broach self-containment. This would be preserved at the greater level, encompassing all such interconnected universes.
A further possibility derives from the scaling of chaos, that there could be universes within universes within universes. Indeed, this is considered to be a real possibility under cosmology's inflationary theory. According to this view, our universe began as a "quantum fluctuation" in the space-time of another universe. Our universe then rapidly inflated from this fluctuation and effectively left this other universe behind. Similarly, such fluctuations may occur in our universe, such that additional universes inflate away from it. The overall structure is referred to as the "multiverse."
The only comment I would make about this concerns energy. I described before how our universe has an unimaginable quantity of energy. Under the multiverse idea, all new universes that inflate away from ours will have similar quantities of energy, and which ours will continue to maintain as well. It is a mystery how such new quantities of energy come into being.
A final variation, which has some similarity to this, is known as "many worlds." This is also an alternative, along with superdeterminism, to the existence of superluminous communication. When scientists conduct an experiment, and a particular result is reached, there is an implicit assumption that other results also could have occurred, as through chance. This is another fundamental assumption of science.
Many worlds, though, rejects this. It says that what actually happened is the only thing that could have happened, which is similar to superdeterminism, but for a completely different reason. Under many worlds, everything happens. The universe continually splits into - gives birth to - new universes. For instance, it is probably the case that in your life you have had a near-death experience, if only in traffic when you almost hit another vehicle. What many worlds says is that you actually did hit the other vehicle, and perhaps died as well, only the universe split at that point so you were not aware of it - in this universe. Indeed, the universe could have split into multiple universes at that particular point: into the one in which you survived, and felt a surge of adrenaline; another in which there was an accident, and you were injured; another in which you died; and perhaps others as well.
At the quantum level, what happens under this idea is that every subatomic particle follows every possible course that it can take. In other words, there is a continual branching into new universes, and each new universe never stops branching, either; but, there is never any interaction between the different branches. Self-containment is maintained.
This is a fantastic idea. It means that there are an almost infinite number of you, in an almost infinite number of universes, with almost infinite variations in your behavior and experience, including interactions with other people. It also means that you die an almost infinite number of times. I can add, the reason these are all "almost" infinite is that since any life has a finite longevity, with time - one hundred years or so - all of its possible variations will be played out.
Therefore, if god truly does want to experience all possible combinations, and all manner of life experience, this is the optimal structure for it. Indeed, together with the sequential universes idea, such a symphony of variations could be played again and again, each time as a unique composition, a new performance. If this is what is happening, god - its inside view - truly is great.
Nevertheless, all sorts of issues crop up when one considers many worlds, particularly regarding will, and, at the same time, if it is likely: if it is actually taking place. This is because the alternative to many worlds is one world, with universal interconnectivity and only one branch, and timeline: a series of actual choices, made via will. For example, under many worlds will could direct you away from death. It could direct particle waveforms, instantaneously, at the point of death, to choose other potentialities, so that life continues.
The problem, of course, is that we observe the deaths of other people, and other life. However, such observations do not necessarily rule out many worlds, nor does the issue of conflicting wills. In a situation where two forms of life fight each other to the death, there is no one-world option that agrees with both of their wills. But, with many worlds one being can die in this universe, and the other in another - and both can die in yet another.
Of course, you might ask, if I kill a fly does it branch into another universe? And, if so, how did I miss it in that universe, when in this universe I hit it square on? The answer to this would be that in the fly's, and my, waveforms, there was one - at least one - "combined" potentiality, where I did miss.
So, under many worlds, you continually split into new universes, or rather, new universes continually split away from you. To you, they in fact have no real existence. You could even say that they exist in extra dimensions. But, a final question is: if such a process does take place, is there ever a universe - or a way - in which they all come together, where all of the disparate forms of your existence are unified? Such a unification, if it occurred, truly would be enlightening, even revelatory. I can add, it would outshine the similarly hypothetical experience of reliving all of your life - all of your one life - at the moment of death.
The best argument against many worlds, though, is that it is deterministic. It gives the appearance of chance in each specific world, and hence of will, but in fact they do not exist. The above examples regarding the manifestation of will in each specific world are invalid. Since every possible option happens in some world, there is never a real choice. Therefore, the idea I presented earlier, that a "free" god would not choose a determined form, suggests that it is not taking place.
For one final observation, we have seen that the universe, and with all - or at least some - of this quite possibly going on, may be a dream. There is even a scientific description of this. One model of physics is that all of the energy of the matter-energy in the universe, all of its "positive" energy, is exactly balanced by the "negative" energy in anti-matter and gravity, and furthermore that all universal development is unfolding in "imaginary" time. Referencing David Peat again, in mathematics, time enters relativity theory as a "complex," meaning, an imaginary number. Therefore, the universe itself is virtual. There is no net energy, or time. The universe is a case of a form of something, which really is nothing, coming out of nothing, and returning to nothing.
In the next article, I will explore what - even in the face of this mind-numbing speculation - we are able to conclude.
© Roland Watson 2015