Ray Ingles asks: “Part of the point of the multiverse hypothesis is that explains the same things as a God’s supposed to, in an entirely different way. How do you pick between a God and a multiverse, anyway?”
Ray, I’m really glad you asked.
Let’s say that there are two boy scouts in the woods named Ray and Randy. Ray believes that no beavers live in the woods, but Randy is persuaded that beavers do live in the woods. If Ray is correct then upon entering the woods they should not find signs indicative of the presence of a beaver. But if Randy is right then the woods should provide evidence indicative of the presence of a beaver.
They enter the woods and soon they begin to see tree stumps that have clearly been gnawed by some kind of creature. They continue on and see what appears to be a dam on the river. And in the middle of the pond that has been created there appears to be a little island that, gosh darn it, looks just like a beaver lodge.
Slowly a smug grin spreads across Randy’s face.
But Ray is a clever chap and he is not defeated easily. So he replies: “Meh, that doesn’t mean there is a beaver. All that stuff — the stumps, the dam, the lodge — could have been made by another creature that acts a lot like a beaver.”
Ray’s right. That is possible. And his hypothesis does explain the data just like Randy’s. So do we have a stalemate?
Not so fast. There is that little problem that Ray’s hypothesis is completely ad hoc. But Randy’s isn’t. Randy entered the woods saying “I think there is a beaver here and thus it is a reasonable expectation that I should find signs of a beaver.” And those signs confirm Randy’s expectation.
Ray entered the woods saying “There is no beaver and thus we shouldn’t find signs of a beaver.” It is only when the evidence started rolling in that Ray felt compelled to cook up his beaver-like creature hypothesis.
The theist and atheist approach the universe with very different claims and expectations. The theist claims the universe is the product of intelligence. The atheist denies this. Each looks for evidence to confirm his hypothesis. When the extraordinary evidence of fine-tuning arises a smile spreads across the theist’s face. That’s just what he was expecting. It is only at that point that the atheist cooks up his equivalent of the beaver-like creature hypothesis: the multiverse.
In closing, imagine the multiverse applied to Flew’s invisible gardener thought experiment.
Two men were journeying through a forest when they came upon a clearing. They both looked in amazement at the dozens of different types of flowers all arranged into neat rows. They gaped at the lovely shrubs that were formed into various beautiful shapes. They walked down what appeared to be a gravel trail that winded between the flowers and shrubs, the ferns and trees.
“What a lovely garden!” the one man said.
But the other man snorted skeptically. “What garden? This is just a random forest clearing.”
The first man looked at the second skeptically. “Really? Then how do you explain the extraordinary complexity and beauty, the design?”
The second man looked around thoughtfully, and then a smile spread across his face. “It’s a big forest!” He said. “There must be an unimaginable number of clearings in such a big forest. And one of them was bound to come out looking like a garden.”