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It has occurred to me that were to get substantial evidence we lived in a infinitely large and old multiverse, the effects on religions would be massive.

A incredibly large number of religions are based on the idea of a deity or deities creating everything that exists. However while our universe would still be finite the newly discovered multiverse never even had a beginning in this scenario.

The evidence for the newly discovered multiverse is substantial, denying it would be like denying relativity. We can directly observe other universes with new technology, though we can't see anything above the atomic level, however this is still sufficient to figure out how their physical laws differ. Scientists haven't found any universes that are hypothesized to be very similar to to our own, but they can prove that while choosing which new universes to look at is random, the multiverse is infinite and had no beginning as thus universes just like our own are almost certainly infinite in number.

Should in real-life we discover evidence that suggests a infinite multiverse it is unlikely the evidence will be quite this damning. This scenario is designed to make it clear, that in this scenario the people who deny the evidence for this multiverse are like solipsists in that they would have to deny the ability to trust their senses and thus other equivalent claims like the fact objects fall.

What would be the effect of this evidence?: Both initially in the first few months when the evidence wasn't undeniable, and after a year or more once the evidence can't be plausibly refuted. I would like answers both for what it would mean to religious individuals, and how religious organizations would react as time progressed, the long term effects on religion will be highly speculative, so I encourage most of the detail to be on the effects in the first few decades.

The technology itself is irrelevant and is assumed to be of very little actual use. This question is primarily concerned with the reactions religions might have to evidence that undermines one of their most vital tenets, though certain religions wouldn't be affected very much, because existence being eternal and infinite wouldn't run counter to them necessarily. I also don't see a lot of religions liking the idea of redefining their god to be finite and for admitting humans are infinitely insignificant cosmically.

I don't exactly see this as being a death-blow to religion, with it only affecting some religions and potentially drawing people to other religions both old, and to some of the religious sects that would be produced by this.

And of course one only need look at the number of creationists to see how well religion can deny that which is utterly undeniable, the fact evidence in this situation is even more damning than that for evolution, likely won't make a whole lot of difference to some religious groups.

Edit: The fact the multiverse is infinite and eternal wasn't postulated, it was confirmed by direct observations, I'm not sure what those observations would have to be but that is irrelevant, what's important is that you couldn't just look at the evidence another way, to deny it being eternal and infinite means rejecting the evidence altogether.

Edit 2: Well I understand that some people have problems with whether observations that could prove the assumptions in the question may be impossible. But even if they are impossible, in the scenario they just turn out to be how the universe is even if it doesn't necessarily make sense.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 20 '15 at 13:31
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    $\begingroup$ What's the practical difference to a devotee between another universe and another galaxy? $\endgroup$ – Nick T Aug 21 '15 at 1:48
  • $\begingroup$ Well our universe only has a finite number of galaxies the infinity part is crucial. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 21 '15 at 1:56
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    $\begingroup$ In some religions, devotees accept that there are things about the nature of the world cannot be completely understood by a human intellect. Thus, reconciling the existence of a multiverse with already esablished religions (even in the face of apparent logical paradoxes) could be as trivial as "it is compatible, but we just can't comprehend how". $\endgroup$ – Sigma Ori Aug 21 '15 at 9:10
  • $\begingroup$ "that were to get substantial evidence ... the effects on religions would be massive." Why? We have evidence that the universe is Old and not centered on the Earth, but creationists and geocentric beleivers still abound. Look at the Nye/Ham debate: evidence means nothing to the beleiver. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Feb 28 '16 at 9:04

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I don't think just discovering that we're part of a multiverse will make much of difference to religion. You would have to discover a lot of details about the multiverse to answer questions better than religions currently do. I think there's still plenty of room for Gods even if a multiverse exists. For example, who created the multiverse? Maybe God could live outside of our universe in the multiverse?

Bear in mind religions don't just answer questions about how we were created, but also about how we should live our lives. Many people are drawn to religion because it gives them rules and order, knowing that there's a multiverse does not do this!

If you look at history you will notice that religion adapts it's philosophy according to the times. I think there will be plenty of wiggle room for religious people to keep justifying their believes if we discover there is multiverse.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Monica Cellio Aug 21 '15 at 3:29
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Absolutely nothing would change. Many Christians still believe the earth is 6,000 years old, evolution doesn't happen, and we're not warming the earth. You're somehow imagining more convincing proof for the multiverse theory than for the fact the earth is older than the Mesopotamian civilization?

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    $\begingroup$ My thoughts exactly. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 20 '15 at 1:24
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    $\begingroup$ Don't forget that there are also many Christians who do believe the Earth is billions of years old, and that evolution and global warming do happen. This means that religion does not necessarily rely on denying evidence about the physical world. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 20 '15 at 6:23
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    $\begingroup$ Also, one only needs to look at the flat-Earth believers that claim all proof of a round planet is a lie. Some people will believe whatever they want to believe, despite all proof to the contrary. $\endgroup$ – phyrfox Aug 20 '15 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Luaan : I could argue about why it's not the denying of logic, but that's not the point here. The point is not whether you agree with them or not, neither is whether you find it a good or a bad thing. The point is, that the view I presented, exists, and is a widespread one, so that religion can exist without requiring any denial of any evidence delivered by physics. I think this was the intention of the OP, and not a general discussion about the merits of specific theological arguments. $\endgroup$ – vsz Aug 21 '15 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ Faith uses belief as its foundation, not logic or facts. What happens when both conflict is that people provide another explanation to maintain their beliefs, rather than changing them, especially if they invested a lot in their faith. As an example : a group of ET-believers firmly believed they would land on earth on a specific date, and after this rendez-vous (obviously) did not occur, they simply adjusted their faith (in this case, by claiming the group actions made ET postpone the earth destruction). $\endgroup$ – Uriel Aug 22 '15 at 11:43
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What constitutes creation is a big deal here. "God created the Heavens and the Earth" - Creation means organization. Yes many believe that he created everything out of nothing, but unless the multiverse (and especially our dimension part of it) existed forever in it's current form there still leaves room for a creator.

In fact, come to think of it, I don't think that a proven infinite timeline would be a detriment to the creation story at all. God is commonly believed to be completely outside time, without beginning or end, who else could create something infinite?

The whole idea of multiverses and infinite time and dimension are perfectly suited to religion, with God as a being transcending those dimensions, with invisible spiritual planes (heaven, hell, purgatory what have you). Concepts like this will only encourage religion.

The people who will lose there faith over this lose it only because they change the way they view the world, shifting to cold hard science over religious experiences. It is the same for any other scientific discovery/theory, evolution, the big bang, etc. It's not that those things are at all incompatible with religion, it's because by shifting to scientific based answers they are changing their value system.

The whole idea of physics ever disproving religion in the minds of the religious is ridiculous. The farther to the right a science is in XKCDs field purity comic, the less likely it is to convince someone there is no God. This is coming from someone very religious, and I can tell you that the stuff on the left bothers me sometimes, while the stuff on the right is perfectly in line with my religious views.

https://xkcd.com/435/

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  • $\begingroup$ Well I suppose the main difference is how much apologetics would have to change, currently most apologists usually deny the possibility of a multiverse. The main reason they deny this of course is that a multiverse makes it impossible to use the design argument, as well as the fact it makes humans cosmically insignificant. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 20:55
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    $\begingroup$ No, it would not make it impossible to use the design argument (there is always room for a higher dimension than we are aware of, creation is a lose term anyway, see my organized comment), and no, it would not make us less cosmically significant. If the sheer scope and scale of this universe is not enough to humble someone, learning about infinite multiverse won't either. $\endgroup$ – wedstrom Aug 19 '15 at 21:13
  • $\begingroup$ Yes humans are already cosmically insignificant but at least our universe is small enough you don't expect identical copies of our planet, at the very least, with a multiverse there are infinite copies of any given universe. Plus the fact our particular universe allows life wouldn't be in any way indicative of design since that's just a inevitability. It wouldn't disprove design (can't prove a negative) but it would eliminate any perceived need for design. As for design, well it is kind of difficult to even argue something could be designed if we know it was always around basically the same. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ The similar universes could be a problem. If you see many lifeforms evolving randomly, that could be a problem. Worst could be watching thousands of civilizations dying in the frigid void and the heat death of their uncaring "godless" universe. That would be difficult to deal with. However, that sounds very much like hell/damnation/end times as told in the bible and many other religious works... $\endgroup$ – wedstrom Aug 19 '15 at 21:35
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    $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake Not really, to be honest. For example, every time science proved man's environment was larger, the Judeo-Christian deity was moved farther away so it could be attributed to the environment's creation. The existence of a deity must be taken on faith; science can't disprove a deity's existence. $\endgroup$ – Frostfyre Aug 20 '15 at 14:07
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I think that very little would actually change for religion. Consider the current battle over Evolution. The Priesthood of Science, the vocal teachers of science as a source of truth, already proclaim "Evolution is true." They have nowhere more emphatic to go, so if one was to prove an infinite multiverse, they could be no louder. They would simply proclaim "The Multiverse is true."

Accordingly, religion would be expected to change no more than it has had to to deal with evolution. Very few can read the scientific papers that would discern the difference between today's epistemological statement, "the evolution model fits the observed data better than other theories," and a very ontological, "the multiverse is infinite." Accordingly, few would treat the situation differently. Everyone would go on living their lives, just as they always have, with the same arguments - only the names have changed.

Oh, except for Philosophy StackExchange. They'd flip out over there! Questions would spill in from all over the world asking Philsophy SE to use the new ontologically proven multiverse to prove that their religion was right all along!

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    $\begingroup$ A lot of your answer is of course inevitable, people will just deny evidence. Still people have a much harder time denying things that can be directly observed, for instance most creationists don't deny what they call "microevolution" so the fact you can directly observe the multiverse would make something of a difference potentially. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 21:43
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    $\begingroup$ The real question is what is defined as "directly observed." For 99.999% of the population, there's a huge difference between "one multi-billion dollar collider, the LHC, has made the claim that their observed results are consistent with the Higgs Boson," and claiming it is directly observed with one's own eyes. Honestly, most people don't know enough to sort the wheat from the chaff here, they rely 100% on the scientific community to tell them what to believe with regard to scientific discovery. $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Aug 19 '15 at 21:46
  • $\begingroup$ Now if we were forced to be face to face with infinity every step we take during the day, that would create some changes! $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Aug 19 '15 at 21:47
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    $\begingroup$ Is that actually so different? Think of it not from the perspective you want to see it from, but from the perspective of someone for whom science is once again telling them "truth" information to believe. Can the average person even comprehend what it means to observe an infinity (I'd argue no, given just how much hell we could give you by actually pestering you into defining exactly which meaning of "observing infinity" you mean)? Can they appreciate the true observation, or can they only appreciate the rolled-up version like the candy-coated versions we tell people today? $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon - Reinstate Monica Aug 19 '15 at 21:54
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    $\begingroup$ Hmm, that's the thing about the question, is that for it even to work requires hypothetical information that may be completely impossible to have in the real world. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 21:56
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For some religions, this would actually be a boost for their belief system. Hindus who believe in an eternal cycle of creation and rebirth would have proof that their religion was based on a real and verifiable fact, for example.

The existence of a multiverse could also be made to fit into the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam), as mentioned by wedstrom and Bug J., for example.

And there are lots of people who believe or deny things even in the face of contrary evidence (9/11 "truthers", Hollow Earth. the "Face on Mars", young Earth creationism/evolution (depending on what side of the fence you are on), the Apollo Moon landing etc.), so the existence of a Multiverse will simply not register on their belief system(s).

Finally, I think you are seeing science and religion as a zero sum "either/or" proposition. Consider that most of the giants who developed science during the Age of Enlightenment were in fact deeply religious men, and that science is a system to understand the "how" of things while religion is a system to understand the "why". There is no reason that the two cannot be complimentary for most people.

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  • $\begingroup$ last point: Yes, though as science advanced, we saw that there is no need for an anthropomorphic creator/maintainer. The term "religion" has a use as an opposite to science in that it has an irreconcilably opposite stance on this little detail. $\endgroup$ – kaay Aug 20 '15 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ I would have given you a +1, had you not put creationism and evolution on the same level. $\endgroup$ – Burki Aug 20 '15 at 9:03
  • $\begingroup$ @burki He didn't mean them being of equal value, just strongly believed. The OP asks what effect the revelation would have on beliefs. $\endgroup$ – kaay Aug 20 '15 at 9:16
  • $\begingroup$ I didn't say I thought this would in any way abolish religion, however it would make it hard for people to make a lot of theistic arguments. The argument from design could no longer rely on god of the gaps reasoning. The Kalam argument would also be right out, as would any other argument that relied on a finite existence. Also in this scenario it strongly suggests that there is nothing special about our universe or indeed us. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 20 '15 at 13:27
  • $\begingroup$ The thing is, religion used to have the same role as science - it's just that science is so much better at it, religion had to retreat from those. At present time in western society, all that's left is the "Why" and "afterlife", basically - the US being a notable exception with it's proportion of YECs and similar, who still claim Bible's expertise in cosmological matters (among others - for example, putting Bible's biological claims above science's evolution etc.). $\endgroup$ – Luaan Aug 21 '15 at 10:48
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I'm not sure of the etiquette for suggesting that part of your scenario might well be impossible, so I'll put it at the end of my answer, but I think there is good reason to believe that no multiverse could possibly be eternal in the past.

That said, I think many religions would be perfectly fine with the discovery either that the universe is eternal in the past, or that the universe is part of a past-eternal multiverse. Many individual people may change their religious beliefs, but the religions themselves will likely still stand. They will either not particularly care whether the universe was created, or they might hold that the universe was created despite being eternal.

Not really caring

As I mentioned in my answer to a question about religion in a world with backwards time travel, many religions do not rely on claims about specific events in the past, including the origin of the universe. These religions either don't make the claims at all (non-dogmatic "philosophy of life" religions), or they modify the claims to fit the current view of the facts (while medieval Catholics may have considered the Big Bang a weird theory, it's now officially sanctioned by the church as the method by which God created the universe).

Many holy writings originating from the Ancient Near East can easily be interpreted as describing a past-eternal universe. Creation myths often describe a habitable world being formed from chaotic (but already present) material; many people consider the Genesis story to be of this form. If the universe were proven to be past-eternal, many believers will have to change how they interpret their scriptures, but the scriptures won't have been proven wrong.

God created a past-eternal universe

The Omphalos Hypothesis states that perhaps God created the universe recently, but with the appearance of billions of years of age. Using something like an extreme version of this hypothesis, one could maybe say that at some time in the past the universe was created with the appearance of past eternality.

In fact, someone who believes in a god who is "outside of" time, and also holds a B-Theory of time (that is, this person considers the flow of time to be an "illusion", and past, present, and future are all equally real), could reasonably believe that the god created the entire space/time manifold that we call the [uni|multi]verse, "all at once" in a sense. There are, of course, quite reasonable philosophical objections to this viewpoint, but as there are many B-theorists in the world, and many believers in a transcendent god, many people probably already hold this view. Many believers in transcendent gods would likely just add B-Theory of time to their belief collection if the [uni|multi]verse were proven eternal.

Nitpick: Possibility of an eternal universe

I don't think it's entirely apparent that a eternal-in-time universe is even logically possible. This sort of comes down to the problem of "Actual infinity", the philosophical disagreement over whether an infinity can truly exist. While this problem classically applied primarily to questions like "Do the natural numbers exist?", it has also been applied to the age of the universe.

I can not imagine what sort of physical evidence could be reasonably expected to resolve this issue (to demonstrate that not only can an actual infinity exist, but that one does). Many philosophers (especially philosophers who hold religious views) will see the statement "The multiverse has an infinite past" as belonging in the same category as "my nephew is a married bachelor". Physical evidence (particularly theories based on physical evidence) cannot demonstrate the truth of a statement that is logically impossible.

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  • $\begingroup$ I can see how religious people, as you said would simply postulate that the multiverse was created to deceptively appear eternal, so I certainly see most creationists going with that explanation. And you're right as I said in the question some religions don't actually have any conflict with this. I thought the mention of the B-theory of time was interesting because that's a circumstance where scientific observations did kind of come into philosophical discussion: Namely in relativity events may not appear to have happened at the same time from different reference frames. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 17:17
  • $\begingroup$ The phrase you are talking about in the first paragraph of your answer is "challenging the frame of the question" and is allowed, though tends to be used to challenge certain assumptions made (also see the XY problem) rather than the premise stated as being true. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Aug 20 '15 at 9:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Mourdos I addressed the problem of the potential impossibility of the premise in some of the Edits: at the end of the question, and in other comments. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 20 '15 at 13:20
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Id say it does not counter for example the essence of Christian faith at all. There are plenty of stories that there are both different levels of Heaven and "Hell".

Id say the discovery of a finite or infinite multiverse would rather give me more faith in God. And the son. :-)

Jesus said: "My kingdom is not of this world", (but of another 'verse right ? )

And "I go away to prepare place for thee". "I have other flocks that are not of this fold".

Mod me down if you like, but I cant say anything but a multiverse makes the stories of an existing Heaven more credible..

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  • $\begingroup$ But the idea that existence never had a beginning does run counter to the idea of it having been created, something that has always existed can't have been created that's where the conflict lies. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 19:50
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    $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake I don't think there is much in Christianity about when and how Heaven was created, just how Earth was made, and some fan-fiction about Hell. God was there in the 'beginning', but nothing says that Heaven and other various places (to which Jesus could have been referring) didn't already exist as well, or how long before the 'beginning' God had been around. $\endgroup$ – DaaaahWhoosh Aug 19 '15 at 20:39
  • $\begingroup$ @DaaaahWhoosh I suppose they'd have to say stuff like that. However the main problem is that it makes humans seem insignificant given our universe isn't really special in any way. There's also the the issue that it makes it impossible to feasibly argue design if there is probably going to be an infinite number of universes like our own. The main thing this scenario does is it makes various god of the gaps argument not work very well anymore. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 21:00
  • $\begingroup$ Even within a multiverse construct, there is no reason to suppose that THIS universe isn't created (the Big Bang theory does presuppose there was a time this universe did not exist), and as Bug J is saying, a Multiverse provides some sort of context for other elements of the Christian faith. Much of the question really comes down to how this "evidence" is interpreted and fitted into existing belief systems. $\endgroup$ – Thucydides Aug 20 '15 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ @BlueRaja-DannyPflughoeft I would guess that this is because Christianity is the religion with which he is familiar. As one of the worlds major religions an answer from this perspective is still a partial answer. I'm not saying if it is a good answer or not, I'm just saying that it does attempt to address the question. $\endgroup$ – Mourdos Aug 20 '15 at 9:02
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Since there are degrees of infinity, I would imagine some theologian would postulate there is a being of an even greater magnitude of infinity than the multiverse. Some would even claim it is necessary as how could you have an infinite multiverse if someone more infinite didn't make it, after all many people already believe that the universe requires a creator but don't seem very concerned about why the creator doesn't also appear to need a creator.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hmm, I suppose this is the exact sort of religious cop-out I would expect in this scenario, to reconcile the logical impossibility of a beginning with the need for a creator in their belief system $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 16:17
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think very many people choose to follow a religion for logical reasons (eg. Pascal's Wager - arguably wrong but based on logical reasoning). They do it by default of their upbringing or by having an emotional desire to follow it. Similarly, people don't usually lose their religion for logical reasons, it's usually something emotional that triggers it. $\endgroup$ – Dave Halsall Aug 19 '15 at 16:42
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    $\begingroup$ Yes and that's why I said I didn't see this as being a deathblow to religion, people are very good at denying blatant evidence. However this is still a massive event that people are going to be talking about for decades, and I see the most of the public debate be about the theological implications. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 16:45
  • $\begingroup$ I agree, I can't see any single scientific discovery dealing a deathblow to religion, but if science allows us to lead more comfortable lives with less hunger, disease and infant mortality religion is more likely to be about getting a warm feeling while singing hymns than burning your neighbour as a witch because your crops failed. $\endgroup$ – Dave Halsall Aug 19 '15 at 16:55
  • $\begingroup$ Yeah though I do imagine maybe a few percent of the religious population will end up losing their faith or converting to another religion more compatible with this discovery. But then again this question is asking for a time scale of at least a few decades so within that timespan a few percent of the religious population will have lost their faith anyway without any discovery like this. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 19 '15 at 16:58
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I once wrote a story in which the deleterious effect of a proven multiverse on religion was mentioned in passing - but the problem didn't relate to the multiverse being infinite in age or size (as others have already said, that is easily assimilated), but on the realisations that

  • a multiverse makes moral decision pointless. Whatever good act you struggle to do, some other "you" does the opposite. In fact infinite versions of "you" do all possible variations of good and evil.

  • looking specifically at religion, in a multiverse that contains infinite versions of historical religious figures such as Jesus, Mohammed and Buddha, their acts and teachings vary infinitely, including taking directions that real-world Christians, Muslims and Buddhists would consider evil.

Something like this is described in Larry Niven's memorable short story "All the Myriad Ways". In that story Niven suggests that the effect would be widespread depression and suicides, along with more crimes committed for kicks as people feeling a random sadistic impulse say to themselves "Versions of me will do it whatever 'I' do. So why not this version of me?"

It should not be forgotten that the effect of a proven multiverse "on religion" will not stop there. In turn the changes in religious belief will bounce back to affect multiverse-aware society. It might be possible* for religions to push back against widespread despair (and perceptions of their own irrelevance) by concentrating on teachings of personal morality and salvation after death for THIS version of "you". Even in our world, religions and religious people are generally much more practically interested in questions of day-to-day good and evil human behaviour than in their beliefs about creation.

*Well, ex hypothesi it would be not just possible but inevitable, as would all other possibilities.

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  • $\begingroup$ That's something few of the other answers have considered +1, the idea that existence was always around is the other major way the discovery would impact religion, after all now you have to deal with the fact that humans aren't anything but a statistical inevitability and that your god didn't create existence, it also doesn't leave much room to attribute things to god. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 20 '15 at 13:43
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Any idea that fundamentally changes religion is generally rejected by religion and religious leaders based off the fact that these individuals generally value Ethos (Authority of the Source of information) over Logos (the actual rationale behind the argument being made). The value of their religious texts outweighs science until the belief is widely popular, and undeniable.

For example, it was thought that the revelation of the sun as the center of the solar system (instead of the earth) would cause dramatic fallout for religious groups, and while there was backlash, it did not make any drastic difference to established religious groups.

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I think that Buddhists already believe something like this is the case, so they especially would be unaffected.

As for the other religions, i don't think they would be affected too much either. Any evidence can be ignored if it doesn't fit one's beliefs. Young earth creationists are a great example of this. If their theories were true, we wouldn't be able to see any celestial objects that are more than 6000 light years away. But as you can see, for people with strong beliefs the evidence doesn't matter.

Other than simply ignoring the evidence, religious people could claim that God is infinite and that this does not clash with their beliefs. And as always when new scientific evidence arises, they would retroactively find biblical passages that agree with it through some kind of a metaphor.

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  • $\begingroup$ Yes they do. Here is a brief description of Buddhist cosmology. It already deals with the multiverse. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cosmology $\endgroup$ – chasly from UK Aug 20 '15 at 8:10
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for the mention of the fact that young earthers can't explain objects over ~6000 light years away, I would say that that must mean they believe in a deceptive god but I digress. I was actually thinking of buddhism when I wrote that some religions would be unaffected. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 20 '15 at 13:51
  • $\begingroup$ Which is funny - since the "religious" (as in mentioned by religion) city of Jericho is the oldest known city in existence that has been inhabited by humans, dating back to almost 9500 BC, determined through means OTHER than carbon dating (which is openly disputed among young earth creationists). $\endgroup$ – IceMage Aug 24 '15 at 14:13
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"Imagine a multidimensional spider's web in the early morning covered with dew drops. And every dew drop contains the reflection of all the other dew drops. And, in each reflected dew drop, the reflections of all the other dew drops in that reflection. And so ad infinitum. That is the Buddhist conception of the universe in an image." –Alan Watts[1]

Buddhism uses a similar image to describe the interconnectedness of all phenomena. It is called Indra's Net. When Indra fashioned the world, he made it as a web, and at every knot in the web is tied a pearl. Everything that exists, or has ever existed, every idea that can be thought about, every datum that is true—every dharma, in the language of Indian philosophy—is a pearl in Indra's net. Not only is every pearl tied to every other pearl by virtue of the web on which they hang, but on the surface of every pearl is reflected every other jewel on the net. Everything that exists in Indra's web implies all else that exists. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra%27s_net

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Religion would both adapt, as others have pointed out, and also it would collapse completely, depending on which part of the mulitverse you are in.

I would ask this in comments but I mostly lurk and haven't answered any questions on Worldbuilding SE yet. Could you refine the question as there literally infinite valid answers?

Also 'because multiverse' would replace 'because magic' on many internet forums (in most universes).

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to visibility, @danjenks $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Aug 20 '15 at 16:52
  • $\begingroup$ Actually, not in "most" universes because if you have an infinite set of universes then any subset of that set is also infinite. You cannot have a preponderance of infinity. (Yes, I should get a life.) $\endgroup$ – Lostinfrance Aug 20 '15 at 17:19
  • $\begingroup$ @Lostinfrance Very true. But since it was intended as a humorous aside I'll leave it as is for now. I like the phrase "preponderance of infinity" though. :-) $\endgroup$ – Dan Jenks Aug 21 '15 at 8:02
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I agree that an infinitely old and large universe would have a devastating effect on religion.

For example, the strongly held belief of 'Cause and Effect' would be nullified - after all, a universe that was never created could never have a cause!

As such believers of scientism would have to reconcile their beliefs to scientific fact. Maybe they should convert to a religion that professes an infinitely old, wise and large deity?

Or not.

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Regarding to all the comments you gave so far and given the restrictions mentioned in your OP the answer is pretty simple and it looks you have chosen that already for you and just want to be confirmed.

The fact that you say something is observable and therefor given is ok. So in which way it happens is irrelevant, I aggree to that. But one strong point given by zfrisch on an answer is:

The problem is that, even if we were able to manage to prove that we were in a multiverse, most people wouldn't be smart enough to understand how that would imply their religion is incorrect. When part of your religious rhetoric is to believe without proof or logic(faith), you can't really do a whole lot to sway those people with science.

Where you counter ~Thats why this proof is puplicated in a way so everyone gets it~ (stated in my own words)

So this is the final knock out!

given it is observable that it is infinite and all religions rely on some one that had to be first, so there cant be anything infinite excepting him self. AND given that this fact is presented in a way that everyone udnerstands in what way that affects his religion. so everyone understands why it is prooved that his religion can't be true.

given this limitations. (what simply are the limitations you give in collection of OP and different comments)

Then religion is simply dead. In the moment everyone knows that religion is wrong and everyone knows that everyone else knows aswell. Then religion is simply dead and there is nothing else you will get as answer for it.

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    $\begingroup$ I doubt that. People tend to believe all kinds of stuff, often enough in the face of all evidence. Just proving that something is plainly wrong seldomly stops believers. Simple answers to complex questions are just too attractive. $\endgroup$ – Burki Aug 20 '15 at 9:07
  • $\begingroup$ @Burki: I 100% absolutley aggree to you. BUT op gives as one of his limitations, that in his scenario the proof is that obisious that that wont happen. and this answer is based on the limitation that this WONT happen. Thats why I quoted the comment, because this was an awesome point and OP's reaction simply was "It is given that this wont happen.". what was my motivation to put this in as answer: given that each individum will accept this fact, there is no other option. $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Aug 20 '15 at 9:10
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    $\begingroup$ @Burki: So I strongly doubt that aswell. but given by definition that our doubts are wrong. This is the only thing that can happen (I wrote the answer with a flavour of sarcasim!) $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Aug 20 '15 at 9:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Zaibis I would still expect some fundamentalist religion to remain unconvinced they would simply claim that the universe was merely created to appear infinitely old (though this implies a deceptive god) after all they claim our universe was made only thousands of years ago but we can still see stars billions of light years away, that already implies a deceptive god. So even though I stated that the evidence was incredibly hard to deny some fundamentalists would still do just that. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 20 '15 at 13:48
  • $\begingroup$ @VakusDrake: But what are you expecting to get as answer as this comment again shows to me jsut that you have allready a clear view of what would happen in your opinion by the given limitations? What do you want to get as answer by just commenting any answer to be not fitting to what you expect? $\endgroup$ – Zaibis Aug 20 '15 at 13:51
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I just thought, taking as an example Catholicism, it has evolved its doctrines through time (encyclicals, ecumenical councils), though never incorporating new concepts brought about by science. Actually, Christianism (under which Catholicism is) has fragmented so much it would be mind boggling just to think of how it got fragmented that way, of course influenced by pockets of societies (borne by culture) in which it is thriving. Generations of people come and go, some things forgotten, some held on to, some replaced by something else. I myself am in a society I can describe as living in a duality - people recognize science and understand and believe (shucks, that word in itself is a can of worms in this context but it seems to be the best way to describe it) in it, yet deeply religious, never feeling conflicts in how they perceive life. Whether that duality is just for show or not, it just is there.

I do believe though humans will further evolve in intellect and emotion some time, forgetting the concept that we presently call "religion"

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With many religions it would help! Aren't heaven and hell held to be in sort of parallel universes? (e.g. you can't dig to hell, or fly a rocket to heaven)

The religious people would simply say, "Yes I know, we've been telling you that for years!"

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I don't see most Religions changing at all through such a discovery, even if they openly accept everything about it.

The main point is that the interpretation of the most gods allmightiness would be easily shifted from creating everything in our universe to creating the multiverse and everything in it.

The missing "startpoint" of the multiverse is no problem, too, as this could easily shifted to be misinterpreted by humans as no start point in time but a start point in exiastance or such, and thus jump away every time science would prove it wrong.

So in short those religions who don't want to change would not change.

On the other hand many soiritual oriented people would probably (and correctly given the nature of an infinite multiverse) believe to find a physical version of their god's reals as one of the many universes. The aboriginis dreamworld, christians paradise or norse valhalla come to mind.

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Just because the uni/multiverse would not have a temporal beginning doesn't mean it wouldn't have a beginning of some sort. The world can still proceed from something other/greater than it even if this is not evident within the space/time manifold we experience.

A lot of individuals either lose their faith or resort to denial in the face of scientific revelation of course. But really it seems to me that when a scientific discovery "disproves" or makes "less room for" God, it only really damages worldviews that fail to consider how complete the transcendence of God is.

It seems to me that the responsible thing for a religious group to do is develop a robust theology that goes beyond whatever minimums for transcendence are put in place by modern science, and properly asserts an all-powerful, completely other god. My (limited) understanding is that a rich tradituion of robust theology has existed for many centuries within at least the Christian church and presumably with other religions as well (although fundamentalists may choose to ignore it).

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  • $\begingroup$ "proceed from something other/greater than it even if this is not evident within the space/time manifold we experience" Yeah that statement's nonsense. Saying something began is a fundamentally temporal statement, you can't remove temporality from that statement. Science removes things from the domain of god all the time Isaac Newton thought that the planets motion required god to function and couldn't work through totally natural phenomenon, well so much for that idea. $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 23 '15 at 6:35
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    $\begingroup$ "beginning" is not a fundamentally temporal statement; it can be used in other contexts, for example spatial ("the line begins at this point and ends at this point"). It is possible that I have chosen the wrong word. Perhaps "proceed from", "originate in", or something along those lines would have been more appropriate. EDIT: Just read it over again. I never used the word "began". $\endgroup$ – this community is transphobic Aug 26 '15 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Saying something proceeds from something is still a temporal statement. Can you give any example of a way something could "proceed" or do anything for that matter, without time? $\endgroup$ – Vakus Drake Aug 26 '15 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ As for science removing things from the domain of a god: no rigorous theology would rely on something as mutable as the mechanism behind planetary motion. That aside, by definition, nothing is ever removed from the domain of an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god. Conservation of engergy, for example, didn't remove objects from the domain of God, it merely disproved incorrect assumptions about the nature God and the universe. You certainly can say that assuming an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent god is absurd, but a worldview based on that assumption remains internally consistent. $\endgroup$ – this community is transphobic Aug 26 '15 at 19:33
  • $\begingroup$ The only examples that come to mind are within the Christian tradition, such as Christ proceeding from the Father (I know the question is not about Christianity, but about all religions, but I will talk about what I know). Within the Church there is a long tradition of terms of procession/priority outside of time, in keeping with the view of an atemporal god— a being who does not vary across time. The point being that at least the Church would be well-equipped to deal with an infinite universe. I shouldn't assume, but was that your downvote? If so, care to explain? $\endgroup$ – this community is transphobic Aug 26 '15 at 19:46
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Well, an easy cop-out would be to note that our time is not god's time, and therefore what is an infinite time for us may well be a finite time for god. Thus god can have created the universe at what to us is an infinite time ago.

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  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – Tim B Aug 23 '15 at 8:55
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The necessary course of action depends solely on how accessible are the other universes. How universes behave should also be considered.

Inaccessible Alternate Universes

If you know something is most probably true somewhere else, but have no way of knowing, then you have nothing to worry about how true that something is, not even where that something is. You simply have to stop caring, because you can't do anything. Really, you can't affect them and they can't affect you. Let each other be for each other's sake. If you can't make peace with that, declare war on the compartmentalized multiverse find out how to have access.

Accessible Alternate Universes

This is the problem. There are other universes, and there are a lot of ways we can affect them. Just remember they can affect us too. The ultimate problem here is defining the rules of the multiverse, so that we'll know if we can (and then how to) circumvent them.

Some Types of Access (and possible courses of action based on each)

1. Unlimited Parallel Universes: Our universe exists alongside countless others

This means that the cosmos is truly infinite. We can be anything, anyone, anywhere, rules does not really exist. Order comes after chaos. God is also Satan, somehow. Do whatever you like, or not. Your choice. Anarchy reigns.

2. Limited Parallel Universes: Our universe exists alongside countable others

The cosmos is not infinite, but there are a lot more within it. This means rules between universes can be set to the bare minimum of not destroying each other. Universes are like people. Treat each other with respect and caution, should you choose to access another and still desire to safely return to your own.

3. Possible Universes: Our universe exists with others

The multiverse obeys probability and statistics, and some universes receive the anthropic bias of being the best among the rest, wherein the worst ones are eliminated by the best or some shit. Religion now, is to become the best universe, whatever that means.

4. Altered Universes: Other universes are not really universes

The laws of physics in other universes are not the same as with ours. We are not allowed to exist there as we exist here. We can go there, but we need interuniversal law translation devices. Religion now, is to create the best such device, and conquer all the others.

Note that all some of these types might actually be just one, or that the ones listed here are just what I can extemporaneously design.

Summary

Like all memetic structures, religion is alive. Depending on how one universe can affect another and how the meta-universe can affect all universes, religion shall adapt and evolve accordingly for it to survive.

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