Welcome to the multiverse: Introduction.

Dec 5, 2022 by

by Martin Davie:

Why we live in a multiverse.

One of the features of C S Lewis’ Narnia stories that is generally overlooked is the fact that they are set in a multiverse.  In these stories Lewis’ characters move between our universe and the universe in which Narnia exists, and in The Magician’s Nephew it is made clear that our universe and the Narnian universe are just two among multiple universes which exist alongside each other.

Lewis is by no means the only fiction writer to explore the idea of a multiverse. Numerous other writers have done so as well, and it is an idea that has also been explored in films and television series. For example, the three linked Warner Brothers television series The Flash, Supergirl and The Arrow are set in a multiverse with characters and story lines moving between different universes.

 What is more, the idea that there might be multiple universes existing alongside each other is one that has been proposed not just by the creators of fiction, but by serious scientists as well. For example, the idea was put forward by the late Stephen Hawking in his book The Grand Design, in which he posited the existence of multiple universes each with their own physical laws.

There is no consensus among scientists about the multiverse idea, and at the moment there seems to be no hard evidence to support it. In the words of the theoretical physicist John Polkinghorne ‘There is no purely scientific reason to believe in an ensemble of universes.’  However, there is another way of looking at the multiverse idea which means that we have to say not only that there definitely are multiple universes, but also that people in our country are inhabiting them.

In his helpful book The Universe Next Door James Sire draws attention to  the fact that, whether they know it or not, everyone has a worldview, a way of understanding the world in which they live and their place in it. The existence of these different worldviews means that people living on the same street can live in radically different conceptual universes. For instance, Angela may live in a universe which is governed by God and in which there are other supernatural entities as well, while her neighbour Charles lives in a universe without God in which everything is controlled by the random interaction of  physical forces. Physically they inhabit the same universe, but mentally the universes they inhabit are very different.

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