Two Choices, Neither Science
Robert Chase restates a recurrent theme in a recent consideration of science fiction and religion:
… Starting with Fred Hoyle, himself the author of such science-fiction novels as The Black Cloud, scientists have realized the universe is exquisitely fine-tuned to produce life. If protons were just 0.2 percent more massive, they would be unstable and decay into simpler particles. If gravity were a bit stronger, stars would burn up before life had a chance to evolve. If the strong force, which binds nuclei together, were a touch more powerful, there would be no hydrogen and therefore no stars, no water, and no us. All these coincidences seem to indicate the presence of an Intelligent Designer.
Hoyle certainly became convinced that they did. Moreover, a number of physicists have proposed that our universe is but one of a multitude, and with enough universes the odds tip in favor of having one with the right set of laws and constants to produce us. There is a long tradition of science-fiction stories dealing with alternate worlds and parallel dimensions—Keith Laumer’s Worlds of the Imperium, for instance, and Roger Zelazny’s Amber series—and it is likely that this sort of theorizing will spur the production of more. Yet the whole enterprise has an air of desperation about it. We are asked to believe in the existence of myriad universes for which we have no direct evidence and that must always be unobservable because the alternative, God, is emotionally disagreeable to the theorists. The multiverse may even be true, but until it can be shown to be a necessary result of established physical laws, or somehow submitted to proof, it will never be science.
As it happens, C.S. Lewis’s Narnia series pulled the two themes, which Chase presents as opposing, together. As described in The Magician’s Nephew, which followed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in composition but preceded it in the plot, Narnia and Earth existed in different dimensions reachable through a sort of portal dimension. And yet, Lewis concluded the series with the affirmation of Christianity overarching all dimensions.
That’s more or less my conclusion when it comes to reality. Rather than parallel dimensions, though, I believe that all possible moments exist as spaces on a cosmic game board, as it were, connected into a great mesh. The continuity that we perceive occurs as our souls move from one moment to the next according to certain rules defined more or less in accordance with our sanity. Within the infinite number of possible sequences, God defines the True path that tells the story of reality from start to finish.
And, yes, a science fiction-ish novel on this topic is among the dozens of story lines that I’ve stored away to write someday… perhaps in another life. Of course, in some other dimension, I’ve already written it.