Children of an alien God
by Marcus Chown
Could intelligent "angels" have created our universe?
Our Universe may have been created by superior beings in another universe, according to a physicist in the US. If he is correct, it may finally explain what Albert Einstein called the most incomprehensible thing about the universe: the fact that it is comprehensible to human beings.
Edward Harrison of the University of Massachusetts came to this astonishing conclusion after attempting to explain one of the great puzzles of science: why the "fundamental constants" of nature appear to be "fine-tuned" for the emergence of life. A good example, he says, is the gravitational constant, which governs the strength of gravity. "If it were slightly smaller, stars like the sun would not shine," says Harrison. "However, if it were slightly stronger, stars would burn their fuel and go out before there was time for biological evolution on any planets."
"Conventional physics completely fails to explain this example of fine-tuning or many others," says Harrison. "However, it is possible to explain them if the universe has actually been designed at a fundamental level for the benefit of life."
This is not to say that Harrison believes in the necessity of a Creator. Instead, he proposes that intelligent life itself creates new "offspring" universes where conditions are just right for life. In each offspring universe, life then evolves to a high level of intelligence and in turn creates more offspring universes.
If you think this sounds like pure science fiction, you would be wrong. "We already have a mathematical blueprint for how to make new universes," says Harrison. The blueprint is the creation of our own universe. According to grand unified theories, which attempt to show that the fundamental forces of nature are merely facets of a single "superforce", the universe was created when a super-dense "seed" of matter triggered a runaway expansion of space. During this split-second phase of "inflation", the matter to make countless stars and galaxies was conjured out of the empty vacuum itself. The universe, as proponents of inflation are fond of saying, was "the ultimate free lunch".
Harrison says it would only be necessary to recreate the precise conditions that triggered inflation in our own universe in order to spawn a new universe. Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has suggested a way to do it using a 10kg mini black hole. Its super-dense interior would be the seed that would immediately inflate, not in our universe, but in a space-time connected to our own by the "umbilical cord" of the black hole. The cord would snap when the black hole "evaporated" and a new baby universe would be born.
Harrison says the precise details of universe creation do not matter. "The important thing is that if beings of our limited intelligence can dream up wild yet seemingly plausible schemes for making universes then beings of much higher intelligence might know exactly how to do it."
The key feature of any offspring universe is that it inherits fundamental constants similar to those of its parent. This immediately explains why our universe is fine-tuned for life.
Until now, argues Harrison, only two explanations have been advanced for why the universe is set up for life. There is the "anthropic principle", which maintains that we exist because the universe is that way; if it were different we would not be around to comment on it. "What is so unappealing about the anthropic principle is that it requires there to be countless lifeless universes," says Harrison. "I consider that waste on a truly cosmic scale." The alternative explanation is that our universe was designed by a Creator, a point of view accepted by many people - including scientists. "Unfortunately," this explanation terminates scientific enquiry," says Harrison.
Harrison's theory of the "natural selection of universes" may offer a third view. "The creation of the universe drops out of the religious sphere and becomes a subject amenable to scientific investigation," he says.
Harrison is not the first to propose the idea of self-reproducing universes. A few years ago, Lee Smolin of Syracuse University proposed that universes in which the conditions were ideal for the formation of black holes generated the most offspring universes. "However, there was no compelling reason why universes which were selected for black holes should also contain life," says Harrison. "My theory makes the connection." Harrison thinks the reason why the universe is understandable to humans is now clear. "The superior beings who created our universe inhabited one not greatly unlike our own. Our universe was not created by God - a superior being - but "angels" - superior beings!"
But why would intelligent beings want to make new universes? Harrison suggests several reasons. One may simply be to prove that it can be done. "It is not inconceivable that the goal of the evolution of intelligence is the creation of universes to foster intelligence."
Then again, there is the possibility that superior intelligences may not be totally inaccessible for occupation and exploration by their creators,'" he says. "If intelligent being know how to create universes of various designs, they might know how to inhabit them by some form of transference."
The obvious question is, how did the first universe begin? Harrison admits that one possibility is that God created the first universe. "Thereafter, superior beings in universes took over the creation of further universes."
Another possibility, he says, is that there was an initial "ensemble" of universes, in which the fundamental constants had random values. Life was possible in at least one member. "Thereafter, by reproduction, intelligent universes dominate, and the original unintelligent members then form a vanishingly small fraction of the whole."
(An expanded version of this material is available at:
Chown's article shows that the idea that Satan(el), the second highest angel (after Lucifer), might have created the universe we see around us is far from far-fetched. In the future, it may come to be viewed as orthodox science that we owe our existence to higher intelligences - "angels". Why not one higher intelligence? - Satan, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, known to his followers as "God", the Creator.
Some scientists now openly talk about the possibility that we ourselves could create new universes in a laboratory. In an extract from
Alan Guth said: "I in fact have worked with several other people for some period of time on the question of whether or not it's in principle possible to create a new universe in the laboratory. Whether or not it really works we don't know for sure. It looks like it probably would work. It's actually safe to create a universe in your basement. It would not displace the universe around it even though it would grow tremendously. It would actually create its own space as it grows and in fact in a very short fraction of a second it would splice itself off completely from our Universe and evolve as an isolated closed universe growing to cosmic proportions without displacing any of the territory that we currently lay claim to."
For those who wish to speculate about the origin of the universe, here are eight rival theories:
If you had to choose one, which would it be? Don't make it an academic exercise. Pour your heart and soul into choosing one over the others. It won't do you any good to simply say, "I believe". You must know