Christ of the Klingons
If God did create multiple universes, Collins and Cleaver claim, he likely populated more than one.
"I've always had problems perceiving the infinite God that we believe in [as] creating life in just one spot," Cleaver says. "Over the entire past and future of humankind, there'll probably be no more than a few hundred billion humans to interact with God on this earth. That is a finite number that does not make consistent theological sense to me."
Collins is intrigued by the possibility of a Messiah with two or more—even a million—faces. Since the Council of Chalcedon in A.D. 451, orthodox Christian theology has drawn a distinction between the divine nature and the human nature in the single person of Christ. There is no reason, Collins believes, that Christ's divine nature could not unite with other incarnational forms.
"Who's going to redeem the Klingons? And they're very much in need of redemption, as we know from various Star Trek series," Collins quips. "God the Son, being infinite as he is, could take on the Klingon nature, human nature—you know, a Klingon version of Jesus.… So the traditional formula, which is the standard orthodoxy, is actually very compatible with the multiverse idea."
Whether or not we discover a multiverse, Cleaver wants to see the church address the idea of life elsewhere.
"The Catholic Church is far ahead of the Protestant churches on this," Cleaver says. "The Catholic Church had a conference on the possibility of life elsewhere in the universe within the past few years and invited both leading theologians and scientists. The Protestant churches should be doing the same thing."
When the Universes Sang
Theoretical physicists like Cleaver spend time in the land of possibly and potentially. Experiments are in the works at places like Europe's Large Hadron Collider that might possibly determine the truth of M-Theory. A large number of scientists doubt that M-Theory is anything more than a collection of fascinating but fictional equations. And even if M-Theory is correct, that doesn't guarantee a multiverse.
Collins and Cleaver remind us that we serve a God who is easily capable of holding 10500 universes in the palm of his hand.
"The beauty of it suggests that this is the true picture of reality," Cleaver says. "The beauty of a theory is extremely important."
That's not just Cleaver the Christian talking. It's also Cleaver the physicist: "The aesthetics of the mathematics helps us to choose what we think is the more correct theory. The more unifying a theory is, the more beautiful the mathematics are, the more likely that it is true. That is a universal concept among scientists."
"The universe is structured for beauty and elegance," Collins says, noting Paul Dirac, a famously nonreligious physicist, who said in 1963, "It is more important to have beauty in one's equations than to have them fit [an] experiment… . If one is working from the point of view of getting beauty in one's equations, and if one has really a sound insight, one is on a sure line of progress."
"To me, that is showing the beauty and the order in the creative nature of God," Cleaver says. "It allows us to expect science to reveal physical truth to us, that the universe—or the multiverse—is not just some random existence that happens to be."