Where can the the boundaries of science, philosophy, and religion be drawn? Questioning the nature of the universe is an excellent place to rethink how these categories have been deployed across time. Mary-Jane Rubenstein
, professor Religious Studies at Wesleyan University, offers a genealogy of multiple-world cosmologies that demonstrates these terms pliability and the debated relationship between 'Science' and 'Religion.' In Worlds Without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse
(Columbia University Press, 2014), Rubenstein wonders why there is a proliferation of multiverse theoretical cosmologies by contemporary scientists. While the cosmos are generally considered to be singular and finite many well-respected physicists explain the universe's complexities as evidence of a multiverse. These explanations argue that our world is just one of the infinite number of universes existing simultaneously.
Worlds Without End
shows that multiple-world cosmologies have had currency among many thinkers for over 2500 years. What draws philosophers, religious practitioners, and scientists together on these questions is there appeal to metaphysical postulates, which serve as pseudo-theologies for the contemporary age. In our conversation we discuss the Greek philosophical tradition of Plato, Aristotle, the Atomists, and the Stoics, medieval Christian interpreters such as Thomas Aquinas, Nicolas of Cusa, Giordano Bruno, the Telescopic discoveries of Galileo, Rene Descartes, Isaac Newton, Immanuel Kant, the Big Bang debate, cosmic shredding, the fine-tuning problem, dark energy, Inflationary Cosmology, String Theory, Quantum Mechanics, and Intelligent Design.