Multiverse (religion)

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A multiverse is the concept of a plurality of universes. Some religious cosmologies propose that our universe is not the only one that exists.


The concept of infinite worlds is mentioned in the Apannaka Jataka:

"Disciples," the Buddha said "nowhere between the lowest of hells below and the highest heaven above, nowhere in all the infinite worlds that stretch right and left, is there the equal, much less the superior, of a Buddha. Incalculable is the excellence which springs from obeying the Precepts and from other virtuous conduct." - Apannaka Jataka


The concept of multiple universes is mentioned many times in Hindu Puranic literature, such as in the Bhagavata Purana:

Every universe is covered by seven layers — earth, water, fire, air, sky, the total energy and false ego — each ten times greater than the previous one. There are innumerable universes besides this one, and although they are unlimitedly large, they move about like atoms in You. Therefore You are called unlimited (Bhagavata Purana 6.16.37)

Lord Śiva said: "My dear son, I, Lord Brahmā and the other devas, who move within this universe under the misconception of our greatness, cannot exhibit any power to compete with the Supreme Personality of Godhead, for innumerable universes and their inhabitants come into existence and are annihilated by the simple direction of the Lord" (Bhagavata Purana 9.4.56)

After separating the different universes, the gigantic universal form of the Lord, which came out of the causal ocean, the place of appearance for the first puruṣa-avatāra, entered into each of the separate universes, desiring to lie on the created transcendental water (Bhagavata Purana 2.10.10)

The number of universes seems to be uncountable according to the Puranic literature:

Even though over a period of time I might count all the atoms of the universe, I could not count all of My opulences which I manifest within innumerable universes (Bhagavata Purana 11.16.39)

Analogies to describe multiple universes also exist in the Puranic literature:

What am I, a small creature measuring seven spans of my own hand? I am enclosed in a potlike universe composed of material nature, the total material energy, false ego, ether, air, water and earth. And what is Your glory? Unlimited universes pass through the pores of Your body just as particles of dust pass through the openings of a screened window (Bhagavata Purana 10.14.11)

Because You are unlimited, neither the lords of heaven nor even You Yourself can ever reach the end of Your glories. The countless universes, each enveloped in its shell, are compelled by the wheel of time to wander within You, like particles of dust blowing about in the sky. The śrutis, following their method of eliminating everything separate from the Supreme, become successful by revealing You as their final conclusion (Bhagavata Purana 10.87.41)

The layers or elements covering the universes are each ten times thicker than the one before, and all the universes clustered together appear like atoms in a huge combination (Bhagavata Purana 3.11.41)

The concept of parallel universes appears in the Brahma Vaivarta Purana:

And who will search through the wide infinities of space to count the universes side by side, each containing its Brahma, its Vishnu, its Shiva? Who can count the Indras in them all--those Indras side by side, who reign at once in all the innumerable worlds; those others who passed away before them; or even the Indras who succeed each other in any given line, ascending to godly kingship, one by one, and, one by one, passing away? (Brahma Vaivarta Purana)


Main article: Islamic cosmology

There are seven verses in the Quran describing seven heavens. One verse says that each heaven or sky has its own order, possibly meaning laws of nature. After mentioning the seven heavens, another verse says, "and similar earths". Examples include verse (67:3) "He(God) who created the seven tournaments (heavens) one imposed over the other..."

Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (1149–1209), in dealing with his conception of physics and the physical world in his Matalib, "explores the notion of the existence of a multiverse in the context of his commentary" on the Qur'anic verse, "All praise belongs to God, Lord of the Worlds." He raises the question of whether the term "worlds" in this verse refers to "multiple worlds within this single universe or cosmos, or to many other universes or a multiverse beyond this known universe." In volume 4 of the Matalib, Al-Razi states:[1]

It is established by evidence that there exists beyond the world a void without a terminal limit (khala' la nihayata laha), and it is established as well by evidence that God Most High has power over all contingent beings (al-mumkinat). Therefore He the Most High has the power (qadir) to create a thousand thousand worlds (alfa alfi 'awalim) beyond this world such that each one of those worlds be bigger and more massive than this world as well as having the like of what this world has of the throne (al-arsh), the chair (al-kursiyy), the heavens (al-samawat) and the earth (al-ard), and the sun (al-shams) and the moon (al-qamar). The arguments of the philosophers (dala'il al-falasifah) for establishing that the world is one are weak, flimsy arguments founded upon feeble premises.

Al-Razi rejected the Aristotelian and Avicennian view of the impossibility of multiple universes. He pointed out what he saw as weaknesses of the main Aristotelian arguments against the existence of multiple universes. His rejection arose from his affirmation of the atomism advocated by the Ash'ari school of Islamic theology. This version of atomism has specific views about the vacant space, or void, in which the atoms move, combine and separate. He spoke of the "void" in greater detail in volume 5 of the Matalib.[1] He argued that God can fill the vacuum with an infinite number of universes.[2]


The concept of parallel worlds is also mentioned in Kabbalah:[3]

"There are five worlds between the Creator and our world. Each of them consists of five Partzufim and each Partzuf of five Sefirot. In total there are 125 levels between us and the Creator. Malchut, moving through all these levels, reaches the last one, and in this way, Behina Dalet, the only creation, merges with the four previous phases."


Main article: Mormon cosmology

Because Mormonism teaches that Jesus created the universe, yet his father, God the Father, once dwelt upon an earth as a mortal, it may be interpreted that Mormonism teaches the existence of a multiverse, and it is not clear if the other inhabited worlds mentioned in LDS scripture and teachings refers to planets within this universe or not.[4]

The idea of multiple universes has been entertained by Mormon leaders since its beginnings. Brigham Young taught there is no such thing as "empty space", lending to the idea that any space beyond this universe is occupied.[citation needed] Apostle Orson Pratt said, "We can come to no other conclusion, but that worlds, and systems of worlds, and universes of worlds existed in the boundless heights and depths of immensity… (Jan 01, 1851)".[full citation needed] Pratt also taught, "Can we get away from it? No; for it fills all the intermediate spaces between world and world, between one system and another, and between universe and universe ... and there is no space in which there is no kingdom, and there is no kingdom in which there is no space" (Mar 14, 1875) (Journal of Discourses Volume 1 the Adam-God Revelation, chapters 12:6; 25:24; 126:7).[full citation needed]

New Age[edit]

The philosopher and forerunner of the New Age movement P. D. Ouspensky stated in 1934:

"Our mind follows the development of possibilities always in one direction only. But in fact every moment contains a very large number of possibilities. And all of them are actualised, only we do not see it and do not know it. We always see only one of the actualisations, and in this lie the poverty and limitation of the human mind. But if we try to imagine the actualisation of all the possibilities of the present moment, then of the next moment, and so on, we shall feel the world growing infinitely, incessantly multiplying by itself and becoming immeasurably rich and utterly unlike the flat and limited world we have pictured to ourselves up to this moment." [5]


Many religions include an afterlife existence in realms, such as heavens and hells, which may be very different from the observable universe.

Eschatological scenarios may include a new different world after the end time of the current one. For example, Hindu cosmology includes the idea of an infinite cycle of births and deaths and an infinite number of universes with each cycle lasting 8.4 billion years.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Adi Setia (2004), "Fakhr Al-Din Al-Razi on Physics and the Nature of the Physical World: A Preliminary Survey", Islam & Science, 2, retrieved 2010-03-02 
  2. ^ John Cooper (1998), "al-Razi, Fakhr al-Din (1149-1209)", Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Routledge, retrieved 2010-03-07 
  3. ^ "The Wisdom of Kabbalah". Kabbalah International. Retrieved 2010-07-19. 
  4. ^ Kirk D. Hagen, "Eternal Progression in a Multiverse: An Explorative Mormon Cosmology", Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, vol. 39, no. 2 (Summer 2006) pp. 1–45.
  5. ^ Ouspensky, P. D. (1934). A New Model of the Universe: Principles of the Psychological Method in Its Application to Problems of Science, Religion and Art (2nd ed.). London: Routledge. 
  6. ^ Carl Sagan, Placido P D'Souza (1980s). Hindu cosmology's time-scale for the universe is in consonance with modern science.; Dick Teresi (2002). Lost Discoveries: The Ancient Roots of Modern Science – from the Babylonians to the Maya.