It seems worth pointing out here what Harvard astronomer Owen Gingerich seems to be the first to have noticed: anyone who can believe in multiple universes should have no problem believing in heaven and hell. Just think of them as alternate universes, operating outside space and time according to laws that are inoperative in our universe. Even the atheist should now be able to envision a realm in which there is no evil or suffering and where the inhabitants never grow old. These traditional concepts, which have long been dismissed as preposterous based on the rules of our world, should be quite believable and perhaps even mandatory for one who holds that there are an infinite number of universes in which all quantum possibilities are realized.

There is a principle of logic, widely accepted in science, called the principle of Occam’s razor. It means that when there are a variety of possible explanations, go with the one that requires the fewest assumptions. In other words, if you’re trying to get from point A to point B, try to avoid the zigzag route. Applying Occam’s razor, Carl Sagan urges that”when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well, choose the simpler.” Biologist E. 0. Wilson writes that the difficult thing about this principle for many people is that it “grants less license for New Age dreaming … but it gets the world straight.”

Imagine if I find a coin and begin flipping it and, every single time, it comes up heads. I try this ten thousand times, and it never fails to show me heads. There are two possibilities. The first and obvious one is that the coin is rigged in some way; somebody “fixed” it to come up heads every time. There is also a second possibility. Perhaps there are an infinite number of coins in circulation, and given infinite tossing and infinite time one set of tosses was bound to show this result. Now which of these two explanations should a rational person choose? Occam’s razor says choose the first one.