John Horgan writes that he thinks physicists are drawn to the multiverse idea (which he dislikes) because they cannot bear to think that our universe will end at some point. He postulates an explanation for why multiverse theories are so popular among physicists despite the lack of any supporting evidence for them.
Here is my guess: physicists are freaked out by the mortality of our little universe. What was born must die, and according to the big bang theory, our cosmos was born 14 billion years ago, and it will die at some unspecified time in the far future. The multiverse, like God, is eternal. It had no beginning; it will have no end.
He also claims that we are scared by the seeming randomness of the universe and by our own mortality.
We desperately want to believe that beneath the apparent randomness, someone or something is in control. God, for many people, is the tough but fair chief executive running this seemingly chaotic cosmic corporation. It is hard for us to see Her/His/Their plan, but She/He/They surely know what She/He/They are doing.
If you find the God hypothesis implausible, then perhaps an extreme form of determinism, called superdeterminism, might serve as a substitute. Superdeterminism attempts to eliminate several puzzling features of quantum mechanics, including the apparent randomness of quantum events and intrusive role of measurement. Two physicists I admire, Sabine Hossenfelder and Gerard ’t Hooft, have promoted the theory.
According to superdeterminism, the universe is not careening wildly into an unknowable future. It is gliding serenely, undeviatingly, along a rigid track laid down at the beginning of time. As a free-will fanatic I do not find this perspective comforting, but I understand why others do. If determinism is true, there is nothing you can do to change things, so sit back and enjoy the ride. Everything is as it should be—or must be.
I find Horgan’s grand speculations about science, life, and the universe (of which he does a lot) generally unpersuasive. I think that scientists explore the multiverse and other theories because that is what they do, explore all possible avenues that might be possible and provide answers to questions of interest. In the absence of a preponderance of evidence in favor of any particular one, which one they tend to personally prefer may depend upon their own predilections but it is not what drives science.