The Multiverse and God

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I have never seen Instapundit, Glenn Reynolds, stray into theological speculation before, so this struck my attention:

 

SO I’M READING GREG BENFORD’S REWRITE, and it gave me a thought about the theological implications of the “many worlds” version of quantum theory. Theologians have worked on the problem of evil, but I think the many worlds theory either makes it go away entirely, or maybe makes it worse. On the go away entirely side, under many worlds you don’t have to worry about why God lets evil happen, because God lets absolutely everything happen. And it kind of evens out: Maybe you die of pediatric cancer in one universe, but in another you’re a billionaire rock star who lives to 90, or a saint. (On the other hand, on the “make it worse” side, everybody dies of pediatric cancer, or worse, in some universe or another). Somebody’s probably worked all this out somewhere, but it was a new thought to me.

 

Go here to comment.  I don’t see the problem myself.  Assume for a moment that the multiverse concept is true, a vast assumption indeed, and there are infinite variants of each of us in these universes, each variant would still have an individual soul, and be responsible for their own sins and virtuous acts.  A Donald R. McClarey in another multiverse who is a great saint would have no impact on my spiritual fortunes in this universe, and likewise a Donald R. McClarey in some misbegotten multiverse who is, shudder, a Democrat member of Congress could thankfully not impose a spiritual anvil on me.  The idea of “Bearded Spock Universes” I have always found fascinating, but I see no theological quandaries in the concept.

 

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28 Comments

  1. Well there’s the theological question of are we all going to the same heaven and could we get along. (I have a superman comic about that actually.)

    Not to mention what does it mean if God and Satan both get every soul since there’s a universe where you were saved and one you weren’t.

  2. The multiverse idea has not one shred of physical evidence behind it. The idea remains a mathematical construct only. And the idea exists solely because it obviates the need of a Creator for the Big Bang. If there are an infinite number of universes existing as bubbles in a multiverse sea, each with its own physics, then anything is possible eventually. There would have to be universes with life and universes without life because there is an infinity of universes. All the multiverse idea does is replace the infinity of God with the infinity of universes. It makes space-time, matter-energy (albeit under different laws of physics) eternal and without end just like the now debunked steady state theory. So no, I don’t buy the idea of a multiverse at all. It is atheism’s last great stand again the inevitability of God that the Big Bang necessitates, a theory by Father Georges LeMaitre that Hoyle with his steady state theory opposed tooth and nail.

  3. Jesus was the first to mention a multi-verse:
    In my Father’s house there are many mansions. If not, I would have told you: because I go to prepare a place for you. [3] And if I shall go, and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and will take you to myself; that where I am, you also may be.

  4. Don:

    Let’s accept that the multitiverse exists. We need first to remember why:

    1) There are at least three facts that point in that direction
    2) Science in principle requires a reliance on naturalistic causes. A multiverse is simply another step in that direction, another kick of the can down the road. BTW, this reliance will NEVER conflict with the theological argument that God if the Prime Mover.

    So, where are we?

    First, there is no need that the multiverse concept result in an infinite</I. number of universes. One scientist postulated that the minimum number of universes is equal to the number of fundamental constants in our universe. This is a matter that we will never know, short of divine revelation.

    Second, even if the number is huge, almost none of them will look like ours. Most will instantly re-collapse, or inflate away into nothingness, or matter will not form. If matter forms gravity will not be strong enough to form stars, or the stars will burn out too quickly to form the amounts of heavier elements we see here. To get life in another universe, let alone a bearded Democratic Don McClarey, really does require infinite numbers of universes. If the number of universes is under infinity it won't happen.

  5. Continued:

    Third, let’s address this point in the original comment: “On the go away entirely side, under many worlds you don’t have to worry about why God lets evil happen, because God lets absolutely everything happen.” The fact is that we already have this situation in just one universe.

    Fourth, this is a theological reason to accept the possibility of the multiverse: heaven and hell are real places. We know that our universe is not eternal in any practical way. If God continues to honor the terms of His creation of this universe then that will not change, and so something like a multiverse is needed for heaven and hell and the abyss in between.

  6. “Not to mention what does it mean if God and Satan both get every soul since there’s a universe where you were saved and one you weren’t.”
    It isn’t the same person. Replicas of each other, but each with different souls, and who often behave quite differently. Certainly if there is a multiverse, an infinite number of replicas of me have zero impact on how I choose to live my life in this universe.

  7. “It isn’t the same person. Replicas of each other, but each with different souls…”

    Don, that leads to the far more interesting question regarding teleportation via quantum entanglement. According to our current understanding, when Scotty beams up Kirk and Spock they are destroyed and replicas are created (assuming quantum entanglement is involved). Did they REALLY die, and are they now soulless? Or are human souls not bound to a particular time and place in our universe, just to a particular body regardless of replication? I’d agree with Spock: “Fascinating”

  8. It isn’t the same person. Replicas of each other, but each with different souls, and who often behave quite differently. Certainly if there is a multiverse, an infinite number of replicas of me have zero impact on how I choose to live my life in this universe.

    Depends on the multiverse theory though doesn’t it? If the mirror version, conceptually a universe existing separate and apart from another just with some amusing parallels, then sure – though now we’re getting into the philosophy of identity and what makes you “you.” Is mirror Don just a look-a-like with a snappy goatee?

    If however there is the multiverse theory of splitting (as seen in the TN episode Parrallels) then that question becomes more interesting. There was you, as you were about to decide on accepting salvation, then a new universe is created where one you decided not to and another you did. Was a new soul created? Was your existing soul split? Does it go with one and not the other? (maybe that’s how universalism works, God just pulls the souls from all the universes where a person was saved)

    The real question is – as always – Jesus. If He really is God, then to me He should be a constant across universes. In the first example, even in the Mirror Universe Jesus should have been sinless. If we found a universe where He was not, but went on to become the worst tyrant who ever lived – well that would a devastating blow to the faith. Likewise if we consider the 2nd theory then, the principle would me that when Jesus was tempted, we have this universe where He said no, and another universe where He agreed to Satan’s terms. Again…not a pleasant thought.

    Though if that happened we may not ever be able to find that universe because it probably has already been destroyed by now.

    So yeah, I could see a multiverse affirming or ruining Christianity either way.

  9. (should be “TNG episode” above, not “TN episode” for those who were wondering about a tv show about Tennessee)

  10. NATE WINCHESTER
    “Well there’s the theological question of are we all going to the same heaven and could we get along. (I have a superman comic about that actually.)”
    There are many rooms in my Father’s house.
    “Not to mention what does it mean if God and Satan both get every soul since there’s a universe where you were saved and one you weren’t.”
    Aquinas said that the person must will to be with God in heaven. One soul, one choice. Having the Beatific Vision, one will have knowledge of all things at hand including hell. As the serpent said to Eve: “You will know all things”… (when you are dead). Half truths are Satan’s tools.
    LUCIUS QUINCTIUS CINCINNATUS
    “There would have to be universes with life and universes without life because there is an infinity of universes.”
    God is the infinite act of being. Only God is infinite. The universe, all creation is finite and caused by God, therefore, the universe may be finite and eternal.

  11. SHANNON VAN PATTEN
    You said it better than I.
    TOMD
    “Did they REALLY die, and are they now soulless? Or are human souls not bound to a particular time and place in our universe, just to a particular body regardless of replication? I’d agree with Spock: “Fascinating””
    The rational, immortal soul of man does not die. When Jesus raised the dead, Christ brought the soul back into the body since death is the soul leaving the body.
    NATE WINCHESTER
    The real question is – as always – Jesus. If He really is God, then to me He should be a constant across universes.
    Jesus is God. Were God to contradict Himself. God would cease to be God.

  12. It seems to me that a multiverse with different versions of each of us would be more compatible with Hinduism than Christianity. Karma doesn’t need to wait. It’s being acted out in the other universes. It also makes no sense to posit that things occur at the same time in different universes. Each universe has its own time. And so the different versions of each of us need not appear in the same sort of historical time frame. There is no real historical time frame across universes. Everything is essentially acted out simultaneously since there is no before and after between universes. There’s also no necessity that any of us would exist in more than one universe, even given infinite universes unless one assumes the infinite universes also contain all possibilities. But that would be as much of an assumption as the existence of a multiverse. There could be a multiverse with different versions of us with the same soul or different souls, or even just one of us. But a multiverse is not a scientific concept.

  13. Science deals with the material. Theory is metaphysical. Multiverse would be metaphysical. This means that all persons will have had to pass (die and be resurrected) into eternity to exist body and soul in the metaphysical.

  14. Nate: re ‘splitting universes’:

    “The real question is – as always – Jesus. If He really is God, then to me He should be a constant across universes. In the first example, even in the Mirror Universe Jesus should have been sinless. If we found a universe where He was not, but went on to become the worst tyrant who ever lived – well that would a devastating blow to the faith.”

    First, I would doubt that we could ever know what is going on in a parallel universe, so we could never get such a devastating blow.

    Second, the Jesus we know is the result of a miracle (a suspension of nature), from which sinlessness is one result. If God were to allow a Jesus in a parallel universe to be conceived without any miracles then the result would certainly be more ordinary, for good or bad. Why should we have expectations that things ‘should be’ the same? I don’t think the Faith with full knowledge of such a parallel event would really be devastated.

  15. One point to consider, Nate: the Islamic view of God’s omnipotence REQUIRES a splitting universe. Our view of God’s omnipotence includes the idea that once God allows something He does not allow the opposite. The Islamic view denies this, it says that God MUST be able to do anything and its opposite at the same time. Hence, the universe must in principle be able to split.

  16. “The Islamic view denies this, it says that God MUST be able to do anything and its opposite at the same time. Hence, the universe must in principle be able to split.”
    The law of non-contradiction says that one cannot be and be at the same time.

  17. “The law of non-contradiction says that one cannot be and be at the same time.”
    Yes Mary. For one universe. The law of non-contradiction does not apply to a single universe split into two universes, or from another perspective, the splitting preserves the law under such a circumstance.
    Personally, I doubt such splitting does occur. It might within the mind of God in some way, within His Intellect, so God could indeed do It’s a Wonderful Life for Jimmy Stewart, but actually? It seems unlikely that such splits would leave no evidence behind. Splitting universes without evidence would be the quantum counterpart to cell divisions that never ever result in cancer.

  18. Spock (or anybody else teleported) wouldn’t be soul-less, because they weren’t dead– their body is still able to live at the end, in spite of being taken to bits.

    Like the difference between having your heart cut out and having heart surgery– you’re alive at the end of the latter heart-removal situation!

  19. Will there be free will in an alternate universe that must be the opposite of our universe? If there is no free will, there cannot be a heaven or a hell for the inhabitants. That means that their souls will die when they die like the animals. It also means that there must be evil in our midst so that there can be good in theirs. Take it from there.

  20. I don’t see why a multiverse with various physical instantiations of us raises theological questions any different from identical twins or triplets (or clones), except for the number of course. A physical replicant will have his own soul, and have to account for it just as a twin or clone would. I guess with twins, etc. it is an interesting question when does the zygote get ensouled, and when it splits, which cell(s) retains the prior soul and which is/are infused with a new one?

  21. “The law of non-contradiction says that one cannot be and (not) be at the same time.” in the same manner. The other universe would not contradict this law because it would not have a subject being on the same manner – not in the same universe, or not in the same “time” if you view “time” as the condition of being bound to or “in” this particular universe. In a multiverse, it is always happy hour sometimewhere.

  22. Three of my four grandparents lived in the same general area in upstate NY, and knew some of the same people. When my grandfather married my grandmother within a few years they wound up in Jersey City, but over the years they would still travel back to visit friends and family. So my mother also knew some of the same people and their children. After a wedding for two of them, she was invited to hang out at someone’s house, where my dad also went. At some point he needed to get away from the noise so he went into the kitchen, and when my mother went into the kitchen she saw him and decided to talk to him because he looked nice.

    There are so many factors in that one meeting that if they were slightly different, my parents might not have met. What if my mother didn’t go to hang out because she didn’t know the person. Or what if my father went outside instead of in the kitchen, or was gruff to my mother (us introverts don’t always realize we are being this way) and she didn’t talk to him.

    Now follow this all the way back to Adam and Eve, except for those two and their early descendants, there are way too many factors for two people to meet, marry, and have offspring, that even if multi-verse exists, I highly doubt there is another me.

  23. “I don’t see why a multiverse with various physical instantiations of us raises theological questions any different from identical twins or triplets (or clones), except for the number of course. A physical replicant will have his own soul, and have to account for it just as a twin or clone would. I guess with twins, etc. it is an interesting question when does the zygote get ensouled, and when it splits, which cell(s) retains the prior soul and which is/are infused with a new one?”
    At the will of God two souls are endowed or infused at fertilization. It is the soul who directs the growth of the human body and therefore, two souls would direct two bodies. or three souls three bodies and so forth
    What is now cannot not be later, or in another universe. The alternate universe is dependent upon the primary universe, or vise versa. Both, all have the same Creator.

  24. physical replicant(s)

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Did Roy Batty have a soul? Does K(ay)? What about Joi?

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