Existentialism and Quantum Mechanics

Quantum mechanics has given rise to the many-worlds theory of Hugh Everett. According to the many worlds theory everything that can happen will happen in one universe or the other. As explained in my book this means that if god is possible then he will exist at least in some universes. If it is possible that god does not exist, this will also be true in at least some universes. If it is possible that god bestows eternal life on his creations this will be true in some universes, and in others not, if it is also possible that god does not bestow eternal life on his creations.

In a very radical interpretation of the many-worlds theory, possibly loosening its moorings in current physics, it could perhaps be assumed that if it is possible that a universe is created, custom-made, just for each individual being (however defined) then an immense number of such universes will exist or have existed, and it may mean that each individual through her choices can steer the destiny of her specific universe.

Since each choice spurns a parallel universe occupied by the discarded choice, and since even for this cohort of universes all possibilities will ultimately play out in some universe, some version of each individual will occupy a universe where there is a god, and a god who will bestow eternal life on her.

We then come back to the me me problem also discussed in my book. What does it help the me with a continuing consciousness of self (the me me) that other versions of me with their separate continuing consciousness might come into possession of a universe with a god gifting eternal life? That another me will gain eternal life is not the same as if the me me is gaining it.

This, in turn, might bring us to a truly Kierkegaardian existential issue. Since every choice the me me makes steers my specific universe, is it possible that the me me can steer my specific universe towards a god that will give eternal life? Is it possible that I can make sure through my choices that the me me will be one of the versions of me that will occupy a god-filled universe featuring eternal life?

When we make our choices we might assume that we steer their immediate and perhaps even their medium term consequences. However, in the ultimate long term perspective, if it is us steering towards god, and god’s universe, and not god steering us, how do we understand our choices to be the ones that bring us towards god’s universe? How can we calibrate our choices to be apt to bring the long term consequences we so hope for? Is that ultimately by exercising our choices as expressions of a search for god, for the good? In the Kierkegaardian sense, is it thus faith, and living the faith, that will steer us towards a universe of god?

Maybe, but since in the many world’s theory all possibilities will play out, there will also be a universe in which a version of me will be with god and receive eternal life, although that version of me exercised many choices without regard to god and the good. Not a great comfort, since that me might well not be the me me!

Related to this, see also:

  • Belief, 4 March 2016
  • Free Will and Possibility, 23 July 2016
  • Free Will and Wave Function Collapse, 30 October 2015
  • A Theory of Free Will, 24 October 2015
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