RE: MWH -- a different theological deduction

From: Dr. Blake Nelson (
Date: Fri Sep 05 2003 - 19:41:52 EDT

  • Next message: Howard J. Van Till: "Re: clarification request from Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap"

    Hi Glenn,

    --- Glenn Morton <> wrote:

    > But it makes religion metaphysically meaningless.
    > Let's say religion X is
    > the true belief system. In this universe I believe
    > religion X but in other
    > universes I don't. My salvation depends upon the
    > accidental fact that I was
    > born in this universe, not another. No activity of
    > a Messiah had any thing
    > to do with my salvation.

    Even if I assumed everything you have said is true to
    this point, this does not follow in any logical sense.
     The second person of the trinity and his saving
    action in *any* universe could have a saving action in
    all universes, even in the universe where you are an
    atheist, etc., etc.

    Part of the problem is that the definition of the
    problem is about as unrigorous as it can be and still
    generally talk about something. There are at least
    three MWH views -- Wheelers, Everetts (where anything
    that can happen will, presumably in a probability
    distribution consonant with quantum mechanics), and
    the MWH that is simply concerned about explaining away
    the apparently finely-tuned initial conditions of the
    universe. Not all MWHs, even according to your
    thoughts, are equally inimical to salvation.

    Perhaps it would help if we would define things a bit

    Do you really believe that the "you" -- the person
    presumably bearing your name, in an infinite number of
    parallel universes is *you* in this universe? I
    presume not. Not at least in any meaningful sense I
    can think of.

    Is your concern that every possible combination of
    events that can happen to *you* -- again, presumably
    some person with your name and lineage -- does happen
    in some universe?

    It seems to me if this is your concern, this concern
    is the same concern as the deterministic view of
    salvation, especially in theologies of double
    predestination -- in what sense does salvation matter
    if some are predestined to be saved and others damned.
     If that is true, how do hardline Calvinists, for
    example, not recant their Calvinism and double
    predestination and limited atonement? Isn't the
    problem at heart the same if this is your concern?

    I am honestly trying to find what problem due to any
    version of MWH is any *different* than a variety of
    problems that christian theology has dealt with for at
    least two millenia.

    If you can specify with some logical rigor what the
    problem is and how it differs from traditional
    concerns over salvation and damnation, maybe we can
    talk more fruitfully about this.

    BTW, as I mentioned in an earlier response to another
    poster, what, if anything does MWH have to do with
    salvation or damnation? Is salvation another quantum
    variable? If you think it is, that would probably
    undermine any sense of talking about it theologically.
     But, as I explained in more detail in that post, I
    sure don't see how salvation or damnation has anything
    necessarily to do with quantum or even macro events
    since those things are ultimately up to God who is
    presumably "outside" of the multiverse --
    instantiating it -- in the same way He is "outside"
    this universe in traditional theological

    > And if religion X is
    > capricious religion in which
    > people are saved by the whimsy of the god, then the
    > god is a fickle god,
    > saving me in this universe, not saving me in
    > another. So, once again, does
    > salvation under this scenario have anything to do
    > with the god? I don't
    > think so because I am saved in this universe by the
    > accident of birth.

    You have introduced a whole new level of capricious
    deities here... does MWH predict capricious,
    whimsical deities? Does evolution? It is a
    > I would grant that possibly (and I haven't thought
    > this through) that
    > reincarnational religions might survive. Why? They
    > tend to believe you do
    > it over and over until you get it right. MWH is
    > great for them--lots of
    > chances to do it over. :-)

    Again, there seems to be the odd notion that someone
    who has your name, or perhaps your genetics is *you*
    this is an odd sort of reductionism that is not borne
    out by most good psychological data.

    Although, if Steven Pinker is right and it is all
    genetics (oversimplification) Everett is wrong and the
    genetically identical Glenns will all presumably adopt
    whatever variant of christianity you have currently
    adopted and none of them will presumably have anything
    to worry about vis-a-vis salvation.

    This is one of a dozen areas where this becomes silly
    and it is not only a question of interpretation but a
    choice between interpretations. Pinker and Everett,
    no friends of theism, would either reach different
    conclusions or one would limit the other. the Everett
    MWH everything that can possibly happen in accord with
    the laws of physics happens -- Glenn takes this to
    mean that he can be Hindu, Bahai, Aesirean, a Greek
    pagan, a Wiccan, a follower of Ramtha, etc. in all the
    possible universes. But, if Pinker is right, for
    example (and there are probably thousands of examples
    of this) his genetics determine a lot of what he
    thinks and believes, and thus, a la Pinker Glenn, as
    long as he is genetically Glenn, will always be
    whatever the heck Glenn is because it is genetically

    Well, if Pinker is right, Glenn is wrong about an
    infinite number of Wiccan and atheist Glenns, because
    Glenn, according to genetic determinism can only be
    whatever christian denomination Glenn is... If Everett
    accepts Pinker's genetics to circumscribe the laws of
    physics, even Everett would have to concede that all
    Glenns are saved, presuming that this Glenn is saved.

    Do you see how ludicrous and speculative this is?

    Ah, but if the above is true, we are back on the horns
    of determinism vs. freewill that is the typical
    theological problem. Indeed, it is exactly that
    theological problem that the MWH simply recasts and
    indeed, the MWH that explains quantum indeterminancy
    by saying that all quantum outcomes are realized
    (which is different as I understand from Everetts all
    things consistent wiht the laws of physics will occur
    since Everett's statement is broader). Then we simply
    have a classically deterministic multiverse that
    leaves us explaining how God can have a salvific act
    in a deterministic universe.

    Again, if you can define the problem to show me my
    ignorance (and heaven knows I have a lot of it), I may
    see your point, but for the life of me, as hard as I
    try, I cannot see that Glenn's point provides any
    different problem for theology or is anyway more
    problematic for the postulate of God.

    BTW No. 2, neither of the quantum computer experiments
    that Glenn thinks potentially dispositive of the MWH
    theory distinguish between Everett's and Wheeler's
    version of the MWH and even possibly several other MWH
    possibilities. So, even if Everetts were antithetical
    to religious belief -- and so far no one has explained
    to me how it really is -- the quantum computer
    experiments do not distinguish between the two and one
    is left with the same problem.
    > >
    > >So, MWH is far from a religion killer. Ultimately
    > how
    > >infinite you or me would be reconciled by a God
    > >depends on the conception of God to begin with.
    > You
    > >are of course assuming that the myriad of each of
    > us
    > >are somehow connected in a way that MWH doesn't
    > >postulate, as has been discussed in passing by
    > Howard
    > >in the past.
    > >
    > >Anyway, to repeat the point: since there are an
    > >infinite number of everyone who is saved, salvation
    > >can as easily be characterized as triumphing under
    > >MWH. No religion killer there.
    > Only in the most trivial way and without much effort
    > by God.

    In the same way that evolution is not a religious
    killer and without much effort by God?

    Indeed, as I noted in the previous post, I think you
    are commiting the same mistake as Dawkins and Provine
    commit vis-a-vis evolution as proof against God by
    making extravagant metaphysical and theological claims
    that even Everett's MWH do not support.

    I really would appreciate a rigorous delineation of
    the problem and why you believe your conclusions about
    (apparently Everett's version of) the MWH to be true.

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