Re: Van Till's Ultimate Gap

From: Sarah Berel-Harrop (
Date: Sat Sep 06 2003 - 12:58:48 EDT

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    ----- Original Message -----
    From: "Glenn Morton" <>
    To: "Howard J. Van Till" <>; <>
    Sent: Saturday, September 06, 2003 11:30 AM
    Subject: RE: Van Till's Ultimate Gap

    > Hi Howard,
    > >-----Original Message-----
    > >From: Howard J. Van Till []
    > >Sent: Friday, September 05, 2003 7:09 AM
    > >Hi Glenn, a couple of comments.
    > >
    > >1. I would not credit the MWH or any other scientific theory or
    > >metascientific world-picture with the ability to be a "religion killer."
    > >Such theorizing may affect the way in which we articulate our religious
    > >beliefs, but cannot, by itself, annihilate religion categorically.
    > As I mentioned to Blake, I do need to modify this claim. Reincarnational
    > religions could survive.

    How does that work? Sounds like endless samsara. Whereas,
    Hinduism and Buddhism generally both postulate an eventual end to
    samsara, whether it is a return to oneness or finally becoming "blown-out".
    You are not said to just reincarnate forever.

    Although strictly speaking, Buddhism is not a reincarnational religion,
    most sects. Seems to me if it is a "religion-killer" it is not just
    I am inclined to agree with Blake though that whether or not it is
    a "religion-killer" depends on the level of determinism accompanying
    the approach. (Although I find it really, really hard to believe that
    takes a hard-line deterministic approach. I mean, what's the point
    of criticizing people for saying you take a position that you didn't
    really take.) Aren't quantum processes stochastic, as opposed to
    strictly deterministic, just like many biological processes? Or are
    you saying with so many worlds, probablility = 1 that there will
    be a doppelganger? How can the quantum states be *absolutely*
    identical and still yield Howard the athiest in the other universe?
    And, I fail to see how the question is substantively different from
    people across unnavigable oceans on this earth, & SETI in this

    Following up on Blake's comment,
    I also think that once you are taking determinism that far, you've
    elevated a useful metaphor, a tool, to the level of fact. I don't
    think that is supportable. Determinism is a simplifying assumption,
    it is not the way the world works. See, for example, _Triple Helix_,
    (Lewontin) p.3 - 4 for an articulation of this view:

    "Indeed, the entire body of modern science rests on Descarte's metaphor
    of the world as a machine ...
    "While we cannot dispense with metaphors in thinking about nature, there
    is a great risk of confusing the metaphor with the thing of real interest.
    cease to see the world _as if_ it were _like_ a machine and take it to _be_
    a machine." (emphasis in the original)

    > But I see no way christianity could survive such a
    > view. Everyone is saved, everyone is lost. Doesn't seem real meaningful to
    > do that to Christianity. Remember that objects in identical quantum
    > which is what many of these universes would be, are indistinguishable.
    > your comment below might be questioned.
    > >
    > >2. If there is another universe with sentient, morally-conscious
    > >in it, _my_ identity would not be affected. Even if there were another
    > >creature that was atom for atom identical to me structurally, it would
    > >be "me." I have not the slightest concern about there being a duplicate
    > >Glenn or Howard in any other universe, certainly not for reasons of
    > >confusion about our eternal destinies.
    > If there are universes in identical quantum states, they and your identity
    > are indistinguishable. Since we have a very poor idea of what
    > is, how it arises, or even what its nature is, we couldn't say we aren't
    > 'living' in both universes, up till the time of the splitting of the
    > universes suggested by Everett which then makes both universes
    > distinguishable..

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