Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Chris Barden <>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 16:48:06 EDT


I rather think the question of consciousness is the real bugbear of
the experiment, since without the observer we cannot collapse the
wavefunction. If MWI were true, then our consciousness would be
something like haecceity. As such, we could entertain such
possibilities as possible worlds in which the physicist refused the
experiment, or was not a physicist at all, or (as Plantinga once did)
was an alligator. But to have such a malleable definition of "me"
seems hard to apply consistently.

What's more, I see a theological problem with MWI. If it is true, the
ontological argument still holds for God's existence but not his
justice. After all, suicide has been considered by the church to be a
mortal sin. What does it mean for 999 physicists to commit such a sin
and not bear its consequences, since their consciousness immediately
accrues to the 1 who is left?

As interesting as MWI might be, I'll stick with Copenhagen.


On 8/14/07, Iain Strachan <> wrote:
> Hi, Chris,
> I think in the case of the Quantum Suicide experiment you are right - the
> universe where the physicist repeated the experiment is unlikely (to the
> tune of 10^(-300) ) to be the one in which "we reside".
> However, there's a lot hidden in "we reside" & in a MWI framework I'm not
> sure how you interpret it. Every time the universe splits (due to multiple
> possible quantum outcomes happening), there become two copies of every
> living conscious person, and their consciousness would exist separately in
> each universe. Each would have exactly the same memories, but their futures
> would diverge. You're then stuck with the question "which one is the real
> me?". But one of our conscious selves would see the physicist surviving
> 1000 suicide attempts.
> [Aside]. There was a web page that told you how to use this concept to win
> the lottery jackpot. It is a very simple strategy. You buy a lottery
> ticket and arrange to have yourself killed if you don't win the Jackpot.
> Your consciousness continues in a universe where you win the jackpot. (But
> how do you know it's the "real you", and what does that mean in this
> context?)
> However this argument about being "very lucky" to be in a universe where the
> extraordinary event of 1000 suicide attempts happens is subtly from the
> evolution vs ID argument.
> Even if we are extremely lucky to be in this universe where intelligent life
> has evolved ( say the ID people are right and p < 1e-150 ), in a MWI
> scenario that event, if it has finite probability, will occur in some
> universes (actually astronomically many, though a tiny fraction of all
> universes). At this point the Anthropic Principle arises and the reason for
> it being the one in which we reside is because such universes are the only
> ones in which the question is asked in the first place.
> MWI-of-the-gaps doesn't explain anything anymore than God-of-the-gaps, but
> it could be seen to be an alternative explanation to the Design question
> that doesn't involve Design. Neither explanation is any more scientific or
> valid than the other, of course ( both are completely untestable ), but it
> does raise the point that low-probability doesn't necessarily involve
> Design.
> I don't think I believe in the MWI; it seems there are other insurmountable
> paradoxes (look up Quantum Immortality on Wikipedia - the other paradox of
> MWI is that it seems you never die, but are doomed to live in limbo at the
> point of death, dependent on a quantum event that will always not happen in
> certain universes). However, MWI appears to be a mainstream interpretation
> among physicists.
> Iain
> --
> -----------
> After the game, the King and the pawn go back in the same box.
> - Italian Proverb
> -----------

To unsubscribe, send a message to with
"unsubscribe asa" (no quotes) as the body of the message.
Received on Tue Aug 14 16:48:39 2007

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.1.8 : Tue Aug 14 2007 - 16:48:39 EDT