Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Chris Barden <chris.barden@gmail.com>
Date: Tue Aug 14 2007 - 19:06:25 EDT

Iain,

I didn't mean to imply that you supported MWI and I'm sorry if it came
across that way. Nor do I mean that my objections to MWI are even
primarily theological. It seems to me to have insuperable
difficulties in that area, difficulties perhaps more fundamental to
God's character than particular readings of Genesis, but clearly that
has no bearing on whether it is true. Though I admit it does further
color my impression of the theory.

I'm more vexed by the interpretation of consciousness that MWI
requires. It was my impression that at least some proponents of this
experiment believed that "you" would not experience death, even though
some instance of you in another universe did. The physicist would
simply run the experiment 1,000 times and walk away, unaware of his
other deaths.
Or perhaps there would be an intermediate state like your anaesthetic
dart. (Could it be made part of the theory in any mathematically
consistent way?) In either case, there is an assumption that your
consciousness is actualized as long as possible -- that in some real
sense, the bifurcation of the universe allows for the conscious entity
to take the path of life every time even if the body cannot. This
seems to be a dualistic account of consciousness, which I wouldn't
think would hold much sway over an athiest (perhaps they argue that
the only entity left to do any observing is the living one?).

Yes, Copenhagen has its issues. In the Wigner's friend experiment,
for example, the friend in the box with Schrodinger's cat has
collapsed the wavefunction but Wigner (outside the box) has not. But
this is not necessarily an inconsistency because the collapse can be
thought of as the result of gleaning information, so Wigner and his
friend can have different views of the wavefunction. Nor is it
necessary (depending on who you ask, admittedly) that the information
be revealed to or via a conscious observer; a measurement is all that
is needed, even a blind one. MWI requires a multiplicity of conscious
or previously conscious entities, all somehow metaphysically linked,
to do the work that Copenhagen can do with one.

I agree with you that MWI does at least provide an athiest cover for
improbable events. Indeterminism finds its way into Copenhagen with
its "hidden variables", possibly tunable by an outside being, but MWI
points to a non-anthropic explanation. Yet I think MWI is
inconsistent with respect to the consciousness question to an even
greater degree than Copenhagen. I should think Copenhagen would be
preferred by those who have physicalist views of consciousness and
eschew all hints of immortality.

It is all terribly confusing though.

Chris

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Received on Tue Aug 14 19:07:12 2007

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