Re: [asa] Many Worlds Interpretation and ID

From: Iain Strachan <>
Date: Wed Aug 15 2007 - 09:09:27 EDT

Hi, Chris,

On 8/15/07, Chris Barden <> wrote:
> Iain,
> I didn't mean to imply that you supported MWI and I'm sorry if it came
> across that way.

No problem - I just wanted to make sure it was clear that I wasn't
necessarily espousing the theory.

 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.

I'm not entirely sure it does have insuperable difficulties, though what I'm
about to suggest is probably heretical !! :-)

It seems to me that a fundamental distinction needs to be made between
consciousness and "soul" - from a theological point of view does the sense
of "self" reside in the consciousness, or is it associated with the
(non-physical) concept of soul? I came across a very interesting comment in
biologist Lewis Wolpert's book "Malignant sadness: an anatomy of
depression" in which he (as an atheist) describes his own experiences of
suicidal depression. What he said was something to the effect that if he
believed in souls (which he doesn't as an atheist), then the best way he
could describe how depression feels is a sense of "soul-loss" - going on to
expand it by saying that it was the loss of the sense of self. Similarly a
(Christian) friend of mine, when going through a bout of suicidal depression
said that when she looked inside herself, she found nothing there. Now
clearly people who are suicidally depressed are conscious, and they suffer
greatly - but it's interesting that the sense of "self" seems to disappear -
implying that the "self" is more than just consciousness.

So (heretical bit now !!) what if there are many instances of consciousness,
but one soul (eg one soul for every Iain Strachan that occurs in multiple
universes? And that one act of repentence, which is prompted spiritually
(by the action of the holy spirit), is what causes the redemption of a
(single) lost soul, despite many different instances of the associated
consciousness? The reason this is probably heretical is that it implies
universal salvation - in all possible universes, at least one of the
instances of, say Richard Dawkins, is going to choose to repent (probability
1 - all possible outcomes happen in MWI).

This may present huge problems (universal salvation) - though perhaps gives
a different spin on Phil 2:11 (At the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow -
willingly apparently).

Do I get burnt at the stake?

> 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.

Yes, that's the problem for me as well - and prompted me to suggest the
anaesthetic dart variant of the Quantum Suicide experiment (Quantum
Anaesthesia?) At the point of measuring the spin of an electron the gun
either fires (Universe A) or doesn't fire (Universe B). In the case of
Quantum Suicide, "you" carry on in Universe B immediately and are completely
unaware of what happened in Universe A, but in Quantum Anaesthesia "you"
wake up a few hours later in Universe A, and are completely unaware of what
happened in Universe B. This seems a very artificial distinction with
completely different outcomes for "you", depending on finite loss of
consciousness, or permanent loss of consciousness. This seems completely
illogical to me - how does your consciousness "know" to transfer to Universe


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Received on Wed Aug 15 09:10:12 2007

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