Pruning the Landscape

Planet Earth      Physicists refer to the realm of multiple universes as the “landscape” of the cosmos.  Let’s return to the hypothetical realm of the multiverse (see Part I below) and survey this idea of  landscape for ethical implications.

The most incomprehensible feature of this landscape is that if you were to look long enough and far enough, you would eventually find anything and everything happening.  Of course that would presume that you were capable of stepping beyond the bounds of your own “bubble” universe (i.e. your own constraints as a being existing in time and space) to survey the surrounding landscape.  Perhaps only God could have such a vantage point, to be able to step outside the stream of time and the fabric of space in order to view multiple “universes.”    From such a vantage point, God would be able to see you and me doing every possible thing

It seems to me this would render ethics a meaningless concept, because people with minds identical to yours and mine would at this moment be doing and believing any number of radically different things, for better or worse.  In a landscape of infinite universes, free will would turn out to be an illusion of our confinement to a random bubble of existence.  Every possible decision would obtain, for better or worse. We might imagine that we were exercising free will, but so would our spitting images in other universes who were making different choices.  Choice then turns out not to be a logical determinant of freedom.

Of course this is a ridiculous metaphysics which renders the idea of ethics incoherent.  There is however one way God could redeem ethics within the landscape of a multiverse — he could intervene in every specific universe and personally reveal ethics.  Of course in order to do that, it seems he would have to reveal himself in person; otherwise, the revelation could be just one more random fluctuation of the landscape, and then it would be no different from all the other meaningless fluctuations, for every fluctuation would have equal authority.

To give ethics any meaning, God would need to intervene in a specific, non-random mode of being, within the history of that universe; otherwise, there would be no source of reality which carried any more meaning than a random fluctuation of matter.

What we discover in this thought experiment is that nothing less than a personal intervention by God could salvage reality and free will, and thereby also provide meaning to ethics.  We have now wandered far afield from the practice of physics, and even beyond the realms reachable by metaphysics and philosophy.  We have now turned to ‘God-talk’ — theology — to make sense out of this mathematical idea.  I find this conclusion rather interesting.  This idea —  that the God of the universe would step into human history to redeem it and give it meaning — does not drop out of the equations; but in this particular universe (the only universe as far as we know) it turns out to describe just what he has done.


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