Religion and Morality in an Infinite Multiverse

In a recent post about LOST, I explored the possibility that the mystery of the island being explored in that series may relate to the idea of parallel universes. In this post I want to explore further, albeit very briefly, some of the issues raised by the view (put forward by some physicists, cosmologists and philosophers) that we inhabit an infinite multiverse of which our own universe is but one of an infinite number of universes.

It is often said that, given an infinite amount of time and infinite space, not only anything can happen, but everything will happen that is possible. However, the implications for religion and ethics are rarely explored. Wouldn’t this mean that, in at least one universe, a being like the God of the Bible would exist? Would it not also mean that, in at least one universe, people would believe such a deity rules their universe and be wrong?

In an infinite universe, there will be other yous and other mes, nearly identical – at least that is what we are usually told. Does this not mean that, however much I strive to be a good person, there will be another me that is the mirror image (as in the Star Trek episode about parallel universes, “Mirror, Mirror”) who is trying just as hard to be bad? And that when I try and succeed, somewhere else I’ve tried and failed? And, of course, vice versa…

In last night’s episode of LOST, Charlie appears to Hurley and says that he is dead, but he is also really there. In an infinite multiverse where the possibility exists for universes to intersect and closely overlap, this would be true. In some universes, in fact, immortality would be a reality, one presumes.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing for religion and for ethics? If the idea of multiple universes of infinite number is correct, does this give comfort, because somewhere the things you believe really are true, and somewhere a version of your loved ones and of yourself will live forever? Or is it disheartening because somewhere Hitler was victorious, and somewhere there is a version of you that is opposed to everything the you that is reading this stands for?

The multiverse cosmology may not be correct, but it is not inappropriate to explore what if questions about the meaning of existence if it turns out that it is.

  • Ken Brown

    It seems to me that despite how common parallel universes have become in scifi (the Stargate series made ample use of them) they seriously call into question any kind of transcendent order. “A being like the God of the Bible” could exist in some of these universes only if we assume that such a God is not in fact transcendent (for if he is transcendent, he is not “in” any particular universe such that he could be absent from another). He might be an alien, even perhaps one powerful enough to travel between universes, but he wouldn’t really be the God of whom the Bible says: “Through him all things came to be, without him nothing has come to be that has come to be” (John 1:3).Theoretically, there could be a transcendent God above all parallel universes, but you would have to question his goodness if he truly allowed every possible outcome to exist. The problem there, however, is not the parallel universes, but the assumption that every possible world exists. Multiple universes (each governed by the same moral order) could be reconciled with a good and transcendent God (cf. Narnia), but as far as I can see, infinite universes, involving all possible outcomes, could not.P.S. I haven’t seen more than the first few episodes of LOST, so please don’t spoil it for me!