Free Will and The Multiverse
There is a rarely a night I fall asleep without having read every new Science article on Google News. For me, it's comparable to those countdown calendars you get for Christmas, but instead of fueling a sweet tooth with a nightly treat of chocolate, I get to fuel my curiosity. I can't get enough of it. Many of the concepts are too technical or advanced for me to fully grasp, but it sure doesn't stop me from trying.
There is one theory that has ensnared my imagination these days, one that has become omnipresent in my mind—the Theory of the Multiverse. If you aren't familiar, allow me to attempt a brief explanation.
Multiverse Theory has many variations but, at it's core, is the belief that our universe is but one universe among infinite universes, all existing simultaneously. All space, matter, and energy that has ever existed makes up these many universes.
Now for the time being, there is no way to test this theory and there is no way to disprove it either, which is why many scientists hate it. What's the point? Also, if it were true, our current image of the universe just got a whole lot smaller. The idea of all that we've already discovered, our entire universe, being only a single drop in an ocean of endless universes? That's mind-boggling.
Which is precisely why I tend to think it's true. How often throughout human scientific discovery has the truth ended up being that much too large, mind-boggling option?
There once was a time when we believed only the sun and the moon orbited our Earth. That wasn't true though, as we soon discovered we actually orbit that sun, along with 7 other planets, a whole solar system! Then one day, we discovered our solar system was actually just one of millions of other solar systems that orbit billions of other stars. We called it the Milky Way. This was the universe! Wow! That is huge! No one could have imagined so many worlds could have existed, it was more than we could ever begin to study...
But then came Edwin Hubble, who trained his massive new telescope at a hazy spiral shape in our galaxy, only to discover an entirely separate galaxy, our closest neighbor, Andromeda. Scientists now had to accept the mind-boggling reality that the Milky Way wasn't the whole universe, it was actually only one small galaxy of approximately one hundred billion others, and even that number may be off by a factor of 10 according to research two years ago by Hubble. Soon after, we mapped the observable universe in microwave-imaging which gave us the cosmic microwave background view of our universe, a scale of such a magnitude it truly is mind-boggling.
I mention all this to illustrate a point—that, until we can no longer deny it, we hate to accept reality could be any bigger than it already is because it is already just too damn big to comprehend!
So, of course, it must be much, much larger than we now know, and isn't it frighteningly appropriate that this whole universe be just one out of trillions and trillions more?
There would be a universe, somewhere, where the Turkish island of Genoa decided not to sell their island to the French, so that one year later, when Napoleon Bonaparte was born, he wouldn't have even been a French citizen and never able to become Emperor.
There would be a universe where the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna decided to approve, rather than reject, a young Adolf Hitler, sending the young man on the path to his dream of becoming a famous artist.
A universe where Donald Trump decided not to run for president, is still a moderately-respected narcissist, and planning his next reality TV show from New York instead of D.C.
Now, that is my scientific side of my imagination and I often attempt to reconcile these concepts and ideas with my spiritual imagination as well. So, for my Finding God spin, I wish to tackle one of the biggest paradoxes in theology, predominantly in the Abrahamic religions: The paradox of an all-knowing God and free will.
Well, perhaps we haven't been thinking large enough... We can only perceive one path, the one that we're traveling this very moment, but what we need to do is think in plural—our paths, our choices, our deaths, our many destinies. So without further ado, here is my theory:
God created a multi-verse, not a uni-verse, and since he exists outside of Time and Space itself, he could know every choice every version of you would ever make, instantly, while still never infringing on your right to free will.
All versions of you are possible. Imagine this. You walk up to a tree and place an ant at the base. The ants goal is to reach the end of a branch. Without ever having to leave the surface of the tree, it is possible for the ant to reach the end of every single branch, all the ant has to do is decide which path it takes to get there.
I call it the Tree of Destinies.
God knows every possibility of you there ever could have been. He knows the you that chose to become a doctor, the you who chose to start a charity, the you that chose to start a rock band, the you that chose not to have protected sex and became a young father, the you that chose to drive drunk and died in a car crash...
Some life decisions may be monumental (schooling or a job choice perhaps) and they may lead to a strong, thick branch growing in your Tree of Destinies. Some may be small, insignificant, and only a twig sprouts. For me, I am living on a branch that decided to love a cute girl from West Virginia, and all my choices will branch from this one until the day I die. Likewise, there should be a version of me somewhere, closer to my trunk, that never even met this girl and is living an entirely different branch of my life's many potentials.
Maybe our Higher Self is synonymous with our Tree of Destinies. Maybe this higher self is the collective result of the myriad of yous who exist in the Multiverse. Even if there are a frightening amount of you's out there, exercising their free will and living different branches of lives, there would still be one underlying factor that ties them all together. No matter what they are doing, where they are, or who they are with... they all share you, the very core of you, the most you of you. I suppose you could call it— your soul.
This is who God deals with.
If this higher self is the overall spirit of yourself across an endless multiverse then maybe tuning into this higher self can help guide you along the path you truly desire. You may be a mere ant in the multiverse of the many yous, following your free will along a lone path in your Tree of Destinies and God likely knows every branch, every ending you will potentially and inevitably have, but it is still entirely up to you which path you take to reach that ending. You are the master of your fate.
Finding God is a series of imaginative thought experiments, and should be treated as such. Question everything.
Finding God 1
Loving the writing Jared!ReplyDelete
I really dig the stuff on fractals and the tree metaphor. Another good visualization of these sort of infinite complexities can be found in watching fractal "Deep Zoom" videos. This is essentially taking a recursive algorithm, focusing on one part (sort of like the ant walking up the tree branch) and moving out infinitely.
This is one of my favorite videos of these.
There are tons more though. If you want to check out more trippy videos look at "Mandelbrot Set Deep Zoom" there's also three-dimensional variations and other cool things.
Hope all is well in Cali man!