Friday, June 04, 2010

God vs. the multiverse

"What if you reject this quantum physics?" asks Adam.

"Then I guess your CD player and credit cards stop working."

"I don't have a CD player or a credit card."

I grin at him. "Yes, but you know what I mean. Real technology is built on quantum physics. Engineers have to learn it. I mean, it is nuts, but it works out there in the real world."

"God or the multiverse," says Heather. "Which one would you choose?"

"I'm not happy with either of them," I say. "But probably God--whatever that actually means. Call it the Thomas Hardy interpretation: I'd rather have something out there that means something than feel like I exist in a vast ocean of pure meaninglessness."

"What about you, Adam?"

"God," he says. "Even though I thought I'd given up all that." He smiles without showing his teeth, as if doing more with his mouth would break his face. "No, it does make sense: the idea of an external consciousness. I prefer that anyway, given this choice."

"Oh well, I'm on my own then with the multiverse," says Heather.

"You're never alone in the multiverse," I say.

"Ha, ha," she says. "Seriously, I can't believe that God made life, not with the research I'm doing. I mean the evidence just isn't there. And I get so many threatening letters from creationists that I just can't align myself to them in any way."

"I don't think this means aligning yourself with creationists," I say. "Surely some external being could have sparked the very beginning of the universe and then everything else just evolved as scientists think it did."

Although as I say this I think: via Newtonian cause and effect, and I realize that this is at odds with the idea of a quantum universe, and I suddenly don't know what to say.

--Scarlett Thomas, The End of Mr. Y


  1. What a great tease! This sounds really good.

  2. I enjoyed it tremendously. I think I'm going to be reading Scarlett Thomas again very soon--I've another of her books on my desk at work.