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Theism, Substance Dualism, Personal Identity, and Quantum Mechanics

(Extremely rough draft.)

Ever since at least Ladyman and Ross's Every Thing Must Go (with David Wallace, Peter Lewis, David Albert, Tim Maudlin and many others in chorus) more and more philosophers have been coming to grips with the need for radical revisions in traditional analytic metaphysics in the light of  quantum mechanics (QM) (cf. Jenann Ismael, Alyssa Ney, Peter Lewis, Kerry McKenzie, Jessica Wilson, Jonathan Schaffer, Ted Sider, Shamik Dasgupta, and many others).[1]   However (aside from worries for the causal principle in cosmological arguments), it seems that the waves of the quantum revolution have yet to be felt in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion. I noted one potential implication on another occasion. Here are a few more.

Prima facie, on any plausible interpretation of quantum mechanics (Bohmian, Everettian, and GRW), there are many worlds/universes. As Peter Lewis points out, non-Everrettian interpretations of quantum mechanics are just many-worlds accounts in denial[2]. This has serious implications for the metaphysics of personal identity and other issues related to philosophy of religion. 

For example, take standard theistic accounts of substance dualism, and take the increasingly popular Everettian interpretation of QM (in fact, strictly speaking, it's not an interpretation: it just is QM). On that account, humans are constantly branching, hydra-like, into hugely many alternate universes, at virtually every moment of their lives. But if so, then prima facie, either (i) only one branch is you, or (ii) they all are you. On (i), God creates (directly, ex nihilo, or indirectly, through natural processes) new souls for each branch self at virtually every moment. On (ii), you have many selves. On either option, the sameness of soul account of personal identity is starting to look seriously unmotivated.

Furthermore, what are we to make of the afterlife? On (ii), all of your counterpart branch souls have an existence in an afterlife. Now combine that with the traditional doctrine of the soul being joined to a physical body at the final judgement.  Prima facie, our world essentially involves QM and branching universes, in which case ,prima facie, so does any post-resurrection universe. Prima facie,   all of the branching selves will be resurrected in different alternate universes, with counterpart Christs. On (i), it's hard to get an intelligible grasp of how all of my branching selves could be "me", each in their own resurrected bodies in alternate universes.

Furthermore, what are we to make of the person and work of Christ? For example, Jesus has many branch selves. Which one is the "real" Jesus? One? Some? All? Presumably, then, there are many Christs, and there will have to be many crucifixions. From this example, it becomes apparent that a host of other problems arise for the incarnation, atonement, trinity, and related doctrines. 

In short, it looks as though quantum mechanics poses serious problems for both substance dualism and for theism. In fact, it's looking as though QM, all by itself, is incompatible with-- or, at the very least, highly surprising on -- traditional accounts of Christian theism and religious monotheism in general. Prima facie, then, QM provides at least strong abductive evidence against traditional monotheism.

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[1] The other main revolution in physics is relativistic quantum field theory (RQFT), according to which fields are more fundamental than particles: what we call 'particles' are really just field excitations. But that is another can of worms.
[2] Lewis, Peter J. Quantum Ontology: A Guide to the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016).


Three Dozen (or so) Atheistic Arguments

A popular view in contemporary analytic philosophy of religion is that while there are many arguments for theism -- cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments; moral arguments; arguments from consciousness; etc. (by Plantinga's lights, two dozen or so) -- there are only one or two arguments for atheism, viz., the problem of evil and (more recently) the argument from divine hiddenness.

This is a misconception. Off the top of my head, here are well over three dozen:

1. The standard deductive argument from evil (Various)
2. The evidential argument from evil (Rowe and others)
3. The argument from divine hiddenness (Schellenberg) 
4. The argument from pain/pleasure (Draper)
5. The argument from lack of extensive empathy (Draper)
6. The argument from flourishing/languishing (Draper) 
7. The argument from religious ambiguity/diversity (Draper and others)
8. The argument from the mind’s dependence on the brain (Draper and others)
9. The argument from evolution (Draper)
10. The Free Will Offense (Schellenberg)
11. Schellenberg's new deductive argument from evil. (Schellenberg) 
12. The argument from the absurdity of life in a Christian (and, arguably, any traditional theistic) universe (Wielenberg)
13. An abductive argument for naturalism (Oppy)
14. The argument from ordinary morality (Maitzen)
15. An ontological disproof of theism (Maitzen)
16. The problem of theistic evidentialist philosophers (Lovering)
17. The argument from autonomy (Kahane)
18. The argument from ugliness (Aikin and Jones)
19. The common core/diversity dilemma (Thornhill-Miller and Millican
20. The argument from the philosophy of nature (Cordry)
21. The argument from natural inequalities (Mizrahi)
22. The argument from social evil (Poston)
23. The argument from insect suffering (Crummett)
24. The argument from scale (Everitt)
25. The argument from religious evil (Kodaj)
26. The argument from idolatry (Linford and Megill)
27. The argument from indifference (Linford and Megill)
28. The argument from the requirement of divine interference (Maring)
29. The argument from eternally separated lovers (Hassoun)
30. The argument from peer disagreement
31. The argument from the impropriety of worship (Aikin)
32. The argument from the impropriety of belief (Nagel)
33. The argument from abstract objects (Davidson, Craig, me)
34. The argument from inhospitable environment (me)
35. The argument from teleological evil (me)
36. The argument from material causality (me)
37. The argument from revulsion (me)
38. The argument from the ineffectiveness of prayer (various)
39. The argument from divine evil (Lewis)
40. The argument from hell (Sider)
41. The argument from the meaning of life (Megill and Linford)
42. The argument from the demographics of theism (Maitzen)
43. The problem of no best world (Rowe, others)
44. The argument from (1)-(43).

Top 10 Posts of 2018

A Weaker Version of the Principle of Material Causality Gets the Same Result
Wave Function Realism, The Unreliability of Perception, and Theism
Ontological Arguments, Anselmianism, and Irony
Notes on Morriston's "Creation Ex Nihilo and the Big Bang"
Notes on Morriston's "Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?"
Partial Notes: Morriston's "A Critical Evaluation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument"
Notes on Morriston's "Must There Be a Standard of Moral Goodness Apart from God?"
Notes on Ruloff's Papers on Arguments from Propositions and Intentionality to God
Notes Index: Ehrman's Jesus: Apocalyptic Prophet of the New Millennium
Quote of the Day

and one to ring in the new year:
Three Dozen (or so) Arguments for Atheism

Linford and Megill's New Paper on Two Underexplored Arguments Against Theism

Linford, Dan and Megill, Jason. "Idolatry, indifference, and the scientific study of religion: two new Humean arguments", Religious Studies (2018), doi:10.1017/S0034412518000653.


Here's the abstract:
We utilize contemporary cognitive and social science of religion to defend a controversial thesis: the human cognitive apparatus gratuitously inclines humans to religious activity oriented around entities other than the God of classical theism. Using this thesis, we update and defend two arguments drawn from David Hume: (i) the argument from idolatry, which argues that the God of classical theism does not exist, and (ii) the argument from indifference, which argues that if the God of classical theism exists, God is indifferent to our religious activity.

Cambridge Elements in Philosophy of Religion: Free Downloads!

For readers of this blog who don't know already, the books in the Cambridge Elements in Philosophy of Religion are available for free do...