Thursday, 25 August 2016


"...the branching universes are so many..."
-Poul Anderson, Operation Luna (New York, 2000).

Suppose that there is just a single universe without any branches. In that case, we would still be able to discuss other timelines as logical possibilities even if not as material realities. Thus, if I had attended a different University, then my life would have diverged from that point onwards. Anything might have happened. I would have met different people and would either have married someone else or remained unmarried - or I might have died in a fatal accident on my first day of attendance at a different University.

My question is this. If omniscience were not only possible but actual, would even an omniscient being know what would have happened if I had attended a different University - and if every other such contingency had occurred differently? If every sperm had met a different egg? If the entire world were populated by potential people who were neither conceived nor born in the world as we know it? Or has even omniscience got limits?

1 comment:

Sean M. Brooks said...

Kaor, Paul!

I have discussed the alternate worlds hypothesis with Poul Anderson. His view, from a strictly scientific POV, lay more with discussing alternate worlds as logical possibilities, with no real means of testing it likely to ever be found. Except, possibly, in or near black holes. Needless to say, Anderson used a "looser" concept of alternate worlds, simply in order to be able to write stories.

I'm puzzled by your doubts about omniscience. It seems logical to me that if I believe (as I do) that God is omniscient, He knows not only all that will happen or has happened, but all all that MIGHT happen. Else He could not be omniscient, could not even BE God.