Whilst the idea of infinite universes may terrify some, for me, the idea is comforting. Not only would it mean we are not alone on a tiny rock hurtling through space-time, but even thinking about infinite universes can be of great assistance to us – no matter how distant they may hypothetically be.
There are a multitude of ways we can employ thoughts about infinite universes to help us. Though some are more technical, others are very accessible. Let’s imagine you are facing a challenging situation and can see no fix. This could be anything from making a decision about your personal career advancement to having a difficult conversation with a member of your family. If there were infinite universes, with infinite possibilities – infinite versions of you – one of those versions has already achieved exactly what you want to. Without the confines of your real situation, it is quite easy to use your imagination and work through the situation; you can ask, ‘what needs to be different for me to progress through this problem?’. Then, with a clear view perhaps you’ll be able to work through the problem as the real you, and really fix it.
In philosophy, the idea of infinite universes and the possibilities they would bring is almost indispensable. They are usually referred to as ‘possible worlds’ and explore the logical possibility of a claim or theory. They work by offering an environment wherein a theory or claim can be tested without interference from our world and its constrictions, to see if we can logically process and deem the claim possible. For example, a famous thought experiment using possible worlds is the Zombie Argument (which doesn’t really sound too comforting at all). It asks us to imagine a world wherein there are people just like us – who look, sound, and behave just like us, but with one change. They have no minds; they do not think. Would we be able to tell any difference?
While the idea of possible worlds may not seem to you, reader, to be little more than an exercise of the imagination, there are those who argue that every possible world is just as real as ours. David Lewis argued for a theory known as ‘modal realism,’ which claimed that there is no difference in kind between our actual world and the possible worlds we may imagine. If there are infinite universes, then every possibility must be played out an infinite number of times, and so Lewis would be right. These situations we imagine are no different to our own actual situation. They must be coming to fruition somewhere, akin to our actual experiences. Just because we cannot connect with them further than the imagination doesn’t mean they aren’t there.
But how is any of this comforting to me? Well, I know there is a Martha who is destined to graduate with a First-Class Honours Degree (and I do hope it’s this one), a Martha who became a dancer, and infinite Martha’s living out our infinite dreams and succeeding. And I am grateful that I am not one of the infinite Martha’s who has not fared so well. I am comforted greatly by the idea that I am living each dream I’ve ever had, but also by the fact that I am lucky. I have, by chance, ended up living this life which I enjoy, meeting the friends I love and receiving so many great opportunities. So, infinite ‘you’s can help you not only reason through problems and ask big questions about the human experience, but also just to simply practice gratitude.