Two well known strands of Protestant theology are the Calvinist and Arminian. There are a number of differences between these two schools but one of them keys on soteriology (salvation). Calvinists would hold that once a person is saved, he is always saved. Arminians dispute this idea. Consider the following thought experiment:


  1. A person, we’ll call him John, is born and arrives in his twenties. He is a devoted and sincere Christian.

  2. Then, in his twenties a series of circumstances arise and he loses his faith. Through his mid-thirties he is a not-Christian.

  3. Finally late in life and to his death he returns to the faith of his birth and is again a devout and sincere Christian.


We add to this mix “device X.” Device X is trained on John and makes him into an human Schrödinger’s Cat. If a particular nuclei is seen to decay ... he dies. The state of this nuclei is tested at points 1 and 2 during his life. So we now consider if he dies at points 1,2, and 3 in his life and the soteriological implications of this.

My (limited and likely flawed) understanding of the Calvin/Arminius dispute is that an Arminian would say he was saved at points 1&3 and a Calvinist would say at point 2 that even though John was not a believer that he (John) is still one of those saved that He (God) would still call him saved because He (being omniscient) knows that John will live through to point 3 and will return to the fold.

This is where the Many-Worlds theory comes in. An Arminian could argue that each of points 1,2, and 3 the universe splits. In one universe he lives. In the other he dies. Therefore the Calvinist argument that God can know the result is impossible. Just before point 1, there is one universe. After point 3 there are three and in two of them John goes on to be saved and one in which he is not.  Therefore if Many Worlds is true God cannot say which John He is judging at point 1 ... which is the Arminian statement on this question. Thus the Arminian view is compatible with Many Worlds while the Calvinist view is not.

If one take (the seemingly obvious and innocuous) view that belief or non-belief in the quantum theory known as the “many worlds hypothesis” is adiaphora. It is not essential to salvation whether you give the theory credence or not ... and that given the dependence of this particular dispute between these two schools on this point ... that therefore this point is thus also adiaphora and not dogma.

(Note: I’m going to be travelling this week on business. I’ll be checking the comment threads likely only in the evenings)

Articles by Mark Olson

Loading...

Show 0 comments