This is a new article of mine in the new issue of The London Review of Books. The whole thing can be found here.
Most religions suggest that we get at least one other go at being.
Christianity offers an afterlife, Judaism suggests an altogether better
existence once the Messiah arrives, while Hinduism and other Eastern
religions try to deal with samsara, the terrible burden of having to do
life over and over again until you get it right. But I don’t think any
of them offer much help with the alarming notion of multiple worlds,
which quantum theorists have arithmeticked to prove entirely possible.
As far as I can understand it, Many Worlds Theory proposes that there
are n zillion worlds like this one but marginally different,
operating in parallel to the only world in which we think we exist.
There you’re wearing pink kitten heels not Hush Puppies, there you had
sausage for breakfast not muesli, there it so happened that you took a
left turn not a right one and became a fashionistic, carnivoracious
arch-criminal instead of the peace-negotiating, vegan, style wasteland
you are in this world. We might each be living out all our possible
lives, through all the variations of what we could possibly say or do,
in an infinite number of worlds where everyone else is living out their
variations, each at some weird angle to this one that my sorry,
innumerate and spatially challenged brain is unable to comprehend. If
this sounds like hell on earths to you then you probably haven’t signed
up for Second Life....