Somewhere in the far present there is a Church of Quantum Immortality, whose members believe that they do not die. The idea is generally expressed in terms of the Wheeler multiple-worlds concept: for every chance event, there are some worlds (parallel universes) where it happens and some where it doesn't, and so the believer continues to exist in some world where he didn't die.

The believers take little joy in their immortality, however. They know that if there are worlds where the gun doesn't go off, there are worlds where it does ... and they still don't die. They are terrified of their future as ancient, incapacitated beings, where even the other members of their church have appeared - from their perspective - to have passed away.

Nonetheless ... their Church might do certain things or cultivate certain ideals or techniques to prepare themselves for their fate. They also resolve, before their fellow-member appears to pass, what compassionate action they should take if they happen to go into the parallel world where that person continues to survive.

What do they do differently from other people?

  • $\begingroup$ Why would you need rites? In Quantum Immortality, there is no god, no overarching dogma structure, no judgment. There is no condition for your immortality, so there is no need for rites. Rites are generally for petitioning a higher power, one which is amenable to being petitioned. The laws of Quantum Physics have no such ability to be swayed, so prayers to them are meaningless. $\endgroup$ – stix Mar 5 at 20:27
  • $\begingroup$ They dress differently. The read different books. They walk on different streets. They live in different places. They eat different food. They speak a different language. They comb their hair in a different way. They shake hands differently. They say different words. They sing different songs. They tell different stories. They sleep at different hours. They pray to different gods. They have different morals. Their places of worship have a different shape. They write with ink of a different color. They carry curiously shaped walking sticks. They brew a different kind of beer. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 5 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ @stix: Rites and rituals very seldom (if ever) are intended as effective means of petitioning a higher power. Their main purpose is here on Earth, to discipline the worship and the worshippers, to strengthen social cohesion, to reinforce shared ethics and so on. For example, consider the elaborate American rituals, either involving their flag (raising it, lowering it, folding it, presenting it to the widow of a deceased soldier), or singing the anthem before a sportsball match, or reciting an idolatrous piece of poetry: they are obviously intended to further social norms, not to gain favor. $\endgroup$ – AlexP Mar 5 at 20:57
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    $\begingroup$ I think the question is basically: how is that an entire religion and not just a college age thing for people that are mildly rebellious? As in, how can you make this a serious movement with teachings and stuff members must do and not just a way to look at death from a pseudoscience perspective? I'd rephrase your question then and also if that's not what you're after. $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Mar 5 at 21:01
  • $\begingroup$ This is interesting in the possible alternative religions it might kick into existence, many of which would be quite incompatible in their views potentially. Somewhat too high concept to work as-is I fear. I hope you edit this to be stable and open. $\endgroup$ – Draft 85 Mar 5 at 22:40

I had been planning to sit back and see what ideas came, but since the question may be under threat I might as well post my thoughts now. Eat, drink and be merry. Tomorrow it'll be a ruin...

Celebration of the Eldest. Each of the Qim (slang for the believers) know that he will outlive the others. But in the Church he sees today, someone else is the Eldest. If each of them is prepared, in the first few decades or centuries of his life, to defer to the Eldest, then when he is Eldest, all in the Church will defer to him. Note that this deference only applies to the very oldest person in the entire Church, because from his own perspective the second-eldest will see that person die very quickly. This certainly gives the Church the appearance of a cult of the aged to the casual observer.

Quest for Disproof. The Church of Quantum Immortality is not a normal church. The Qim don't like their philosophy - they simply believe in it. Many of the followers have escaped freak accidents or lived a long time. They have started to become convinced that they won't die. But they still want to believe that they will have a normal death, and not suffer endlessly. So they back research meant to discredit the ideas of their faith, and periodically reject the conclusions as uncompelling.

Quest for Life Extension. The Qim believe they will live forever, so they want to do so more comfortably. Therefore, they generously support every David Sinclair type working on research that is proposed to rejuvenate cells and give people the benefits of youth again. They canvas the neighborhood looking for donations with unusual fervor - again confirming their cult-like status to the outside observer.

Quest for Endurance. As the Qim believe that great suffering awaits them, they travel the world, sharing the stories of fakirs and shamans and metastatic cancer patients, studying the doctrines of other religions such as Buddhism that address the issue of suffering, attempting to gain knowledge that will help them while they are yet able. The gruesome festivals where some of these members share their insights have confirmed the group as a cult beyond all reasonable doubt.

Heresy of Division. Some of the Qim believe that a person, though immortal, can be divided by severing the corpus callosum and other nerve bundles. They assert that such divisions will happen spontaneously until each neuron is a separate organism, existing at too low a level of consciousness to experience pain. This has led to some of the more widely publicized horrors one reads in the news.

Heresy of Union. Some of the Qim have split off to a rival sect with minimalist Hindu trappings, declaring that the Universal Atman is immortal but that the individual consciousness is not - in other words, that a person does not die so long as some other person exists instead; that this is merely a loss of some memories. The Church generally opposes and derides them with Pascalian wager arguments, and sometimes more disturbing methods.


The theology looks pretty thin and likely needs some filling out.

For instance quantum immortality seems like it would only grant life for that person's possible lifespan, which depending on how unlikely an event you are willing to accept as possible could be a long time, but is still likely finite.

It is has similar problems to teleportation: if a transporter makes a copy somewhere else and destroys the copy that stays behind, which one is me, the copy or the one killed. Believing that somewhere in the multiverse you live forever as the god emperor of the galaxy is not that fulfilling of a theology if the you in this world has a much less satisfactory life.

If you truly believe that you and the other you's in the multiverse are equivalent or spiritually connected, then the you in this world's value or part of the whole is diminished to almost nothing. This might have a profound affect on your risk aversion. Sure, riding a shark while skydiving and juggling chainsaws is dangerous, but somewhere I'll survive, and it will be awesome, so why not try it.

The deaths of others (not just other believers) would also seem less important if you believe that they still exist in other branches of the multiverse. This could lead to some pretty disturbing conclusions. Jim got shot. He's not dead, but is bleeding out. He might recover with help, but it doesn't matter. Jim continues in the multiverse so we don't need to help this Jim.


They also resolve, before their fellow-member appears to pass, what compassionate action they should take if they happen to go into the parallel world where that person continues to survive.

It makes absolutely no difference

This is because humans can explore future possibilities in their imaginations regardless of whether those possibilities become real.


Your grandmother (G) is dying. She says, If I go into a vegetative state, I want you (Y) to make sure the doctors pull the plug and don't keep me alive.

In the 'normal' scenario, she either does or does not go into a vegetative state. You act accordingly. You either help her to die or you don't.

In your scenario she does both. G1 recovers and Y1 doesn't have to act. In a parallel world, G2 becomes a vegetable and Y2 does act.

There is literally no difference in the discussion that they would have beforehand.


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