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Worlds Without EndThe Many Lives of the Multiverse$
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Mary-Jane Rubenstein

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156622

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156622.001.0001

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How to Avoid the G-Word

(p.1) Introduction
Worlds Without End

Mary-Jane Rubenstein

Columbia University Press

This introductory chapter presents the book’s fourfold task, which consists of providing a historical account of the workings of multiple-world cosmologies; outlining contemporary standards of the multiverse in relation to their mythological, philosophical, and theological precedents; questioning why, how, and to whom the multiverse has become a particularly engaging theory; and finally, indicating multiverse cosmologies as the ground for reconfiguring the boundaries between science and religion. In addition, the chapter discusses the origin of the term multiverse, from its coinage by William James, to its usage in different cosmological interpretations—the Greek Atomists’ infinite worlds, the Stoics’ cyclical multiverses, quantum mechanics’ Many-Worlds Interpretation, Brian Greene’s ultimate multiverse, and Gottfried Leibniz’s possible worlds. There exists a nontheistic motivation behind the scientific turn to many-worlds scenarios, making the multiverse theory a sort of replacement for the God-as-creator argument, albeit with an equally perplexing article of faith.

Keywords:   multiple worlds, multiverse, William James, Greek Atomists, Stoics, Many-Worlds Interpretation, Brian Greene, Gottfried Leibniz, God-as-creator

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