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350 pages, Paperback
First published May 7, 2019
“I want to know whether my decisions matter! […] Forget about murder; that’s not the kind of thing I’m talking about. But when I have a choice to do the right thing or the wrong thing, am I always choosing to do both in different branches? Why should I bother being nice to other people, if every time I’m also being a dick to them?”
“But the question was, given that we know about other branches, whether making good choices is worth doing. I think it absolutely is. None of us are saints, but we can all try to be better. Each time you do something generous, you’re shaping yourself into someone who’s more likely to be generous next time, and that matters.
And it’s not just your behavior in this branch that you’re changing: you’re inoculating all the versions of you that split off in the future. By becoming a better person, you’re ensuring that more and more of the branches that split off from this point forward are populated by better versions of you.”
“My teachers told me that God wanted us to reason things out for ourselves. But what if that’s not true? What if”—his voice cracked—“what if God had no intentions about us at all?”
“I’ve devoted my life to studying the wondrous mechanism that is the universe, and doing so has given me a sense of fulfillment. I’ve always assumed that this meant that I was acting in accordance with your will, Lord, and your reason for making me. But if it’s in fact true that you have no purpose in mind for me, then that sense of fulfillment has arisen solely from within myself. What that demonstrates to me is that we as humans are capable of creating meaning for our own lives.”
“Even if humanity is not the reason for which the universe was made, I still wish to understand the way it operates. We human beings may not be the answer to the question why, but I will keep looking for the answer to how.
This search is my purpose; not because you chose it for me, Lord, but because I chose it for myself.”
“And I think I’ve found the real benefit of digital memory. The point is not to prove you were right; the point is to admit you were wrong.”
“Past and future are the same, and we cannot change either, only know them more fully. My journey to the past had changed nothing, but what I had learned had changed everything.”
“My message to you is this: Pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don’t. The reality isn’t important; what’s important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.”
’Past and future are the same, and we cannot change either, only know them more fully… My journey to the past had changed nothing, but what I had learned had changed everything. . . . Nothing erases the past. There is repentance, there is atonement, and there is forgiveness. That is all, but that is enough.’
‘Pretend that you have free will. It’s essential that you behave as if your decisions matter, even though you know they don’t. The reality isn’t important: what’s important is your belief, and believing the lie is the only way to avoid a waking coma. Civilization now depends on self-deception. Perhaps it always has.’