[asa] Re: Cosmos in the Light of the Cross

From: Merv <mrb22667@kansas.net>
Date: Mon Jun 04 2007 - 21:54:50 EDT

This is addressed to George since I've been corresponding with him about
his book "Cosmos in the Light of the Cross", but I'm running this
particular question of mine on the list because I covet any insights
which any scientifically minded folks can enlighten me with. --Merv

A long-standing physics inquiry of mine summarized by your statement
from p. 52: "This uncertainty principle cuts down Laplace's determinism
at the roots."
On p. 65 you exactly nail my hang-up with this when you state: "We may
argue that an electron really has a precise position and momentum even
if we cannot know them, ..." and you go on to answer that objection, in
part, concluding that "Quantum mechanics does not say that there is no
external reality at all, but that that reality is not strictly separated
from our consciousness."

I have nearly despaired of grasping these conclusions and how they deal
the supposed "death blow" to Laplace's demon. While I can appreciate
(without even understanding) that scientific verification exists for the
proposition that our mere observation affects reality (and apparently
in a far deeper way than its merely being altered by the presence of our
physical measurement tools -- which is easily understood and
conceptually dealt with), I still cannot see the definitive conclusion
that you and all modern physicists so easily adopt. It looks to me like
just a more sophisticated and impenetrable "God of the gaps" wall than
ever. Only this could be called "science of the gaps". We can't find
something out, and our consciousness is even inextricably intertwined in
it. Therefore we declare it to not have any objective reality at all
(even in principle). Chaos theory pulls a similar trick for
mathematics. Since error amplification makes sensitivity to initial
conditions virtually infinite, and we can't be infinitely precise in
describing an initial state: we can solidly conclude there can never be
an exact weather prediction -- a well-founded conclusion. But then
comes the /maddening/ next (and IMO totally unfounded) additional
conclusion: "...so a future state of weather can't have been exactly
determined by a prior state, /even in principle/. Chaos and QM teamed
up. It may be true, but there is a scent of arrogance in declaring it
true, when it actually seems unknowable whether or not determinism is
really correct behind those locked doors.

Here is one scenario easy to imagine: People for years tend to give
God praise more easily when the complexity of something reaches beyond
their horizons or capacity to understand. We easily said "God is great
-- look how far beyond us He is!" Then science enters the world making
huge conquests. Formerly unreachable horizons are now suddenly
"conquered territory", and the "God of the gaps" inclination is now
revealed as a dangerous way to do theology.

So we Christians seem to have had two responses:
1. backup and declare that God is present in all processes whether we
understand them or not (which was always correct and is very Biblical

Or 2. Let's find an apparently "unscalable" wall (QM with its
inherent uncertainty in nature, and Chaos theory with its corresponding
defeat of mathematics) and erect our new flag there in confidence that
NOW -- finally science and math have reached their limits. And we can
rest up against that last refuge glorying in the many ways which God can
now work such mischief as free-will, consciousness, miracles... etc.
safely beyond the reach of empirical science.

The main thrust of your writing is to show that a "hidden" God in nature
is not inconsistent with a God who is willing to die as a forsaken
"nobody" on the cross. Shouldn't this "hiddenness" be just as
applicable to a Laplacian 'billiard ball' universe as the QM 'mischief
behind locked doors' universe? I can understand our religious
preference for the second and our universal aversion for the first, but
that doesn't mean the Laplacian understanding couldn't be true. Why &
how are scientists so sure they have defeated this demon?


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Received on Mon Jun 4 21:49:18 2007

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