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

From: Merv <>
Date: Wed Jun 06 2007 - 08:55:02 EDT

George Murphy wrote:
> Merv -
> There are, of course, different interpretations of QM & the
> uncertainty principle. I think there is good reason to take the
> strong view that position & momentum really do not and cannot have
> precise values simultaneously, & not just the weaker view that they do
> have such values but that we can't know them. This is seen clearly in
> the mathematical formalism in which position & momentum (& other
> dynamical variables) can represented by matrices - whole arrays of
> numbers - rather than single numerical values. (In older language, q
> numbers rather than c numbers.) That being the case, the initial data
> required for Laplacian determinism don't exist.
> The connection between this microscopic indeterminism and the
> macroscopic variety with chaos theory is a little tricky but I think
> that the QM variety rules out the absolutely precise initial data
> which chaos theory says would be necessary for long range forecasting
> in principle.
> This indeterminism is _not_ required to allow God to act in a hidden
> way in the world. A strictly Laplacian view does not rule out ongoing
> divine action. But with such a view one would have to say that God's
> _ordinary_ action in the world is completely predictable (because the
> physical processes with which God cooperated were completely
> deterministic), and that any positive responses to prayers for rain,
> e.g., when the mechanistic laws of physics didn't predict rain would
> have to be strictly miraculous interventions. What the breakdown of
> detrminism allows is not divine action itself but divine action
> which has some freedom and is still in accord with the laws of
> physics, & is thus still in a sense hidden.
That last sentence above is key. "... has some freedom AND is still
in accord with the laws of physics..." one of which is a "law" of
indeterminism or as I am tempted to put it -- a law that, at this
subatomic level, there is no law outside of a statistical probability
curve. Sort of like issuing an "edict" to my children that "your time
of arrival at home at night shall be at an average of 10 pm with a
standard deviation of 15 min. -- which would allow any arrival at any
one given time so long as a larger sampling group met the given

I understand your language of the "stronger" and "weaker" sense
perfectly as that is exactly my difficulty. The stronger sense says
that an electron does not have a specific location to be known -- not
even by God. But then hold on, I thought that there was a trade off of
precision between knowing the momentum and location. So can't I, as an
observer, abandon any attempt at knowing momentum, and therefore
precisely know the location? --which means, then, that it DID have a
precise location to be known? Or do your equations (pq - qp =
imaginary constant? where p and q represent the trade off values?)
have a more asymptotic (or logarithmic) result of never reaching zero on
one, and thereby never having infinite precision for the other? That
would begin to make more sense to me. But in a calculus, one can
calculate precisely a value that is approached. So isn't it still there
in principle to know -- thereby throwing us back to indeterminism of the
weaker sense?

On a slightly different tack, if in principle, we accept that there is
an unbroken chain of causality for some interval of events apart from
the initial boundary state of that interval, then how can Christians
(who separate themselves from Deists) meaningfully claim that God's hand
is seen at work in that interval? Now -- I already know part of the
response is: this is a false dichotomy that causality means exclusion
of the divine hand -- God causes the sun to rise, set, etc. But I'm
asking more in the sense of responding to an atheist who sneers that it
is fine for us to claim God's activity so long as it is *really*
explainable in completely natural terms which has the irksome quality of
a parent patting a child on the head and saying "you go ahead and think
... whatever ... in your imaginary world" but all the while convinced
that he has the real perspective on things. If I understand your work
correctly, you don't actually object to this, as it simply represents
the unGodly wisdom of this world, while true wisdom (foolishness to the
world) actually accepts the hiddenness of God as expected even. Is
that a fair assessment? Would you add anything?


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Received on Wed Jun 6 08:49:54 2007

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