Neil Shenvi - Apologetics

III. Evidence for God from science

D. The surprising implications of quantum mechanics

Fourth, I can't resist saying a brief word about quantum mechanics since it is my professional area of expertise. Although it doesn't necessarily provide reasons to believe that God exists, it does seem to have some very important implications for naturalism.

Let me list two well-accepted features of quantum mechanics that are surprisingly not well-known to most non-physicists. First, quantum mechanics makes it extremely hard to identify inviolable "laws of nature." According to quantum mechanics, while events may be extremely improbable, very few events can be ruled out as absolutelyimpossible.

For instance, when physicist Alvaro de Rujula was asked whether the LHC, a particle supercollider, has the potential to destroy the world, he replied: "the random nature of quantum physics means that there is always a minuscule, but nonzero, chance of anything occurring, including that the new collider could spit out man-eating dragons" [Dennis Overbye, "Gauging a Collider's Odds of Creating a Black Hole", NYTimes, 4/15/08]. He was making a joke, but he was also technically exactly correct. Almost anything is technically possible under quantum mechanics. As a result "miracles" can no longer be dismissed as impossible. And if God decided to intervene in the universe, he could do so without violating any of the natural laws he created.

Second, quantum mechanics dictates that there are some entities that will never be accessible to observation. In contrast to a Newtonian universe in which every entity can theoretically be measured, quantum mechanics presents us with a universe in which the most basic description of reality, the wavefunction, cannot be measured even in principle. This idea may be a bitter pill to swallow for many proponents of scientism and perhaps even naturalism, because it implies that there are hidden, unknowable entities that are fundamentally inaccessible to science.

Finally, although I can't go into detail, many of the founders of quantum mechanics, such as Nobel laureate Eugene Wigner and John von Neumann, held that quantum mechanics demonstrates that consciousness plays a role in the universe distinct and different from matter. Now their view is only one interpretation and is not held by all modern physicists, but it remains popular. I think that a conservative assessment would affirm that quantum mechanics makes the possibility of mind-body dualism far more plausible than it would have been on a Newtonian view of physics. So while quantum mechanics doesn't provide direct evidence for God's existence, I think it does challenge naturalistic ideas about reality in at least three areas: the possibility of the miraculous, the fact that not all entities are accessible to science or observation, and the possibility that mind is distinct from matter.

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If anyone reading this essay has questions about it or about Christianity in general, feel free to e-mail me at Neil -AT- I also highly recommend the book The Reason for God by Tim Keller. It is phenomenal. Free sermons treating many of the topics covered by this book can be found here.

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