The Invaluable Tom Kreitzberg formulated…

Spong’s Law of Theophysical Asininity some time ago. It declares:

Whenever a person appeals to quantum physics as the basis for a theological or religious principle, he is making an ass of himself.

Stephen Barr, who is typically pretty smart about such matters, concurs and wisely answers the musical question “Does Quantum Physics Make it Easier to Believe in God?” as follows:

Not in any direct way. That is, it doesn’t provide an argument for the existence of God. But it does so indirectly, by providing an argument against the philosophy called materialism (or “physicalism”), which is the main intellectual opponent of belief in God in today’s world.

This reflects the nuance of St. Thomas, who points out that no point of supernatural revelation can be proven by reason, but all attacks on supernatural revelation can be refuted by reason.

Of course, the existence of God is not a matter of supernatural revelation and can be arrived at by the light of natural reason as Paul points out in Romans 1:20 and as the First Vatican Council reaffirmed. But since the human mind is clouded by conscupiscence and believes all sorts rubbish that makes it harder to apprehend the existence of God, various tools of reason can sometimes clear away the rubbish. One of those tools is the sciences which, properly handled, can help clear the mind of cant. So, for instance, to the mind dominated by a mechanistic view of the universe in which it is thought there is no room for God since the Machine is all, quantum physics can help reintroduce to such tidy minds the realization that creation is passing strange and not at all the machine so popular with minds from the age of the machine.

That’s no “faith” in the Christian sense, but it can be a step toward it from the flat-footed determinism of some New Atheists. Quantum physics reminds us we live in a universe that is deeply mysterious. It suggests, rather than proves God. But suggestions can still be refused.

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  • JB

    But then even if a Modern mind can get past the Modern superstition of determinism, still the Modern Mind usually remains stuck in the superstitious assumption that “energy” is identical with “spirit”, thus remaining essentially materialistic.

    Spirit is neither matter NOR energy. It acts upon both but is not conditioned by matter or energy.

  • Tom K.

    What I think this argument against materialism illustrates is that physicists don’t understand mathematics. Better, I’d say, to shore up their foundations than to extend their conclusions.

    • Jay

      What are your mathematical qualifications that make you competent to judge that physicists — who work with some of the hardest math on the planet — do not understand mathematics?

      I don’t entirely disagree that the conclusions don’t necessarily follow from the premises, but that seems a very foolhardy line of attack.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Declaring qualifications, or asking for them, on the Internet is a wasted effort. You generally have no means of verification. Not to mention that out of the gate it sounds more like “shut up” than anything else.

      • Tom K.

        I admit that my mathematical qualifications are unimpressive; my Erdos Number, for example, is finite only by the most generous of interpretations, and I haven’t touched Runge-Kutta methods since grad school.

        But all it takes is a game of Acey Deucy to see that probability and occurrence are very different things.

        • John in NE

          “I admit that my mathematical qualifications are unimpressive; my Erdos Number, for example, is finite only by the most generous of interpretations, and I haven’t touched Runge-Kutta methods since grad school.”

          How modest. Are you being sarcastic?

          It seems to me that the quantum mechanics make room for whatever God needs. God can perform a miracle, without disturbing the determinism our eyes see at the Newton level. Underneath there are levers and dials that can be manipulated to affect thoughts and actions, and those events will fall into some acceptable probability that afterward will be labelled as either a 0% or a 100%.

          So when it was said that God does not play dice with the universe, that’s true. We have to deal with the dice, but when God rolls them, they’re TOTALLY LOADED. That’s pretty awesome.

          • John in NE

            BTW, in the above I’m not trying to be a Spong Ass. Rather I’m wondering whether I even understand the effect that quantum mechanics has on the discussion about God and physics, and what I wrote above is merely my take.

          • Tom K.

            “How modest. Are you being sarcastic?”

            No, just stuck, qualificationswise, between none and plenty.

            “It seems to me that the quantum mechanics make room for whatever God needs. God can perform a miracle, without disturbing the determinism our eyes see at the Newton level.”

            I would have agreed with that once. Now, though, I’d say that God can perform a miracle wherever and however He wants, and it’s not Him Who needs quantum mechanics for room to operate, but Christians reeling before an onslaught of bad materialistic philosophy. Whether the gap you try to fit God into is epistemological or ontological, it’s a gap prescribed by science, not theology, and science might (in principle) close that gap at any time.

            • John in NE

              Thanks, that’s a great response. Pardon my snark on the modesty comment.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        As the great George E. P. Box said, “All models are wrong; some are useful.” Yet too many physicists ignore Newton’s General Scholium and suppose that if the math works out really kool, physical reality must therefore follow. The hazard of physicalism is that it begins to conflate mathematical reality with physical reality, leading to endless multiplication of entities.

  • Joseph H. M. Ortiz

    In proof of a Creator’s existence, may I outline a non-technical argument which I hold as quite certain?
 Consider the individual ovum and the individual spermatozoon from which you, reader, were somehow, at some moment, generated. From precisely those two cells resulted a unique genetic constitution: yours. But what if there had been twinning? In that case, two selves would have resulted with the same genetic constitution: had you been one of those twins, your genetic constitution would not have been unique. Yet you would have still been precisely yourself. Conclusion: your absolute identity — I don’t mean your psychological “identity” or persona, I mean simply your very self — is not determined by your genetic constitution, even if you’re not in fact a twin.
    What then does determine you to be precisely you; or me precisely me? For although my bodily make-up is indeed extremely complex, it seems evident to me that I — my very self — am not any FEATURE or CHARACTER or MARK or NOTE; nor any ensemble of FACTORS: I’m quite simply just me. So then, Why do I and not someone else look out from behind these eyes of mine? Why are they MY eyes?
    Hence, it appears evident to me that from that same individual ovum and that spermatozoon from which I somehow came, there could have come someone other than I; evident also, at the same stroke, that there is no necessity whatever for ME to have come from ANY union of sperm and ovum.
    In view of this, What reason can there be why precisely I have this individual nature — indeed What reason why precisely I exist at all, other than that my absolutely ineffable identity itself — and the intimate identity of every human self — is the expressly intended effect and term of a free option of some person able to bring about that effect? — term of a free option, that is, of a Creator?
    (Understandably, if a premise here which appears evident to me does not appear so to a given reader, the argument here won’t be conclusive to that person.)

  • Ted Seeber

    Quantum Mechanics is just a fancy way of allowing scientists to keep their pride instead of being humble and admitting that the human species has limitations in the quest for knowledge.

  • Dr. Eric

    May I add a Law of my own which is like Spong’s Law?

    Dr. Eric’s Law: “Whenever a person appeals to quantum physics as the basis for an alternative medical theory, he is making an ass of himself.”

    • Frank Sales

      I read somewhere that Einstein was quite intrigued by the Catholic doctrine of transubstantiation.