Quantum Gods

Vic Stenger’s latest book, Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness is about to come out. Here is the blurb I wrote for it:

Physics has developed a reputation of providing support for all sorts of supernatural beliefs, from old-fashioned religions to New Age ideas. Quantum physics, especially, seems to mean “magic” for too many people. Most of us in physics treat all this as an annoyance and go on with our teaching and research. This is all the more reason to grateful for the work of Victor Stenger, who is one of the best for diligently separating real physics from popular misconceptions. In Quantum Gods, Stenger combines a lucid, nonmathematical explanation of fundamental ideas of physics with a uncompromising argument showing how pressing physics into the service of either New Age or theistic religious beliefs invariably distorts our understanding of the universe. Everyone interested in debates over physics and the supernatural should read this book.

New Scientist already has a review out.

About Taner Edis

Professor of physics at Truman State University

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/06394155516712665665 CyberKitten

    Cool. I think I’ll add it to my ever growing Amazon wish list…. [grin]

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11399828220100913111 UnBeguiled

    Nice blurb, I really enjoy your and Stenger’s books. I especially appreciate your books for the meticulous notes and extensive bibliographies.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05188779170739251410 Danny Boy, FCD

    Doesn’t Vic Stenger already have two books on physics and psychics (which is the title of one of them)? I do hope that there would be little repetition between them.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12963476276106907984 Sabio Lantz

    Excellent. Back in the day, I use to misuse Physics like this too. Thank you for the post — I must get it.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10778996187937943820 Taner Edis

    Danny Boy: “Doesn’t Vic Stenger already have two books on physics and psychics”There are some thematic similarities, but not much overlap. Physics and Psychics, for example, is now rather old and out of date. Quantum Gods does its share of New Age-bashing as well, but it’s up to date.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    Taner Edis said: “ In Quantum Gods, Stenger combines a lucid, nonmathematical explanation of fundamental ideas of physics with a uncompromising argument showing how pressing physics into the service of either New Age or theistic religious beliefs invariably distorts our understanding of the universe.

    Well, that’s the point isn’t it? To show how the ontological implications of quantum mechanics can and do sometimes “distort” naturalists’ understanding of reality. After all you get few knowledgeable naturalists today claiming that physical space is local as virtually all naturalists believed in the beginning of the 20th century.

    Now I haven’t read the book, and I suppose it’s a good thing that some naturalistic physicists are starting to respond to the problems that modern science has created for their naturalistic worldview. In this context I am sure that a lot of nonsense has been claimed by New Agers and perhaps also theists, and I hope the book makes a good job dispelling those. On the other hand I also hope the book makes clear that the arguments themselves in the sense that quantum mechanics demonstrates the falsity of some of the deepest naturalistic intuitions (such as natural science’s job is to describe reality or that consciousness is contingent on matter) do not originate with New Agers or theists but with a dozen or more physicists many of whom world-renowned, such as Niehls Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Eugene Wigner, John Wheeler, Arthur Eddington, Bernard d’Espagnat, David Mermin, Sir James Jeans, Martin Rees, Euan Squires, and others.

    From “New Scientist” review of this book: “ As for the notion of creating our own reality, this relies on brains in some sense operating quantum mechanically

    That’s false. The notion that physical reality is contingent on conscious observation relies on quantum mechanics itself or rather on the observation of quantum mechanical phenomena – and not on any claims about our brain. On the contrary people who have speculated about our brain being a quantum machinery were trying to explain how, given that physical reality is contingent on consciousness, this may come about.

    From the same “New Scientist” review: “ Stenger cites the famous Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen paradox. This 1935 thought experiment outlined a known conundrum in quantum mechanics and concluded that we must accept one of two explanations for it: either that quantum mechanics is a complete theory – despite its probabilistic dice-throwing; or that beneath it lies some deterministic reality, but one which is “non-local”, that is, one where signals can travel faster than light speed, thereby violating Einstein’s special theory of relativity.

    That’s false. What EPR paradox implies is that either quantum mechanics is *not* a complete theory, or else that reality is non-local. Einstein’s argument was precisely that as reality is obviously local (he famously called the contrary idea “spooky”) it follows that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory. As it turned out experiments inspired by the EPR paradox proved him wrong.

    From the same “New Scientist” review: “Most physicists chose the first option, except David Bohm, who famously came to believe in a non-local universe.

    That’s false. Not only David Bohm, but most naturalistic physicists after learning about Alain Aspect’s experiments believe in a non-local universe.

    Taner Edis is a physicists and perhaps can validate that I am right when pointing out the above errors. I am personally shocked that so many basic errors about science and its implications are to be found in a magazine that most people would trust in these matters. I hope it’s not Stenger’s book that misled this reviewer, but in any case I wonder what the editors of this magazine were doing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09925591703967774000 Dianelos Georgoudis

    I missed this bit, also from the review in “New Scientist”:

    [...] one where signals can travel faster than light speed, thereby violating Einstein’s special theory of relativity

    In fact quantum mechanics directly and massively contradicts special relativity, because it predicts that matter (never mind “signals”) can travel faster than light speed (see the “tunneling effect). Where quantum mechanics does contradict special relativity I think few people doubt which is right. Indeed I understand that experiment has already demonstrated photons traveling at more than 2c.


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