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While scientific accounts of Divine action are today problematic, it seems we can also say that for all practical purposes the future state of the Universe appears to be genuinely open, and as yet undecided. While there are some scenarios where any change would seem to require a violation of conservation laws, with complex systems that have many degrees of nested spatio-mechanical freedom (e.g. animal bodies and brains) or are tied to quantum indeterminacy, there are different future states that are equally likely. Importantly, they all balance the books of energy conservation, so there is scope for God to bring about one particular outcome in preference to another without breaking the laws of physics. Often the choice of one outcome over another would be difficult or impossible to detect, but we can envision certain scenarios that would be quite provocative. For example, if a Geiger counter were placed near a radio-isotope it will emit clicks as it detects decaying particles from the radio source. The time between each click is entirely unpredictable - a direct consequence of quantum indeterminacy - so any series of clicks is possible. We can easily program a computer to translate the time delay between clicks into letters of the alphabet. Such a system would now type letters.

We would be right to expect gibberish. But an equally possible outcome is that the system starts typing English sentences. If it were to type “This is a demonstration of Divine action” then that would certainly be a big help to continuing discussion of this difficult topic.

Email link | Printer-friendly | Feedback | Contributed by: Adrian Wyard


Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Techniques for Identifying Agency
Agency in Machines, Biology, and Humans
Machines and Beings
Robotic Agency
Digital Computers will Always be Machines
Embodied Robotics and Emergent Behaviors
No Thinking Necessary?
Divine Agency
Downward Causation
The World as God’s Body
Divine Information


Adrian Wyard

See also:

What Makes us Human?
Are we Free?
Does God Act?
Books on Information Technology