causal joint in quantum-based proposals on divine action seems to outline a promising proposal as to how God might act in the
world science describes.
However, both Peacocke and Polkinghorne
reject quantum indeterminacy as a candidate for the causal joint. The link
between the probabilistic world of quantum mechanics and the macroscopic world
is still poorly understood (see Schrödingers Cat and the Meaning of Quantum
Theory), nor is it known if there can be any equivalent to chaotic behaviour
(where large effects are caused by small changes in initial conditions) within
quantum systems. Except in devices designed to amplify them, the effects of
quantum fluctuations tend to cancel out - the amplification suggested by
proponents of the theory is therefore rather questionable.
Among Peacockes objections are:
his sense that ontological indeterminacy
has to be taken seriously - God could not logically have the knowledge to
determine the precise result of a quantum event, and if God were to alter such
an event, God would have to alter a great number of others simply in order to
hide divine activity behind the observed statistics.
a conviction that this picture of God
continually determining the outcome of processes established in creation is at
variance with the very fruitful emphasis in the scientist-theologians that God
has created processes which themselves
can, when sustained by God, give rise to the novelty, diversity and complexity
we so celebrate.
The case of quantum indeterminacy as a
candidate for the causal joint is an important crux of interpretation in the
area of scientifically-informed theology. At first sight it is an enormously
tempting line of argument:
freedom in agents, human and divine, requires an open future - genuine, ontological indeterminacy
main (though not the only) interpretation of contemporary physics is that
quantum systems possess such indeterminacy.
this is where divine agency can operate without detection, or interference in
the autonomy of natural (particularly living) entities.
seems a real consonance, or at least a genuinely good fit, between quantum
theory - the most imaginative, ingenious and counter-intuitive element in
natural science - on the one hand, and the demands of theology on the other.
However, as we have just seen, there are
significant problems in making the argument cohere in detail. The science is
not itself wholly coherent - the measurement problem continues to bedevil
quantum theory, and its metaphysical implications are still being argued out.
Nor is the fit the science offers, even judged at its most helpful, to the
taste of every theologian.
link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr.
Source: God, Humanity and the
Cosmos (T&T Clark, 1999)