Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

Stephen M. Barr

Barr describes the main subject of the book as providing critical scrutiny of the claim of "scientific materialism" that "religion, however believable it may once have been, has now been discredited by science." Barr writes from his Catholic perspective and shows great respect for the Catholic Church, although he is probably too hard on it in the Galileo discussion, at least in comparison to the perspective given by Dinesh D'Souza. p2

Part I: The Conflict Between Religion and Materialism

Ch 1: The Materialist Creed

p2 "What the debate is all about, as I shall explain later, is not proof but credibility." Good paragraph about "proof".

p7 The Genesis quote from Augustine

p8 Bellarmine's statement (Head of the Inquisition in Galileo's time).

p9 Examples of clerics who were scientists.

p13 G.K. Chesterton ".. most people have a reason but cannot give a reason."


Ch 2: Materialism as an Anti-Religious Mythology

p14 About the element of faith in science "This attitude of the scientist is also a form of faith, for the scientist is convinced in advance that the intelligible answer exists, even though he is not yet in possession of it."

p16-17 Argues that religious faith does not limit the things that you can look at or contemplate, but that materialism does.

p17 "The materialist, by contrast, is in a straitjacket of his own devising. Nothing is allowed by him to be beyond explanation in terms of matter and the mathematical laws that it obeys. If, therefore, he comes across some phenomenon that is hard to account for in materialistic terms, he often ends up denying its very existence."

p18 "A picture in which the existence of the universe is not merely some colossal accident, in which human life has both purpose and meaning, in which ideas about truth and falsehood and good and evil are more than mere electrochemical responses in our brains, and in which the beauty, harmony, and order of the universe, which science has helped us see more clearly than ever before, are recognized as the product of a wisdom and a reason that transcends our own."

Ch 3:Scientific Materialism and Nature

p19 Page long statement of "The Scientific Materialist's View of Nature"

p21 Bertrand Russell about man's place in the cosmos "a curious accident in a backwater".

p21 "The main plot outline is what may be called the 'marginalization of man' ".

p22 Points past 19th century science that might seem to agree with the "Materialist's view" to five "plot twists" in modern science that change the ending of the story.

  1. p22 The first plot twist is that though science was nearly unanimous about time being infinite at the turn of the 20th century, the Big Bang has dramatically overturned that idea and points to a beginning of time, as Jews and Christians have always believed.
  2. p22 The second plot twist involves the "deepening" of the perspective of physics to look beyond formuli to symmetries and conservation laws as the foundation of how nature behaves. 1. Elegant mathematical structures point to deeper truths. 2. Increasing unification of physics. These contribute to the argument for design.
  3. p24 The third plot twist involves the "anthropic coincidences" or "anthropic principle", a collection of fine tuning examples that suggest that the nature of the universe might have known we were coming.
  4. p25 The fourth plot twist involved thinking attributed to Godel and Lucas-Penrose that undermines the idea that man is just a machine.
  5. p27 The fifth plot twist involves the paradigm shift to quantum physics as the foundational understanding of nature, the fall of strict determinism, and hence some apparent room for indeterminance in the human mind and will. Hermann Weyl "the old classical determinism .. need not oppress us any longer."

p29 Last paragraph an excellent summary. Materialist scientists could argue that science argued for deterministic materialism and against religion, but recent discoveries are tipping the argument the other way.

Part II: In the Beginning

Ch 4: The Expectations

p33 With the Big Bang being apparently the beginning of time and space at about 15 billion years back, the words of Genesis "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth." seem to be confirmed.

p34 Aquinas discussion of beginnings

p35 Scientific materialists preferred a universe infinitely old.

Ch 5: How Things Looked One Hundred Years Ago

p36 Newtonian physics treats time as infinite in both directions, conservation of energy suggests that the universe is of infinite age since a beginning violates it. No hint of the "beginning" that persons of faith had believed for millenia.

Ch 6: The Big Bang

p38-39 Slipher, Hubble, Humason, then Einstein equation

p41 Einstein "Subtle is the Lord, but he is not malicious."

p42 discussion of cosmological constant

p43 Friedman and Lemaitre. Objections to expanding universe. As late as 1959

p44 Steady state model.

p45 Alpher, Herman and Gamow modeled early big bang

p46 Penzias and Wilson

Ch 7: Was the Big Bang Really the Beginning

p47 Augustine's reasoning that the universe had a beginning and that this meant that tiime had a beginning.

p48 Homogeneity, the curvature of space

p51 Expansion of space, balloon and flat sheet models. Describes closed universe.

p52 flat or very nearly so, may be infinite, expansion is accelerating.

p52 Bouncing universe scenario

p54 Baby universes

p54 Eternal inflation scenario. Flatness and horizon problems.

Ch 8 What If the Big Bang Was Not the Beginning?

p60 Discussion of 2nd law of thermo as argument that universe was not eternal.

p60 Interesting Psalm 102:25-26 "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment."

p60 Cardinal Ratzinger statement.

Part III: Is the Universe Designed?

Ch 9: The Argument From Design

p66 The Bible helped clear the way for modern science by clearing away "Fates and Furies, dryades and naiades, sun gods and gods of war, goddesses of sex and fertility" with its "severe monotheism".

p66 Proverbs 8:22-26, 30-31 impressive as an example of the view of God as wise, rational Creator.

p67 Other scriptures on the God of law, both for humans and for nature in general.

p67 Quote from E O Wilson on why Chinese didn't develop science

p67 Minicus Felix of the third century with his argument from design

p68 Calvin's Institutes and the classic Paley statement of design.

p69 Macauley design in nature

p69 Two kinds of design, Cosmic Design Argument and Biological Design Argument.

p69 discussion of structure - that inherent in form and symmetry and that "organic structure" consisting of the interdependence of working parts.

Ch 10 The Attack on the Argument from Design

p71 Pure Chance - monkey with the typewriter,

p72 Laws of Nature - orderliness required by the laws of physics, etc.

p73 Natural Selection - Alludes to Dennett and Dawkins,

p74 Origin of Life problem - complexity of the first primitive life form "elaborate structure, involving dozens of different proteins, a genetic code containing at least 250 genes, and many tens of thousands of bits of information."

p75 "How ironic that, having renounced belief in God because God is not material or observable by sense or instrument, the atheist may be driven to postulate not one but and infinitude of unobservables in the material world itself!"

Ch 11 The Design Argument and the Laws of Nature

p76 Two ways to think about the laws of nature. Bible- the existence of laws implies a law giver. Atheists: laws of nature prove that there is no need for God

p76 Pierre-Simon Laplace, asked by Napoleon why God was nowhere mentioned in his great treatise on celestial mechanics, replied "I have no need of that hypothesis." But Joseph-Louis Lagrange, physicist, when told this by Napoleon is reported to have said "Ah! But is such a beautiful hypothesis. It explains many things.".

p77 Uses hexagonal close-packed spheres as an order that arises from physical laws.

p78 "scientific accounts of natural processes are never really about order arising from mere chaos, or form emerging from mere formlessness. On the contrary, they are always about the unfolding of an order that was already implicit in the nature of things, although often in a secret or hidden way."

p79 "Order has to be built in for order to come out."

p79 "In science, order comes from order."

p79 box of spherical marbles vs a box of plastic spoon as comparison of what happens when each is tipped. Marbles are ordered because the had an inherent symmetry.

p80 In science, order comes from greater order

p84 Marbles to hex close packed is a "spontaneous symmetry breaking".

p87 The order in the heavens. Discusses observed patterns of planets, etc, then Kepler's Law, t hen to law of gravitation, conservation of momentum as deeper symmetries lying behind them.

Ch 12 Symmetry and Beauty in the Laws of Nature

p96 Geometrical symmetries, including the "golden mean"

p97f goes on to describe symmetries of elementary particles, unification of forces, supersymmetry

Ch 13 "What Immortal Hand or Eye?" Awesome chapter - waxes more eloquent than in previous chapters to my mind. Some very significant statements.

p105 Good summary of "symmetric structure" and "functional structure". "from ancient times, evidence for the existence of a consmic designer has been seem in the structure of the universe, or , in the words of Minucius Felix, in the 'order and law in the heavens and on earth.' We saw that there are two kinds of structure. One, which we called 'symmetric structure', is characterized by regularity, order, pattern, and symmetry. The other, which we called "organic structure", is characterized by a complex, functional interdependence of parts. We saw that the appearance of symmetric structure in natural phenomena can be explained using the laws of physics, as in the case of the growth of crystals or the formation of the solar system."

p105 "It is true that science explains order, but only by showing that it comes from some grander, more profound order, which it expresses in mathematical laws. "

p105-106 Quote from Zee, particle physicist. Role of symmetries in the current investigations of nature.

p107 Outlines investigation of whether the order seen can be obtained by chance, laws of nature, or natural selection to the exclusion of a Creator.

p107 "Can chance do it?"

p108 severe problem - even with vast number of universes, there is no explanation of why we live in a special, orderly universe. It is one very nearly perfect in terms of proceeding from mathematical rules.

p108 for 1000 gemstones that look perfect, all have detectable microscopic flaws so finding flaws just means looking at higher resolution.

p108 "yet scientists have studied the physical universe with instruments of astonishing precision; and while they quite often find anomalous behavior that does not fit the laws of nature as they think them to be, it has always turned out that these anomalies could be accounted for by some more beautiful law. The universe does not appear more and more flawed the more closely one looks at it, as one might expect if its regularity were a matter of luck. Rather, its fundamental patterns appear more and more wonderfully perfect the more closely they are examined."

p109 Herman Weyl quote deals with human suffering but flawless harmony in basic structure - pick up the quote when dealing with the problem of pain.

p109 "Is Natural Selection Enough" in realm of "organic structure"

p109 "most biologists think that Darwin succeeded in explaining organic structure in a completely natural way. This has led some of them to claim that Darwin has exploded the Argument from Design. However, there is a point that cannot be emphasized too strongly: Even if these biologists are correct, and Darwin has explained the formation of biological structure, that would at most affect one version of the Design Argument for the existence of God, namely the Biological Design Argument. It would leave completely untouched the Cosmic Design Argument, which takes as its starting point the structure of the universe as a whole. I have argued that this structure, and in particular the structure of the laws of physics, cannot, in the final analysis, be explained by some kind of theory of natural selection."

p109 Why he thinks that natural selection leaves the question open "Basically, the reason is that there is just not enough evidence to settle the issue one way or the other at the present time. There is a great deal of evidence - it seems to me to be overwhelming evidence - that evolution happened. What I mean by that is that there is a great deal of evidence pointing to the fact that all life on Earth evolved from a common ancestor. There is also a great deal of evidence that natural selection plays a large role in evolution. What is lacking is sufficient evidence to prove that natural selection by itself is capable of doing the whole job of driving evolution. On top of that, there are some discoveries in recent decades that make that job look a lot harder than it once did."

p110 Expands on that theme. Invokes Cambrian Explosion, complexity of bacterium, human brain - evolved from ape brain in five million years.

p110 "Why, then, are so many scientists so sure that natural selection is sufficient? Probably because they see no alternative that does not involve some divine superintendence of affairs, and to admit such a possibility would be, they think, "unscientific". My own view is that it is unsientific to go beyond the evidence."

p111 "Does Darwin Give "Design Without Design"?

p111 "marvelous patterns can arise "spontaneously" in nature as a result of the normal operation of the laws of physics. However, we also saw that this could only happen because of even more marvelous patterns in the laws of nature themselves. In other words, behind the remarkable phenomenon stood even more remarkable laws."

p111 "The same is true of evolution. Evolution, presumably, occurred through the normal operation of natural laws. But this was only possible, as I shall argue in the next chapters, because the laws of nature are themselves quite special. The biologist Richard Dawkins, referring to William Paley's 'watch argument', calls the universe the "Blind Watchmaker". The "watches" for Dawkins, are the intricate structures of living things. The universe, mindlessly following its mechanical laws, has succeed in crafting these astonishing structures by repeated trial and error. What Dawkins seems not to appreciate is that his Blind Watchmaker is something even more remarkable than Paley's watches. Paley finds a "watch", and asks how such a thing could have come to be there by chance. Dawkins finds an immense automated factory that blindly constructs watches, and feels that he has completely answered Paley's point. But that is absurd. How can a factory that makes watches be less in need of explanation than the watches themselves? Paley, if still alive, would be entitled to ask Dawkins how his Blind Watchmaker came to be there. Perhaps Dawkins would answer that it was produced by a Blind "Blind Watchmaker" Maker."

p111 "It is a remarkable thing that inanimate matter assembled itself into living organisms like dogs and cats and chimpanzees. The fact that it happened according to natural processes makes it no less remarkable; on the contrary, it only shows how remarkable the natural processes of our universe are. It is the same with sexual reproduction. Suppose someone told us of a technological breakthrough whereby a microscopic pellet of chemicals could be placed in an appropriate bath of other chemicals and spontaneously assemble itself into a video camera. or pocket calculator, or power tool. Would we not be astonished that such a thing was even possible, let alone that someone had achieved it? And yet, sexual reproduction is a more amazing thing by far. A little pellet of chemicals assembles itself into organisms that are far more sophisticated than anything human engineers can design or build. Humans can make a jumbo jet or a fighter plane, but are nowhere near to being able to make something as sophisticated as a housefly or a mosquito. "

p112 "And evolution is a far stranger thing even than reproduction. For what evolution means is that from a soup of very simple particles there emerged spontaneously all the complex entities that are capable of reproducing themselves. The entire genetic system by which organisms assemble themselves from microscopic seeds spontaneously assembled itself from a mere bath of chemicals."

p112 "Darwinian evolution, far from disproving the necessity of a cosmic designer, may actually point to it. We now have the problem of explaining not merely a butterfly's wing, but a universe that can produce a butterfly's wing."

Part IV: Man's Place In the Cosmos

Ch 14 The Expectations

p115 "theologians have explained that human beings are made in God's image primarily because, like God, we have reason and free will."

p115 Victor Stenger in "Not By Design" "The simplest hypothesis that so far seems to explain the data is that the universe is an accident."

p115 Steven Weinberg in "The First Three Minutes" "It is almost irresistible for humans to believe that we have some special relation to the universe, that human life is not just a farcical outcome of a chain of accidents, ... but that we were somehow built in from the beginning ... It is very hard for us to realize that [the entire Earth] is just a tiny part of an overwhelmingly hostile universe ... The more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless."

p116 Richard Dawkins in "Science and God: A Warming Trend?", Science 277 (1997), 890: "The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is at bottom no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but blind, pitiless indifference."

p116 Steven Jay Gould quotes Freud about the dethroning of man.

p116 The "marginalization of man" theme in scientific materialism.

p117 Brandon Carter in 1970's introduced the anthropic coincidences.

Ch 15 The Anthropic Coincidences

p118 discusses meaning of anthropic coincidences and says he will discuss 11 of many.

p119 #1. The Strength of the Strong Nuclear Force

p119 25 elements found in the human body that seem to be essential to its functioning. Manufactured in big bang, in interiors of stars, and in supernovas. "we are made of stardust ."

p120 "making the strong force 10% weaker would choke off the process of making the elements at the very beginning, at the very first step." Discusses stability of deuteron. Basically there would be no universe.

p121 making the strong force 4% stronger would make di-protons and di-neutrons possible. Only the slow, weak interaction moderated "burning" of stars like our Sun keeps them around long enough for life to develop. the di-proton path would make the lifetimes of stars very short.

p121 #2 The Three-Alpha Process

p121 The gaps at 5 and 8 "after making helium 4 the next rungs of the ladder seem to be missing.

p121 two He-4 stick together for 10^-17 sec. If a third collides during that time it can stick and form carbon-12. There are no more missing rungs.

p122 Hoyle, triple-alpha process resonantly enhanced. He calculated that energy to be 7.7MeV and it was subsequently found to be 7.66 MeV.

p123 If energy levels of C had been different by a few percent, no carbon and no us. Further, if O-16 had been resonant with C-12 + alpha, would have shunted away the carbon. Near miss: level in O-16 is 7.1187MeV.

p123 #3 The Stability of the Proton

p123Neutron about 10 minutes, but proton nearly forever.

p124If proton more massive than neutron, then no universe. Alludes to quarks.

p125 #4 The Strength of the Electromagnetic Force

p125 Relative strength of 1/137 important for atom formation. If 1/25 then maybe 20 elements, if 1/10 only a few elements -- but we need 25. Charge of protons contributes positively to its mass (which I don't understand) but the quark difference dominates and makes neutron slightly more massive. He says if em force twice as strong, the proton would be more massive and there would be the consequences discussed in #1

p126 #5 The Value of Nu (the vacuum expectation value of the Higgs field)

p127 its value is one of the central puzzles in physics. If it has an apparentl value of 1 but ought to be 10^17, so almost perfectly canceling opposing effects?

p127 if 1.4 rather than 1, then pion more massive by that factor, and range of nuclear force down by about 20%, deuterium wouldn't bind, so no universe.

p129 #6 The Cosmological Constant

p Value abou 10^-120 For universe as we know it, cosmological constant must be zero to about 120 decimal places.

p130 #7 The Flatness of Space

p131 For universe to last so long, space had to be extremely "flat", not accelerating or decelerating in its expansion rate.

p131 #8 The Number of Dimensions of Space

p134 For dimensions larger than 3 no stable orbits would exist according to Barr - not possible for centripetal force to balance electric attraction.

p134 #9 The Quantum Nature of the World

p137 #10 Why Electromagnetism?

p138 #11 Why Matter?

Ch 16 Objections to the Idea of Anthropic Coincidences

p138 Discusses the danger of "teleological" approach to nature. Scientists are hostile to anthropic coincidences because it might lead to a return to a teleological approaches that stymied the development of science for 2 millenia. Also it might be fear of the obvious religious implications.

p139 Lists scientists who have written about anthropic coincidences.

p140 Three basic objections to the idea of anthropic coincidences

p140 #1 The requirements for life are unknown.

p140 #2 Conventional scientific explanations may exist.

p141 Uses fine structure constant value 1/137 - may follow from grand unification. From strength of weak and strong forces can calculate within about half a percent. Also flatness may come from inflation.

p141 #3 There may have been no room for choice.

p142 Argument that there may have been a stronger magnetic force with the same electric force, but now that we know that they are aspects of the same force, we imply that they could not be independently changed.

p142 "in a deeper theory facts that previously seemed unrelated to each other are often seen to be tied to each other."

p142 "The question, then, is whether the kind of reasoning that goes into demonstrating an anthropic coincidence really makes any sense at all. When we know the ultimate mathematical theory of all physical phenomena, it may turn out that everything is so tied to everthing else that nothing can be changed without destroying the whole structure of the theory. In the ultimate theory, in other words, it may turn out that everything has to be just as it is. That is what Einstein meant when he famously said 'What I'm really interested in is whether God could have made the world in a different way.'" following is a couple of paragraphs about how theoretical physicists view the possibility that a final unified theory might remove all degrees of freedom.

p143 Answers to objections to anthropic coincidences.

p144 reiterates "not proof, but credibility" but points to cosmological constant and spatial flatness as very tiny windows for life to exist. Also those which would prevent formaton of periodic table.

p145 Carr amd Rees on natural laws and coincidences "even if all apparently anthropic coincidences could be explained in this way, it would still be remarkable that the relationships dictated by physical theory happened also those propitious for life."

Ch 17 Alternative Explanations of the Anthropic Coincidences

p150 Weak anthropic principle. Presumes the existence of many universes.

p151 "Many Domain" version of WAP . Other domains would be beyond our horizon of observation.

p152 "Many Universes" version of WAP. The separation is extreme - like different books rather than just different pages in Many Domain version, so Many Domain version most popular

p154 "The basic point of the anthropic coincidences, for the theist, is that they highlight the fact that the universe might have been a different sort of place, and that it had to be a very special sort of place if it were to give rise to life. "

p156 "In any event, however inadequate, some version of the Weak Anthropic Principle seems to be the only way to attempt to explain the anthropic coincidences in a naturalistic way. It is a very curious circumstance that materialists, in an effort to avoid what Laplace called the unneccessary hypothesis of God, are frequently driven to hypothesize the existence of an infinity of unobservable entities."

p156 "It seems that to abolish one unobservable God, it takes an infinite number of unobservable substitutes."

Ch 18 Why Is the Universe So Big?

p158 "But if on some clear night we go outside and gaze up at the heavens, it is natural for us to be shocked at their immensity and overcome by a sense of our own insignificance. How vast the universe is, and how very small we are! How can we be so arrogant as to think that all of this was made for our sakes? Is that not as ridiculous as thinking that the entire Pacific Ocean exists for the sake of one microbe floating in its depths?" Quotes Ps 8:3-4

p158 Blaise Pascal in Pensees "The eternal silence of the infinite spaces frightens me."

p158 Comments that size does not equate to significance, that our power of reason can penetrate from one end of the cosmos to the other, and that those vast reaches know nothing . From Hamlet "I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself king of infinite space."

p159 Bertrand Russell, who called the human race "a curious accident in a backwater" quote to support the above - points to a valuing of human beings above all material universe.

p159 Einstein "If there were not this inner illumination [i.e., the human mind], the universe would be merely a rubbish heap."

p159 "God saw that it was good." preceded the creation of man. Ps19 "The heavens declare the glory of God."

p159 "the very vastness of the universe seems to be necessary if life is to arise in it, and so may underline rather than contradict the importance of human life in the scheme of nature."

p160 How old must a universe be?

p160 15 billion - supernovae release elements to be included in later generation stars - Sun about 10 billion years after big bang. Biological evolution more billions of years. One generation must be a very small part of the total age of the universe.

p160 How big must a universe be?

p160, 15 billion years, 15 billion light years in extent, smaller universe shorter life so not enough time for life to develop.

p161 Are we really so small?

pHumans sort of a mid point between the small and the large.

p161 "The universe is to a planet as a planet is to an atom." Using geometric mean. Size of man's hand to an atom is as the hand to a planet. From Carr and Rees, Nature 1979

p162 How basic physics sets the relative sizes of things.

p 162 ratio of atom to planet is fine structure constant to grav constant, the ratio of the corresponding coupling constants.

p163 mean between electron orbit time and age of the universe is about the time for a human heartbeat.

p163 Man is on an "isthmus of a middle state"

Part V: What Is Man?

Ch 19 The Issue

p167What sets man apart from matter - nice paragraph. Reason, but also morality.

p168 The religious view. Only man is "in the image of God" rationality and freedom.

p168 St Irenaeus of Lyons "Man is rational and therefore like God; he is created with free will and is master over his acts."

p168 Catechism of the Catholic Church "By virtue of his soul and spiritual powers of intellect and will, man is endowed with freedom, an 'outstanding manifestation of the divine image'."

p168 "[In] his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, ...[man] discerns signs of his spiritual soul. The soul, 'seed of eternity we bear in ourselves, irreducible to the merely material,' can have its origin only in God"

p169 The material view. Man no more than matter - totally understandable if we knew the motions of all the particles in him. Scientific history leading inevitably toward material view, characterized by five developments

p169 #1 Biology has been shown to be reducible to chemistry and physics

p170 #2 Man appears physically to be an animal like other animals

p170 #3 There is a correspondence between physical events in the brain and mental processes.

p171 #4 Computers have shown that machines can perform "mental" tasks.

p171 #5 What happes in the physical world is rigidly determined by physics.

p171 "even if our minds were able to make free choices, these choices could have no effect on the actions of our bodies, because our bodies are made of matter and would have to behave in the way determined by the prior state of the material world."

Ch 20 Determinism and Free Will

p175 The Overthrow of Determinism

p176 "This issue of determinism and free will is one of the few where scientific theories have the potential of being in clear contradiction to religious doctrine; and such a contradiction really seemed to exist at the end of the nineteenth century."

p176 The discovery of quantum physics and the overthrow of determinism. Even Einstein, Schrodinger and deBroglie had problems with it. Einstein "God does not play dice."

p178 Points to quantum indeterminancy but discourages it as an explanation for free will. Takes the next step to say that it might create an "opening" for free will to operate, and presents three arguments against it.

p178 #1 "quantum theory asserts that all events, to the extent that they are not determined, are governed only by chance. And if they are governed only by chance, then obviously they cannot be governed by something else, like a rational will." David Chalmers in "The Conscious Mind" "[T]he theory [that quantum indeterminancy allows free will] contradicts the quantum-mechanical postulate that these microscopic 'decisions' are entirely random.."

p180-181 Argues along the lines that, forbidding other influences, the probabilities might be exactly equal, but that some non-physical cause that influenced the probability would not violate the quantum theory since the observed outcome would be an allowed one. Since A and B are allowed in the quantum theory, the selection of either of them could not be considered to be a violation of the quantum theory.

p182 Heraclitus "one cannot step into the same stream twice"

p182 #2 "If the 'will' could somehow influence Nature's choice of alternative that occurs [in quantum processes], then why is an experimenter not able, by the action of 'will power' to influence the result of a quantum experiment? If this were possible, then violations of the quantum probabilities would surely be rife!" Roger Penrose, "Shadows of the Mind".

p182 Responds along the lines that control applies only to certain quantum processes going on in the brain . "I can believe, for example, that it is within my power to control some part of my brain so that it will lift my arm and wave it about, without believing that I can also by willpower affect the movements of the Sun, Moon and stars."

p183 #3 "structures in the brain, specifically neurons, that are involved in mental activity are simply too large for quantum indeterminancy to play a role in them." Prevailing view of brain researchers. But challenged by Penrose, and by Sir John Eccles.

p183 consiciousness not really understood, so shouldn't be so confident as to assume quantum processes play no role.

p184 "How free will fits into the structure of nature remains a deep and difficult question." Determinism has been overthrown by quantum physics, but the problems remain exceedingly difficult.

p184 Hermann Weyl, "The Open World", 1931 "We may say that there exists a world, causally closed and determined by precise laws, but .. the new insight which modern [quantum] physics affords ... opens several ways of reconciling personal freedom with natural law. It would be premature, however, to propose a definite and complete solution of the problem. One of the great differences between the scientist and the impatient philosopher is that the scientist bides his time. We must await the further development of science, perhaps for centuries, perhaps for thousands of years, before we can design and true and edetailed picture of the interwoven texture of Matter, Life, and Soul. But the old classical determinism of Hobbes and Laplace need not oppress us longer."

p184 Is Free Will Real?

p184 If free will, then materialism wrong. Rule or randomness. Free will neither, so a third kind of thing.

p185 "Since free will is fatal to scientific materialism, the materialist is forced to deny its reality. This is done in two ways. Some simply assert that free will is altogether an illusion. It is a "naive" idea, a myth, and there is simply nothing in the real world that corresponds to it."

p185 Others say that decisions we call "free will" are just internally determined, but not really free. Lots of people weigh in.

p185 Francis Crick "What you're aware of is a decision, but you're not aware of what makes you do the decision. It seems free to you, but it's t he result of things you are not aware of."

p185 Edward O. Wilson "The hidden preparation of mental activity gives the illusion of free will." Barr attributes this position to Daniel Dennett as well.

p185-6 Discusses moral dimension "When we believe that a human being is not acting freely, as in cases of truly compulsive behavior or insanity, we do not assign moral praise or blame."

p186 further discussion and defense of our feeling our decisions have freedom

p186 "science as debunker" emboldens science to challenge "common sense"

p186 "let us not pretend to deny in our philosophy what we know in our hearts to be true" C. S. Pierce, to which Stephen Jay Gould in "Full House" replied "Pierce may have been our greatest thinker, but his line in this context almost sounds scary. Nothing could be more antithetical to intellectual reform than an appeal against thoughtful scrutiny of our most hidebound mental habits - notions so 'obviously' true that we stopped thinking about them generations ago, and moved them into our hearts and bosoms. Please do not forget that the sun really does rise in the east, move through the sky each day, and set in the west. What knowledge could be more visceral than the earth's central stability and the suns subordinate motion?"

p188 Wonderful general discussion of the fact that our perceptions are internal to our brain and do not require proof.

p188 Andrei Linde "Our knowledge of the world begins not with matter but with perception. I know for sure that my pain exists, my "green" exists, my "sweet" exists. I do not need any proof of their existence, because these events are a part of me; everything else is a theory."

p189 Dr. Johnson, to Boswell "If a man should give me arguments that I do not see, though I could not answer them, should I believe that I do not see?"

p189 "There is a certain degree to which we must trust our experiences if we are to do any rational thinking at all, including scientific thinking." good paragraph following

p189 "There was a time when religious skepts proudly called themselves "free thinkers". It is ironic that the modern materialist skeptic disbelieves even in the reality of his own freedom, both moral and intellectual."

Ch 21 Can Matter "Understand"?

p191 "Human freedom and human rationality stand or fall together."

p191 Abstract Understanding

p197 Truth







Ch 22 Is the Human Mind Just a Computer

p207 Introduces the Lucas-Penrose arguments based on the Godel theorem

p211 What Godel showed

p213 Arguments of Lucas and Penrose

p215 Avenues of Escape





Ch 23 What Does the Human Mind Have That Computers Lack?

p223 Can one have a simple idea?

p225 Is the materialist view of the mind scientific?







Ch 24 Quantum Theory and the Mind

p228 Rudolf Peierls "the premise that you can describe in terms of physics the whole function of a human being .. including its knowledge, and its consciousness, is untenable. There is still something missing."

p228 Eugene Wigner wrote that quantum theory is incompatible with the idea that everything, including the mind, is made up solely of matter. "[While a number of philosophical ideas] may be logically consistent with present quantum mechanics, .. materialism is not."

p 229 The London-Bauer argument in brief.

p232 five steps of the London-Bauer argument.





Ch 25 Alternatives to Traditional Quantum Theory

p Brief treatments of "hidden variables" and "pilot wave" theories, but argues against their plausibility.

p248 The "many-worlds" idea discussed as more plausible. Avoids the collapse of the wavefunction upon observation by saying that all the states that have non-zero probabilities are regarded as co-existing after the measurement.

p252 Many-worlds interpretation postulates an infinite number of branches of reality.

Ch 26 Is a Pattern Emerging?

p253 "the things that are of most concern to religion are things that cannot be smelled, or touched, or tasted - such as freedom and rationality, good and evil, truth and falsehood, love and beauty."

p254 Quantum view made the observer an essential part of the process - a universe that is not causally closed.

p254Godel's theorem and the Lucas-Penrose formulation of it treats mind as more than matter.

p254-255 "These are the most profound discoveries in mathematics and physics. Each deals with aspects of what it is to know; in one case to know through pure reason, and in the other to know through physical observation. In each case the totalistic dream of describing everything by a mathematical formulism or a law of physics runs into a contradiction: the contradictions pointed out by Lucas on the one hand and by von Neumann on the other."

255 In Godelian case, have to deny the consistency of one's own mind, or accept that mind is more than a machine, more than a computer. In the quantum case, have to accept "many-worlds" view

p255 "The materialist seems to be forced to assert of himself not only that he is a machine, which for most people is absurd enough, but that he is really an infinite number of inconsistent machines dividing and subdividing into more and more realities as the universe unfolds."

p255 quotes from Penrose, Chalmers, Nagel, Newman hanging on to materialism

p255 Wigner wonders at "the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics" in understanding the physical world. "The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve."












Reading Reference
Reasonable FaithR Nave
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