Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness
Victor J. Stenger
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Does quantum mechanics show a connection between the human mind and the cosmos? Are our brains tuned into a "cosmic consciousness" that pervades the universe enabling us to make our own reality? Do quantum mechanics and chaos theory provide a place for God to act in the world without violating natural laws?
Many popular books make such claims and argue that key developments in twentieth-century physics, such as the uncertainty principle and the butterfly effect, support the notion that God or a universal mind acts upon material reality.
Physicist Victor J. Stenger examines these contentions in this carefully reasoned and incisive analysis of popular theories that seek to link spirituality to physics. Throughout the book Stenger alternates his discussions of popular spirituality with a survey of what the findings of twentieth-century physics actually mean. Thus he offers the reader a useful synopsis of contemporary religious ideas as well as basic but sophisticated physics presented in layperson’s terms (without equations).
Of particular interest in this book is Stenger’s discussion of a new kind of deism, which proposes a God who creates a universe with many possible pathways determined by chance, but otherwise does not interfere with the physical world or the lives of humans. Although it is possible, says Stenger, to conceive of such a God who "plays dice with the universe" and leaves no trace of his role as prime mover, such a God is a far cry from traditional religious ideas of God and, in effect, may as well not exist.
Like his bestselling book, God, The Failed Hypothesis, this new work presents a rigorously argued challenge to many popular notions of God and spirituality.
Copernican model that was recognized by his fellow astronomers and by Galileo's church critics. It violated common sense. How could Earth be moving at some high speed around the sun, actually thirty kilometers per second, and we humans, sitting here on Earth, not notice it? The experience of a seventeenth-century man or woman riding in a carriage down some cobblestone street seemed to clearly demonstrate that one could tell the difference between moving and being at rest. So, we should sense
quantum mechanics, philosophers and philosophically oriented physicists, as many physicists were then in contrast to today, debated the meaning of quantum mechanics. This story has been discussed in many books, including my own 1995 effort called The Unconscious Quantum, which goes into many details that I will not repeat here.' For my purposes in this book, I need review only the main ideas of the various interpretations and highlight the elements thought to be spooky. Copenhagen Positivism
mechanics. More controversially, the notion that some additional form of "top-down" causality in which a system with a high level of complexity is able to act downward and affect lower levels in a causative fashion is being promoted by those who think this will show that we humans are more than "just particles." Evolution is cited as having this property, but I have not seen any example where top-down causality in biology is not as trivial as a rotating wheel causing its constituent particles to
in 1955 by the Jesuit priest and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin.17 Teilhard saw evolution beginning at the Alpha Point, a place of infinite disorder, and proceeding by increasing complexification to humanity and onward to the Omega Point that is Christ. Perhaps he should be given credit as one of the earlier discoverers of emergence. However, few theologians are interested in a God who is far in the future. Physicist Frank Tipler has estimated the time we need to wait to reach the
universe exists, but our universe simply tunnels one way out of chaos.15 The same mathematical procedure applies in this case. Fig. 16.2. The Hartle-Hawking wave function of the universe. The horizontal axis is crudely the radius of the universe a divided by a critical radius a0. Above the critical radius the universe is physical. Below (a/ao < 1) the universe is unphysical. The unphysical region has no structure or information and so is interpreted as "chaos," or "nothing." CHAOS AT THE