Friday, August 11, 2017

My Response to "How Contemporary Physics Points to God"

I decided to go ahead and write down my thoughts on the article, "How Contemporary Physics Points to God," first published on the website Strange Notions by Fr. Robert Spitzer, which can be found here. The reason being that, I feel my response to this article actually goes a long way toward not only expressing my thoughts on how cosmology and physics relate to God, but also explaining my thoughts on God's relationship to human beings, human nature, and the concept of free will.

The first thing which strikes me is that the jump from "creative power" to a "Creator" (implying intention) which Fr. Spitzer uses is a logical leap that isn't demonstrated by the evidence provided in the article. I think his use of "transcendent power" at least recognizes that there are other possibilities involved.

Still, it is interesting to note that not too long ago, the scientific community did not immediately affirm the idea that the Universe had a definable beginning. When the idea of the Big Bang was brought forward by Fr. Georges Lemaitre in 1927 as an explanation for the phenomena of Doppler shift being observed by astronomers, many derided it as a Christian interpolation into science. I think the article above did a great job of briefly addressing the proofs for the Big Bang, and some of its possible implications, while also providing a launchpad for further reading.

I also personally think the second part of the article, describing a teleological argument for God from the anthropic nature of the cosmos is more compelling, but even this doesn't "prove" God's involvement, nor does it provide proof of intention behind the universe. Instead, I like to say it "hints" at the possibility (or even probability) of intention behind the creation (and maintenance) of the Cosmos.

I would argue that we will never be able to find proofs for (or against) God in physical laws for a couple of reasons. The first is the obvious one, if there is no God, no proofs will be found. The second is less obvious, but more in line with my theological understanding of the Cosmos.

If God does exist, and this God wants to develop a relationship with created beings, then those beings must be able to develop the ability to formulate and express intent in a similar way to the God who created them. If this fundamental ability for self-expression (what one might call “free will”) were markedly different from what God has, or was non-existent, relationship would be impossible. This reality is already understood within the field of Artificial Intelligence. AI will only be recognized as conscious by human beings when the phenomena it produces begin to reflect the type of intention we already exhibit (cf. the hypothetical Turing Test).

But this also means that in order for self-expression/intention to exist, it must arise through natural processes which allow for risk (of evil, suffering, etc.) and on the other hand self-discovery. This means the “hand” of God cannot be too heavy, or else we would instinctively just do whatever God wants. There can be no relationship between puppets and their puppeteer, and it may be that in order to turn puppets into children, God needed to cut the strings.

Now, because I DO think our ability for self-expression is fundamentally different from God's (due to our fall into sin, and its corrupting effect on our ability to reason, to fully be human), the Incarnation became necessary for relationship to be restored.

Since an intentional being is only able to self-correct if its ability to reason is intact, God had to reach into the Cosmos and restore this ability (which in turn restored our capacity for free will), which I think he did through the incarnation, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Just as God didn't want us to be his puppets, He certainly doesn't want us to be puppets of corruption.

I think this theologically explains both the apparent absence of direct supernatural influence in the standard operation of the Cosmos and the apparent death and resurrection of Jesus (if such an event did occur) in a logically coherent way that also takes into account our current scientific understanding. However, I understand that from a materialist point of view, it isn't very satisfying.

#physics #cosmology #God #atheism #theology

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