Quantum Unbelief”Such is the case


Quantum Unbelief

“Such is the case with Michael Ingham, the current Bishop of New Westminster (Vancouver area)in the Anglican Church of Canada, who published his Easter Message for 2005. You can read the sermon on the Diocesan Website. His message looks at the impact of the ‘new physics’ on theology, and concludes that Easter can no longer be viewed as ‘something understandable’ but rather must be seen as a ‘divine uncertainty principle inserted into our world.’

A physicist in Bishop Ingham’s diocese takes the Bishop to task for his bad science (and even worse theology) in one of the best pieces on science and Christianity I have read in a long time. Read it here. “

(Via To all the world….)

This is posted by Bob Munday – who is (I believe) presently the Dean of Nashotah House and whom I knew when he was teaching at Trinity Seminary in Ambridge PA.

The counter-article referenced above is pretty good, though I think it takes too harsh a tack in the beginning when it castigates Ingham for factual errors which are not central to the line of argument that Ingham is trying to make.

The key criticism is well made though in that Ingham has chosen to base his argument on a rather specious source called “Quantum Theology”. I can report that there are many such volumes out there with similar titles none of which have anything to do with Quantum Physics and/or good thoughtful Theology.

I think Ingham’s point may have been an attempt to argue that Quantum Physics in the strictest form would allow for apparently miraculous events to occur. As such there is no reason to say that a miracle such as the resurrection is impossible. But that’s rather a trivial way to apply the tools of Quantum Physics since classical physics doesn’t automatically exclude miracles. Classical Physics is simply clear that it can neither explain nor predict them. It’s only people with certain agendas that will claim from that statement that therefore miracles have never happened.

The real problem here is that Bishop Ingham has attempted to make an argument without really understanding the terms he is using nor taking the time to properly check out his resources. Bishop Spong does a similar thing in a number of his books. The end result in both case are weakened arguments that could be much stronger.

Quantum Physics is a field of physics where we understand pretty clearly how to make predictions about what is likely to happen. The problem at them moment is that we don’t understand what those predictions actually mean. Until we have a better understanding of how to interpret the results of QM calculations I’m uncomfortable trying to use it as a primary source for doing Theological thought. QM is certainly evocative and it looks like a particularly promising tool to help folks get our minds wrapped around the foundational nature of reality. But it’s too soon to start making theological claims about the nature of God based simply on its idea.

The Author

Episcopal bishop, dad, astronomer, erstwhile dancer...