Five Physicists reflect on “God”

Following the awarding of the Templeton Prize this year to a Nobel Laureate who believes he found room for God in the Universe behind the veil of the vacuum energy, the BBC sent a reporter out to ask a number of leading Physicists about their beliefs.

The key question for pretty much all (as it is for me – though I’m not a leading Physicist by any measure) is found in the way we try to connect the mathematical constructions of Quantum Physics to the reality we observe:

“The bizarre nature of quantum physics has attracted some speculations that are wacky but the theory suggests to some serious scientists that reality, at its most basic, is perfectly compatible with what might be called a spiritual view of things.

Some suggest that observers play a key part in determining the nature of things. Legendary physicist John Wheeler said the cosmos ‘has not really happened, it is not a phenomenon, until it has been observed to happen.’

D’Espagnat worked with Wheeler, though he himself reckons quantum theory suggests something different. For him, quantum physics shows us that reality is ultimately ‘veiled’ from us.”

Read the full article here.

For what it’s worth I’m with D’Espagnat. (Though I’m open to Wheeler’s interpretation – with all the difficulties it raises on the nature of humanity.) And interestingly to me, Pope Benedict seems to be comfortable with D’Espagnat’s points. In a paper he wrote a few years ago he pointed out the failures of a purely relativistic approach (using the term in a philosophical and ethical way not in the way Einstein did). Benedict comes down at the end of the paper as a “Post-Positivist”.

Which is pretty much where I’ve landed too.

In fact I’m giving a talk on the implications of Post-Positivism in Ecumenism to the National Workshop on Christian Unity at the end of April.

I just need to write it. Heh.

Author: Nick Knisely

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