The Functional Equivalent of God
So confident have theoretical physicists become in their mathematics that they follow it into places more suited to theology than science. It’s one thing to identify a fundamental sub-atomic particle that fills a theoretical void but quite another to claim that we are living in a hologram or in only one of an infinite number of possible universes. The same mathematical framework, quantum mechanics, apparently leads to these two radically different conclusions. How can we possibly determine which of these or other equally
unprovable claims (e.g., we are living inside of a computer simulation) to uncovered “reality” are true? Or, do we next need to follow the math to prove that we live in a reality where an infinite number of possible holograms are being projected from an infinite number of two-dimensional surfaces?
I understand that these results were obtained through the legitimate goal of unifying the theories governing the micro and macro cosmos. But, when pursuit of this goal leads to places that can only properly be described as theological speculation hasn’t science burst its legitimate bounds? We hear brave talk about experimentally “proving” that the hologram or multiverse exist, but one wonders how such a feat could possibly be achieved in a credible manner.
The fact that theoretical physicists have chosen to publicize results that are both unprovable and theological suggests that all is not well. Returning to the book The Deniable Darwin.
It has been the hope of the physical sciences that everything might be explained by an austere, impersonal, abstract, consistent, and complete set of mathematical laws. The hope has acquired the aspect of a faith. Within the closed coffin of academic science and analytic philosophy, things are as they always were; but no one who shares a delusion, as Freud memorably remarked, ever recognizes it as such. Elsewhere, confidence is leaking from the most profound and ambitious system of secular thought ever created. Everyone feels that this is so. And everyone is right.
It is a fact. Among the physicists, the old quiet confidence is gone. Men with black burning eyes roam the corridors of thought. They talk of theories that will explain absolutely everything and like barroom drunks fasten on anyone to unburden themselves: It’s strings, that’s what it is, I’m telling you. There are physicists (like Stephen Hawking or Paul Davies) convinced that they are shortly to know the Mind of God, or that they have seen in the firmament secrets of a cosmic code, or discovered in the dense inaccessible equations of general relativity living proof of the Christian resurrection. But even as physicists add to their great creation myths, questions follow assertions in a never-ending spiral. … At the margins of speculation, strange numerical coincidences haunt the imagination. And there are singularities at the beginning and end of time, places where the laws of physics simply deform themselves and then collapse.
Everyone may “feel that this is so,” but almost none dare speak in out loud.
Were I to go onto the floor of a PCUSA Presbytery of Chicago assembly with the authority to demand and obtain an honest answer to this question:
Which of these two statements am I less willing to publicly voice
1. Darwin's theory of evolution has not been proven or
2. The virgin birth of Christ and His miracles are human created myths.
I am 99%+ certain it is the first that would be chosen.
Now mind you that the vast majority of assembly members do believe that Darwin’s theory is a proven fact as opposed to an unproven theory (and a majority likely do believe the second statement). My point is that it is scientific doctrine, not Christian doctrine, that wields the power to demand submission in our contemporary culture, even from supposedly religious people.
I’m not here arguing for a return to the bloody days when the local Christian doctrine was enforced through government or ecclesiastical power (although it would be great if people who claim to be Christians actually believed settled Christian doctrine). However, I do object to speculative and unprovable results of quantum mechanics and general relativity being used as theology.
This situation points to the insatiable human need for religious meaning. If we suppress religious expression through actual religion it will pop up somewhere else. In our culture it reemerges within the realm of science (or the pretense of science as in the case of “climate change”) since it is there that we are currently allowed to speculate on these matters.
But this is a dangerous misuse of science. For in these bizarre theoretical theologies there is no actual God, no revelation, no forgiveness, no hope, no call to justice, love or holiness. No, there is only the inhuman, unknowable void that leads to nihilism and narcissism.
Science needs to be put back into its place. Christianity needs to regain its confidence and voice as the true source of theological revelation.