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Kenneth miller thinks god exists in quantum mechanics

  1. May 9, 2011 #1
    I'm almost finished with his book finding darwin's god.

    In short, I feel like he skirts dangerously close to ID with this notion.

    Basically, Miller reconciles evolution with God by saying that, while this could be reductionist, it was God that created the conditions that led rise to evolution being possible. For instance, if the gravitational constant were different then life as we know it would not exist. Now, it is also possible that the fact that it happened is a reductionist stance to take, and a man by the name of Dennet has proposed an alterenative to this, namely that it is also possible that there were many possible universes with slightly different gravitational constants and they went out of existence. Miller, I feel, relies on the fact that so far no one has detected any of these possible universes as proof that there is...a deity evident in the gravitational constant among others.

    He does the same with quantum mechanics. because you can't know exactly where an electron will be, that is where free will lies. For, if we could predict the minute workings of quantum mechanics, then you could possibly reduct everything much like how you can predict the trajectory of a thrown ball using traditional physics.

    The strength I feel is that quantum mechanics probably is in-fact impossible to pin down. The weakness is that he is doing what he accuses the Intelligent Design advocate of doing: placing God in the unknown scientific frontier.

    I like the work, but can anyone explain how all of this reconciles?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 10, 2011 #2
    the Uncertainty in knowing the position and the velocity of an electron at a certain instant in time is not a chaotic reason but instead it is the impossibility of detection without interference , so our interference in detecting the position and the velocity at the same time is the only reason of uncertainty and not free will, I think even the quatum world is governed by causal laws and that dosent contradict with the existance of God.
  4. May 10, 2011 #3


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    Does god get involved in every flip of a coin?
  5. May 10, 2011 #4
    How does he figure that? It seems to me that if G were to be significantly, life as we know it could still exist.
  6. May 10, 2011 #5
    The alternatives
    1: The universe is tuned for life because a (hidden) creator tuned it
    2: The universe is tuned for life because there are 10^500 (hidden) universes with different parameters.
    Seem as bad as each other to me. However, The free will theorem says that if humans have free will then electrons have free will, indicating that mind might be more built in to the universe than we think. If you accept this then it might suggest that alternative 1 is preferable to alternative 2.

    ("Intelligent Design" is such a vague term that it's not worth discussing.)
  7. May 10, 2011 #6
    Yes, this is it in essence. My point though is that miller sends much of the book chastising the religious for pointing to god in the next unknowable scientific frontier. Ancient people thought that the sun was god and then we discover the elements out of which it is composed. ID people will point out some biological machine and say that it is too complex to have arisen on it's own, and then someone discovers evidence of how it
    could have happened.

    My point is that while quantum mechanics and the existence of parallel universes may very well be unprovable, Miller is doing the same thing as previous religionists: putting god in the next unknowable scientific frontier. If there were a breakthrough in quantum mechanics or the existence of parallel universes then his theory of god would suffer the same fate as all the others
  8. May 10, 2011 #7
    Well I haven't read the book, so I don't know how much Miller adopts a God of the gaps point of view. However, if science seemed to be saying that mind was a fundamental part of the universe, then that seems to give a reason for calling the Uncaused Cause 'God' rather than 'The Universe'. Of course, future science might show that mind isn't particularly fundamental, but then again it might show that mind is more fundamental than we thought.
  9. May 10, 2011 #8


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    I'd like to propose another alternative;

    1: the physical laws of the universe permit self-replicating structures. Over time some self-replicating structures have given rise to life finely tuned for the section of the universe they inhabit.

    This is the strange thing about "fine tuning" arguments, they seem to propose we were created first then a universe was built around us. Rather life is possible, undergoes evolution and thus tunes itself to the universe.
  10. May 10, 2011 #9


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    I very much admire these two ideas. But since those sections of the universe which permit life as we know it are so relatively insignificant, I must consider organic life to be a trivial accident or epiphenomenon. If there is a universal "intelligence" - or mind - organizing all energy (and matter) under what we call the laws of physics, wouldn't its primary accomplishment seem to be the stars and galaxies?

    Humbly submitted,
  11. May 10, 2011 #10


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    Alternative hypothesis: free will exists only in the mnds of beings who think they have both minds and free will.

    I don't see any testable consequences following from either alternative, so far. There won't be much real progress until that happens.
  12. May 10, 2011 #11


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    Exactly. In a determinate system past conditions control what will happen in the future (no free will) in random systems either choice could happen with equal chance (no free will).

    I think Miller is looking for a gap to put his God into
  13. May 10, 2011 #12
    One thing is for certain, Ken Miller and myself have been fighting those darn Intelligent Design advocates and other creationists for over 8 years!

    I haven't read Ken Miller's book that you mention, but I do know that The Society for the Study of Evolution recently gave him the prestigious Stephen Jay Gould Prize :

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  14. May 10, 2011 #13
    Biologists need to quit trying to do physics. No wonder he tries hiding his god in quantum mechanics.
  15. May 10, 2011 #14


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    A bit harsh to the rest of us biologists
  16. May 10, 2011 #15
    Physicists fail just as hard trying to do biology. I don't see it as harsh.
  17. May 10, 2011 #16


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    Yeah! Because nobody ever learned anything at the interface between two disciplines!! :biggrin:
  18. May 10, 2011 #17

    Jack, as I earlier mentioned, I haven't read Miller's book. I do know for a fact that Charles Darwin was an agnostic. As far as your comment, it implies that biology doesn't pertain to quantum mechanics. Let's explore that further, "The World Journal of Biological Chemistry Editorial Board consists of 523 members, representing a team of worldwide experts in biochemistry and molecular biology. They are from 40 countries, including Argentina (1), Australia (7), Austria (3), Belgium (6), Brazil (5), Bulgaria (1), Canada (20), Chile (1), China (36), Czech Republic (1), Denmark (1), Finland (3), France (14), Germany (17), Greece (3), India (9), Iran (2), Israel (6), Italy (26), Japan (42), Lithuania (1), Mauritius (1), Mexico (2), Netherlands (6), New Zealand (1), Norway (4), Portugal (4), Romania (1), Russia (2), Singapore (4), South Africa (1), South Korea (17), Spain (18), Sweden (4), Switzerland (3), Thailand (2), Turkey (1), Ukraine (1), United Kingdom (18), and United States (228)." http://www.wjgnet.com/1949-8454/index.htm

    This is an abstract from that Journal:

    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
  19. May 10, 2011 #18
    God exists in quantum physics as much as Xenu exists in classical physics .
  20. May 11, 2011 #19
    Well Francis Crick didn't do too badly
  21. May 11, 2011 #20
    I do think it is an ingenious idea though, one that I hadn't really thought of before. In a way, it makes the universe more alive, like...The Force :)

    I also think that it is more valid than the multiple universes theory. Simply because...with the multiple universes theory, it is in-fact impossible to find evidence of their existence. It is in-fact "only a theory." The fine-tuned argument is quite compelling. If the gravitational constant were a little weaker, by only a tiny decimal to the negative power, then matter would not have been able to form. If it were a little stronger it would have collapsed back onto itself. This universe you can in-fact touch and feel and verify its existence, so the fine-tuned argument wins I feel.
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