Divine Action in the World (leading to a scientifically rational theory)

It is assumed by many Christian theologians that God acts in the world. Can such a theological assumption go beyond mere faith and belief and be put into rational scientific language (a scientifically plausible theory)? If God’s action results in the laws, order, and kinetic processes of the natural world, then the answer is obviously “yes.”

This theistic worldview (as opposed to deism) would also include the other side of the coin—finding scientific expressions within the full Christological framework of the Holy Trinity, the doctrine of resurrection, the Second Coming, Christian love, salvation, eternal life, the authority of Holy Scripture and finally, the causal nexus between the Infinite and the finite.

The last topic on the above list involves the process by which time, space, and matter can emerge out of a non-temporal and non-spatial realm. Furthermore, such a top-down scenario requires a grasp of how primal (a priori) processes can possess magnitudes and measurements that are totally removed from their involvement with time and space (a pre-geometric realm that religion calls heaven).

And that’s not all. Since John 1:1-3 states that all things ever created are derived from God’s Holy Word, then Sacred Scripture must hold the patterning principles of creation, universal order, and process within its divine architecture. Such a discovery would require nothing less than a cognitive “leap” in biblical exegesis (interpretation).

The final challenge for any unification between theology and science is that the current theories of the New Physics may well prove to be flawed. In a nutshell, current theologies are inadequate to interface with science and current science is inadequate to interface with religion. Neither religion nor science provides us with rational answers to questions concerning first principles and fundamental reality.

If you believe science is on stronger ground, tell that to the theoretical physicists who are faced with trying to unify the two pillars of physics—relativity theory and quantum theory. This unresolved problem implies a deeper theory is yet to be discovered.

The problems of theism are just as daunting. How does God’s Infinite Wisdom, Love, and Providence, act in the world in such a way that preserves the laws of nature, maintains human free will, yet allows horrendous evils (theodicy) to manifest? This implies that God is not in full control (or worse).

I have still left out important issues on both sides of the discussion, but will address them in my upcoming book, Proving God.

I am a member of two organizations comprised of scientists, philosophers, theologians and serious thinkers engaged in creative mutual interaction in an attempt to integrate science and theology. These organizations are the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (CTNS) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (SSA).

This blog is dedicated to that most important goal.


About thegodguy

EDWARD F. SYLVIA, M.T.S. Philosopher/Theologian Edward F. Sylvia attended the School of Visual Arts in New York and received his Master of Theological Studies at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA and a Certificate of Swedenborgian Studies from the Swedenborgian House of Studies. He is a member of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (C.T.N.S.) and the Swedenborg Scientific Association (S.S.A.). Award-winning author of "Sermon From the Compost Pile: Seven Steps Toward Creating An Inner Garden" and "Proving God," which fulfills a continuing vision that God’s fingerprints of love can be found everywhere in the manifest universe. His most recent book, "Swedenborg & Gurdjieff: The Missing Links" is an edgy collection of anti-intuitive essays for personal transformation that challenges and inspires. He has been a student of the ideas of both Emanuel Swedenborg and George I. Gurdjieff for over thirty years. Read more about TheGodGuy, his books and his ideas at http://www.staircasepress.com
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7 Responses to Divine Action in the World (leading to a scientifically rational theory)

  1. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    “This unresolved problem implies a deeper theory is yet to be discovered.”

    This is similar to what Einstein faced, however, when he viewed the fact that within different reference frames classical mechanics assumed completely different sets of equations. Einstein objected to the interpretation of classical mechanics that, for instance, electrical induction in a coil of wire rotating relative and perpendicular to a magnetic field should be modeled by a different, though equivalent, set of equations depending on whether we were considering the coil to be rotating or the magnetic field. Einstein’s solution to this problem which is considerably simpler than, and in other significant ways different from, the resolution of the irreconcilable differences between the current formulation of quantum mechanics and general relativity resulted in general relativity which brought with it a completely new way of understanding the underlying structures of the universe.

    The problem of quantum mechanics, though, is that we have two more or less correct theories which, in this case, and unlike the case of different equations to model the same thing, quantum mechanics does not have a way of formulating equations of gravitation and general relativity cannot describe the behavior of fundamental particles. As a result we end up with a situation in which scientists intuitively believe that there should be an even more fundamental unifying theory, but it could also easily be the case that there isn’t. And if there isn’t that wouldn’t ultimately be a huge problem for physics, since general relativity wouldn’t automatically be falsified nor would quantum mechanics, it would just disappoint a lot of physicists who would prefer to be able to derive both sets of formalizations from one fundamental theory.

    Either way, though, it’s no big revelation to anyone who understands the underlying concepts being discussed in the search for a theory that unifies quantum mechanics with general relativity that a more fundamental (or deeper) theory is being sought since the purpose of unifying quantum mechanics with general relativity is to discover a formalization of physics from which both quantum mechanics and general relativity can easily and correctly be derived to the exclusion of alternative formalizations which we also know to be incorrect. Essentially saying that our formalizations of both quantum mechanics and general relativity cannot be reconciled with one another and we would like them to be is exactly the same as saying a more fundamental (or deeper) theory is yet to be discovered.

  2. thegodguy says:

    Dear Mr. Confident,

    Two more or less correct theories? No wonder you are so comfortable with the current status of science. The fact that there is no satisfactory solution to unifying the two pillars of modern science means that both are susceptible to change. My new book “Proving God” shows that Einstein’s idea that space is continuous is false. I also point out that spacetime curvatures, when looked at as discrete kinematic trajectories offer a better model for expressing superposition than vector spaces.

    But I appreciate your sharing your profuse knowledge with my readers!

    Spiritually yours,

  3. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    The thing is, though, that the two pillars don’t necessarily need to be unified, scientists just hope they can be. It’s entirely possible that there’s no single more fundamental physical framework from which both of these sets of theories can be derived, which means that they can’t be unified because they are fundamentally different. But we can’t know that this is the case and there at least some hints that there might be some way to unify them. But essentially what I’m saying is that the two theories are completely adequate for what they describe, general relativity the world at a large scale and quantum mechanics the world at a very small scale. Both theories are more or less accurate for their scales and there’s every reason to think that smaller scale reformalizations can improve their accuracy whether or not we could unify the two separate theories. But if it does turn out that the two theories actually individually address two completely disparate aspects of the universe that would not turn out to be a problem for either theory.

    By the way spacetime curvatures are represented by vector spaces, in fact topological spaces are vector spaces and spacetime curvature is a topological space. But superpositions have little to do with vector spaces and more to do with the fact that contradictory states in a fundamental particle are apparently all simultaneously true. It is true that they use vector spaces to map the probabilities for all of the various state collections that a particle could collapse onto, but since this vector space has nothing to do with position so much as an abstraction of various sets of probabilities I don’t exactly see how trajectory has any bearing, but essentially my reason for mentioning superpositions was to show that the mathematical formalization is independent of the physical interpretation. In the case of superpositions there are many physical interpretations of the concept which is embodied essentially by a mathematical formula. The copenhagen interpretation, the sum over histories interpretation, etc.

    Also it should be noted that the fact that both general relativity and quantum mechanics are as yet not unified even assuming that they can be, does not suggest that they are both susceptible to change. Newtonian mechanics has not changed, though Einstein’s theory of general relativity showed it to be wrong in details and highly imprecise, newtonian mechanics is still the same, there’s every reason to expect that a unifying theory that brings general relativity into quantum mechanics and vice versa will have no effect on either general relativity, newtonian mechanics, or quantum mechanics in exactly the same way. Rather it will serve, instead, to add greater precision to our understanding of the systems in question, but we will most likely still use general relativity and newtonian mechanics when those formalizations are accurate enough, or quantum mechanics as it currently exists, when that set of formalizations is accurate enough. The only thing that might really suggest that these sciences are both susceptible to change would be very compelling evidence that these sciences are fundamentally wrong. Currently no such compelling evidence exists.

  4. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    I should also mention, since I forgot, that states in quantum mechanics are discrete in nature, so the vector spaces used to describe superpositions are necessarily discrete in nature, containing only those states which are possible.

  5. thegodguy says:

    Dear intellectual buddy,

    That you remain “comfy” in spite of the problem of a unified theory certainly explains why you feel “intellectually fulfilled.” Other serious scientists do not share your comfort in these matters.

    Yes, spacetime curvature can and is represented by vector spaces. However, you do not comprehend what I am suggesting – that spacetime curvatures and their topologies can express a superposition principle when such structures are derived from complex fluxes. This is a novel idea proposed in my book and addresses space structure as emergent, discrete, and embracing causality. I am proposing a new background independent theory (which should be interesting to you since you favor loop quantum gravity over string theory).

    Spiritually yours,

  6. intellectuallyfulfilledatheist says:

    Loop Quantum Gravity more than 10 years ago proposed that spacetime structures are emergent, discrete, and explains causality. You should read Three Roads to Quantum Gravity by Lee Smolin, one of the pioneers in the field of Loop Quantum Gravity.

    Vectors and topologies can express superpositions since topologies deal with vector spaces and superpositions are expressed as vector spaces, but to assume that this means that the vector spaces can be expressed in terms of real world spacetime curvatures is taking the similarities in mathematical expression perhaps a bit too far.

    As for me being “comfy” I find it interesting that you put that word in quotes as though it was something I said when it isn’t. All I said in my last two comments here, which I suppose I will have to say again because you apparently missed it both times is that there is no physical reason why quantum mechanics has to be unified with general relativity. Physicists would like that to be the case for simplicity. It would be easier and look a lot nicer if both theories could be expressed under one mathematical framework instead of the two that are currently required to express the two separate theories. I’m “comfortable” with this because there is nothing to be uncomfortable with. There is no problem here for either quantum mechanics or general relativity. A new mathematical framework wouldn’t change either theory, it would only help make sense of why, if they are, the two theories are related to one another. If no unifying theory is ever discovered that would suggest two possibilities, either we are not capable of understanding how they are related and discovering the mathematical formulation for that relationship, or there is no relationship between the two theories, instead they refer to distinct aspects of reality. I know of no scientist who actually works in the fields of quantum mechanics or general relativity who are particularly concerned with what it might mean if there is no unifying theory, even taking into account all the time that would have been wasted looking for one, the search has yielded interesting results in its own right. You might also consider reading Warped Passage by Lisa Randall, a standard model physicist. Every book by a physicist actually working in these fields that I have read and every lecture I have seen I have seen these physicists themselves suggest that it is possible that general relativity and quantum mechanics cannot be unified. They also explain that the quest for a unifying theory is primarily aesthetic. When James Clerk Maxwell reduced the 20 or so equations describing electricity and magnetism down to four simple equations that sparked interest by physicists in finding other equations that can simplify apparently disparate phenomenon such as electricity and magnetism. This lead to the eventual discovery of equations which unify electromagnetism with the weak nuclear force. This is one of the hints suggesting a grand unifying theory of physics bringing all of the fundamental forces together, but it doesn’t guarantee it in and of itself. So far that’s as far as we’ve come, also, we haven’t unified the strong nuclear force with the electroweak force and we have no idea how it might even be possible to unify gravity with the other three forces considering that gravity is many orders of magnitude weaker than any of the others.

    I will grant, however, that without a theory of quantum gravity it seems as though we have no way of figuring out what happened during the universe’s Planck epoch. This might have many physicists concerned, however I think there is, so far, every reason to expect that a quantum theory of gravity will be worked out and so far every reason not to expect that it will rely on invoking the supernatural.

  7. thegodguy says:

    Dear Mr. Un-unified Scientist,

    Huh? Aesthetic?

    It makes no rational sense that the universe can be ruled by two contradictory laws! I also do not need a lesson on loop quantum physics – I have read Lee Smolin’s book. I think you like to hear yourself pontificate.

    Your belief that a quantum theory of gravity will be worked out from mere physical (dead) principles is nothing more than FAITH! You must really feel confident that the Higg’s particle is about to be discovered at Cern. There is no such thing!

    My book addresses the Planck epoch, the pre-Planck epoch and the reality of the spiritual world through the lawful abstractions of forms removed from their static geometrical constraints. My book also offers new insights into quantum gravity but you dismiss these statements outright. Who says that relativity theory and quantum mechanics need no further reformulation?

    And why should physicists worry over it when no one likes shake ups or challenges to their entrenched institutions!

    I do not invoke the SUPRA-natural but include it. Quantum gravity possesses different and distinct qualities within the multi-level scaffolding of spacetime structure. Your archaic scientific models cannot even begin to grasp this!

    You are starting to bore me with your lectures and refresher courses in physics (and probably my readers). Tell me something new. I’m a busy man.

    Spiritually yours,

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