Quantum theory has been used by Christian apologists and, most extensively, by New Age Woo to help “prove” their concept of god. However, Stenger will have none of this. In this book Stenger shows that quantum mechanics is not the salvation that some of these gurus seek. The first half of the the book is devoted to a crash course in Quantum mechanics explained in layman’s terms. For the most part Stenger is successful in this endeavor and makes the complex non-inuitive sub-atomic world understandable. Yet, I think that some coursework in physics and chemistry is almost required. I’ve had both plus courses in Physical Chemistry and Quantum Chemistry and I found that I needed to carefully re-read sections. (It’s been a long time since I’ve taken those courses.) There is only so much one can do to make these concepts understandable without any background in these basic subjects and the mathematics that underpin them. I like and agree with his premise that if religion makes an empirical claim, that claim can be tested, and if tested it can be falsified. Thus the scientific method can be used to test the claims of religion. This he does in spades and without mincing words.

Some of his conclusions will not set well with most people (the following are word for word quotes from his book):

The omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent Judeo-Christian-Islamic God who intervenes regularly in the universe and in the lives of humans can be proved not to exist beyond a reasonable doubt. Such a God is not only logically impossible, he is falsified by the data.

• The claim that quantum mechanics shows that we can make our own reality in our minds and those minds are connected holistically to a grand unified cosmic consciousness is based on either misunderstandings or deliberate misrepresentations of what quantum mechanics really says. No empirical evidence supports the notion that mind is anything other than the product of purely material forces.

• The model in which the universe is made of matter and nothing else and had a spontaneous, uncaused, natural origin from a state of chaos equivalent to “nothing” agrees with all the data. As a state of the universe, “something” is more natural than “nothing.”

The last point seems very counterintuitive. After all how can “something” be more natural (and more stable) than nothing? But he has a good chapter explaining how this can be. As for the notion that complexity cannot arise from simplicity, a tenant of the Intelligent Design camp, Stenger says: The main message about complexity that I want to bring up for the purposes of this book is the fact that complexity can arise naturally from simplicity. This is one of those counterintuitive facts of nature that most people find difficult to believe and makes them sympathetic to those creationists who argue that the world, because it is complex, cannot have come about without divine intervention.”

All in all I can recommend this book but for many people it will take a little time and care to understand and finish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *