When people try to refute William Lane Craig’s first premise of the kalam cosmological argument (“Everything that begins to exist has a cause”), they sometimes cite quantum mechanics as proof there are uncaused events. As part of his response, Craig will often explain that the idea that there are uncaused events at the subatomic level is merely one interpretation of the data. And in fact, he says, there are other interpretations that also fit the data:
There are at least ten different physical interpretations of the equations of quantum mechanics, and they’re all empirically equivalent, they’re mathematically consistent, and no one knows which, if any of them, is the correct physical interpretation. I’m inclined to agree with philosophers of science who think of the traditional Copenhagen interpretation [which includes uncaused events] as really just quite unintelligible, and I’m therefore more inclined to some sort of deterministic theory of quantum mechanics…. It remains a matter of deep debate as to how to understand it.
For nearly a century, “reality” has been a murky concept. The laws of quantum physics seem to suggest that particles spend much of their time in a ghostly state, lacking even basic properties such as a definite location and instead existing everywhere and nowhere at once. Only when a particle is measured does it suddenly materialize, appearing to pick its position as if by a roll of the dice.
This idea that nature is inherently probabilistic — that particles have no hard properties, only likelihoods, until they are observed — is directly implied by the standard equations of quantum mechanics. But now a set of surprising experiments with fluids has revived old skepticism about that worldview. The bizarre results are fueling interest in an almost forgotten version of quantum mechanics, one that never gave up the idea of a single, concrete reality.
The experiments involve an oil droplet that bounces along the surface of a liquid. The droplet gently sloshes the liquid with every bounce. At the same time, ripples from past bounces affect its course. The droplet’s interaction with its own ripples, which form what’s known as a pilot wave, causes it to exhibit behaviors previously thought to be peculiar to elementary particles — including behaviors seen as evidence that these particles are spread through space like waves, without any specific location, until they are measured.
Particles at the quantum scale seem to do things that human-scale objects do not do. They can tunnel through barriers, spontaneously arise or annihilate, and occupy discrete energy levels. This new body of research reveals that oil droplets, when guided by pilot waves, also exhibit these quantum-like features.
You've got the fine tuning thing wrong. The universe is not fine tuned for life. Your God is an incompetent designer if it takes that volume of universe to create this insignificant volume of life. Seriously, life is so rare in the Universe it's astonishing.
This isn’t just a scientific question, it’s also a theological one, so I’m interested to see the range of your responses—leave them in the comments below! Brett’s video response will be posted on Thursday. (If you’d like to see some hints as to how I’d go about answering this one, see here and here.)
The second week of Advent starts tomorrow. I posted links to free Advent devotionals earlier this week, and I’ll be posting some verses from Angie Mosteller’s “How to Do an Advent Wreath” (available on her Celebrating Holidays website) each weekend before Christmas for you to meditate on. The candle lit on the second week, she says, “is said to represent peace and the prophecies of a coming savior.”
(2.1) Prophecy About a Man That Will Crush Satan: In the first book of the Bible, written over 1400 years before Christ, God told Satan that the son of a woman would crush his head. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
(2.2) Prophecy About a Virgin Birth: Over 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah foretold that Immanuel (which means “God with us”) would be born of a virgin. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
(2.3) Prophecy About the Identity of a Child: Over 700 years before Christ, the prophet Isaiah described the identity of Jesus. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
(2.4) Prophecy About the Majesty of the Child: The prophet Isaiah further described Jesus and his majesty. “Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
(2.5) Prophecy About the Birthplace of the Ruler: Over 600 years before Christ, the prophet Micah foretold that the Ruler would be born in Bethlehem. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy. “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
(2.6) Prophecy About John the Baptist: Over 400 years before the birth of Jesus, the prophet Malachi foretold how a forerunner would prepare the way for Jesus. John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy. “‘See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Malachi 3:1).
(2.7) Prophecy Fulfilled: Jesus is the only one that can bring peace with God. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).
The objection that pro-life advocates or organizations aren’t really pro-life because they don’t also advocate [fill in the blank] is one you’ll encounter. Scott Klusendorf responds to this "single issue objection" in The Case for Life:
How does it follow that because pro-life advocates oppose the unjust killing of innocent human beings, they must therefore take personal responsibility for solving all of life’s ills?
Speaking at a pro-life convention in Alberta, a local cleric chastised pro-lifers for focusing too narrowly on abortion when they ought to consider broader “life issues” such as occupational safety, AIDS, poverty, and capital punishment. The result, the cleric said, is a “fractured Christian witness that hurts the cause.”
The cleric is typical of many on the political left who insist that because pro-life advocates oppose the willful destruction of an innocent human being, they must therefore assume responsibility for society’s other ills. In other words, you are not truly pro-life unless you treat the deforestation of the Amazon with the same moral intensity that you do the unjust killing of a human fetus. This is careless thinking and highly unfair to those who take abortion seriously.
Imagine the gall of saying to the Canadian Cancer Society, “You have no right to focus on curing cancer unless you also work to cure AIDS, heart disease, and diabetes.” Or try telling the American Heart Association, “You cannot reasonably oppose cardiac arrest unless you fund research aimed at stopping all loss of life.” Ridiculous indeed, but how is this any different from what the cleric told pro-life advocates?
Consider what he is demanding. Local pro-life groups must take their already scarce resources and spread them even thinner fighting every social injustice imaginable. This would be suicide for those opposed to abortion As Frederick the Great once allegedly said, “He who attacks everywhere attacks nowhere.” ...
Given a choice, I’d rather pro-lifers focus on at least one great moral issue than waste their precious resources trying to fix all of them.
I think part of what’s behind this objection is ignorance. There are many people who are unaware of the multitude of local, national, and international ministries out there addressing crisis pregnancies, single mothers, poverty, prison issues, human trafficking, disaster relief, religious freedom, education for the poor, etc., etc., etc. No one person can, or should, be intensely involved in all of them at the same time. This is why we have the body of Christ. The eye does his job, the ear does his job, and both are needed. (If you ask the person expressing this objection to measure his own life and causes according to his “you must give equal time to every issue” standard, he might more quickly see your point.)
And ultimately, for many people who make this kind of objection, no amount of service on the part of a pro-lifer will be enough, as illustrated by this classic interaction a caller had with Greg.
Even though it’s questionable how much of it is true, I still love the stories about the real St. Nicholas. From Fred Sanders:
St. Nicholas of Myra, a bishop in what we now call Turkey, lived in the fourth century. He must have been quite a guy, because while we have pretty much no reliable documents about him from his own time period, he became very popular in peoples’ memories in later centuries. He’s still a fun and inspiring figure to learn about. He was remembered for acts of generosity (tossing gold in a window to rescue three girls from lives of prostitution), miracles (including flying around like a superhero centuries after his death to rescue storm-tossed ships at sea), and good theology. The best story about him is that he went to the council of Nicaea in 325 and became so incensed with the heresies of Arius that he broke up the good order of the council by crossing the room and slapping Arius in the face. From there the story gets pretty chaotic: he may have been expelled for disorderly conduct, and Jesus and Mary may have appeared in a vision to cause the council to re-admit him. Okay, I admit I doubt most of that, and if it comes down to hard evidence, we can’t even prove that Nicholas of Myra was at Nicaea because his name’s not on the list of attendees. But after all these years of seeing Santa Claus as a seasonal rival to Jesus Christ, it sure is refreshing to think of him instead as a theological advocate of the central Christian doctrine which we remember at Christmas time, the incarnation of the Son of God.
Santa Claus: Defender of orthodox nicene trinitarian theology. It’s an inspiring thought for the Christmas season, and it makes it possible for us to sing all those Santa songs with newly recovered religious meaning: …
He then proceeds to rewrite the Santa-themed Christmas songs, which you should now read. I particularly recommend “Back at Nicaea (to the tune of ‘Up on the Housetop’).”
We’re already a few days into Advent, but it’s not too late for you to start intentionally using this time to prepare for our celebration of Christ’s coming. Here are a few free options to get you started.
Let Every Heart Prepare Him Room provides a short reading for every day in the month of December, taking your family on a journey of identifying with the distant longings of Israel, listening for the angel’s announcement, and gazing at the Baby in the manger. You’ll find several suggested discussion questions that will help to transform this time into a meaningful discussion in which everybody in the family can participate. Each day’s questions begin with a question that even the youngest member of the family can likely answer. There are additional Scriptures you might want to read as part of your discussion and Christmas songs your family can talk through and then sing together. Several lined pages have been spaced throughout the book where you can jot down dated notes of comments made and questions asked by various family members that you want to remember as the years go by.
I am prone to be dull, spiritually drowsy, halfhearted, lukewarm. That is the way human beings are, including Christians, even about great things. Peter knows it and is writing to “awaken” or to “stir up” his readers [2 peter 1:13] so that they don’t just know but also feel the wonder of the truth.
That’s why I have written these devotions. What you and I need is usually not a brand-new teaching. Brand-new truths are probably not truths. What we need are reminders about the greatness of the old truths. We need someone to say an old truth in a fresh way. Or sometimes, just to say it….
May the Spirit of God use these words to open your eyes afresh to the glories of Christ and give you a new taste of your indestructible joy.
How to Do an Advent Wreath by Angie Mosteller (includes a history of Advent and readings for each week—see her website for some Advent candle display ideas). She explains:
Advent candles are commonly lit immediately before or after dinner and burn for approximately one hour. This is a wonderful time to read Scripture as a family and discuss the reason for the holiday season — the coming of Jesus.
Though a variety of meanings have been attached to each candle, two common traditions are (1) hope, peace, joy and love and (2) promise, prophecy, proclamation and presence. The selection of verses below incorporates these various meanings on their respective week of Advent.