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Fuller Theological Seminary

Divine Action in the Framework of

Scientific Knowledge:
From Quantum Theory to Divine Action

A dissertation submitted to the faculty of the School
of Theology at Fuller Seminary in candidacy for the
degree of doctor of philosophy in apologetics and


Christoph Lameter

Newark, California
January 17, 2004

Introduction 1
1. The Goal 1
2. The Problem in Quantum Divine Action 3
3. The Proposed Solution 18
4. Differentiation from the Work of Others 27
5. Summary 31
Chapter One: Divine Action in Enlightenment Thought 37
1. Introduction 37
2. The Emergence of Determinism 37
3. Liberal and Conservative Theology 47
4. The Challenge to Determinism in the Twentieth Century 57
4.1. Introduction 57
4.2. The Theory of Relativity 59
4.3. Quantum Mechanics 64
4.4. The Questioning of Foundationalism 68
4.5. Contextuality 70
5. Conclusion 73
Chapter Two: The Pioneers of Quantum Theory 77
1. Introduction 77
2. Albert Einstein: The Ensemble Interpretation 79
3. Niels Bohr: The Copenhagen Interpretation 87
4. John von Neumann: Quantum Processes and Consciousness 91
5. Erwin Schrdinger: The Search for a Wave Interpretation 98
6. Werner Heisenberg: Propensities and Wave Function Collapse 106
7. Louis de Broglie: The Pilot-Wave Theory 110
8. Conclusion 112
Chapter Three: The Pioneers of Quantum Divine Action 115
1. Introduction 115
2. William James: A Nondeterministic Universe 118
3. Arthur Compton: Personal Agency Through Indeterminacy 121
4. Karl Heim: Personal and Divine Agency Through Indeterminacy 128
5. William G. Pollard: Determination of Chance Events 136
6. Eric Mascall: Quantum Chance in a Thomist Model of Divine Action 148
7. Frederik Jozef Belinfante: Quantum Theory Proves Gods Existence 149
8. Conclusion 151
Chapter Four: The Interpretation of Quantum Theory 154
1. Introduction 154
2. David Bohm: The Causal Interpretation 159
2.1. Introduction 159
2.2. Implicate and Explicate Order 163
2.3. Measurement and Wave Function Collapse 165
2.4. Determinism and Causality 170
2.5. Hopes for an Experimental Verification 174
2.6. The Problem of Relativistic Generalization 175
2.7. The Problem of the Symmetry of Position and Momentum 176
2.8. The Problematic Nature of Particles 177
2.9. Not Equivalent to Standard Quantum Theory 180
2.10. Conclusion 180
3. Hugh Everett and Bryce DeWitt: The Many-Worlds Interpretation 183
4. Eugene P. Wigner: Consciousness Causes Collapse 191

5. John Archibald Wheeler: The Determination of the Past 194
6. Conclusion 197
Chapter Five: Contemporary Quantum Divine Action 199
1. Introduction 199
2. Robert John Russell: The Founder 202
2.1. Introduction 202
2.2. How God Acts 204
2.3. The Interpretations of Quantum Theory 208
2.4. Quantum Events 211
2.5. Conclusion 220
3. Nancey Murphy: The Kenotic Approach 221
4. George Ellis: Top-Down Causality 223
5. Thomas Tracy: God Acts Only in Some Quantum Events 228
6. John Polkinghorne: Concerns About QDA 231
7. Nicholas Saunders: QDA is Scientifically Unsound 237
7.1. Introduction 237
7.2. The Deterministic Nature of the Wave Function 238
7.3. His Critique of Quantum Events 239
7.4. The Possible Modes of Divine Action in QDA 242
7.5. Limitations of What God Can do Through QDA 243
7.6. QDA Allows the Violation of Higher Physical Laws 244
7.7. Conclusion 244
8. Arthur Peacocke: Whole-Part Divine Action 245
9. Peter Hodgson: God Intervenes 249
10. Conclusion 254
Chapter Six: Theories of Wave Function Collapse 257
1. Introduction 257
2. Unexplained Collapse 264
3. Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber: Spontaneous Collapse Models 265
4. Roger Penrose: Collapse Driven by Quantum Gravity 267
5. Collapse by Environmental Decoherence 271
6. Robert B. Griffiths: Consistent Histories 277
7. Roland Omns: Decoherence and Consistent Histories 280
8. Henry Stapp: Consciousness Causes Collapse 283
9. Steven Hawking: Quantum Mechanics for the Masses 290
10. Conclusion 294
Chapter Seven: Divine Action in a Quantum World 296
1. Introduction 296
2. Evaluation of Scientific Theories 298
3. The Quantum World 303
4. Personal Agency 308
5. Divine Action by a Divine Observer 317
6. Divine Action by Underdetermination 320
7. Conclusion 322
Conclusion 326
Bibliography 330

1. The Goal
Divine action in the context of scientific knowledge is a proposal to establish a
link between theology and sciencenot in the classic sense of a natural theology, which
would be an argument for the existence or characteristics of God from naturebut as a
theology of nature, a way in which the God in whom we believe on other grounds might
be conceived to act in ways consistent with scientific theories.

The aim of this text is to justify belief in a God who can act in the world
considering the scientific framework of quantum mechanics. Why quantum mechanics? It
is the current theory used by scientists to describe the nature of the matter out of which
our universe is composed.
A theory of divine action compatible with contemporary
physics is a fundamental requirement for a credible consideration of how God could act
in the framework of our contemporary worldview.
Theories that account for Gods
action in the world through quantum indeterminacy have been called theories of quantum
divine action (hereafter QDA).
The concept of divine action is especially relevant for theology. In Beyond
Liberalism and Fundamentalism Nancey Murphy has shown that both liberal and
conservative theologians have struggled and continue to struggle with the commonly

Ian Barbour, When Science Meets Religion: Enemies, Strangers, or Partners? (New York: HarperCollins,
2000), 88.
Henry Stapp, The Mindful Universe [draft] [online] (Berkeley, California: Lawrence Berkeley National
Laboratory, accessed 16 July 2003), p. 26, <http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/MindfulU.pdf> discusses
how our understanding of reality changed from Newtonian physics to todays quantum theory.
The approach implies that religious language is reflecting an external reality. In certain traditions of
theology that idea may be disputed. See Chapter One.

accepted conception of the world as a mechanism describable by scientific laws.
theologians have accepted the mechanical conception and have developed a view of
religious language as expressing feelings and moral convictions. They see religious
language as describing the perception of the world in terms of religious vocabulary and
theological categories. God is then seen to act through the natural processes and does not
violate them. Conservative theologians, on the other hand, have reacted by asserting that
religious language is factual: God can intervene and bypass (and therefore violate) the
laws that govern the universe.
An understanding of special divine action that is in harmony with scientific
knowledge could overcome the problems arising from these two theological approaches.
Conservative theologians could affirm special divine acts in the absence of a violation of
the laws of nature, whereas liberal theologians could agree that God can perform special
divine acts through natural processes. Special divine action would be possible within the
context of our scientific knowledge, and therefore would be noninterventionistic.
Murphy saw the need to identify a causal jointa point at which the natural
order is affected by Godin order to allow such a noninterventionist understanding.
Murphy has evaluated the proposal of recognizing quantum indeterminacy as the causal
joint as promising but as yet inconclusive.
In this text I attempt to go beyond Murphy
to show that quantum mechanics allows for an account of divine action and the
identification of a causal joint.

Nancey Murphy, Beyond Liberalism & Fundamentalism: How Modern and Postmodern Philosophy Set
the Theological Agenda (Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Trinity Press, 1996), 62.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 149. See also Nancey Murphy, Divine Action in the Natural Order in
Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy and Arthur R. Peacocke eds. Chaos and Complexity: Scientific
Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory; Berkeley, California: Center for
Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1995), 325358.

It is widely recognized that the belief systems of historical religious communities
are of a contextual nature, depending on the sociological and cultural environment in
which they exist.
The contextual environment of the Enlightenment, with its mechanistic
and deterministic conception of the world, is fading away and is being replaced with a
more open conception. However, contemporary theology is to a significant degree still
characterized by the concepts and approaches stemming from the Enlightenment and
therefore not in harmony with contemporary science.
The justification of a theory of
divine action will consequently also involve a reappraisal of philosophical and
theological concepts in light of the implications of scientific evidence. A theology of
nature implies that theological doctrines must be consistent with the scientific evidence,
even if they are not derivable from current scientific theories.

2. The Problem in Quantum Divine Action
The classic mechanical worldview implies a causally closed universe. That
worldview has been particularly challenged by the development of quantum mechanics in
the twentieth century.
For example, while working on his uncertainty principle, one of

For example, James A. Sanders, Canon and Community: A Guide to Canonical Criticism (Philadelphia:
Fortress Press, 1984) describes how the text of the Old Testament and its interpretation developed in
response to the historical and cultural situations of the religious communities it served.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 152153; Horst W. Beck, Biblische Universalitt und Wissenschaft:
Interdisziplinre Theologie im Horizont Trinitarischer Schpfungslehre (Weilheim-Bierbronnen, Germany:
Gustav-Siewert-Akademie, 1994), 363, mentions Carl Friedrich von Weizscker expressing surprise at
theology ignoring the fundamental changes in the conception of nature in science.
Ian Barbour, Nature, Human Nature and God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2002), 3.
Robert Russell, Introduction to Robert John Russell, Philip Clayton, Kirk Wegter-McNelly and John
Polkinghorne, eds., Quantum Mechanics: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican City State:
Vatican Observatory; Berkeley, California: Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, 2001), vi.

the fundamental building blocks of quantum mechanics, Werner Heisenberg concluded
that it was necessary to question the classic concept of causality.

Naturally, such a radical departure from established concepts evoked a response
from the scientific community. In particular, Albert Einstein suggested that uncertainty or
indeterminism was a sign of the incompleteness of quantum theory. He argued that
quantum theory had not been fully developed and was unable to specify all quantities
involved in measurement. Einstein developed a series of thought experiments designed to
challenge quantum theory. Niels Bohr successfully responded to each scenario, leading to
a more refined understanding of quantum mechanics.

Questions regarding causality and the very nature of matter resulted in physicists
beginning to speculate about metaphysics. Bohr and Heisenberg were later accused of
having brought their metaphysical preconceptions (in favor of indeterminism) into
quantum theory.
Besides making important contributions to the development of
quantum theory by advancing its mathematical structures John von Neumann also began
to speculate about the relationship between the consciousness of the observer and

See Werner Heisenberg, The Development of Philosophical Ideas since Descartes in Comparison with
the New Situation in Quantum Theory in Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science
(New York: Harper & Row, 1958; Reprint, New York: Prometheus, 1999), 7692.
James T. Cushing, Philosophical Concepts in Physics: The Historical Relation between Philosophy and
Scientific Theories (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 307315.
Peter Hodgson, Gods Action in the World: The Relevance of Quantum Mechanics in Zygon 35, no. 3
(September 2000): 506. See also James T. Cushing, Quantum Mechanics: Historical Contingency and the
Copenhagen Hegemony (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), xixiv, 2830, for an argument that
a possible deterministic interpretation by Louis de Broglie was not accepted due to historical contingencies
and the commitments of the people involved in the formation of quantum theory. See also Philip R.
Wallace in Paradox Lost: Images of the Quantum (New York: Springer Verlag, 1996) who suggested a
view of Bohr and Heisenberg that is at variance with our understanding of these authors as discussed in
Chapter Two. For example Wallace claimed that Heisenberg denied the objective nature of reality (page
4749). A more technical work by Wallace is Physics: Imagination and Reality (Singapore: World
Scientific, 1991) which clarified his views (page 392393). Wallace claimed that it was Heisenberg
position that the observer creates reality.
See also Jon Blumenfeld, Paradox No More in The New England Journal of Skepticism 3, no. 1 (Winter
2000, accessed 18 August 2003), <http://www.theness.com/articles/paradoxnomore-nejs0301.html>.

Einsteins famous response God does not play dice to Bohrs claim of
quantum uncertainty reveals certain metaphysical inclinations in Einsteins thinking
about quantum mechanics.

Heisenbergs and Bohrs concepts of indeterminacy and complementarity
survived the challenges by Einstein, and quantum indeterminacy was accepted by the
majority of physicists as a fundamental characteristic of matter. Today, the understanding
of quantum mechanics as predicting probabilitiesand therefore as indeterministicis
the standard, or orthodox, interpretation of quantum theory.

In 1952, after quantum theory had been well established, David Bohm developed
an alternate interpretation of quantum mechanics
attributing quantum indeterminacy to
a guiding wave that is dependent on nonlocal, instantaneous influences of the
Bohms approach was rejected on grounds that the symmetry of position
and momentum was broken in the same way as in Louis de Broglies earlier proposal.

However, a minority in the physics community supported Bohms ideas finding the

John von Neumann, Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik, (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1932;
Reprint, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1996), 222224. The book is available in English as John von Neumann,
Mathematical Foundations of Quantum Mechanics, trans. Robert T. Beyer (Princeton, New Jersey:
Princeton University Press, 1955).
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 307, traces the source of the famous quote by Einstein. Einsteins
German expression was sometimes Die Natur wrfelt nicht, which does not include a reference to God.
See also Beck, 361.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 290.
David Bohm, A Suggested Interpretation of the Quantum Theory in Terms of Hidden Variables, I and
II, Physical Review 84 (1952): 166193. These articles can also be found in John Archibald Wheeler and
Wojciech Hubert Zurek, eds., Quantum Theory and Measurement (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press, 1983).
David Bohm, Causality and Chance in Modern Physics (New Jersey: D. van Nostrand, 1957).
Wayne C. Myrvold, On some early objections to Bohms theory in International Studies in Philosophy
of Science (March 2003) [Page numbers follow online version available at
<http://publish.uwo.ca/~wmyrvold/BohmFinalv2.doc>, accessed 16 July 2003]; Cushing, Philosophical
Concepts, 285286, 331353.

preservation of determinism an attractive implication of Bohms work.
Like the other
founders of quantum theory, Bohm also engaged in metaphysical speculation,
emphasizing the interconnectedness and holism of the universe and of quantum systems.
In his work Science, Order and Creativity, Bohms search for hidden variables, sub-
quantum regularities and realities in quantum mechanics carried over into generalized
concepts of order (implicate, explicate, generative, etc.) that he then related to
spirituality, human society and the evolution of the world.
The strongest scientific
argument for his view is found in The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation
of Quantum Theory. In this book Bohm attempted to go beyond the instrumentalism of
the Copenhagen interpretation and proposed a view of reality emerging from his
interpretation of quantum theory. Unfortunately, Bohm died in 1992 while putting the last
touches on The Undivided Universe.

The contemporary discussion about the usefulness of indeterminacy for divine
action originated in the writings of Karl Heim and William Pollard.
In Pollards book
Chance and Providence: God's Action in a World Governed by Scientific Law, he
reasoned that the world is characterized by chance. He concluded that quantum
mechanics demonstrates that the fundamental character of matter is probability-based and

David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1981), 68.
David Bohm and F. David Peat, Science, Order and Creativity, 2
ed. (London: Routledge, 2000). The
second edition was published posthumously and contains additional material by Bohm edited by Peat. A
recent development of Bohms ideas can be found in F. David Peat, From Certainty to Uncertainty: The
Story of Science and Ideas in the Twenty-First Century (Washington, District of Columbia: Joseph Henry
Press, 2002), 6169.
Basil J. Hiley, Introduction to David Bohm and Basil J. Hiley, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological
Interpretation of Quantum Theory (London: Routledge, 1993).
For a historical overview see Robert Russell, Special Providence and Genetic Mutation in Robert John
Russell, William R. Stoeger and Francisco J. Ayala, eds., Evolutionary and Molecular Biology: Scientific
Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory; Berkeley, California: Center for
Theology and the Natural Sciences, 1998), 208216, is an existing account of the history of QDA by an
advocate of QDA.

therefore indeterminate.
Pollard understood the causal structure of the world as open
and providing innumerable alternatives from which God can select a desired
Pollards key thesis was that divine action is possible through Gods
providential action in the probability-based processes of nature. Since this implies that
Gods action is not in the form of a natural force, he suggested that a proposal for divine
action cannot be pursued as a natural theology. Pollard reasoned that one cannot argue
from nature to theology, and that belief in divine action is based on theological grounds,
but is affirmed in a scientific context.

Since 1987, the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural
Sciences (VO/CTNS)
in Berkeley, California, have been sponsoring a series of
conferences and books on the subject of divine action, all with the subtitle Scientific
Perspectives on Divine Action.
The guiding theme of those volumes, the attempt to
establish a two-way interaction between the scientific and theological aspects of the
subject without giving priority to either, has led to the accumulation of various
perspectives on divine action from contributors in science, philosophy and theology.

William G. Pollard, Chance and Providence: God's Action in a World Governed by Scientific Law (New
York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958, 1958; London: Faber and Faber, 1958), 104105.
Pollard, Chance and Providence, 114115.
Ibid., 8688.
See http://www.ctns.org.
The series Robert John Russell et al. eds., Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican Observatory:
Vatican City State; Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences: Berkeley, California, 19932001)
contains the following titles:
Volume 1: Quantum Cosmology and the Laws of Nature (1993)
Volume 2: Chaos and Complexity (1995)
Volume 3: Neuroscience and the Person (1999)
Volume 4: Evolutionary and Molecular Biology (1998)
Volume 5: Quantum Mechanics (2001)
A majority of the publications on quantum divine action either are in these volumes or are other
publications by contributors to these volumes.

The main proponent of QDA in the VO/CTNS volumes was Robert Russell.
Murphy provided important theological backing to Russell with her article Divine
Action in the Natural Order: Buridans Ass and Schrdingers Cat,
linking concepts in
theology to quantum indeterminacy and speculating about the integration of quantum
mechanical concepts with theological traditions. Russells later articles continue to
develop Murphys theological ideas further.

According to Russell and Murphy a means for divine action can be found in
quantum indeterminacy. Whereas Pollard suggested divine action as generally possible
through the chance- and probability-based nature of the world evident in all of our
scientific knowledge,
Russell and Murphy specifically insisted that the primary means
of divine action is through quantum indeterminacy. Another differentiation from
Pollards approach is Murphys concept of under-determination.
Pollard saw God as
simply determining the outcome of all chance events. However, as has been suggested by
Murphy and Russell, if that is the case, then that which God has created does not have a
degree of independence. God would be the cause of everything, and this leads to
theological difficulties with the problem of evil: God would be directly involved in

Murphy, Divine Action, 325358.
Robert John Russell, Quantum Physics in Philosophical and Theological Perspective in Robert Russell,
William R. Stoeger and George V. Coyne, eds., Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for
Understanding, 2
ed. (Vatican Observatory: Vatican City State; Center for Theology and the Natural
Sciences: Berkeley, California, 1995), 343374; idem, Finite Creation without a Beginning: The Doctrine
of Creation in Relation to Big Bang and Quantum Cosmology in Russell, Murphy and Peacocke, Chaos
and Complexity, 293329; idem, Special Providence and Genetic Mutation: A New Defense of Theistic
Evolution in Russell, Stoeger and Ayala, Evolution and Biology,191223; idem, Divine Action and
Quantum Mechanics: A Fresh Assessment in Robert John Russell, Philip Clayton, Kirk Wegter-McNelly
and John Polkinghorne, eds., Quantum Mechanics: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (Vatican
Observatory: Vatican City State; Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences: Berkeley, California,
2001), 293328.
William G. Pollard, Creation Through Alternative Histories in Transcendence and Providence:
Reflections of a Physicist and Priest (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987), 179.
The first use of the term that I found to characterize Murphys approach in Divine Action was in
Robert Russell, Special Providence and Genetic Mutation, 214.

causing evil. The concept of under-determination implies that God has created matter
with innate properties representing actual and potential means of activity. Murphy
suggested that the innate properties, which would include the probabilities in quantum
theory, factor into the determination of the outcome:

This principle of Gods respecting the integrity of the entities he has created is an
important one. I further suggest, on the strength of a similar analogy with the
human realm, that we speak of all created entities as having natural rights,
which God respects in his governance. This is the sense in which his governance
is cooperation, not domination.

Murphy here suggested that divine action is mediated by Gods cooperation with
the natural propensities of the matter that God has created. A God that determines all
events, as proposed by Pollard, is another form of determinism and does not allow human

Russells and Murphys concept of QDA is that of God acting through the
indeterminacies of the smallest constituents
A microscopic event that can be
influenced by divine action is a quantum event.
Murphy pointed out that macroscopic
events are composed of these most basic constituents,
and consequently Gods
capacity to act at the macro-level must include the ability to act upon the most basic
Murphy envisioned the replacement of one key element of the
Enlightenment view of a reductionist-atomist world: The atoms no longer behave in a
deterministic fashion. The atoms are not to be understood here as the atoms of physics

Nancey Murphy, Divine Action, 340341. The independence of creation and the kenotic aspects of
Gods activity are discussed in detail in Nancey Murphy and George F.R. Ellis, On the Moral Nature of the
Universe: Theology, Cosmology, and Ethics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996).
Murphy, Divine Action, 342.
Robert Russell, Divine Action and Quantum Mechanics, 315.
Murphy, Divine Action, 342.
Ibid., 343.
Ibid., 342.

but as the smallest components of the model employed to conceptualize the world: the
most basic constituents. Quantum events are the smallest components at the base of
larger-scale macroscopic events, and the QDA approach envisioned by Murphy has
therefore in my opinion similarities with a reductionistic and atomist scheme.
believes that regularities emerge from the indeterministic quantum events in the form of
physical laws and other higher-level laws of nature.

Nicholas Saunders has recently raised questions regarding QDA approaches such
as the ones proposed by Murphy and Russell.
Saunderss reasoning follows some of the
earlier concerns of John Polkinghorne.
There are three major points presented by
Polkinghorne and Saunders:
First, the assertion that quantum theory is intrinsically indeterministic is
questioned, given the existence of a number of interpretations of quantum theory. In
particular, Saunders pointed out that the causal interpretation by Bohm is consistent with
a fully deterministic interpretation of quantum mechanics.
It follows that a deterministic
account of quantum mechanics does not allow for any QDA proposal since there is
nothing for God to determine. God could then only act by interventionby temporarily

Murphy, Divine Action, 342343. Higher-level regularities are an emergent property from the most
basic constituents. See Murphy, Liberalism & Fundamentalism, 65, for a characterization of reductionism
and atomism.
Murphy, Divine Action, 349. See Murphy and Ellis, 1938, for a discussion of hierarchies and
emergence that is less focused on quantum indeterminacy at the basis.
Nicholas Saunders, Divine Action and Modern Science (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002);
Nicholas Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice? Divine Action and Quantum Possibilities in Zygon 35,
no. 3 (September 2000).
John Polkinghorne, The Metaphysics of Divine Action in Russell, Murphy and Peacocke, Chaos and
Complexity, 147156.
Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 527.

suspending the laws of natureand therefore divine action could only be conceived of as

Second, Saunders and Polkinghorne pointed out that the evolution of the wave
function characterizing quantum systems is deterministic. The standard mathematical
formulation of quantum mechanics is the Schrdinger equation, an ordinary second order
partial differential equation. The evolution over time of the solutions to the Schrdinger
equation are mathematically well-behaved and unambiguous.
characteristics surface only when a measurement is performed.
If measurements are rare
then God would only have a limited number of opportunities for divine action. Therefore,
Saunders and Polkinghorne concluded that QDA proposals would only allow for sporadic
and infrequent divine action even if quantum mechanics is assumed to have an
indeterministic nature.

Third, Saunders viewed the potential indeterminacies resulting from
measurements as minuscule.
In general they could not result in the large-scale
macroscopic effects envisioned by QDA advocates. Saunders cited a humor column
(Daedalus) by David Jones in the journal Nature. Jones claimed that it would take God
about 100-million years to change the trajectory of an asteroid in a significant way, given
the small effects of quantum indeterminacies.

Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 521; Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 153.
John Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
2002), 90-91.
Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 525; Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 152.
Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 532; John Polkinghorne, Physical Process, Quantum Events, and
Divine Agency in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 188189.
Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 522.
Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice?, 540; Saunders, Divine Action, 171172; David E. H. Jones, The
Further Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1999), 152153.

Polkinghorne initially suggested the alternative use of chaos theory for use in
divine action theories,
but that approach has encountered difficulties regarding his
notion of active information communicated through zero energy differences.

Polkinghorne sees no proposal that would take concepts of divine action beyond a crude
starting point and hopes that progress in the area of quantum chaology will provide
opportunities for the further development of divine action concepts.

Russell has responded to Saunders and Polkinghorne in the following ways:
First, he pointed out that quantum mechanics should be interpreted in the sense of
leading to an ontological indeterminism. He saw the Copenhagen interpretation
providing such an interpretation.
Russell argued against alternatives such as Bohms
deterministic formulation
and claimed that Bohms version of quantum theory does not
result in a return to determinism because of the nonlocal aspects of the pilot-wave. He
then compared Bohmian quantum mechanics and the Copenhagen interpretation,

suggesting that Bohms theory embodies quantum features known through the
Copenhagen interpretation such as superposition, entanglement, etc.
Russell wanted to
reevaluate the way Bohmian quantum mechanics is understood in the discussion of divine
actionand, in particular, the nature of determinism in Bohms formulation.

Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 152154.
John Polkinghorne, Physical Process, Quantum Events, and Divine Agency in Russell, Clayton,
Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, 189, footnote 9, mentions Saunders as providing the key argument that
led Polkinghorne to conclude that the use of classic chaos theory is problematic.
Ibid., 190.
Russell, Divine Action, 293.
Ibid., 304.
See Russell, Divine Action, 325328.
Appendix to Russell, Divine Action, 324328.
Ibid., 327.

Second, Russell defined a quantum event in order to reply to the objection that
there are not a large number of measurement events that would allow God to act:
The wavefunction , which had evolved deterministically in time under the
influence of the classical potential V and according to the Schrdinger equation,
changes discontinuously from a superposition of states to a specific state. This is
also a convenient place to offer a more precise definition of the term quantum
event than one customarily finds in the literature. I propose that we restrict our
usage of the term to what we are calling measurements, that is, those
interactions that are irreversible regardless of whether they are micro-macro,
micro-meso, or micro-micro interactions.

Polkinghorne and others also saw the possibility of extending the meaning of
measurement beyond the association with a laboratory situation. Polkinghorne
reasoned that measurement is what occurs during interactions between the micro- and
macrolevel. Measurement is an irreversible macroscopic registration of a property.

Russell likewise reasoned that measurements are simply irreversible interactions. Then
he suggested some possibilities of irreversible interactions in quantum mechanics.
Irreversible interactions could be envisioned to occur on the microlevel or between the
microlevel and other levels. Russell described an additional meso level for interaction
with sub-microscopic objects with enough degrees of freedom to make the interaction
irreversible (at least in practice).
Russell argued that a large number of opportunities
exist for divine action.

Third, in response to the claim that quantum indeterminacies could not have large
macroscopic effects, Russell mentioned known macroscopic quantum phenomena like
superfluidity and superconductivity. He also pointed out examples of single microscopic

Ibid., 307.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 186.
Russell, Divine Action, 306.
Ibid., 310.

events resulting in a macroscopic effect. For instance, the evolution of life on earth might
progress due to genetic mutations caused by quantum effects.

My opinion is that the last response by Russell to Saunderss and Polkinghornes
questioning of QDA is the strongest. We have evidence of quantum effects at the
macrolevel, and consequently quantum behavior can be seen as affecting macroevents.
Russells first point, regarding interpretative implications of quantum mechanics,
comes down to a metaphysical choice, since both Bohmian quantum mechanics and the
Copenhagen interpretation are identical in their predictions for experiments.
I agree
with Russells evaluation that the notion of determinism as implied by Bohmian quantum
mechanics needs to be reevaluated. This is especially important given Bohms own
assessment of his causal interpretation that although the interpretation is termed causal,
this should not be taken as implying a form of complete determinism.
Bohms theory
is inconsistent in some ways, as will be discussed in Chapter Four. However, the holism
and the nonlocality of Bohms quantum mechanics hint at phenomena difficult to
accommodate within the concept of quantum events in the existing QDA concept.

The second objection by Saunders and Polkinghorne was that quantum events
only show indeterminate effects during measurements in the laboratory when the wave
function is seen to collapse. This then limits the number of events available for QDA.
Russells approach was to first reason that the concept of quantum measurement is

Ibid., 299.
James Cushing, Determinism versus Indeterminacy in Quantum Mechanics: A Free Choice in
Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 103.
Bohm and Peat, 88. A similar statement is made on page 97 and in Bohm and Hiley, 3. See also David
Bohm, Reasons for the Inadequacy of Laplacian Determinism in Causality & Chance, 158160, and
Philip D. Clayton, God and Contemporary Science (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1997), 145147,
interpreting Bohm.
Bohm and Peat, 90103.

applicable to physical events in general and then to claim that such measurements
(essentially irreversible interactions) occur frequently.
It is important to note the following topics in the current discussion about
measurement, wave function collapse and the nature of quantum events:
Indeterminacy. Richard Feynman pointed out that wave functions describe
possible states of quantum systems and are therefore not to be understood as regular
descriptions of classic realities. It is true that the wave function develops in a
deterministic fashion, but the wave function does not describe a scenario in terms of
classic physical concepts.
It could be said that the wave function describes a situation as
containing a number of possible outcomes, and then measurement or collapse causes one
of the potential outcomes to be realized. Both components are necessary for
indeterminacy to have its effects. In this sense indeterminacy is present even before the
collapse of the wave function. It is not necessary to immediately perform a measurement
because it is possible for an indeterminate effect to become evident much later. Erwin
Schrdinger described the wave function as an expectation-catalog in his famous article
on the cat paradox.

Measurement and interactions. Interactions in quantum mechanics can always be
described by a wave function.
The wave function typically is in the form of a

Richard P. Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics
(Reading, Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1965), 165 166.
Erwin Schrdinger, The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics in Wheeler and Zurek, 158.
Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory, 4950.

superposition in the case of an interaction.
Such interactions are reversible. Complex
multiple interactions can result in complex wave functions describing entanglement.

The problematic use of the concept of irreversibility: The notion of irreversibility
is tied to wave function collapse in quantum theory. The use of macroscopic
characteristics to define what constitutes wave function collapse can be questioned
because wave function collapse in turn defines how the macroscopic world emerges from
the quantum theoretical description.

Localization of measurement and collapse. Currently many physicists conclude
that the question of the localization of wave function collapse has not been satisfactorily
solved yet and may even be unsolvable. Polkinghorne discusses a variety of possible
approaches for locating collapse, each in turn depending on the choice of a given
interpretation of quantum theory.
He understands wave function collapse to be the
macroscopic registration of a microproperty: This is not very helpful since no
unambiguous way exists to delineate the boundary between microscopic and macroscopic
Russells definition of a quantum event as an irreversible interaction of a
quantum system with another system could be acceptable as a possible solution to this

George Greenstein and Arthur G. Zajonc, The Quantum Challenge (Sudbury, Massachusetts: Jones and
Bartlett, 1997), 186187, 131; P. J. E. Peebles, Measurement Theory in Quantum Mechanics (Princeton,
New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1992), 248251; Michael E. Peskin and Daniel V. Schroeder, An
Introduction to Quantum Field Theory, (Westview Press, 1995), 276.
Ibid., 188.
Asher Peres, Can we undo Quantum Measurements? in Physical Review, D22 (1980): 879883;
Reprinted in Zurek and Wheeler, 692694; David Bohm, Quantum Theory (New York: Dover Publications,
1951), 608609; Bohm, Causality & Chance, 160.
Greenstein and Zajonc, 190; Thomas Tracy, Creation, Providence, and Quantum Chance in Russell,
Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 254; Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory,
4453; Bohm, Quantum Theory, 586588; Chris Clarke, Quantum Histories and Human/Divine Action
in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 160162; Polkinghorne,
Physical Process, 181190.
von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 224236.

problem. However, there are other effects caused by measurement that also need to be

Measurement and classic states known as eigenstates. A measurement forces
the measured quantum system into an eigenstate.
Measurement suppresses
superposition, but a superposition is necessary for wave phenomena such as interference
to surface.
If measurements were continuously performed on very small scales, then
phenomena such as interference and superconductivity would be limited, and the
macroscopic quantum effects, including those mentioned by Russell, would be
suppressed since they depend on holistic quantum effects of the entire system.

Large-scale quantum systems. The suggestion that indeterminacy applies in
general to small-scale quantum events raises questions about the possibility of
macroscopic quantum effects mentioned before. Raymond Chiao has suggested a thought
experiment involving a quantum entanglement over a distance of a couple of billion light
Recent experiments to investigate the feasibility of quantum cryptography are
based on the establishment of nonlocal effects over long distances.
In order to account
for those experiments as quantum events, the entanglements over cosmic distances would

John Polkinghorne, The Quantum World (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984), 62.
See also von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 187.
An eigenstate is a quantum state that represents a definite quantity for an observable and provides a
connection to the quantities in classical physics. See Greenstein and Zajonc, 32, 159, or Peebles,
Measurement Theory in Quantum Mechanics, 231258.
Greenstein and Zajonc, 160.
Zeh, The Program of Decoherence: Ideas and Concepts in Domenico Guilini, Erich Joos, Claus Kiefer,
Joachim Kupsch, Ion-Olimiu Stamatescu and H. Dieter Zeh. Decoherence and the Appearance of a
Classical World in Quantum Theory (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1996), 22.
Raymond Chiao, Quantum Nonlocalities in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly, Quantum Mechanics,
36. A similar experiment is described by John Archibald Wheeler, Geons, Black Holes & Quantum Foam:
A Life in Physics (New York: W. W. Horton, 1998), 334337.
One recent experiment by Mitsubishi was able to prove this effect over a distance of 67 kilometers using
fiber optics. See Wolfgang Stieler, Neuer Weltrekord bei Quantenkryptographie in ct: magazin fr
computer technik (Hanover, Germany: Heise-Verlag, December 2002).

need to be understood as involving single systems.
Moreover, according to Schrdinger
entanglement is an ubiquitous phenomenon which might lead to the need to consider the
universe as one quantum system and therefore a quantum event would need to have a
global character and could not be understood in a reductionistic fashion.

It seems to me that the QDA approach as proposed by Murphy and Russell has
difficulties accommodating characteristic phenomena of quantum theory such as
measurement and nonlocal effects. The concept of quantum events is difficult to defend
given quantum theory. Consequently, Arthur Peacocke, who has also written on divine
action, now supports Saunderss views of the minimal macroscopic effect of quantum
This falls in line with Polkinghornes assessment that currently no
viable proposal for divine action through quantum indeterminacy exists. Polkinghorne
suggested that bold metaphysical speculation, which takes science into account but is
relatively uninhibited in pressing on to grander designs will be a necessary step in
developing new approaches.

3. The Proposed Solution
In this text I propose to follow Polkinghornes advice and redesign QDA as it
emerges from an understanding of quantum theory without regard to metaphysical
commitments to a classic Enlightenment view of the world. Murphy has argued that the

For references to actual experiments see for example Wheeler, Geons, 337, or Henry Stapp, Von
Neumanns Formulation of Quantum Theory and the Role of Mind in Nature [online] (Berkeley: Lawrence
Berkeley National Laboratory, 2001, accessed 16 July 2003), <http://www.categoricalanalysis.com>.
Erwin Schrdinger in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 31 (1935): 555 cited in Aczel,
Arthur Peacocke, Paths from Science towards God: The End of All our Exploring (Oxford: Oneworld
Publications, 2001), 104108.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 190.

shift from modernity to postmodernity in Anglo-American philosophy is characterized by
the rejection of reductionism:
I argue that there has been a similar revision of view of the relation of parts and
wholes reflected in science and other branches of philosophy and thus that a
metaphysical shift has occurredthe rejection of modern atomism-reductionism
in all of its forms.

However, it seems to me that the QDA approach presented by Russell and
Murphy still represents a somewhat reductionist approach and is therefore inconsistent
with what Murphy saw as the direction of philosophy. I propose to follow through on
Murphys insight by giving a holistic account of divine action, and by revising the
understanding of what constitutes a quantum event.
The problematic nature of wave function collapse and the corresponding difficulty
in defining the relation between the micro- (quantum) and the macro (classic) level are
the reasons for the difficulties encountered by a reductionist approach to QDA.
Indeterminacy is a phenomenon associated with wave function collapse, but collapse is
only specified in the Copenhagen interpretation as occurring during measurement and
involves a classically understood measurement device. What is needed is a proper
scientific understanding of wave function collapse in the world, and consequently a
proper understanding of the physical nature of the world.
Quantum mechanics is useful for the description of both micro- and macro-level
entities. Quantum mechanics is currently the most fundamental physical theory, allowing
us to describe how matter works. Any object can be described using a wave function,

Nancey Murphy, Anglo-American Postmodernity: Philosophical Perspectives on Science, Religion and
Ethics (Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 1997), 2.

from the smallest known entities to the whole universe.
Consequently, we would expect
one fundamental component of a QDA theory to be quantum mechanics and the wave
function. The problem with the wave function is that it does not describe the
measurement process. Collapse (and therefore measurement) is imposed upon the
formalism from the outside.
Describing a scenario using the wave function results in a
large set of potentialities but no selection of a specific outcome.
The classic level does not have a sense of potentialities; the outcome of an
experiment is a definite quantity. We might not have total clarity on how this comes
about, but we know that instruments in a laboratory always show a definite value and not
a set of possibilities as suggested by the wave function. Nonlocal effects and other
quantum phenomena are expressed in terms of wave functions and not by a description
using laws of classical physics. Since there are known quantum effects resulting in
observable effects at the macroscopic scale (such as superconductivity and superfluidity)
the acceptable domain for the use of the wave function must extend into the macrorealm.
It follows from the first point that the measurement instrument, which is described using
the classic laws of physics, can also be represented by a wave function. If this is done,
then the measurement apparatus and the measured entity must be considered as properly
represented by one huge entangled wave function.
Our minds only recognize classic quantities and never recognize something like a
superposition. By the time wave functions reach our consciousness, they must have

Eugene P. Wigner, Symmetries and Reflections: Scientific Essays (Woodbridge, Connecticut: Ox Bow
Press, 1979), 173174; Anton Zeilinger, On the Interpretation and Philosophical Foundations of Quantum
Mechanics in U. Ketvel et al., Vastokohtien todellisuus: Festschrift for K.V. Laurikainen (Helsinki:
Helsinki University Press, 1996), 3.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 181.

already collapsed; otherwise, we would observe multiple possible outcomes, such as
multiple positions of a pointer on a dial, rather than just one outcome.
John von Neumann proved that the validity of quantum theory does not depend on
where collapse and measurement are envisioned to take place. Given that only classic
outcomes are recognized by our consciousness, von Neumann speculated that
measurement takes place through the consciousness of an observer.
Following von
Neumann, Eugene P. Wigner
and John Archibald Wheeler
came to similar
conclusions about the role of consciousness. Wigner commented: It was not possible to
formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to
the consciousness.

I suggest that QDA approaches can be made workable by accepting consciousness
as the natural location where measurement, and therefore wave function collapse, occurs.
Wigner claimed:
The measurement is not completed until its result enters our consciousness. This
last step occurs when a correlation is established between the state of the last
measuring apparatus and something which directly affects our consciousness.
This last step is, at the present state of our knowledge, shrouded in mystery and
no explanation has been given for it so far in terms of quantum mechanics, or in
terms of any other theory.

Such an interpretation of quantum mechanics gives the observer a role in
measurement and wave function collapse. However, the role of the observer cannot be
reflected in a QDA proposal, in which it is assumed (in harmony with a classic

John von Neumann, Der Meproze in Quantenmechanik, 222237.
Eugene P. Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question in Symmetries and Reflections, 171184.
John Archibald Wheeler, Genesis and Observership in At Home in the Universe (New York: Springer
Verlag, 1996), 2346.
Wigner, Mind-Body Question, 172.
Ibid., 187.

conception of the universe) that reality has an observer-independent nature, an
assumption widely accepted in the context of the VO/CTNS work on QDA.
The idea of consciousness as the cause for collapse would obviously have
significant consequences for our conceptualization of the world. No longer could we
assume a classic world with definite physical characteristics, because the indefiniteness
of the microrealm also becomes valid for the macrorealm. The world would become a
quantum world in a quantum state, which is naturally describable by a wave function. As
James Butterfield put it: Quantum theory apparently implies that such indefiniteness
should also be endemic in the familiar macrorealm of tables and chairs.
functions can also be used to express classic states, and therefore classic definite elements
in the world are also describable by a quantum state.
Russell claimed that quantum theory needs to be interpreted in terms of
ontological indeterminism.
However, in Russells worldview indeterminism, as a
desirable feature of quantum theory for divine action, has been grafted into a classic
picture of the world. Henry Stapp
pointed out in Quantum Ontology and Mind-Matter
that the evident nonlocal features show that the profound deficiencies [of]
the classical conception [or better concepts] of nature are not confinable to the micro-
Some physicists have drawn a sharp distinction between the real classic world

Butterfield, Some Worlds of Quantum Theory in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne,
Quatum Mechanics, 114.
Russell, Divine Action, 293.
His main publication on the subject is Henry Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics (New York:
Springer Verlag, 1993). Recent presentations, articles and other publications are available from
<http://www.categoricalanalysis.com> (accessed 16 July 2003).
Henry Stapp, Quantum Ontology and Mind-Matter Synthesis [online] X-th Max Born Symphosium
(1998), <http://www.categoricalanalysis.com>; accessed 16 July 2003.
Ibid., 8.

and the quantum world with its potentialities,
but Stapp proposed that we instead
ontologize the orthodox interpretation of quantum mechanics and abandon the classic
view of the world by accepting quantum theory as an adequate representation for the
entire world.
According to Stapp, the ordinary substantive matter postulated by classical
mechanics simply does not exist. The quantum state of the universe is a wave function
(the universal wave function
) containing a collection of potentialities with complete
physical information about the universe. The conscious recognition of events by an
observer then reduces potentialities in the quantum state to a definite classic state.

Others have come to the same conclusions as Stapp. Recently Menas Kafatos and
Robert Nadeau wrote two books on the nature of reality,
and considered Bohrs
instrumentalist understanding of quantum mechanics as the complete description of
They stated that classic physics is an approximation that only works because
the relatively high speed of light and the relatively small scale of quantum action
typically only cause negligible effects at the macrolevel.
Based on an ontologization of
quantum mechanics in the manner of Stapp, Kafatos and Nadeau contended that the
universe is a conscious, self-organizing system.

Evan Harris Walker has also concluded that an ontological interpretation of
quantum mechanics is necessary and reached this conclusion independent of Stapps

Ibid., 10.
Ibid., 18.
The term was coined by Hugh Everett, see Chapter Four for details.
Ibid., 28.
Menas Kafatos and Robert Nadeau, The Conscious Universe: Parts and Wholes in Physical Reality
(New York: Springer Verlag, 2000); Robert Nadeau and Menas Kafatos, The Non-Local Universe: The
New Physics and Matters of Mind (Oxford: Oxford University, 1999).
Kafatos and Nadeau, Conscious Universe, 73.
Ibid., 75.
Ibid., 6.

Walker proposed an understanding of reality in harmony with concepts found in
Zen Buddhism. He contended that the determination of reality by quantum mechanics is
underconstrained in a way similar to that of Murphy,
but he goes one step further:
Walker suggested that the human will can actually influence the selection of the
and that God is the collective power of all our consciousnesses connected to
one another, the power that creates miracles.

The authors who support such interpretations also contend that the human brain
has a special capability to enable the collapse of the wave function. These arguments
have tried to avoid giving the brain (or consciousness) a special metaphysical status by
seeking out physical processes in the brain that impose classicality and therefore cause
wave function collapse. Stapp suggested that the brain develops a series of action plans
that are then processed through feedback loops that employ the quantum Zeno effect in
order to reduce the number of potentialities. These feedback loops evaluate the
compatibility of the mental state to the physical event. Human will or attention then
causes a rapid rerouting of the potential action plans through these loops so that, finally,
only one plan of action is executed.

Roger Penrose recently suggested that a future theory of quantum gravity could
solve the problem of wave function collapse in quantum theory and that a special

Evan Harris Walker, The Physics of Consciousness: The Quantum Mind and the Meaning of Life
(Cambridge, Massachusetts: Perseus Books, 2000). The book is a unique interwoven artwork of a tragic
love story, the history of quantum mechanics and an argument on the nature of reality.
Ibid., 259.
Ibid., 301302.
Ibid., 329.
Stapp, Psycho-Physical Theory and Will in Mindful Universe, 6768, 3948; Stapp, A Quantum
Theory of the Mind-Brain Interface in Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, 145172.

quantum mechanical effect in the brain could be the basis for consciousness.
and Nadeau considered Roger Penroses ideas, but concluded that neither his nor Stapps
suggestion can be verified. They contended that consciousness might not be analyzable
and might need to be taken as a metaphysical a priori for physics.
On the other hand,
Walker considered consciousness and brain to be separate. The consciousness observes
(in the sense of monitoring) the brain and the potentialities it develops, and then brings
about one state through observation (in the sense of causing collapse).

I propose that approaches to divine action can be made workable by adopting a
quantum view of the world with wave function collapse caused by consciousness. The
wave functions that consciousness processes are huge entanglements of quantum
systems, and they are tied to the abilities of the consciousness to recognize elements of
the physical world. These are typically of a macroscopic nature and not small quantum
In such a scenario the third objection by Polkinghorne and Saunders to QDA
approachesthat indeterminacy can only have minimal effectswould no longer be
valid. Only observation causes indeterminacy to become effective, and indeterminacy is
dependent on the recognition of macroscopic entities by the cognitive processes in the
human brain. The potential effect is so evident at the macroscopic level that Bernard
d`Espagnat rejected this approach because it seems impossible to confine such effects
within acceptable limits. To exemplify the questionable nature of this approach,

Roger Penrose, Quantum Theory and Spacetime in Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature
of Space and Time (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1996), 62; Roger Penrose, The
Large, the Small and the Human Mind (Cambrige: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 92,133135; also
Roger Penrose, Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1994), 335.
Kafatos and Nadeau, Conscious Universe, 138139.
Walker, 258.

d`Espagnat pointed out that a person looking at the moon could make the moon have a
definite location that it did not have before.
However, d`Espagnats rejection of this
approach is based on effects that would be desirable in a theory of divine action. Divine
action would need to be able to account for significant macroscopic effects, and
d`Espagnats objection supports the conclusion that my approach indeed fulfills that
The second objection by Polkinghorne and Saunders to QDAthat there are only
infrequent and sporadic measurement events that would allow divine actioncan also be
given a satisfactory response. All cognitive processes cause wave function collapse and
therefore also cause indeterminate processes that allow for divine action to abound, as
long as the conscious observer is observing.
I propose two options to envision divine action in a quantum world. One can take
Murphys concept of under-determination of quantum events and extend this to the
events recognized by consciousness. Divine action would work directly at the interface
between consciousness and the universe. This approach might have advantages when it
comes to arguing for divine communication, but it has the defect that God might be seen
as influencing our perception. Another option is to follow Chiaos suggestion to
understand God as a sporadic conscious observer.
In order to be able to allow for
divine action in this case, one must hold that the divine observer has abilities that go
beyond the human observer. The human observer has only a limited ability to select one
outcome among the potential outcomes. The divine observer can arbitrarily choose which

Bernard d`Espagnat, Reality and the Physicist: Knowledge, Duration and the Quantum World, J. C.
Whitehouse trans. (Cambridge: Cambridge University, 1989), 213. The chapter The Dilemma of Modern
Physics: Reality or Meaning discusses Wheelers proposal of a quantum world.
Chiao, 3839.

of the possible outcomes becomes definite, and this capability provides the means for
divine action.

4. Differentiation from the Work of Others
I propose to accept wave function collapse caused by consciousness (whether it be
divine or human) as it interfaces with the quantum world as the causal joint for divine
action. As discussed above, such an approach enables a response to the objections
regarding the existing QDA proposals. Although there are extensive publications by
physicists supporting the view of the universe as a quantum world, I am not aware of a
recent work by a theologian that takes a holistic quantum view of the world and relates it
to divine action.
Some of the contributors to the VO/CTNS volumes have evaluated and discussed
the proposals by Stapp and Wigner and thereby have provided responses to the proposed
use of conscious collapse models in a theory of QDA:
James Butterfield discussed the common implications of such an understanding of
collapse in his article Some Worlds of Quantum Theory
where he referred to Wigner
and Stapp. Butterfield investigated the consequences of an approach to collapse caused
by the observer through consciousness and found that what we commonly call the
macrorealm would then be governed by wave function potentials. The macrorealm would
not be in a classic defined state; it would only appear classic to us because our
consciousness collapses the indefinite superposition into an eigenstate correlated to the
result that we perceive when we see or in other ways become aware of the state of our

Pollard, Chance and Providence, 114.
James Butterfield, Some Worlds of Quantum Theory in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and
Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 111140.

environment. Once a part of the macrorealm is perceived by consciousness, that which
was perceived is no longer indefinite. The unperceived states of the superposition vanish.
If the perception of a certain area of the macrorealm ceases, then the usual indefiniteness
slowly sets in again. Butterfield gave this approach very little credence without
providing any further commentary or discussion.

Ian Barbour did not find Wigners concept of observer-caused collapse
convincing, since results of measurements might be recorded, for example, on computer
tape or on the dial of an instrument instead of being recognized directly by an observer.
Barbour reasoned that an observer, given Wigners ideas, looking at the recorded result
much later would only then cause the past to become definite by merely looking at the
computer tape. However, this is exactly what is advocated by John Archibald Wheeler:
Not only is the macrorealm indefinite right now, but the past is also indefinite until
someone observes it and causes one potential event out of many to become definite.

Barbour found such an approach difficult to accept because Wigners concept could
imply that the observers of the big bang have caused the big bang to occur 13 billion
years ago in a certain way. Barbour considered the flow of information, and not the fact
of observation, to be necessary for wave function collapse to occur.

Robert Russell referred to the work of Stapp, Wigner and von Neumann as an
interpretation of quantum mechanics promoting the idea that consciousness creates

Butterfield, 121122.
John Archibald Wheeler, Genesis and Observership in At Home in the Universe, 2346.
Barbour, Science Meets Religion, 7980.

Reality is the classic state after wave function collapse. If consciousness
causes collapse, then it creates reality, according to Russell.
Philip Clayton discussed the ideas of Stapp, Wheeler and Wigner and found the
major problem to be the counterintuitive features, like the collapse of undetermined
events in the past. However, Clayton also noted that quantum mechanics has always
challenged our intuitions.

John Polkinghorne saw the move to use consciousness as the cause of wave
function collapse as one of a number of possible metaphysical choices. According to
Polkinghorne, such a choice gives consciousness a privileged position for which there is
no warrant in science. Polkinghorne saw many open questions: Whose consciousness can
affect collapse? How does collapse and measurement happen during times and locations
in the universe where no consciousness is present?

In summary, the contributors to the VO/CTNS volumes are mostly silent on the
observer-causes-collapse concept, although there are explanatory advantages for the
consciousness-based approach as pointed out by Chiao,
who was also a contributor to
the VO/CTNS volumes. Observer-caused collapse does give a privileged position to
consciousness, as noted by Barbour and Polkinghorne. However, the privileged nature of
consciousness is our everyday experience. The conscious collapse models have so far not
been investigated for their usefulness in divine action proposals. It seems to me that these
models represent a possible and even a promising area for research.

Russell, Divine Action, 303.
Philip Clayton, Tracing the Lines in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum
Mechanics, 218220.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 185.
Chiao, 38.

The consciousness-based approach also leads to a unified view of the universe as
described by quantum theory. The authors of the VO/CTNS volumes have wrestled with
the dichotomy of a classic deterministic worldview versus the quantum mechanical
nature evident at the microlevel. It is because of that struggle between a classic
deterministic worldview and the quantum view that a significant portion of the
discussions in the VO/CTNS volumes have been concerned with the basic nature of
quantum mechanics: Is it deterministic or not? That question has clearly not been
resolved by the investigation in the VO/CTNS volumes.
In Chaos and Complexity Murphy discussed the problem of top-down causation,
in contrast to the typical view of bottom-up causation by quantum events.
QDA as
proposed in this text is a form of top-down causation
since wave functions are used to
describe entities of any size. Consequently, there is no need for a bottom-up approach in
which indeterminacy from small components causes macroscopic phenomena to emerge.
Nadeau and Kafatos have pointed out that nonlocal effects cause the manifestations of
physical regularities and even the properties of biological systems.
If the causal nexus
for divine action is the interface between consciousness and the potentialities embodied
in the wave functions, then divine action can have a top-down influence over phenomena
in the hierarchies of sciences. QDA so conceived is a holistic approach.

George Ellis has shown that macroscopic quantum effects establish the holistic
character of quantum mechanics. A macrosystem, such as a Bose-Einstein condensate,

Murphy, Divine Action, 357.
Chiao, 38.
Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 113.
Chiao, 38, suggests such a top-down approach through measurement but understands Gods
consciousness effecting wave function collapse.

exhibits quantum effects that cannot be analyzed in a reductionist way.
Ellis discussed
the measurement process in terms of a holistic top-down view. Given these effects, Ellis
was looking for a mechanism in nature that would cause collapse for macroscopic entities
without an observer present. But he concluded, We do not know when [the] collapse of
the wave function will take place.
However, I claim that we know collapse has taken
place when our consciousness recognizes an event. My suggestion is a possible solution
to the problem by removing the requirement that collapse be observer independent.

5. Summary
Through the years, the understanding of divine action has been shaped to a
significant degree by the theological traditions and the philosophy of the times in which
explanations for divine action were offered. In particular, the term interventionism arose
in the context of two competing approaches, each attempting to justify the concept of
divine action in the Enlightenment. Liberal theologians chose experience (focusing
mostly on Gefhl, Schleiermachers God consciousness) as their foundation whereas
conservative theologians chose Scripture for a foundation. Parts of the conservative
tradition have affirmed the priority of Scripture when Scripture appeared to be in conflict
with science, leading to an interventionist account of divine action. The first chapter
following this summary contains an investigation of the development of the main
theological bifurcation as a reaction to the rise of modern science and the Enlightenment
worldview of a deterministic universe. The scientific developments in the twentieth

George Ellis, Quantum Theory and the Macroscopic World in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and
Polkinghorne, Quantum Mechanics, 262.
Ellis, Quantum Theory, 266267.
A private talk with Robert Russell (21 August 2003) seems to indicate that the notion of an observer-
independent universe might have been a requirement for QDA theories in the context of VO/CTNS.

century have challenged the Enlightenment worldview, but Enlightenment thought still
has an overwhelming influence on our understanding of nature. This has hindered the
acceptance of quantum theory, and has also affected the formulation of divine action
theories. Chapter One concludes with an investigation of interventionism and
noninterventionist divine action in light of the developments in the twentieth century.
Chapter Two contains a description of the first interpretations of quantum theory
that emerged during the pioneering phase of quantum mechanics, mainly in the first half
of the twentieth century (see Figure 1). Included is Einsteins view of quantum theory as
of a statistical nature, Bohrs insistence on an epistemological description, Schrdingers
search for a deterministic wave interpretation, von Neumanns formalization of quantum
theory (and his suggestion that an observer or consciousness is necessary for wave
function collapse because measurement can not be localized in the physical world) and
Heisenbergs understanding of the wave function as representing an ontological reality.

Figure 1: Quantum Theory and Divine Action Proposals
The Pioneering
Phase of Quantum
Chapters Two
and Three
The Dispute
About the
Nature of
Chapter Four
The Dispute About
Wave Function Collapse
Chapter Six

Modern QDA Proposals
Chapters Five and Seven
The Ensemble
(Albert Einstein)
The Epistemic
Copenhagen I
(Niels Bohr)
The Wave
(Erwin Schrdinger)
Consciousness Necessary
for Wave Function
(John von Neumann)
Real Propensities
Copenhagen II
(Werner Heisenberg)
The Causal
(David Bohm)
The Many-Minds
(Hugh Everett)
The Many-Worlds
(Bryce DeWitt)
Inevitability of
Collapse by
(Eugene Wigner)
Collapse Extends
Into the Past
(John A. Wheeler)
Copenhagen Ontologization
through Collapse by
(Henry Stapp)
Collapse through
Quantum Gravity
(Roger Penrose)
The Current Majority
View in Physics
Collapse through Decoherence
Divine Determination of
Chance Events
(William G. Pollard)
Divine Determination of
Quantum Events
(Robert Russell)
Personal and Divine
Agency in an
Indefinite World
(Karl Heim)
Kenotic Determination
of Quantum Events
(Nancey Murphy)
Partial Determination of
Quantum Events
(Thomas Tracy)
Determination of
(George Ellis)
The Approaches
Presented here
Personal and Divine
Agency in Henry Stapps
Quantum World

In Chapter Three pioneers of QDA are investigated. William James developed an
argument for an indeterminist universe even before quantum theory emerged. Arthur
Compton, one of the founders of quantum theory, attempted to use quantum
indeterminacy to understand why he is able to lift his hand if he so desires without
violating determinism. Two versions of QDA were developed by Karl Heim and William
Pollard after the Second World War. Heims QDA was based on a challenge to the
Enlightenment concepts of objectivity, space and causality. He envisioned the world as a
communication medium between agents. Pollard investigated the interpretation of chance
and proposed the divine determination of chance outcomes to be the means for divine
agency. Eric Mascall integrated quantum indeterminacy into his Thomist understanding
of events. Finally Frederik Belinfante gave an argument for the existence of God from
quantum theory, and established scientific parameters that must be satisfied by future
theories of QDA.
Chapter Four covers the dispute about the nature of quantum theory that arose in
the 1950s and lasted through the 1970s. During that period the basic nature of quantum
theory was challenged by attempts to reestablish determinism through hidden-variables
theories. Hugh Everett and Bryce DeWitt proposed the many-worlds interpretation, and
Bohm developed a causal interpretation based on the nonlocal influences on particles that
always have a definite position. None of these approaches has been accepted by a
majority of physicists as an improvement of the standard theory. The approach to wave
function collapse through consciousness was further developed by Wigner and Wheeler,
resulting in the paradox of Wigners friend and the insight that quantum theory could be
seen as implying the determination of the past.

Chapter Five covers the QDA approach as developed by Russell, Murphy, Tracy
and Ellis at the end of the twentieth century. We will also investigate the views of their
opponents: Polkinghorne, Saunders, Peacocke and Hodgson. Polkinghorne has correctly
pointed out that the QDA approach can be questioned because the measurement problem
has not been adequately addressed, and therefore the implicit assumption of a partially
classic understanding of the nature of the universecommonly referred to as the
macrolevelis not adequately justified.
In Chapter Six contemporary attempts to solve the measurement problem in the
context of the Copenhagen interpretation are investigated. These include spontaneous
collapse, mainly represented by the approach of Giancarlo Ghirardi, Emanuele Rimini
and Tullio Weber; collapse by quantum gravity as proposed by Penrose (we will also
consider his approach to consciousness through special quantum effects in the brain); the
majority view in physics todaythe contention that the influence from the environment
(decoherence) causes quantum collapse; Stapps suggestion to ontologize the
Copenhagen interpretation based on von Neumanns understanding of collapse through
consciousness; and Stephen Hawkings highly popularized view. My conclusion is that
Stapps view is the most consistent approach, one having explanatory power that goes far
beyond quantum theory.
Chapter Seven contains my proposal of a theory of divine action emerging from
Jamess indeterministic universe, Heims concept of the world as a communication
medium and Stapps interpretation of quantum theory. This results in a universe that is
governed by potentialities and propensities rather than the classic definiteness. Agents
that have free will (such as persons or God) restrict these potentialities through wave

function collapse and thereby cause parts of the universe to become definite. I suggest
that two modes of divine action are possible:
First, following the proposal by Chiao, God is conceived of as another agent in
the universe, the divine observer, causing wave function collapse.
Or second, drawing on Murphys concept of under-determination, divine action is
conceived of as occurring in each of the wave function collapses caused by any agent in
this universe.
The conclusion contains reviews of important points made earlier and an
exploration of one implication of the proposed divine action concept for the future of the

Chapter One
Divine Action in Enlightenment Thought
1. Introduction
Much of our contemporary thinking about the world was shaped in the
Enlightenment period. The emphasis on rationality and verifiability challenged the
religious traditions and the religious authorities. Frameworks of reasoning necessary to
build complex, but consistent, bodies of knowledge were established through
foundationalist philosophies. The result was a rational, easily comprehensible model of
the world. This chapter contains a brief introduction to the relevant concepts of
Enlightenment thought for divine action and includes reasons for the questioning of many
of these concepts in the twentieth century.
The first section is an investigation of the historical development of the concept of
a deterministic universe governed by scientific laws. Then the reasons for the
development of liberal and conservative theology as responses to Enlightenment thought
are discussed. Then follows an investigation of how the developments of the twentieth
century have challenged the Enlightenment view of the world. The chapter concludes
with a discussion of the meaning of noninterventionist divine action in the context of the
current situation in theology and science.
2. The Emergence of Determinism
The traditions of Roman Catholicism shaped thought in the medieval period in
Europe. Truth, according to the medieval understanding, is the revelation of the word of
God in Scripture mediated and interpreted by the traditions of the Church. Interpretation
was therefore also a matter of obedience to the traditions of the (Roman Catholic)

In the Reformation, the interpretative authority was challenged in view of the
widespread abuses of ecclesiastical authority and corruption in the highest positions of
the Catholic Church.
Luther (14831546) and other reformers saw no need for a
mediated understanding by an organization like the church or clergy, and instead insisted
that Scripture could be understood from out of itself, each person acting as his own

The approach of the reformers foreshadowed the later Cartesian model of
in which authority was questioned and a foundation for certain knowledge
was sought.
The reformers examined the roots of the traditions and theology of the
Roman Catholic Church by investigating Scripture and the writings of the church fathers
with the intent to purify theology and the religious practices of the corruption it had

With the demise of the Roman Catholic Church as the authoritative mediator for
the interpretation of Scripture, every individual or community of believers was
empowered to develop their own interpretation of the meaning of Scripture. As a
consequence, multiple Protestant denominations were formed. Each of the new religious

Heiko Obermann, Forerunners of the Reformation: The Shape of Late Medieval Thought Illustrated by
Key Documents (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1981), 54.
Kenneth Scott Latourette, Western Europe: Decline and Vitality in A History of Christianity Volume I:
Beginnings to A.D. 1500 (New York: HarperCollins, 1975), 624678; idem, Luther and the Rise and
Spread of Lutheranism in A History of Christianity Volume II: Reformation to the Present (New York:
HarperCollins, 1975), 708.
Bengt Hgglund, History of Theology (Saint Louis, Missouri: Concordia, 1968), 222223.
See also Werner Heisenberg, The Development of Philosophical Ideas since Descartes in Comparison
with the new Situation in Quantum Mechanics in Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern
Science, 79.
Jeffrey Stout, Descartes, the Father in The Flight from Authority: Religion, Morality and the Quest for
Autonomy (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1981), 2536.
See for example, Conrad Grebel and the Zrich Anabaptists: Letter to Thomas Mntzer (1524) in Hans
J. Hillerbrand, ed., The Protestant Reformation (New York: Harper, 1968), which is admonishing Mntzer
through the use of Scripture against the traditions practiced by the Catholic Church.

communities was convinced of the truth of its specific interpretation.
When the Catholic
Church tried to reassert its power over the territories that had turned Protestant, the Thirty
Years War broke out in central Europe.
Foreign powers became involved, and atrocities
were committed against those holding other convictions and justified on religious

Descartes (15961650) lived in the war zone and was exposed to the insecurity
arising from reports of violence and from the conflicting theological claims made by the
war parties.
Descartes felt the need to establish secure foundations for knowledge in
order to avoid the disagreements at the root of those conflicts. Stephen Toulmin claimed
that modern philosophy, and therefore modern ways of reasoning and logic, originated in
Descartess search for certain, clear and distinct foundations in response to the specific
challenge of the Thirty Years War.

Descartess particular concern was therefore the certainty of knowledge apart
from human authorities or organizations. The basis of his philosophy was the claim that
all knowledge that he had not verified as correct was to be considered unproven. What he
was taught as a child from his parents and what society had imparted to him, he saw as
unreliable and in need of verification. Knowledge was to be put aside until it could be
proven to be correct by rational methods working upward from foundational elements
that were self-evident. Descartes was fascinated by mathematics as a means for precision

Latourette, History of Christianity II, 726.
Ibid., 884.
Latourette, The Confused Arbitrament of Arms and the Aftermath in History of Christianity Volume II,
884898; Stephen Toulmin, Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity (Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1990), 49, 55, 69.
Toulmin, 69.
Ibid., 70.

and reliability in reasoning,
and proposed to apply mathematics to philosophy and to
reasoning about nature. He introduced a theory-centered approach: A hypothesis was
made and then carefully scrutinized before it was accepted and declared usable.

With these concepts, Descartes established the foundation for thinking about the
world in terms of mathematical rules and laws governing the world. Natural law became
associated with mathematics, and with that, an association was made from the precision
in the mathematical realm to the accuracy of knowledge about the world. The idea that
there are principles and laws governing the world that are always valid was gradually
accepted. With such a conception, the seed was sown for thinking about these principles
and laws as eternal and unchanging.
However, Descartess rationalism was limited to the philosophical realm. He had
hoped that his approach would enable unique insights into the physical nature of the
world in the same way that Euclid's geometry provided such insights, which then would
then lead to practical applications, but he was unable to make that step and had to restrict
his endeavor to the area of philosophical proofs.

Isaac Newton (16421727) took the next step by developing the modern methods
of scientific investigation and discovered the classic theories of physics. He formulated
the laws of motion that were essential for the development of sophisticated mechanical
devices. The availability, use and development of mechanical devices had a significant

Werner Heisenberg, The Development of Philosophical Ideas since Descartes in Comparison with the
new Situation in Quantum Mechanics in Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science, 79.
Toulmin, 11.
Ibid., 106.

impact on society and contributed in a major way to the industrial revolution. The
physical laws gave insight into the behavior and nature of physical bodies.

Newton knew of Descartess work and fulfilled Descartess hope that a new
philosophy would give insight into the nature of the world. However, Newton's approach
to the laws of nature was different from that of Descartes. His approach might best be
inferred from one passage from the General Scholium:
In this philosophy particular propositions are inferred from the phenomena, and
afterwards rendered general by induction. Thus it was that the impenetrability,
the mobility, and the impulsive force of bodies, and the laws of motion and of
gravitation, were discovered. And to us it is enough that gravity does really exist,
and act according to the laws which we have explained, and abundantly serves to
account for all the motions of the celestial bodies, and of our sea.
And now we might add something concerning a certain most subtle spirit which
pervades and lies hid in all gross bodies; ... But these are things that cannot be
explained in few words, nor are we furnished with that sufficiency of
experiments which is required to an accurate determination and demonstration of
the laws by which this electric and elastic spirit operates.

Newton described his basic approach to science as the discovery of scientific law.
The word discovery implies that those laws existed before, and independently, of the
act of discovery. A series of events is observed, measured and analyzed, and a theory is
formed to mathematically describe what happened through a general rule by induction.
Induction refers to the argument from a series of events for the existence of regular
behavior that can then be expressed by a scientific law. The scientific law can then be
used to understand the behavior of objects in the past and future. The predictability of
future events and the exercise of the resulting control over matter is the element of
empowerment inherent in the scientific approach that led to the technological superiority

Ibid., 106.
Isaac Newton, Definitions and Scholium: Newtons Philosophy of Nature: Selections from His Writings
(New York: Hafner Publishing, 1953), 371372.

of Western world.
The knowledge of the laws of nature resulted in a degree of
domination of nature and reinforced the feeling of security and certainty gained by the
foundationalist methods of reasoning developed by Descartes.
Induction was assumed to lead to the discovery of a real existing law governing
the world. To the common mind, Newton opened up science as an almost religious way
to discover the foundational laws operating in the world that God had instituted. Newton
himself was rather cautious about assertions regarding the nature of God, as seen in the
previous quotation, and therefore allowed room for God to act and intervene at his
discretion. In Newton's view, Descartes had gone too far in seeing nature as being rigidly
controlled by mathematical laws. Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (16461716) later critiqued
Newton for his assertion that God still had to intervene sometimes (for example, to adjust
the paths of the planets) in order to keep the universe in proper working order.
Hahn explains the situation:
Leibniz had accused Newtonian philosophy of furthering the cause of irreligion,
particularly because it diminished Gods craftsmanship and foresight by making
him adjust the system of the world in the same way that a clockmaker at times
must clean and repair his timepiece. Just as the small amount of mending was a
measure of the degree of his competence as a workman, so Gods intervention
attested to his inability to create a perfect world. That, Leibniz asserted, was a
dangerous Newtonian misconception of the Deity.

As Newtons ideas became successful and widely adopted, his ideas were further
refined by other thinkers. The notion of God intervening to adjust the way the world
operates was increasingly viewed as unacceptable, as was also Newtons own skepticism
regarding universalistic claims of the validity of the laws of nature. Both elements were

Huston Smith, The Revolution in Western Thought in Beyond the Post-Modern Mind: Updated and
Revised (New York: Quest Books, 1989), 316, 197200.
David C. Lindberg and Ronald L. Numbers, God and Nature: Historical Essays on the Encounter
between Christianity and Science (Berkeley, California: University of California Press, 1986), 233.
Roger Hahn, Laplace and the Mechanistic Universe in Lindberg and Numbers, 260.

gradually cleansed from the understanding of his physics, and then the revised version
was generally attributed to him. Newton is now seen as espousing the understanding of
scientific laws as always valid and not in need of adjustment. This idealized version of
the nature of basic scientific laws has dominated science ever since.

As a result of this idealization of the laws of nature, a theological problem
developed regarding divine action. If it is understood that the universe is governed by the
laws of nature, how can God then act? In the philosopher David Hume's (17111776)
view, the assertion of a miracle as a violation of a law of nature is inconsistent with the
regularities used to establish a law of nature in the first place. Laws of nature are
established by the observation of consistent correlations. The view of miracles as a
violation of the laws of nature is then problematic because evidence for that law of nature
will overwhelm the evidence for the violation of that law.
A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable
experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very
nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be
imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot,
of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is
extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the
laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a
miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happens in the
common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health,
should die on a sudden: Because such a kind of death, though more unusual than
any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a
dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age
or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every
miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation. And as a
uniform experience amounts to a proof, there is here a direct and full proof, from
the nature of the fact, against the existence of any miracle; nor can such a proof
be destroyed, or the miracle rendered credible, but by an opposite proof, which is

Margaret C. Jacob, Christianity and the Newtonian Worldview in Lindberg and Numbers, 246249.
David Hume, Of Miracles, A. Flew, ed. (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1985), 3031; See also the
standard edition: David Hume, Of Miracles in An Enquiry Concerning Human Understandings, L.A.
Selby-Bigge, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902; reissued countless times), 109131.

Hume did not argue against the possibility of miracles but stated that the evidence
for a miracle will be problematic since there is always overwhelming and consistent
evidence confirming the natural law. John Earman analyzed Humes argument in his
book Humes Abject Failure
and concluded that Hume's argument is a tautology
because the notion of the miracle includes the concept of an exception to regular or
normal behavior.
Hume argued against the miracle based on regular behavior. However,
that regular behavior was used to establish the concept of a miracle as an extraordinary
event in the first place.
The inclusion of miraculous events in an inductive process is indeed problematic.
If a miraculous event can be consistently repeated, then it is not a miraculous event. By
its very definition then, a miracle cannot be scientifically supported by induction, and no
support for divine action is possible because confirmation in a scientific sense would
include the ability to repeat an experiment to generate evidence for a divine action. If
evidence for consistent behavior would be found through experimental investigation then
we would conclude that a new law of nature has been discovered and not that evidence
for divine action has been found.
The philosopher Pierre-Simon Laplace (17491827) viewed the world as a
mechanism strictly governed by laws. He saw every atom in the universe as a
component in an unfailingly precise cosmic clockwork mechanism
and contended that
probabilities arise only because of our ignorance about the subject under investigation. If

John Earman, Humes Abject Failure: The Argument against Miracles (New York: Oxford University
Press, 2000).
Earman, 8.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 62.

a person knew all the laws governing the universe and the initial conditions of all
involved objects, then future scenarios can be calculated accurately based on those laws.
There is a legendary account about Laplace's views on divine action, presumably
well attested. Laplace presented his book on celestial bodies to Napoleon. Napoleon
(17691821) was made aware by his advisers that the book did not mention God at all.
Napoleon asked Laplace how he could write a book about the universe but never mention
God. The answer from Laplace was I have no need for that hypothesis. Napoleon told
Joseph-Louis Lagrange (17361813) (first Laplaces mentor and later his competitor)

about Laplaces answer, and Lagrange commented, That is a nice hypothesis. Can he
explain his choice?

Laplace viewed the world as completely controlled by scientific laws and
completely describable by scientific laws. Since any probabilities were attributed to
human ignorance of scientific laws, no room existed for a divine entity to act at all. Only
if something were not explainable by scientific law could it be the product of divine
action. However, according to Laplace, everything was describable by scientific laws,
and this implied strict causality. Therefore, God could not have any role in this world.
Laplaces understanding of the universe has been a problem for theology because
it implies a deterministic world. His view was that the laws of physics determine the
behavior of the atoms and the behavior of the atoms determine the behavior of all the
larger wholes of which they are a part.
Science is envisioned to be able to account for

See Lindberg and Numbers, 259.
W. W. Rouse Ball, A Short Account of the History of Mathematics. Stereotyped Edition (London:
MacMillan & Co, 1912; reprint, New York: Sterling Publications, 2001), 417419. See also Murphy,
Beyond Liberalism, 62.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 62.

all causes, and no room exists for any causes not describable by science such as divine
intervention or free will. Free will is then typically seen to be an illusion (the
compatibilist explanation). The scientific model starts from the assumption that the world
can be described without speaking about God or ourselves. Soon such an approach
became to be seen as a necessary condition for the pursuit of science in general.

Murphy saw three factors contributing to the view of a deterministic universe:
The atomic conceptualization of matter. Matter is seen as simply being composed
of small particles. Atoms are equipped with properties such as mass, and Newton was
able to describe how a force can influence a mass. Some of the phenomena in chemistry
could be explained if matter was viewed as an aggregation of atoms.

The concept of the laws of nature. The success of the Newtonian laws of physics
was seen to extend into all realms. The laws of nature can accurately describe the
behavior of atoms and of larger aggregate objects composed of atoms.
The laws of
nature were first understood as originating from God; that is why Newton could talk
about the discovery of the laws of physics. However, later the laws were granted some
form of real existence independent of God, and it is one of the ironies of history that they
later came even to be seen as obstacles to divine purposes.

A reductionistic understanding of nature. The success of reducing chemistry to
physics led to the conclusion that all natural processes will be reducible and ultimately
describable by the laws that govern the atoms. The complexity of the objects at higher
levels (such as in biology, sociology, etc.) increases, but if the complexity could be

Heisenberg, Development of Philosophical Ideas, 80.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 6364.
Ibid., 62.
Ibid., 67.

managed, then the laws that govern the atoms or smallest particles could be used for an
accurate description. Nature is a hierarchy of complexity. Causal reductionism is the idea
that all causation is bottom-up. Higher-level causation is hence due to causes that work at
the lower levels. The crucial metaphysical assumption is that the parts of an entity or
system determine the character and behavior of the whole and not vice versa.

3. Liberal and Conservative Theology
The Enlightenment understanding of the universe as essentially deterministic and
therefore a mechanism called for a theological response. Murphys theory was that two
different theological paradigms,
liberal and conservative theology, developed as a
response to the challenge of the Enlightenment to theology. The philosophy of any social
environment, as well as historical periods, embody fundamental assumptions regarding
reasoning processes that have significant effects on the justification of religious beliefs.

Liberal and conservative theologies are responses in a particular historical situation to a
challenge of basic theological concepts. Murphy suggested that only two types of
response were possible, which in turn led to the two basic types of theology that exist
today. The contrast between these two positions is emphasized here, but combinations of
these approaches exist and, as seen later, both contain inconsistencies.
The foundationalism of the Enlightenment period required that truth claims must
be justified by supporting reasons or beliefs, which in turn need to be justified by other
reasons. The justification must stop somewhere; otherwise there is an endless cycle of
justification. Therefore, a foundation of beliefs or truths must exist that does not need to

Ibid., 65.
Ibid., ix.
Ibid., 3.

be justified and from which all other truth is deduced.
As long as a common foundation
exists, knowledge derived from that foundation will be universally accepted knowledge.

Murphy suggested that there were just two options for a foundation of religious
truth claims: Scripture or experience. For liberal theologians the foundation was the
experience of a special awareness or feeling.
Friedrich Schleiermacher (17681834)
described a foundational liberal experience as God consciousness. The foundational
experience of the individual is then used to validate the existence and the character of
religious concepts.
The foundational experience was considered to be universal,
and not tied to the
framework of a particular Christian belief system. Theology is not a rational consequence
of experience but an interpretation of the experience. Murphy explains:
The foundationalist theory answers the question why liberal theologians treat
Christianity as but an instance of a broader category of religion: Foundations
must be universal and immune from challenge. Therefore, the requisite
experiences must not be specifically Christian in character, nor subject to mistake
or misinterpretation, as accounts of what happened always arethere are
spurious conversions, imagined answers in prayer.

The conservative response to liberal foundationalist reasoning was to affirm
Scripture as the foundation. Theological arguments were formed by taking Scripture as
the foundation of all truth. Complex systematic theologies were built on facts that were
assumed to be obtainable from Scripture.
Fundamentalism, as an extreme form of
conservative theology, later affirmed the verbal inspiration as well as the inerrancy and

John E. Thiel, Nonfoundationalism: Guides to Theological Inquiry (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1994),
29; Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 1218
See also An Overview in Richard J. Bernstein, Beyond Objectivism and Relativism (Philadelphia:
University of Pennsylvania Press, 1983), 17.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 12.
Generic might be an alternate word choice here since it is abstracted from the concrete belief system.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 27.
Ibid., 1518.

infallibility of Scripture. All of these terms were adopted in such a way as to assure the
unquestionable nature of the foundation of Scripture. Fundamentalist reasoning proceeds
from the indubitable foundation of Scripture to theology and doctrine.

A consequence of the liberal position is what Murphy calls inside-out
Theological reasoning begins with the inner experience of the truth.
Religious beliefs are then based on this inner experience and are not deduced from
universally recognized external knowledge.
The basis of faith is the Schleiermacherian
God consciousness, the idea of God, which invariably opens liberal theologians up to the
charge of being subjective. Ludwig Feuerbachs (18041872) argument against religion
was simply that the idea of God is not something that must originate from God by
necessity, but that the idea of God can also be produced by humans themselves without
the need for a God to exist. Feuerbach claimed that humans are projecting an ideal of
what they would like to be, and this is the source of the idea of God.

Liberal theology uses religious language to describe the religious experience.
Religious language is therefore expressive; it tries to describe the inner experience. On
some accounts language about morality and other religious concepts describes the
intentions, values or religious awareness of the speaker.
The biblical narratives do not
necessarily need to be true accounts of what actually happened: Some liberal theologians
simply see the purpose of the narratives to serve as psychological reinforcements for the

Ibid., 17.
Ibid., 30.
Ibid., 31.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 31.
Ibid., 36.

intention to live in a Christian manner.
From a liberal perspective religious language is
on a different plane than scientific language. The opportunities for conflict are
minimized, and it is not surprising that liberal theology had little difficulty in
accommodating the mechanistic worldview of the Enlightenment period.

Conservative theology, in contrast, claims that religious language is describing
reality rather than expressing religious convictions. Knowledge and beliefs about the
world are obtained by observing the outside world.
Conservative theology practices
outside-in reasoning,
beginning with the facts of the Bible and constructing a belief
system based on Scripture. The inner knowledge about God is based essentially on an
external authority; therefore, it is an outside-in theology.
The problem of the
foundations justification is similar to that of liberal theology: The authority of the
Scripture can be questioned and has indeed been questioned in particular by the use of the
historical-critical method.
Conservative theology results in truth claims about reality: Religious language
describes facts and has therefore a propositional nature just like scientific knowledge.

Whereas liberal theology is satisfied to express religious awareness, and consequently
sees its language about experience to be in a distinct realm and not comparable with
scientific language, conservative theology makes claims about nature in potentially direct
competition with scientific knowledge. Scripture, as the foundation, is understood to be

Ibid., 37.
Ibid., 32.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 32.
Ibid., 35.
Ibid., 37.

verbally inspired and therefore literally true.
The words of Scripture are revealed by
God as special privileged information about nature, and as a consequence, there is a
tendency in particular by fundamentalist thinkers to argue against established science if a
conflict is perceived between their reading of Scripture and science.
The famous
conflict between scientific creationism and evolution has its origins in such an
Within those two paradigms, shifts are possible, but it is rather difficult to move
from one paradigm to the other because of the difference in the key concepts of either
theology. Communication between the two different camps is therefore frequently
characterized by misunderstanding and conflict.

Both of these paradigms are based on foundationalist reasoning. However, the
foundations that were assumed to be secure have been shown to be questionable. Liberal
theology is troubled by the difficulty to define what exactly the inner experience is.
Conservative theology struggled with the ambiguities within the biblical texts and issues
in the historical development of the texts.
As a consequence, a variety of auxiliary
frameworks were built to shore up the foundations. It turns out that neither of the two
approaches could be pursued in its original form.
The foundationalist paradigm itself has the potential of enabling the exercise of
religion without divine action because of the explanatory power of the foundationalist
scheme. The aim of foundationalist reasoning is to develop a comprehensive reasoning
system encompassing everything. The goal is therefore to give all events, be they

Ibid., 36.
Ibid., 56.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, ix.
Ibid., 9093.

physical or spiritual, an explanation in terms of causal effects and regularities. The
foundationalist truth concept can therefore replace the continual search for spiritual
guidance and enable a wide-ranging rationalization of possible or potential events that
might occur or did already occur. Consequently, as Roger Lundin pointed out,
[Foundationalist reasoning schemes] might be seen as efforts to suppress all awareness
of genuine transcendence.

Both of these main streams of theology have struggled with the conception of the
world as a mechanism controlled by scientific law.
Liberal theology accepted the
rigidity of the scientific framework established during the Enlightenment in the wake of
Newtons development of the laws of motion. As a consequence, Rudolf Bultmann
(18841976), Friedrich Schleiermacher and others saw themselves forced to give up the
notion of special divine action in the face of the laws of nature as discovered by
scientists. Schleiermacher thought about divine action along the following lines:
[The metaphysicians and moralists in religion] confuse all points of view and
bring religion into discredit, as if it trespassed on the universal validity of
scientific and physical conclusions. Religion, however loudly it may demand
back all those well-abused conceptions, leaves your physics untouched, and
please God, also your psychology. What is a miracle? Miracle is simply the
religious name for event. Every event, even the most natural and usual, becomes
a miracle, as soon as the religious view of it can be dominant. To me all is

Schleiermacher believed that he had to treat miracles as regular events. For a
liberal theologian, God acts in and through natural processes.
God is immanent in the

Roger Lundin, The Culture of Interpretation: Christian Faith and the Postmodern World (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Eerdmans, 1993), 211.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 62.
Friedrich Schleiermacher, On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799) in C. Manschreck,
ed., A History of Christianity (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker, 1981), 335ff.
<http://www.uoregon.edu/~sshoemak/323/texts/schleiermacher.htm> (27 November 2003).
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 2.

world, and therefore there is no need for special divine action. Events are special because
they are so labeled by religious people, and therefore religious language is a description
of religious feelings and moral judgments.
But the liberal explanation is unsatisfactory
for conservatives, who insist on a God who does something in response to petitionary
prayer. Bultmann expressed the relation between science and religion the following way:
Faith acknowledges that the worldview given by science is a necessary means for
doing our work within the world. Indeed, I need to see the worldly events as
linked by cause and effect not only as a scientific observer, but also in my daily
living. In doing so there remains no room for Gods working.

Bultmann is here denying the reality of God working outside of the scientific
framework established by the Enlightenment. Religious language is valid and useful as a
way to interpret events and communicate moral judgments and the existential orientation,
butaccording to liberal theologyit cannot make any truth claims in competition with
The conservative approach to the deterministic scientific framework of the
enlightenment was to claim that God is sovereign over the laws of nature and is able to
overrule them to produce special divine acts.
God intervenes by overriding the laws of
nature in special divine action so that the laws of nature are suspended or violated.
In summary, the concept of Gods special divine action lost credibility during the
Enlightenment. The dominant conception of the physical lawsand the surrounding
environment of ideashas had a major influence on theology and the way modern
theologians think. A view of a mechanistic, determinist universe implied a universe in

Ibid., 4651.
Rudolf Bultmann, Jesus Christ and Mythology (New York: Scribners Sons, 1958), 65.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 63.

which God could not act objectively through special divine events except through a
violation of the laws of nature.
A deterministic understanding of the world, as described previously, implies that
science can conceptually completely describe reality using scientific laws. There is no
openness for extraordinary events such as divine action. As a response to this dilemma a
variety of ways to understand the world were developed. These models stem from a time
period in which a belief in God was prevalent in Western society and was a requirement
for a wide acceptance of these approaches. Consequently, the models discussed here all
assume a role for God; however, what God means varies from model to model.
In deism the world is seen as governed by laws created by God in the beginning.
God made the laws of nature, and the universe then runs like clockwork, invariably
working consistently as designed by God. Deism was developed gradually in the
eighteenth century by the second generation of Newtons followers.
Deism was a most
satisfactory solution to the dilemma posed by a mechanistic conception of the universe

because it preserved a role for God and it could be used in arguments against claims that
God was not supreme over all of creation.
A deistic understanding implies that God is not directly involved in the world,
since the world operates in terms of deterministic laws: God, the creator of the world, has
essentially left the world alone after creating the world and its laws. Some maintained
God as the source of moral principles.
However, a God who is not directly involved
in the world implies that there cannot be special revelation as believed to be necessary by

Lindberg and Numbers, 247253.
Smith, Post-Modern Mind, 6.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 68.

conservative theologians, nor can there be a change in the course of events as the result of
prayer since the world is following its course as ordained by the machinery that God
As stated in above, conservative theology accepts Scripture as a foundation for
reasoning and for theological argument. God is an agent who can cause extraordinary
events as recorded in Scripture. Since this claim is impossible to uphold in terms of a
deterministic worldview, conservative theologians therefore claimed that there is an
exception to determinism. The universe usually runs according to the laws of nature that
God created, but occasionally God intervenes and puts the laws of nature aside for
special, extraordinary divine acts.
A miracle is therefore not in harmony with the laws
of nature but a violation of them. The universe does not work as God wants it to work
and now God suspends natural laws in order to produce a miracle. However, God also
created those natural laws and ordained them to be invariantly valid when the world was
Some have reasoned that by suspending a law, God shows that the laws he created
are not perfect and that he has to adjust the broken world that he created. Thus, God is not
perfect, but being perfect is a necessary attribute of God.
Interventionism is therefore
incompatible with God being God. To counter such objections the argument is made by
conservative theologians that since God created the laws of nature, he is the authority
over them and therefore able to also put them aside. In that view, the laws of nature are

Ibid., 68.
This argument sounds strange today but all reasoning is always contextual. Such reasoning was valid in
the historic context.

not immutable. They are Gods ordinary way of working and can be switched off if

The liberal position is that God acts in and through the natural processes: God is
immanent in his creation. This position is a reaction to the deterministic view of the world
and a rejection of the conservative argument for Gods ability to suspend the laws of
nature. The view that God intervenes is seen by the liberals to assume that God was not
intelligent enough to design the universe in such a way that it did not need adjusting later
on. God indeed created the world so that it works the right way, and God is also
consistent in establishing the laws of nature as eternal, inviolable regularities in nature.

This means that the mechanistic worldview is accepted by the liberals. God is
experienced by the individual through the laws of nature. The existential God
consciousness and the associated Gefhl is outside of the realm of science, and this
independence allows liberal theology to accept a deterministic worldview. A miracle is
just another label for an event, and consequently the word miracle has gradually fallen
out of use in liberal theology. The sense of dependence on God and therefore on the
whole of his creation would be violated if a special act of God is inconsistent with the
nature of creation. God acts through the processes of nature, causing progress first in the
evolution of the world and then in human society.

Ibid., 69.
Ibid., 71.

4. The Challenge to Determinism in the Twentieth Century
4.1. Introduction
Developments in the twentieth century have refined the understanding of
reasoning, causality and the nature of time, matter and space. Throughout the twentieth
century, the basic Enlightenment concepts, as discussed above, remained prominent, and
discussions in physics and theology remained shaped by these concepts. For example
although Einsteins theory of relativity was developed early in the twentieth century and
was confirmed shortly after the First World War, the impact for understanding the
universe was realized somewhat later. Physicists initially regarded the theory of relativity
as an arcane curiosity until the third quarter of the twentieth century.
The impact of
quantum mechanics on our understanding of the universe is only beginning to be realized
now at the beginning of the twenty-first century.

Similarly, the change to an understanding of human language and reasoning as
contextual that had first been articulated by Ludwig Wittgenstein (18891951) and then
gained wide acceptance after the Second World War,
was only gradually affecting
society, and has come only clearly into focus in the last decade of the twentieth century
in particular through the globalizing effect of the Internet that has made divergent
opinions easily accessible and communication universal. It is not surprising, therefore,
that contemporary thought is still shaped to a degree by Enlightenment concepts.

James T. Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 258.
The arguments by Heisenberg in Development of Philosophical Ideas, 81, regarding the acceptance of
quantum theory, although made decades ago, are still valid.
Thiel, 1012; Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 87; Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations: The
German Text, with a Revised English Translation, 3
ed., trans. G. E. M. Anscombe (Malden,
Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2001).

At the beginning of the twentieth century, a static view of the universe was
prevalent. The universe was visualized as an infinite three-dimensional (Euclidian) space,
populated with matter uniformly distributed throughout, and assumed to be eternal and
Time flowed in a uniform way throughout the universe. Matter consisted
of atoms whose behavior was described by the laws of nature. Optimism abounded that
science was in the process of solving the last riddles of the universe.
The notion of the
superiority of the Western scientific worldview, and the truth of just this one worldview,
was widely accepted.

By the end of the twentieth century the understanding of the world had changed
significantly. Scientists have evidence, through the discovery of the cosmic background
radiation, that the universe is expanding,
and consequently there is now widespread
agreement that the universe started its development billions of years ago from a single
point (big bang theory). This understanding also implies that the universe is of finite size,
because an infinite universe cannot expand. Exotic entities such as black holes are
understood, and effects from such phenomena have been observed.
Space is understood
as being curved,
and time flows relative to reference frames.
Atoms, and even nuclei,
have been taken apart and analyzed, and a zoo of subatomic particles is known today.
Quantum mechanics is used to describe behavior at the microscopic and submicroscopic

Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 260262.
Lindberg and Numbers, 429430; Huston Smith, The Revolution in Western Thought in Beyond the
Post-Modern Mind, 316; Kafatos and Nadeau, Two Small Clouds: The Emergence of a New Physics in
Conscious Universe, 1032; Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 1718.
Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief (New York:
HarperCollins, 2001), 19; Some elements of the reasons for this can be found in the characterization of the
Encyclopaedists in Alasdair MacIntyre, Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopaedia, Genealogy
and Tradition (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990), 178182.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 268.
Ibid., 269.
Ibid., 262.
Ibid., 233238.

domain, and we recognize that quantum theory, our most fundamental physical theory,
does not give us single unambiguous predictions but only probabilities for a number of
possible results. As a consequence, leading scientists question basic causality,
and some
feel that reasoning and human knowledge are not to be thought of as universal anymore
but as embedded in social and historic contexts.

The concepts employed during the Enlightenment for scientific descriptions were
easy to comprehend and to visualize. The universe as a law-abiding entity was
intelligible. The ideas and concepts necessary to understand the contemporary scientific
picture of the universe are counterintuitive and can only be visualized in a limited and
approximate way: There is no way to easily picture an electron traveling over all possible
trajectories, or even having no trajectory at all, or making transitions from orbit to orbit,
for example. One worrisome question that could be asked then is, to what extent are the
structures of nature comprehensible by the human mind?

4.2. The Theory of Relativity
Einsteins revolutionary solution to the puzzling experimental results indicating
that the speed of light is always constant independent of the movement of the observer
was to simply accept the speed of light as fixed and to argue that space and time are
flexible in order to ensure that the speed of light is constant in all possible reference
frames. The speed of light was ontologized and space-time was relativized. Instead of
explaining why the speed of light was constant in all reference frames, Einstein

Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 273. See also Robert Eisberg and Robert Resnick, Quantum Physics of
Atoms, Molecules, Solids, Nuclei, and Particles (New York: John Wiley, 1974), 8991; Carl Friedrich von
Weizscker, Zum Weltbild der Physik (Stuttgart, Germany: Hirzel Verlag, 1990), 1132.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 67106.
Smith, Post-Modern Mind, 69.

postulated the constancy of the speed of light as a basic principle for the theory of

Einstein started his career by publishing three crucially important papers in 1905,
two of which were on relativity and quantum mechanics.
These papers are commonly
seen as the beginning of the development of contemporary physics. Besides proposing
that the speed of light is absoluteand that time and space are relativeEinstein
stated that objects moving with high speed experience increased mass. He also concluded
that time runs slower for those objects (time dilation) and that objects appear shorter
when they move faster (length contraction).
Each observer of an event reports time and
space information about that observed event depending on the relative motion of the
observer to the event observed. Access to information about an event is always dependent
on an observer, and therefore there is no way to describe time and space information
independent from an observer. The theory of relativity already shows that access to
information is only possible through an observer who is part of the system. The observer
can no longer be viewed as separate from the event observed, as was assumed in the
classic view.

James Foster and J. David Nightingale, A Short Course in General Relativity (New York: Springer
Verlag, 1995), 190; Cushing, Concepts in Physics, 232.
Albert Einstein, Zur Elektrodynamik bewegter Krper in Annalen der Physik 17 (1905): 891921;
idem, Ist die Trgheit eines Krpers von seinem Energiegehalt abhngig? in Annalen der Physik 17
(1905): 63941; idem, Die von molekularkinetischen Theorie der Wrme geforderte Bewegung von in
ruhenden Flssigkeiten suspendierten Teilchen in Annalen der Physik 17 (1905): 54960.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 233237; Mark William Worthing, God, Creation, and Contemporary
Physics (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 2326; Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the
Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam Books, 1988), 2021.
See also Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 9192.

The theory of relativity describes a space-time continuum that does not allow the
view of time or space to be separate from location and movement.
The notion of
absolute time and absolute space no longer have meaning, since there is no special
absolute reference frame. However, Einsteins theory allows the computation of how
observations in a given reference frame appear to other observers. The determinate nature
of reality is preserved by the ability to translate the experience of events in one reference
frame into another reference frame.

Einsteins theory of relativity is partially based on the idea that the speed of light
is the same in all reference frames, and it also establishes the speed of light to be the
speed limit for any entity in the universe.
Theoretically, an object would have an
infinite mass at the speed of light, but acceleration to that speed requires an unlimited
amount of energy.
Only objects with no rest mass (such as photons) can reach the speed
of light.

Consequently, information about events can also only propagate with a maximum
speed, that of light. The moon, for example, is about one light second away from us: An
event on Earth will be observed by a person on the moon after a delay of just over a
second. Causal effects spread like a wave through space, with the maximum speed being
the speed of light. As time since an event increases, the potential for that event to be
registered and cause other events at a distance increases, too. Events are associated with a
light cone spreading into the future for the part of the space-time continuum that can be

Hawking, Brief History, 2122.
Foster and Nightingale, 192195; Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 22.
Foster and Nightingale, 196.
Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 24.
Hawking, Brief History, 21, 28.

affected by this event; there is also a light cone extending into the past for events that
could have influenced this event. Only events within the past light cone can affect an
event happening now, and only events in the future light cone can be affected by an
event. Events can happen outside of the light cone of another event, and therefore there
are events that cannot have any direct causal relationships and which an observer in
another location might not be able to observe at all.

A consequence of the theory of relativity is that it is possible for different
observers to observe events in different sequences. Events could be recognized as being
simultaneous by one observer, but might be perceived not to be simultaneous by another
Simultaneity is not guaranteed for different observers, but the causal
sequences of events are preserved through the causality being restricted to the past and
future light cone.
However, the preservation of the causal sequence is only valid for a
classic conception of matter, because the combination of special relativity with quantum
mechanics can lead to paradoxes involving effects preceding causes. One observer might
see an interaction between particles in one direction while another could see a different
interaction. Paul Dirac (19021984) first investigated this situation and found that the
paradox could be avoided if an antiparticle existed for every particle. When one observer
sees a particle being emitted, the other will see an antiparticle being absorbed.

Foster and Nightingale, 198200; Hawking, 2428. See also Rob Salgado, The Einstein-Minkowski
Spacetime: Introducing the Light Cone (27 November 1995, accessed 16 July 2003),
<http://physics.hallym.ac.kr/education/syracuse/LIGHTCONE/minkowski.html>, for an introduction.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 248250
Steven Weinberg, Facing Up: Science and its Cultural Adversaries (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard
University Press, 2001), 51
Weinberg, Facing Up, 52; Richard P. Feynman,, Electrons and Their Interaction in QED: The Strange
Theory of Light and Matter (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988), 77123.

then predicted the existence and characteristics of antiparticles that were later
experimentally confirmed.

The discussion so far has been restricted to Einsteins special theory of relativity,
which does not include effects due to gravity. The inclusion of gravity was at first a
challenge because in classic Newtonian physics the effects of gravity are instantaneous.
In the general theory of relativity,
Einstein solved the problem by suggesting that
gravity is a force that results in a curvature of the time-space continuum and causes
objects passing through gravitational fields to accelerate. The theory of general relativity
extends the concept of reference frames to that of accelerating reference frames. Objects
cause dents in the gravitational field. Any object moves in a straight path between the
origin and its destination through space-time (geodesic paths). The warping of space-time
by an object due to gravity causes its observed trajectory.

Initially Einsteins equations of general relativity contained the famous
cosmological constant that resulted in the preservation of the classic static nature of the
Abbe Georges Lemaitre (18941966), a Catholic priest, showed later that the
universe described with the cosmological constant was unstable, and he contended that
the cosmological constant was unnecessary. He proposed what later would become the
big bang theory, in which the universe is seen to be expanding after having started with
an initial fireball.
The idea of an unchanging static universe was eventually abandoned

Richard P. Feynman, The Reason for Antiparticles in Richard P. Feynman and Steven Weinberg,
Elementary Particles and the Laws of Physics: The 1986 Dirac Memorial Lectures (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1987), 10.
Foster and Nightingale; Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 252269; Stephen Hawking, The Expanding
Universe in A Brief History of Time, 3552.
Foster and Nightingale, 5558; Hawking, Brief History, 29.
See Foster and Nightingale, 185186.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 260265.

by Einstein and was replaced by the notion of a dynamic, expanding universe that began
a finite time ago, and that might end at a finite time in the future.

One consequence of the theory of general relativity is that space-time might be
curved on a large scale in addition to the curvature caused by each object in the universe.
This is a three-dimensional space bent in the fourth dimension. There is currently no
agreement on the type of curvature of the universe, but Stephen Hawking and other well-
known physicists have suggested a positive curvature.
We know that we reach the
same point after circling the globe when we travel in the same direction on the earth, so
we could also travel in the same direction in space and arrive at the same location
As a consequence the universe has finite spatial dimensions and could be
visualized as an expanding bubble in four-dimensional space.

Recent measurements using the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
(WMAP) suggest though that the curvature of the universe may be flat.
The results still
need to be interpreted, but Hawkings views on the curvature of space might be
4.3. Quantum Mechanics
At the beginning of the twentieth century Max Planck (18581947) realized that
objects, in particular black bodies, do not emit electromagnetic radiation with all possible
energies. Instead, energy exchanges are quantized, and the quantization depends on the

Hawking, Brief History, 3334. For further details on the cosmological constant see the coverage on
Einstein in Chapter Two.
Ibid., 135136.
Foster and Nightingale, 56; Wheeler, Geons, 325.
Hawking, Brief History, 178179.
Results WMAP Homepage at < http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov> accessed 25 February 2003. See also Dennis
Overbye, Cosmos Sits for Early Portrait, Gives Up Secrets, New York Times (12 February 2003).

frequency in use. It was observed that the minimum energy that needed to be exchanged
was given by a constant multiplied by the frequency of the radiation. This constant
became known as Plancks constant, which would later play a key role in quantum
Upon further investigation, it was discovered that quantization was a
necessity for many microscopic processes. The classic understanding of physical entities
having continuous arbitrary values could no longer be upheld.
In 1926, Werner Heisenberg realized another implication of quantization: In order
to perform a measurement an interaction between the measurement device and the
measured object needs to take place. Therefore, a minimum amount of energy needs to be
exchanged in the measuring interaction. As a result the interaction always disturbs the
object to be measured, limiting the accuracy of any measurement. Heisenbergs
uncertainty principle states that the product of the uncertainties of noncommuting
entities, such as the position and the velocity of a particle, cannot be less than some factor
multiplied by Plancks constant. The classic idea of a determinist universe, as understood
by Laplace, depended on the ability to accurately specify initial conditions and then apply
the scientific laws to perfectly predict future behavior. Heisenbergs uncertainty principle
implies that it is in principle not possible to determine the required initial conditions for
such an endeavor.

Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 2728; Hawking, Brief History, 54; Cushing, Philosophical
Concepts, 277278.
Hawking, Brief History, 55; von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 125130; Peebles, 6869; Richard P.
Feynman, Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands, The Feynman Lectures on Physics: Volume 1 (Reading,
Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1963), 610; Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 299301, deviates from
others by insisting on the statistical nature of the uncertainty principle: Wave functions do not describe a
single particle but are of a statistical nature. See also the later coverage on Einstein in Chapter Two and
Bohm in Chapter Four.

The formulation of quantum mechanics by Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Erwin
Schrdinger and Paul Dirac is a reformulation of classic Newtonian mechanics. Quantum
mechanics is based in part on the uncertainty principle and describes particles not as
having a definite position and velocity as in classical mechanics but as having a quantum
state. The quantum state comprises a set of potential outcomes of measurement and gives
the likelihood of each of these. As Hawking put it: Quantum mechanics therefore
introduces an unavoidable element of unpredictability or randomness into science.

This reformulated version of mechanics is usually understood as indeterminate. The
strong concept of causality that was the basis for the Laplacian deterministic universe is
no longer acceptable according to the orthodox understanding of quantum mechanics.
One of the more troublesome discoveries was the strange reversal of causality in particle
interactions when quantum mechanics was combined with relativity by Dirac.

Einsteins famous formula E = mc
, showing a direct relationship between mass
and energy, suggests that mass could be converted into energy.
However, Einsteins
work did not directly imply that particles can be transformed into to energy (and therefore
disappear) and vice versa. Diracs work on antiparticles revealed the possibility of
particle pair creation at the cost of kinetic energy as well as the reverse process of particle
annihilation. When a particle and the corresponding antiparticle meet, they annihilate
with a resulting appearance of kinetic energy in the form of photons or gamma rays.
Antimatter particles were discovered in cosmic rays after the Second World War, and

Hawking, Brief History, 56.
Weinberg, Facing Up, 5152.
Hawking, Brief History, 20.

particles and antiparticles of all sorts are today frequently made from kinetic and mass
energy in laboratories.

The classic concept of matter as composed of unchanging eternal and indivisible
components (atoms) had to be abandoned. Matter can be converted into energy or other
kinds of matter, and matter can be created out of energy. Matter is dynamic, and the
separation between matter and energy is no longer easy to defend.
Classic physics used one concept at a time, such as a particle or wave, to describe
a phenomenon. In classic physics the particle and the wave concepts are mutually
exclusive and cannot be applied at the same time. Bohr saw that the understanding of
quantum phenomena required the use of these two classic concepts simultaneously.

But theconcepts are to be used in a complementary way, meaning that although both
concepts are necessary for the understanding of phenomena, only one of the concepts can
surface in a concrete experiment. In a similar way, position and velocity of a particle are
complementary. They are both needed to describe the motion of a particle completely,
butaccording to the uncertainty principlethe perfect determination a position
excludes the possibility of measuring the velocity. George Greenstein and Arthur Zajonc
concluded that the principle of complementarity states that we can never know
everything about the world; indeed, we can only know half of everything.
It is
particularly interesting that a physical entity adjusts to the type of experiment to which it
is subjected. If its position is measured, then the interference arising from the wave nature

Steven Weinberg, The Quantum Theory of Fields: Volume I: Foundations (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1995), 1214; Paul Davis and John Gribbin, The Matter Myth: Dramatic Discoveries that
Challenge Our Understanding (New York: Simon & Schuster/Touchstone, 1992), 151153; Feynman,
The Reason for Antiparticles; Eisberg and Resnick, 4850.
Greenstein and Zajonc, Complementarity in Quantum Challenge, 81104. See also William Stoeger,
Epistemological and Ontological Issues in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, 89.
Greenstein and Zajonc, 85.

is suppressed. If the information about the exact position is not determined, then wave
phenomena like interference can manifest themselves.
A central element of traditional classic science is locality. Experiments are set up
in such a way that the influence of the environment on the elements under investigation is
controlled. Classic science is based on reductionism, the assumption that something can
be taken apart and that the investigation of the parts then explains the whole.
is the assumption that all causal relationships can be isolated and that no strange actions
over a distance in violation of the speed of light influence the element under
investigation. Quantum investigations have demonstrated the existence of nonlocal
influences that are unknown in classic physics. They surface as correlations between
events and are not subject to the speed limit of relativity. These correlations cannot be
used for signaling and therefore do not violate relativity, but the effects are instantaneous
over any distance.
The effects are frequently described using the concept of
entanglement. Particles that have interacted in the past show correlated behavior, and
according to the big bang theory, almost all particles have been interacting in the past.

Consequently, an exclusively reductionistic approach to the understanding of reality is no
longer appropriate.

4.4. The Questioning of Foundationalism
Foundationalist reasoning is based on a foundation of beliefs that cannot be
questioned. However, it gradually became clear that all foundational beliefs could be
questioned, and consequently, the main discussion in classic Enlightenment thought on

Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 6365.
Chiao, 17.
Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 81.
Ibid., 196.

how to justify foundational beliefs or foundational elements in a reasoning system was
never resolved in a satisfactory way.

In the middle of the twentieth century Karl Popper (19021994) began to argue
that the facts that support science do not constitute a foundation, as envisioned in
foundationalist thought. In scientific arguments for new theories, only a limited depth of
support is pursued. The effort is not made to get down to a known set of foundational
beliefs or scientific facts. Rather, reasoning stops when it becomes evident that the
reasons given are sufficient.
Facts can also be called into question because the
recognition of a fact requires an interpretative framework, which implies the utilization of
high-level concepts about the subject at hand.
Thomas Kuhn (19221996) argued later
in his work The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that scientific observations not only
involve theoretical knowledge necessary to recognize relevant facts for a theory, but also
that the measurement devices used to discover the facts require high-level theoretical
frameworks for their understanding, for the interpretation of the results obtained, and also
for their construction.

All forms of the indubitable beliefs turned out always to be dependent on the
intellectual context. Agreement on what exactly constituted a set of foundational truth
statements was impossible to achieve. Today, the so-called self-evident truths that were
defined and argued over by theologians and philosophers in the past are difficult to
comprehend because they could only be accepted in a specific historical context of a

Bernstein, 210.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 88.
Ibid., 91.
Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3
ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1996), 2530; Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 91; Bernstein, 2030.

homogenous society with widespread agreement on beliefs, reasoning processes and a
common approach to philosophy.

Valid formal schemes of reasoning exist, and one example of a very successful
reasoning scheme is, naturally, mathematics. Mathematics has been successfully
employed to construct elaborate systems of formal logic.
However, it is difficult to
map these formal schemes to reality (the semantic problem). While proofs for the validity
of deductions can be given within the formal scheme itself, it is not possible to verify the
general validity of the associations between that formal scheme and reality.
associations can only be verified by experiments allowing confirmation in specific
contexts but not in general.
4.5. Contextuality
As the dubious nature of the foundations became clear along with their
questionable usefulness, it also became evident that theories and other explanatory
frameworks based on those foundations were not completely determined by the
supporting arguments. Instead, there is an underdetermination of the theories by the
warrants that argue for their validity. Kuhn and others insisted that the consideration of
the validity of theories needs to include a hermeneutical dimension.
In the past the
natural sciences had been seen as a typical example of a successful foundational system.
The natural sciences were viewed as objective since the validity of theories is continually

Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 9192.
An example of a concise description of formal logic can be found in Richard C. Jeffrey, Formal Logic:
Its Scope and Limits (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1967). Formal logic is the conceptual basis for the
computer languages that are in widespread use today.
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 92; Bertrand Russell, Logical Positivism (1950) in Logic and Knowledge
(London: Routledge, 1956), 375378, 381382, discusses the problem of verifiability and the problem of
generalization from a finite number of observations.
Bernstein, 31.

verified by experiments, and experiments were independent of the presence of an
observer or the act of observation. However, now the natural sciences can no longer be
seen as objective foundational frameworks of explanation. Data, Kuhn and others
reasoned, is determined by the environment of theories allowing the proper recognition
and perception of the data. The language of science is not exact but metaphorical. The
classic way of distinguishing between the natural sciences, as objective, and other
sciences such as the humanities, as contextual, can be questioned according to Bernstein,
Kuhn and others.

Because of the worlds communications systems as the twenty-first century
begins and the ability for large groups of people to travel, the very nature of reasoning is
changing. The contextual nature of communication and reasoning can now be
experienced firsthand by observation and interaction with other cultures. Wittgensteins
language model has led to the recognition that the environment in which words are used
is important for the determination of their meaning, and now inevitably we also need to
accept that logic and reasoning are contextual.
The absolute truths widely accepted in the past are now being questioned to a
degree not seen before. Bernstein described a typical response to absolute claims at the
end of the twentieth century:
Relativists are suspicious of their opponents because, the relativists claim, all
species of objectivism almost inevitably turn into vulgar or sophisticated forms
of ethnocentricism [sic] in which some privileged understanding of rationality is
falsely legitimated by claiming for it an unwarranted universality.

Ibid., 3233.
Ibid., 19.

A similar type of development is occurring in theology. Denominational
theological specifics that were upheld until late in the twentieth century could not be
given satisfactory support at the end of the century. Theological groups that claimed to be
in possession of the absolute truth at the beginning of the twentieth century are now
breaking apart because liberal and conservative factions within them disagree about basic
elements of their own theology instead of arguing against other groups as false or
inferior, as was the custom in the early decades. It is now recognized that theological
experiences are also dependent on the context of the belief system.

All of these contextual elements are a challenge to the unique claims of religious
communities. Works by ministers, like The Gospel in a Pluralist Society by Lesslie
have wrestled with the multicultural aspects of religion today.
Murphy suggested that a more appropriate approach to reasoning is to use Quines
model of viewing knowledge as a fabric of reasoning. Experience is on the edge of that
fabric. Conclusions on the inside are supported by the experience on the edge and give
support to the edge in turn. The reasoning inside the web fabric is determined by the
boundary conditions, but there are not enough boundary conditions to completely
determine the inside of such a fabric of reasoning.
A holist scheme of reasoning would
mean that each belief is supported by relations to other beliefs and to the whole fabric of
the network. Justification consists in showing that problematic beliefs are closely tied to
beliefs that we have no good reason to call into question. ... The coherence of the web is

Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 94.
Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans,
Murphy, Beyond Liberalism, 88.

crucial for justification.
Therefore reasoning, like language, is contextual and
inevitably reflects the context in which reasoning occurs.
However, it is also widely accepted that the scientific endeavor is still a good
method by which to arrive at reliable knowledge. The constant quest for scientific
knowledge through experiment in a variety of contexts results in the best quality of
knowledge that we can obtain in view of our dependence on the societal and historic
environment of our cultures. Scientific explanations are therefore near the outside of the
Quinian web and will play an important role for all other elements in the web.
5. Conclusion
The challenge to the Enlightenment worldview by the developments of the
twentieth centuryand the lack of a consistent model to understand the world
incorporating those challengesshow that theology, the sciences and philosophy are
currently in a transition phase. The impact of the new insights has not yet been fully
We live in a time of tension with an old Enlightenment-based understanding
of nature while being aware of several limitations of the traditional understanding. Recent
developments have suggested that theory development is contextual and that we cannot
avoid the influence of our metaphysical preconceptions in science and in theology. In
light of these results, religious claims, in particular absolutist claims about the nature of
the universe, should clearly not be stated with the absolute certainty claimed in the past.
However, theology, as expressed by the liberal and conservative traditions, still has

Ibid., 94.
Erwin Schrdinger, Science and Humanism in Nature and The Greeks and Science and Humanism,
Canto edition (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 114115.

elements of an absolutist understanding shaped essentially by Enlightenment ideas.

The awareness of the contextuality of our knowledge, along with the awareness of the
certain foundational elements of our Enlightenment-base essential for our current
theological approaches, shows a tension in regards to their implicit view of the world.
This situation might be recognized as a sign for the end of the useful lifetime of these
approaches. They may need to be discarded once a new understanding regarding the
nature of the universe emerges.

One key requirement for the formation of a new theology is a satisfactory
explanation for divine action in the context of scientific thinking. This new theology must
be based on a notion of divine action that is conformant to a new emergent concept of the
nature of the universe, which, in the area of science, must incorporate the results of
quantum theory and relativity. Since quantum theory demonstrates the fundamentally
chance-based nature of the world (as shown throughout this text) and the limitations of
our ability to measure physical quantities, the conception of the universe as a mechanism
or as having a deterministic nature can no longer be maintained.

An indeterministic world implies that the conflict between liberal and
conservative theology was over a fictional idea of a universe determined by the laws of
nature. In liberal thought, it could now be accepted that special divine action is possible
in the context of our existing knowledge about the nature of the world. No violation of

The liberal view developed as a result of the necessity to accommodate the absolutist worldview of the
Pollard has a very interesting chapter on the restrictions the historical context has placed on thinking
about divine action in The Recovery of Theological Perspectives in a Scientific Age in Transcendence
and Providence, 183202. Pollard in general holds science to have a provisional view of reality.
An even broader argument was made by Pollard for a general chance-based nature of the universe in
The Character of Typical Scientific Law in Chance and Providence. However, it is satisfactory that the
fundamental processes of the universe be indeterminate and therefore chance-based to conclude that the
rest of the universe also must be indeterminate.

any laws is necessary.
Conservatives in turn have argued for a God that suspends
physical law when again no suspension might be necessary in order for extraordinary
events to happen. Therefore, the major objection of liberal theologians, as evident from
the reasons cited earlier by Bultmannthat divine action violates physical lawcan no
longer be considered valid if the world were truly indeterministic.
Divine action can be considered as characterized as of a noninterventionist nature.
It does not conflict with scientific knowledge, but rather the chance-based nature of the
scientific worldview allows special extraordinary events for which no discernable cause
can be determined and which could be labeled divine if a believer chooses to do so.

However, the term noninterventionist needs to be properly contextualized into our
current worldview. To a liberal theologian of the past, noninterventionism would imply
that some events, assumed to be caused in a determinist way, are simply given religious
significance, whereas a conservative theologian of the past would see in
noninterventionism a statement that divine action is impossible. In our new situation
where we accept the chance-based nature of the world, both the liberal and the
conservative theologian need to first realize the implications of the end of determinism.
The scientific investigation of the chance nature of the world has resulted in
probabilities for outcomes instead of certainties. Each potential outcome is associated
with a probability that describes the likelihood of the outcome to be realized. A divine
action scheme must be consistent with those probabilities and cannot simply claim that
God determines the outcome of chance events; otherwise the lawful aspects of chance

See also Russell, Introduction to Russell, Murphy and Peacocke, Chaos and Complexity, 12.
See also Murphy, Divine Action in Beyond Liberalism, 147149.

events are denied and divine action becomes interventionistic again. Divine action can
either be conceptualized to be of a sporadic nature, or some metaphysical argument must
be developed to assure the preservation of the probabilities arising from the scientific
investigation. If lower level laws are considered to be indeterministic, and if divine action
is accepted as possible in that lower level, then higher level laws emergent from those
lower laws are also of a chance nature, and therefore the higher-level regularities
applying to these objects can be violated by divine action on the lower level. However,
this violation of higher-level laws is not considered to be interventionistic, although the
liberal and the conservative theologian of the past would have understood such a
violation of higher-level laws to be interventionistic, since they were unaware of the
lower level laws.
The tragedy is that generations of theologians have felt forced to abandon talk
about special divine acts for scientific reasons. A large part of the effort in theology has
been spent in a dispute over a nonexistent problem at the root of the conflict between
liberal and conservative approaches.
The use of the term noninterventionist divine action is a term that emerged from
the debate over divine action in terms of Enlightenment thinking. The continued use of
the term noninterventionist divine action in the literature on divine action is a sign that
the Enlightenment models and the issue of interventionism are still very much alive in the
debate. The old concepts have not been laid to rest yet. The tension and ambiguity in the
understanding of this term is therefore no surprise.

See also Robert Russell, Introduction to Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, Quantum
Physics, v.

Chapter Two
The Pioneers of Quantum Theory
1. Introduction
The cultural framework has customarily had a significant influence on theology as
well as on the reasoning about nature. The philosophy and the facts accepted as true in a
cultural context are a significant factor for a theology interpreting Scripture.
Consequently, it could be said that theology is a reflection on the accepted truths
(including Scripture), whereas science develops new theories giving new insights into
When new scientific discoveries changed the understanding of the world in the
twentieth century, the physicists were the first to realize the implications of the new
theories for the conception of the universe, even before these theories became widely
Consequently, one could say that the first philosophers or theologians who
were interpreting the significance of the new scientific data were the physicists
developing these new theories. While the expertise of physicists is naturally mostly
limited to their own domain of physics, many started to reflect on the wider philosophical
implications of their work. These philosophical reflections have typically been arguments
from the scientific theories in physics to the wider implications for cosmology and

This chapter contains a discussion of the pioneering phase of quantum theory in
the first half of the twentieth century during which basic theoretical elements of quantum
theory were gradually developed through the collaboration of physicists. Important

Thiel, 39.
von Weizscker, Weltbild, 201202.
Saunders, Divine Action, 95.

developments frequently took place in the context of conferences of the Copenhagen
Institute headed by Niels Bohr. At the end of this period, a widespread consensus
emerged on the nature of quantum theory in terms of the so-called Copenhagen
The physicists involved in the development of quantum theory can be loosely
categorized into two groups. The first group was focused on the analysis of the new
scientific data. This group tried to articulate the implications as thoroughly as possible
while attempting to put their own metaphysical considerations aside, which was
recognized to be an influence through the historical and scientific context in which the
physicists found themselves. They tried to give full weight to the new phenomena that
challenged the existing understanding of the nature of the universe. From that group the
views of Heisenberg, Bohr and von Neumann are presented here. All of them struggled to
bring consonance between their conception of reality and the phenomena they saw as
emerging from the experimental and theoretical development of quantum theory. Bohr in
particular was known for his constant struggle with words in order to express accurately
what could be said about what he referred to as atomic theory.

A second group of physicists came with stronger metaphysical commitments to
the nature of reality and to the nature of science. The implications emerging from the
development of quantum theory were seen to be at variance with a reasonable
understanding of reality. They insisted that quantum theory was inadequate and
incomplete. Einstein and Schrdinger are examples of physicists in that group.

von Weizscker, Niels Bohr in Zum Weltbild der Physik, 254255.

2. Albert Einstein: The Ensemble Interpretation
The most famous physicist of the twentieth century is without doubt Albert
Einstein (18791955).
Einstein has become a symbol of the power of reason and
science. His influence has shaped generations of scientists. The theory of relativity was
almost single-handedly developed by the work of Einstein, and he also contributed to the
foundation of quantum mechanics in his early years.

In order to understand his position on quantum theory it is necessary to
investigate Einsteins metaphysical commitments, and therefore his religious views.
Einstein thought that there are two primitive forms of religion that anthropomorphize
God. His view was that religion was first a religion of fear and later evolved into a
religion of morals. However, the highest form of religion is the cosmic religious feeling
which no longer involves an anthropomorphic understanding of God. When experiencing
the cosmic religious feeling, one realizes the futility of human aims and desires. One feels
imprisoned by existence as an individual and begins to long for the experience of the
universe as a single significant whole.

Einstein regarded Spinoza (16321677) as reflecting his philosophical views most
accurately, and this fact is reflected in his use of the word God, which is often
misunderstood. Spinoza reasoned that God is nature; God is not outside of creation but

A widely used autobiography of Einstein can be found in Einsteins Autobiography in Paul Arthur
Schilpp, ed., Albert Einstein: Philosopher-Scientist (La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1970), 196. A short
account of his life can be found in Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 225228, and in Amir D. Aczel,
Enter Einstein in Entanglement: The Greatest Mystery in Physics (New York: Four Walls Eight
Windows, 2001), 103122. Aczel covers the private lives of the physicists extensively.
Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 2425.
Albert Einstein, Cosmic Religious Feeling in Ken Wilber, ed., Quantum Questions: Mystical Writings
of the Worlds Greatest Physicists (Boston, Shambhala, 2001), 104; Albert Einstein, The World as I See It,
Alan Harris transl. (New York: Citadel Press, 1984), 27.

identical to creation and therefore the immanent cause of everything.
famous quote God does not play dice was sometimes expressed by him in German as
Die Natur wrfelt nicht
showing a conflation of nature and God.
Spinozas God was
free from passion, love and hate, pleasure and emotion,
and therefore Einstein
concluded that the cosmic religious feeling cannot be conceptualized by appealing to the
common anthropomorphic pictures of God.
The cosmic religious feeling is of a
mystical nature.
Spinoza argued for determinism and strict causality in nature, which also applied
to his understanding of free will and the human mind. To think that one has a free choice
is evidence that one is conscious of ones actions but ignorant of the causes whereby
they are determined.
According to Spinoza, freedom of choice is an illusion. Every
event is coming about by necessity. Since God is the creation, strict causality must apply
in all aspects of the universe.
Einstein also adopted the Newtonian understanding of
God as the creator of causality and consequently of the regularities expressed in the laws
of physics. The discovery of scientific laws is the discovery of the eternal laws instituted
by God and can be seen as allowing a view into the mind of God.

Alice Calaprice, ed., The Expanded Quotable Einstein (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000), 204;
Roger Scruton, Modern Philosophy I in A. C. Grayling, ed., Philosophy: A Guide Through the Subject
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1995), 455.
A literal translation would be Nature does not throw dice.
Beck, 361.
Scruton, 461.
Einstein, World as I see it, 2627. See also Peat, Certainty to Uncertainty, 1011.
Scruton, 458.
Ibid., 455.
Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion: Physics and Theology (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1999), 181, 230.

Since God embodies the causality of the universe, it is unthinkable that God
would violate his created causality. Einstein consequently arrived at the following
understanding of the relation of science to religion:
We thus arrive at a conception of the relation of science to religion very different
from the usual one. When one views the matter historically, one is inclined to
look upon science and religion as irreconcilable antagonists, and for a very
obvious reason. The man who is thoroughly convinced of the universal operation
of the law of causation cannot for a moment entertain the idea of a being who
interferes in the course of eventsprovided, of course, that he takes the
hypothesis of causality really seriously. He has no use for the religion of fear and
equally little for social or moral religion. A God who rewards and punishes is
inconceivable to him for the simple reason that a mans actions are determined
by necessity, external and internal, so that in Gods eyes he cannot be
responsible, any more than an inanimate object is responsible for the motions it

Einstein agreed to the existence of God, as the creator of the laws that he
discovers, but he did not accept the concept of a personal God:
The main source of the present day conflicts between the spheres of religion and
of science lies in this concept of a personal God. It is the aim of science to
establish general rules which determine the reciprocal connection of objects and
events in time and space. For these rules, or laws of nature, absolutely general
validity is requirednot proven The more a man is imbued with the ordered
regularity of all events the firmer becomes his conviction that there is no room
left by the side of this ordered regularity for causes of a different nature. For him,
neither the rule of human nor the rule of divine will exists as an independent
cause of natural events. To be sure, the doctrine of a personal God interfering
with natural events could never be refuted, in the real sense by science, for this
doctrine can always take refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge
has not yet been able to set foot. But I am persuaded that such behavior on the
part of the representatives of religion would not only be unworthy but also fatal.
In their struggle for the ethical good, teachers of religion must have the stature
to give up the doctrine of a personal God.

Einsteins conviction was that the regularities of natureexpressed by us in
theories of physical lawsare a reflection of the true nature of the universe. However,
this notion was challenged by the emergent theory of quantum mechanics whose inherent

Einstein, Cosmic Religious Feeling, 105.
Einstein, Science and Religion in Ken Wilber, Quantum Questions, 111113.

uncertainty principle indicated that there are limits to the investigation of nature and
implied that a strict causal account of reality might be impossible. Therefore Einstein
objected in particular against the probabilistic characteristics of quantum theory. For
example, he reasoned that solutions to the Schrdinger equation are typically extended
wave functions, meaning that a wave function might be not zero (indicating the possible
presence of the particle or object) over extended regions of space. As a consequence, the
center of gravity of an object cannot be specified. Einstein concluded that it is astonishing
given quantum theory, that the objects we see are localized.

Einstein realized that quantum theory does not allow the complete prediction of
all characteristics of physical entities and as a consequence, if quantum mechanics is a
complete theory, then uncertainty is ubiquitous and an ontological connection between
the discovered laws of nature and reality will be questionable.
In his autobiography
he still insisted that quantum mechanics was essentially a statistical theory and therefore
an incomplete description of reality. A new theory was needed to give a complete
account of microscopic phenomena:

I am, in fact, firmly convinced that the essentially statistical character of
contemporary quantum theory is solely to be ascribed to the fact that this [theory]
operates with an incomplete description of physical systems.

In Einsteins essay following the above quote, he discussed the description of
radioactive decay using a wave function for an individual atom and noted that the wave
function allows only a prediction of the probability of decay:

Bernard d`Espagnat, In Search of Reality (New York: Springer Verlag, 1983), 65.
Nadeau and Kafatos, Non-Local Universe, 156158; Kafatos and Nadeau, Conscious Universe, 151153;
Roland Omns, Understanding Quantum Mechanics (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press,
1999), 64.
Einstein, Autobiograpy, 50, 51.
Albert Einstein, Reply to Criticism in Schilpp, 666.

The -function does not imply any assertion concerning the time instant of the
disintegration of the radioactive atom. Now we raise the question: Can this
theoretical description be taken as the complete description of the disintegration
of a single individual atom? The immediately plausible answer is: No.

Einstein contended that the wave function must be an incomplete description of
individual quantum systems. He affirmed the usefulness of the wave function for the
description of ensembles of systems. However, he felt that it is necessary to look
elsewhere for a satisfactory description of individual systems.

Einstein was firmly committed to a universe understood as a deterministic realm
governed by the laws of physics
and he strongly felt that reality must be of an objective
nature, existing independent from our observation.
In d`Espagnats terminology,
Einstein was looking for a reality satisfying a strong objectivity requirement, meaning
that one can give an account of reality independent of the means of observation and
investigation of that reality. However, d`Espagnat points out that what we have in
quantum theory is weak objectivity, implying that observations are invariant for all
observers but dependent on the act of observation.

Einsteins inclusion of the cosmological constant
in the early equations of the
general relativity due to his commitment to the idea of a static nature of the universe
gives another indication of Einsteins tendency to assume a classic Enlightenment-style
The theory of relativity implied distortions of the time-space continuum but

Ibid., 668.
Ibid., 671.
Robert Audi, ed., The Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy (Cambridge, Cambridge: University Press,
1995), s.v. Einstein.
Einstein, Autobiography, 80, 81; Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 359360.
d`Espagnat, Search for Reality, 72; d`Espagnat, Postulate of Strong Objectvity in Search for Reality,
See Foster and Nightingale, 185186; Weinberg, Facing Up, 316.
Jammer, Einstein and Religion, 247.

preserved the basic nature of a deterministic and, initially through the inclusion of the
cosmological constant, a static universe. The strength of Einsteins commitment to his
metaphysical views is seen in this excerpt from a letter to Born:
Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is
not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any
closer to the secret of the old one. I, at any rate, am convinced that He is not
playing at dice.

Despite arguments by other leading physicists, the belief in God or nature having
created a universe governed by laws of nature could not be dislodged in Einstein and
persisted until the end of his life.
Randomness or indeterminacy simply was not
compatible with his point of view. One remarkable response to the frequently cited
statement by Einstein that God does not play dice was Einstein, stop telling God what
to do by Bohr.

The approach to quantum theory by Einstein was later labeled the statistical or the
ensemble interpretation. Quantum theory describes the statistical behavior of large
quantities of systems and is not applicable for an individual quantum system. Einstein
contended that quantum theory arrives at very implausible theoretical conceptions if it
is taken as the complete description of an individual physical system.
Bohrs response
to the ensemble interpretation was that quantum systems are indivisible wholes. They

Max Born, The Born-Einstein Letters (New York, Walker and Company, 1971), 91 quoted in Cushing,
Philosophical Concepts, 307.
Beck, 360 quotes Einstein in the original German Physik ist doch die Beschreibung des Wirklichen,
oder soll ich sagen, die Physik ist doch die Beschreibung dessen, was man sich blo einbildet? from
Wolfgang Pauli, Albert Einstein in der Entwicklung der Physik in Aufstze und Vortrge ber Physik
und Erkenntnistheorie (Braunschweig, Germany: n.p.,1961), 84.
Wheeler, Geons, 334.
Einstein, Reply to Criticism, 671.

cannot be separately analyzed and therefore there cannot be any underlying reality that
could be discovered as Einstein envisioned.

John Bell (19281990) demonstrated later that the statistics of quantum theory are
incompatible with an underlying reality, which could be conceived in a classic way as
using the model of forces between particles. According to Bell, the parts of any
underlying reality must be linked in a nonlocal way transcending what we would
understand as causal connections.
The independent parts of that reality cannot be
conceived of as independent in the sense used in macroscopic physics.
Jammer, Stapp and others claim that the experimental confirmation of Bells inequality,
and therefore the confirmation of the necessity to abandon local realism, invalidates a
basic element of Einsteins philosophy of science.

d`Espagnat noted that adherents of the ensemble interpretations still exist today.
The ensemble is commonly interpreted by the adherents of this position in three different
ways: First, the implicit or explicit assumption is that each individual particle has definite
properties, which will be revealed by measurement. Second, hidden variables exist that
will determine the properties of each individual member of the ensemble at measurement
and third, the minimal ensemble interpretation: Quantum theory is describing ensembles

Bohr, Discussion with Einstein in Schilpp, 235.
John S. Bell, On the EinsteinPodolskyRosen Paradox in Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum
Mechanics (Cambrige: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 1421; idem, On the EinsteinPodolsky
Rosen Paradox in Physics 1 (1964): 195200.
Stapp, Copenhagen, 57; Zeh, The Program of Decoherence in Guilini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch,
Stamatescu and Zeh, 1617. Earlier proofs by von Neumann established the same conclusion.
Max Jammer, Einstein and Religion, 226. See also Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 1617.

and the wave function is a complete representation of that ensemble. No hidden variables

Advocates of the ensemble interpretation typically switch back and forth between
the three kinds of interpretation, which leads to inconsistencies in their understanding of
the nature of the properties of single elementary particles. For example, Ballentine used
the first interpretation, implying that particles have definite properties at all times, and
then stated later that hidden-variables theories are unreasonable.
Accounts of the
measurement process in the ensemble theories typically depend on the first interpretation.
However, von Neumanns proof that hidden variables are not possible, as well as Bells
theorem, apply to these uses of the ensemble interpretation.
Ultimately, the question of
the reality of the individual member of the ensemble needs to be addressed. d`Espagnat
concluded: The words ensemble theory are no magic key for removing [the difficulties
of quantum theory.]

Einstein claimed that the doctrine of a personal God depends on the concept of
God taking refuge in those domains in which scientific knowledge has not yet been able
to set foot.
He would see theories of divine action based on the indeterminacy in
quantum theory as proposed here, as taking refuge in an area not as yet mastered by

Benard d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality: An Analysis of Present-Day Quantum Mechanical Concepts
(Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, 2003), 297302.
Leslie E. Ballentine, American Journal of Physics 54 (1973): 81; idem, The Statistical Interpretation of
Quantum Mechanics in Review of Modern Physics 42 (1970): 385. Recently Ballentine insisted in
Quantum Mechanics: A Modern Development (Singapore: World Scientific, 1998), 47, that quantum theory
cannot be applied to an individual system but in the discussion of the measurement process (232233)
assumed that the individual system has definite properties. The consequences of Bells theorem are avoided
by considering the values to be contextual (605). Therefore, there would be a contextual hidden variable
theory underlying Ballentines ensemble theory such as Bohms theory. However, Bohms theory is
evaluated as problematic due to the questionable nature of momentum (399400).
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 298299.
Ibid., 301.
Albert Einstein, Science and Religion in Out of My Later Years: The Scientist, Philosopher and Man
Portrayed Through his Own Words (New York: Wings Books, 1956), 26.

science. He would argue that once the processes that govern individual quanta are
discovered, such an approach would need to be modified in order to utilize other areas of
underdeveloped science.
Einsteins enormous influence in academia as well as in the popular
understanding of science was an important contributing factor to the preservation of the
classic deterministic view in the twentieth century. Some physicists like Peter Hodgson
still defend such a position today.

3. Niels Bohr: The Copenhagen Interpretation
The contrast between the approaches of Einstein and Niels Bohr (18851962)
quantum mechanics is probably best characterized by the following comment on a
meeting with Einstein to discuss the nature of the new theory by Bohr. After extensive
explanations and a show of the consistency of quantum theory, Bohr wrote:
Einstein nevertheless, in a following conversation with me, expressed a feeling of
disquietude as regards the apparent lack of firmly laid down principles for the
explanation of nature, in which all could agree. From my viewpoint, however, I
could only answer that, in dealing with the task of bringing order into an entirely
new field of experience, we could hardly trust in any accustomed principles,
however broad, apart from the demand of avoiding logical inconsistencies and, in
this respect, the mathematical formalism of quantum mechanics should surely
meet all requirements.

Einsteins focus was on the question of the nature of reality implied by quantum
whereas Bohr was looking for a consistent description of quantum processes

Peter E. Hodgson, Realism and Quantum Mechanics in International Studies in the Philosophy of
Science 11, no. 1 (1997): 55. See also the discussion of Hodgsons views in Chapter Five.
Niels Bohr, Essays 19321957 on Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge (Woodbridge, Connecticut:
Ox Bow, 1958); Aczel, The Copenhagen School; Armin Hermann, Lexikon Geschichte der Physik A-Z
(Cologne, Germany: Aulis-Verlag, 1978), s.v. Bohr, 3132.
Bohr, Discussion with Einstein in Schilpp, 228.
Ibid., 212.

independent of any model of nature.
Einstein had started a new way of thinking about
nature in theoretical physics with the theory of relativity, but due to his metaphysical
commitments to an objective universe (discussed earlier), he could not take the steps
necessary to develop the theoretical foundations of quantum mechanics although he was
the one in the best position to do so. Bohr made the necessary modifications to the way of
thinking about nature that were much more radical than the change necessitated by the
introduction of relativity by Einstein earlier because it involved a reconceptualization of
Bohr concluded that the problem was related to inadequate concepts and
inadequate language for the new realities that were emerging in quantum mechanics. It
was a matter of developing or learning a new language:
Therefore we are in a hopeless dilemma, we are like sailors coming to a very far
away country. They dont know the country and they see people whose language
they have never heard, so they dont know how to communicate.

Early in his work with Rutherford (18711937)
on his model of the atom, Bohr
found a mismatch between the classic theory of physics and Rutherfords model of
electrons orbiting around a nucleus. According to classical physics, the electrons should
be continually radiating energy and therefore the atom would not be stable.
proposed that, given the experimental evidence, the laws of nature must be wrong. A new
way of thinking about these phenomena was needed.
He found that Plancks method of
quantization could be applied to the electrons to solve the difficulty and then suggested

For the arguments between Bohr and Einstein see The Bohr-Einstein Dialogue in Wheeler and Zurek.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 305316; Bohr, Discussion with Einstein in Schilpp.
von Weizscker, Weltbild, 251.
Werner Heisenberg, Theory, Criticism and Philosophy in E. M. Lifshitz, ed., From a Life of Physics
(Singapore, World Scientific, 1989), 37.
John Campbell, Rutherford (New Zealand: Internet, 2003). <http://www.rutherford.org.nz/>. Accessed 1
Sept 2003.
Bohr, Physics and Knowledge, 86.
Heisenberg, Theory, Criticism and Philosophy, 3637.

that photons would be generated when the orbits of electrons in an atom change,
developed into a quantum condition for the orbits of the electrons. Bohrs ideas allowed
the analysis of certain processes in certain simple atoms
and a (limited) understanding
of the basic properties and of the periodic system of the elements.
These ideas made
Bohr famous and brought him into a key position that allowed him to influence the future
of theoretical physics through the Copenhagen Institute. The new physics that Bohr
sought was guided by the principle of correspondence to classic physics: Quantum
theoretical predictions must be similar to the predictions of classic physics only in the
limiting case of large systems.
This loose coupling to the classic descriptions for
physical phenomena allowed physicists to speculate rather freely in order to develop the
foundations of quantum theory.
A unique characteristic of Bohr was his ability to keep seemingly contradictory
theories and facts in his mind until he found a way to resolve them in a new way of
thinking. The principle of complementarity emerged from this characteristic of Bohrs
thought. The study of complementary phenomena demands different experimental
arrangements and therefore an experiment that uses wave characteristics will obscure the
particle nature and vice versa. Therefore only one of the two natures necessary to give a
full account for quantum behavior is available in a given experiment.
The concept of

Bohr, Physics and Knowledge, 87.
Bohr, Physics and Knowledge, 87; Aczel, 42.
Eugene P. Wigner, Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics in Wheeler and Zurek, 261.
Eisberg and Resnick, 128; Omns, Understanding, 45.
Bohr, Discussion with Einstein, 211.

complementarity of particle and wave as well as the noncommuting variables of quantum
systems were essential for the formation of quantum theory.

Bohr was the leader of the Copenhagen Institute where the standard interpretation
of quantum mechanics was developed in collaboration with Heisenberg. It was therefore
designated the Copenhagen interpretation.
For Bohr, the Copenhagen interpretation
was fundamentally an instrumentalist tool concerned with our knowledge. He viewed
quantum theory as an operational description with the wave function envisioned as an
abstract symbolism to describe these operational scenarios. Bohr insisted that
experimental arrangements always had to be described using classic concepts. He
avoided speculation about the reality behind the description of the processes, insisting
that quantum theory is fundamentally of an epistemological nature. He stated that the
wave function is a reflection of our knowledge of the experimental setup, and that the
wave function changes suddenly when new information about the experiment becomes

However, Bohr also asserted that quantum theory provides a complete scientific
account of atomic phenomena because of the wholeness of the process symbolized by the
quantum of action.
The instant change of the wave function over extended regions of
space and time during collapse makes impossible any claim that quantum theory is a
description of an actual reality. Completeness is therefore not to be understood as a claim

von Weizscker, Weltbild, 253254.
Hermann, s.v. Bohr, 3132.
Niels Bohr, Essays 19581962 on Atomic Physics and Human Knowledge: Volume III (Woodbridge,
Connecticut: Ox Bow Press, 1963), 60. Bohr was focused more on interpretation issues rather than
calculations see Omns, Understanding, 19. Omns, Understanding, 54, mistakenly attributes an
ontologization of wave function collapse to Bohr.
Stapp, The Copenhagen Interpretation in Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 67. A detailed
evaluation of Bohrs position on the pragmatic nature and completeness can be found in on page 6168.

that quantum theory describes an actual reality. Instead, completeness needs to be
interpreted to imply that quantum theory accounts for all that can be known about a
quantum system.
Bohrs understanding of the wave function as representing maximal
knowledge was also his answer to Einsteins demand of a more complete theory. Bohr
saw quantum theory not as an arbitrary renunciation of the possibility of a more detailed
theory, but claimed that an analysis of more detail is excluded in principle.
processes in quantum physics are indivisible and therefore such a description as sought
by Einstein is impossible.

Given the historical context of belief in a classic Enlightenment-based view of the
universe, Bohrs instrumentalist proposal was most likely the only way that quantum
theory could be made acceptable in the middle of the twentieth century. Bohrs approach
won approval against strong objections by Einstein and others, who saw what would
necessarily follow from these arguments later.
4. John von Neumann: Quantum Processes and Consciousness
It has been said that John von Neumann (19031957) was the most versatile
genius of the twentieth century.
His main contribution was in the area of logic and
mathematics, but he contributed in a significant way to the formation of quantum theory
and also established the foundations for modern information technology and computer

Stapp, Copenhagen, 6566.
Bohr, Discussion with Einstein, 235.
Ibid., 203.
Aczel, The Hungarian Mathematician in Entanglement, 95102.

science. von Neumann formulated the rules for abstract Hilbert space that allowed others
to develop quantum theory further.

von Neumann understood quantum theory as consisting of two processes (see
Table 1): Process one is the collapse of the wave function to one outcome when a
measurement is performed during observation. Process two is the deterministic evolution
of the wave function. Process two is in effect before the quantum system is observed. If
an observation (a measurement) is performed on the system, then the first process (wave
function collapse) applies.
Measurement, process one, has a twofold sub-nature. The
first element is the generation of a mixture from the quantum state through the interaction
with the measurement instrument. This mixture describes all the possible eigenstates of
the measurement instrument, each with the probabilities of its occurrence. This first
element already causes irreversibility since information is irretrievably lost.
The second
element is the recognition of the measurement event by an observer, who through
observation causes one of the possible outcomes described by the mixture to be

Table 1: The Processes of Quantum Theory
Process One Process Two
Reversible No Yes
Deterministic No Yes
Described by the
Schrdinger Equation
No Yes
Representation Mixture Wave Function
Application During Observation If not observed
Localizable No Yes

Daniel R. Kunkle, John von Neumann: Genius of Man and Machine [online] (6 September 2002,
accessed 16 July 2003), <http://www.rit.edu/~drk4633/vonNeumann/>.
von Neumann, Der Meproze in Quantenmechanik, 222237.
Ibid., 222, 202212.
Ibid., 223.

von Neumann understood measurement as a process that led outside of the
physical environment into the thought processes of the individual:
It is therefore right to think that measurement and the related processes of
subjective recognition cannot be deduced from the physical environment,
because measurement leads outside of the physical environment into the
uncontrollable thought life of the individual.

von Neumann reasoned that measurement is a process that connects the physical
world to an extraphysical reality in the thoughts of a person. He goes on to write:
Despite this [the extra-physical process], it is a fundamental requirement of a
scientific worldview, the so-called principle of psychophysical parallelism, that it
must be possible to describe what is really an extraphysical process of subjective
recognition, as if it would be happening in the physical world.

The notion of the psychophysical parallelism in von Neumanns thought
originated in an earlier argument by Bohr, where he stated that the concept of
psychophysical parallelism was inevitable in scientific descriptions of quantum theory.

Michael Heidelberger traces Bohrs understanding back to Gustav Theodor Fechners
crucial work on the mind-body problem in the late nineteenth century.
psychophysical parallelism was therefore a common concept among the founders of
quantum theoryincluding Einsteinreferring to a method to isolate the causality of
physical processes in the brain from mental processes. Heidelberger points out that the

von Neumann, Der Meproze, 223. German original:
Zunchst ist es an und fr sich durchaus richtig, da das Messen, bzw. der damit verknpfte Vorgang der
subjektiven Apperzeption eine gegenber der physikalischen Umwelt neue, auf diese nicht zurckfhrbare
Wesenheit ist. Denn sie fhrt aus dieser hinaus, oder richtiger: sie fhrt hinein, in das unkontrollierbare,
weil von jedem Kontrollversuch schon vorausgesetzte, gedankliche Innenleben des Individuums.
von Neumann, Der Meproze, 223. German original:
Trotzdem ist es aber eine fr die naturwissenschaftliche Weltanschauung fundamentale Forderung, das
sog. Prinzip vom psycho-physikalischem Parallelismus, da es mglich sein mu, den in Wahrheit
auerphysikalischen Vorgang der subjektiven Apperzeption so zu beschreiben, als ob er in der
physikalischen Welt stattfnde.
von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 262, note 207.
Michael Heidelberger, The Mind-Body Problem in the Origin of Logical Empiricism: Herbert Feigl and
Psychophysical Parallelism in Paolo Parrini and Wesley Salmon, Logical Empiricism: Historical and
Contemporary Perspectives (Pittsburg, Pennsylvania: Pittsburg University Press, 2003), 9. Page numbers
follow online edition available from <http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu>, accessed 16 July 2003.

form of psychophysical parallelism taught to Bohr was that of identity. A human being is
a single entity perceived as physical from the outside but whose properties are conceived
as mental when perceived from the human itself. Causality in both areas of perception is
separate although they reflect the same underlying reality. The view of the physical
causing something mental and vice versa is a consequence of an erroneous mixing of
these perspectives.

However, von Neumann suggested a violation of the principle of the separation of
the two perspectives. He claimed that in some sense, a mental process causes wave
function collapse, a physical process! The mental process cannot be represented as a
physical process and therefore von Neumann claimed that the fundamental extraphysical
nature of process one is reflected by the possibility of shifting the position of
measurement in the signal chain between the experiment and the observer in an arbitrary
way. Quantum theory requires the separation of the world into the observed system and
the observer. In the observed system the physical processes can be followed, but not so in
the observer. The border between those two systems is drawn in some arbitrary way.
However, this boundary must be drawn somewhere.

von Neumann then proved (by separating the world into three parts: the observed
system, the measurement device and the observer) that the border can be drawn between
the observed system and the measurement device or between the measurement device and
the observer without affecting the result of the experiment. Any intermediate position

Heidelberger, 45.
von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 223224.

might also be assumed where process one is occurring.
The point at which measurement
is assumed to be happening is called today the Heisenberg cut or simply the cut.

But it does not matter how far we move the measurement point. At one point, we
have to say that this has been recognized by the observer. This means that we
always have to separate the world into two parts: One is the observed system and
the other is the observer. That the border can be moved into the body to an
arbitrary depth is evidence of the principle of the psychophysical parallelism.
Because experience only makes statements of this type: An observer has made a
certain (subjective) observation and never that the physical quantity has a
particular value.

The implication that is to be drawn from von Neumanns proof is that not only is
the outcome of process one indeterministic, but also the localization of the measurement
within the von Neumann signal chain between measurement and consciousness is not
determined. Process one can be envisioned to happen anywhere between the observed
system and arbitrarily deep into the brain processes of the observer. It is an extraphysical
process and therefore cannot be localizable. The idea of indeterminism has been widely
accepted by a majority of physicists despite significant resistance and has resulted in a
challenge to the established Enlightenment worldview. von Neumanns conclusion that
the measurement process itself is not localizable is another challenge that basically
requires the presence of an observer in order for irreversible processes in nature to take

von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 224232. Omns, Understanding, 60, calls the connection between
consciousness and the system being measured the von Neumann chain.
Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 22; Erich Joos, Decoherence through Interaction with the
Environment in Guilini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch, Stamatescu and Zeh, 119.
von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 223224. German original:
Aber einerlei, wie weit wir rechnen einmal mssen wir sagen: und dies wird vom Beobachter
wahrgennommen. D.h. wir mssen die Welt immer in zwei Teile teilen, der eine ist das beobachtete
System, der andere der Beobachter. Da diese Grenze beliebig tief ins Innere des Krpers des
wirklichen Beobachters verschoben werden kann, ist der Inhalt des Prinzips vom psychophysikalischen
Parallelismus. Denn die Erfahrung macht nur Aussagen von diesem Typus: ein Beobachter hat eine
bestimmte (subjektive) Wahrnehmung gemacht, und nie eine solche: eine physikalische Gre hat einen
bestimmten Wert.

place. It challenges the conception of an independent physical world. This conclusion has
only been accepted by a few thinkers.
The ambiguity of the point of measurement or wave function collapse allows a
way out of the seeming necessity of incorporating consciousness in quantum processes. If
it would be possible to demonstrate that wave function collapse (process one) occurs in
an objectively describable way, then it might be possible to refute von Neumanns claims
and free quantum mechanics from the necessity of incorporating the observer. It would
then also follow that an objective observer-independent reality exists. (See Chapter Six
for a discussion of proposals to envision wave function collapse as an objective physical
The implication of von Neumanns description of quantum theory is that the
nature of reality can be conceived of as a dualism consisting of consciousness and an
indefinite reality represented by a wave function.
The indefinite reality develops while
process two is in operation until there is an observation by an observer, which in turn
causes the irreversible collapse through process one and thus establishes definiteness.
Roland Omns contends that von Neumann used consciousness because he
assumed from introspection that consciousness is an element that is only in one state
and therefore can force a definite outcome of a measurement. Omns concludes that such
a proposal is without merit and is most likely due to the cultural tradition of German
philosophy which has resulted in such concepts as psychophysical parallelism.
Experimental data is recorded today mostly by computers and other electronic devices

von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 223; Stapp, Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, in Mind, Matter
and Quantum Mechanics, 111; idem, A Quantum Theory of the Mind-Brain Interface, in Mind, Matter
and Quantum Mechanics, 167.

and not by human observers (see Wheelers argument in Chapter Four as a response).
Moreover, Omns states that von Neumanns argument led to the conclusion that mind
acts on matter, which was great news for parapsychology and all sorts of occultism.

Omns insists that there is no hint of the validity of such claims and that the whole idea is
not necessary for quantum theory. The claim of conscious collapse is evidence of the
difficulty of interpreting quantum theory in the early days.

von Neumanns analysis of the measurement process is of significance to QDA
proposals because process one, wave function collapse, is the only point at which
indeterminacy has an effect and is therefore the key location that any proposal for QDA
must consider.
However, the conclusion that measurement is not localizable within an
assumed objective reality has frequently not been realized in the area of divine action.
The result has been the implicit assumption of the localizability of measurements and
therefore of an objective, observer-independent nature of the world.
von Neumann also provided a proof that a solution to the indeterminacy problem
using hidden variables was impossible. His proof was widely accepted as universal until
Bell showed that von Neumanns proof was only valid for certain types of hidden-
variable theories.
Bohm proposed a hidden variables solution that was nonlocal, and
therefore able to circumvent the limitations on hidden variables.

Omns, Understanding, 6061.
Saunders, Divine Action, 146147. Saunderss discussion omits von Neumanns localization of the
John S. Bell, On the Problem of Hidden Variables in Quantum Mechanics in Speakable and
Unspeakable, 114.
Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 134; Polkinghorne, Quantum Theory, 53.

5. Erwin Schrdinger: The Search for a Wave Interpretation
Erwin Schrdingers (18871961)
contribution to quantum mechanics, the
famous Schrdinger equation, is at the core of the most frequently used mathematical
formalism in quantum theory. Solutions to the equation are the wave functions often
designated by the Greek letter . Schrdinger became the creator of modern wave
mechanics through the refinement of classic wave theory for the use in quantum theory.

Schrdinger initially approached quantum theory in a way similar to Einstein,
being committed to the view that theories must describe the real processes that produce
the phenomena observed in physics.
The development of Schrdingers equation was a
result of his reaction against the complexity of Heisenbergs matrix mechanics.
Schrdinger wanted to show that quantum theory was describable by a wave function in
such a way that it was visualizable.
He objected in particular to the quantum jumps in
Heisenbergs approach:
It is barely necessary to emphasize how much more agreeable it would be if a
quantum state change would cause the energy to move from one form of
oscillation into another rather than imagining electrons jumping around.

Schrdinger attempted to give his wave function a realistic interpretation by
suggesting that the wave function describes an oscillation in three-dimensional space
with the product of the wave function and its conjugate representing the density of the

An unsanitized biography can be found in Aczel, Schrdinger and his Equation in Entanglement, 55
Weinberg, Facing Up, 70; Aczel, 6162, describes a romance that was necessary to get Schrdinger to
produce the wave equation.
Audi, Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, s.v. Schrdinger.
L. Rosenfeld, Borns Probabilistic Interpretation in Wheeler and Zurek, 5055; Cushing, Quantum
Mechanics, 105; Omns, Understanding, 34.
Quoted in Hermann, s.v. Schrdinger, 343344. The German original:
Es ist kaum ntig hervorzuheben, um wie vieles sympathischer die Vorstellung sein wrde, da bei einem
Quantenbergang die Energie aus einer Schwingungsform in eine andere bergeht, als die Vorstellung von
den springenden Elektronen.

electric charge.
He saw it as a misinterpretation of his theory when Max Born first
interpreted the product of the wave function and its conjugate as the probability of
localizing a particle in a given region of space.
However, Borns interpretation became
the accepted understanding of the wave function. Schrdinger was disappointed and
suggested that the probability interpretation contained unacceptable mental elements:
It must have shocked and disappointed de Broglie in the same way as me when
we found out that a kind of transcendent, nearly mental (psychic?) interpretation
had become the almost universally accepted dogma.

The role of the wave function was subsequently clarified as describing not a wave
moving in ordinary space but moving in configuration space, referring to the
configuration of the whole system under observation and not that of only a single

Schrdinger continued to be skeptical regarding Bohrs complementarity principle
and the Copenhagen interpretation. He sought to establish a quantum theory based on
waves alone.
Schrdingers worldview was influenced by Spinozas concept of a
determinist world governed by causal law and was similar to the view of Einstein.

However, where Einstein was looking for point-like entities, Schrdinger was looking for
wave-like entities and suggested in Science and Humanism that causality could be

Werner Heisenberg, Theory, Criticism and a Philosophy in Lifshitz, 4546. This also mentions the
torture Schrdinger had to endure by Bohr regarding his views while being sick in Copenhagen and the
subsequent changes in his approach.
Max Born, Zur Quantenmechanik der Stovorgnge in Zeitschrift fr Physik 37 (1926): 863867;
English translation On the Quantum Mechanics of Collisons in Wheeler and Zurek, 5255.
Quoted in Hermann, s.v. Schrdinger, 345. German original:
Es mu de Broglie genauso getroffen und enttuscht haben wie mich, als wir erfuhren, da ... eine Art
transzendentaler, nahezu psychischer Auslegung ... das beinahe allseits anerkannte Dogma geworden ist.
Wigner, Interpretation, 262.
Erwin Schrdinger Biography in Physics 19221931, Nobel Lectures [online] (Amsterdam: Elsevier
Publishing Company, 19641970, accessed 16 July 2003),
Roger Penrose, Foreword to Schrdinger, Nature and Greeks and Science and Humanism, viii.

restored in quantum theory by abandoning the idea of continuous time and space that had
shaped modern thought.

We have learned from classic physics to visualize a moving object as following a
certain path, and we assume that physics is able to give a full account of any detail
regarding the motion of the objects. Schrdinger called this the postulate of continuity of
the description and claimed that the classic postulate cannot be fulfilled in quantum
mechanics because of the indistinguishability of identical particles. There is no assurance
that we encounter the same object if observations are performed at two locations. In
classic physics, we could continually observe an object to assure ourselves that it is still
the same object, but this is impossible to do in quantum mechanics. Therefore, gaps must
exist by necessity in any proposal of causal frameworks.
Schrdinger suggested not to
think about particles as permanent entities but rather to consider particles as
instantaneous events. The double-slit experiment shows that we truly cannot specify the
trajectory of a particle before it hits the detection screen. It is therefore necessary to think
about what is happening in terms of spherical waves emitted by the source, parts of each
wave front passing through both openings and producing our interference pattern on the
platebut this pattern manifests itself to observation in the form of a single particle.

This situation suggested to Schrdinger that a determinable physical object in the form of
a wave could exist. Although it is impossible to know everything about such an object,
Schrdinger suggested that it could be possible to form a gapless model from the pieces

Schrdinger, Science and Humanism in Nature and Greeks and Science and Humanism, 103171.
Ibid., 130131.
Ibid., 151.

of knowledge that we can obtain from observations.
However, Schrdingers ideas were
not pursued further.
Schrdinger objected to the idea that quantum theory had broken the boundary
between the subject and the object. He stated that the argument that observation depends
on the interaction of the object and the subjectseen as one of the objects involved in the
interactionwas nothing new. The unavoidable impression from the subject
understood as the measurement deviceonto the object is a new and needed correction
to the old understanding. However, Schrdinger claimed that it is not proper to call one
of the interacting systems a subjectunderstood as the mind of an observerbecause
the observing mind is not a physical system, it cannot interact with any physical

Interactions in the real universe are due to energy exchanges between objects. In
Schrdingers opinion, subjects (sensations and thoughts) cannot affect anything in the
world of objects. Only other objects can influence an object. Schrdinger contended that
a connection of quantum mechanics to consciousness as proposed by others was

For the subject, if anything, is the thing that senses and thinks. Sensations and
thoughts do not belong to the world of energy. They cannot produce any
change in this world of energy as we know from Spinoza and Sir Charles

Schrdinger was very capable in expounding the Copenhagen interpretation
despite of his objections and, in a widely read article initially titled The Present

Ibid., 154.
Ibid., 157.
Erwin Schrdinger, Why not talk Physics? in Ken Wilber, ed., Quantum Questions, 8081.
Erwin Schrdinger, Talk Physics, 81.

Situation in Quantum Mechanics,
discussed the nature and the implications of the
emerging quantum theory. It is evident from his writing that he felt that this interpretation
was rather weird and therefore his tone was slightly sardonic. In particular he introduced
the famous cat paradox as an attempt to highlight the problematic nature of wave
function collapse. Although the cat was only mentioned in one paragraph, it became so
famous that his paper was frequently referred to later as the Cat Paradox paper. The
commonly used English translation by John Trimmer mentions Cat Paradox in the
The cat paradox or Schrdingers cat is an illustration of the problems in
understanding the nature of the wave function and of measurement in quantum theory. A
Geiger-counter detects the decay of a radioactive substance and triggers the breaking of a
flask of poison. The arrangement is placed together with a cat in a box. The decay of the
radioactive substance is described by a wave function, and therefore only the probability
of atomic decay can be determined. However, according to von Neumann, the whole
system of the radioactive substance plus the Geiger-counter and the flask of poison is also
describable by a wave function. The consequence of doing so is that indeterminacy
originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic
and we are then calculating the probability that the cat will be killed
by the release of poison triggered by the decay of the radioactive substance or survive
because decay has not happened through the use of a wave function describing the
experiment as a whole.

Erwin Schrdinger, Die gegenwrtige Situation in der Quantenmechanik, Naturwissenschaften 23
(1935), 807812, 823828, 844849. English The Present Situation in Quantum Mechanics: A Translation
of Schrdingers Cat Paradox paper, John D. Trimmer transl. in Wheeler and Zurek, 152167.
Schrdinger, Situation in Quantum Mechanics, 157.

The wave function specifies probabilities, which have frequently been
characterized as a blurring of the outcome of quantum measurements. However, such an
understanding gives the impression of a measurement that is not sharp. Schrdinger
pointed out that if an actual measurement is performed, there will always be a definite
result. If the idea of blurring or unsharpness is applied to the cat scenario then, as
Schrdinger puts it, we would have the living and the dead cat (pardon the expression)
mixed or smeared out.
If we open the box and check, we see a cat: Either dead or
alive. Schrdinger used the cat to illustrate a misconception of the nature of
indeterminacy. He stated that it is wrong to think about indeterminacy as fuzziness or as
if a value had been smeared out. The cat is not simultaneously dead and alive. If we look
at the cat, we see either a living or a dead cat but not an intermediate mixed stage.
Similarly, the values of entities measured in quantum mechanics are sharp and not fuzzy.
Indeterminacy is the inability to predict the outcome of a measurement before the
measurement is performed.

The evolution of the wave function could be described as the development of an
expectation-catalog. In essence, the wave function describes potential outcomes of an
experiment and assigns a probability to each outcome. Observation causes one possibility
from that expectation-catalog to be selected.
Schrdinger pointed out that the
measurement itself can be seen as accurate to an extreme degreequite in contrast to the
classic problem of always having measurements that are not entirely accurate due to the
limitations of the measurement instruments. In quantum theory discrete values of

See also Wigner, Interpretation, 266267.
Schrdinger, Situation in Quantum Mechanics, 158159.

quantities can be measured due to the characteristic quantization in quantum mechanics.
If the discrete value of the quantity is determined, then the measurement is exact and
hasin contrast to classic physicsno associated error factor.

Schrdinger came to the same conclusion as von Neumann regarding the question
of when measurement happens in the von Neumann chain and also concluded that
nothing actually happens until the result of the experiment is inspected. He even
concluded that a recording device does not necessarily lead to the collapse of the wave
function. Schrdinger expressed his conclusions about the analysis of the combined
system in the following way:
First, the insight into the disjunctive splitting of the expectation-catalog, which
still takes place quite continuously and is brought about through embedment in a
combined catalog for instrument and object. From this amalgamation the object
can again be separated out only by the living subject actually taking cognizance
of the result of the measurement. Some time or other this must happen if that
which has gone on is actually to be called a measurementhowever dear to our
hearts it was to prepare the process throughout as objectively as possible. And
that is the second insight we have won: not until the inspection, which determines
the disjunction, does anything discontinuous or leaping, take place. One is
inclined to call this a mental action, for the object is already out of touch, is no
longer physically affected; what befalls it is already past.

However, Schrdinger objected to the interpretation that the wave function
evolving normally without an observer would now change leap-fashion because of an
observer. Such an interpretation would result in the observer being irrevocably involved
in the processes of quantum theory, which is clearly unacceptable, and therefore
Schrdinger concluded: In truth something of importance happens in between, namely
the influence of the two bodies on each other.

Ibid., 155.
Ibid., 162.

It is evident even from Schrdingers analysis that he saw it as a natural
conclusion to deduce that wave function collapse occurs through an observer. However,
such a notion is not compatible with the requirement of the objective nature of the
universe, a metaphysical consideration. Therefore, he claimed that something must
happen in between, and consequently the most likely location of wave function collapse
is during an interaction between physical objects.
In the same article, Schrdinger investigated the consequences of the statement by
Bohr and others, that the wave function is the complete description of a system and
contains all information that is available about the system under observation. Schrdinger
concluded that the consequence is that any quantum systems that come into contact with
one another can no longer be treated as separate even if they separate later again because
their interaction is an element that determines future behavior. Since the world is full of
interacting systems, this means that quantum entanglement is the key characteristic of the
When two systems, of which we know the states by their respective
representation, enter into a temporary physical interaction due to known forces
between them and when after a time of mutual influence the systems separate
again, then they can no longer be described as before, viz., by endowing each of
them with a representative of its own. I would not call that one but rather the
characteristic trait of quantum mechanics.

If we look at Schrdingers reasoning and consider the accepted notion that all
matter originated in the big bang and therefore that all particles have interacted in the
past, we can then conclude that the whole world is characterized by quantum
entanglement and describable as a whole by just such a wave function. The scientific

Erwin Schrdinger in Proceedings of the Cambridge Philosophical Society 31 (1935): 555 cited in
Aczel, 70.

description of subsystems as customarily done for real or imagined experiments must
omit influences from outside of the subsystem, and therefore such a description cannot be
understood as providing a complete representation. Schrdingers insight was that the
world must be understood as a holistic system in which the parts cannot be analyzed
separately without the loss of vital information.
6. Werner Heisenberg: Propensities and Wave Function Collapse
Werner Heisenbergs (19011976)
ideas were heavily influenced by Bohr and
Einstein. Heisenbergs general approach to physics was to gain an overview of current
developments and ongoing experiments and then attempt to develop a mathematical
formalism or an explanation for the observed phenomena.
He contributed the first
usable formulation for quantum theoretical calculations, called matrix mechanics, which
he developed from Hendrik Anthony Kramers use of Bohrs correspondence principle.
Schrdingers wave mechanics resulted later in another easier to handle formulationa
partial differential equationthat is in wide use today.

Heisenbergs focus was on the theoretical aspects and, like Bohr, he was acutely
aware of the conceptual difficulties arising from quantum theory. Quantum theory was
developed because newly investigated phenomena could not be understood using the
concepts of classic physics. In his article The Development of Philosophical Ideas since
Descartes in Comparison with the new Situation in Quantum Theory,
suggested that the reason for Einsteins and other physicists difficulty with quantum

Aczel, Heisenbergs Microscope, 7382.
Heisenberg, Theory, 5455.
Hermann, 224225; Heisenberg, The Physical Principles of the Quantum Theory (Chicago: Dover
Publications, 1930), 105132.
Heisenberg, Development of Philosophical Ideas, 7692.

theory was rooted in the Cartesian Partition, which led to metaphysical assumptions, and
then to dogmatic realism.
Heisenberg reasoned that a statement is objectivated if the content is independent
of the conditions under which it can be verified. Practical realism is a scenario in which
some statementsand in fact most of our experiencecan be objectivated, whereas
dogmatic realism applies when all statements regarding the material world are
objectivated. Heisenberg claimed that Einstein took the position of dogmatic realism
because he felt that dogmatic realism was necessary for doing meaningful scientific
work. It is clear that in quantum mechanics not all statements can be objectivated.
Heisenberg insisted that meaningful scientific work is possible in terms of practical
realism. The position of dogmatic realism is not tenable given the nature of quantum

Heisenbergs approach to the understanding of quantum mechanics emerged from
the success of his Principle of Uncertainty in 1927
and his connection with Bohr.
Heisenberg, like Bohr, claimed that the problem of describing quantum mechanics was
foremost a language problem.
He stated that common everyday concepts could no
longer be applied at atomic scales. An obvious starting point for scientific descriptions is
the language used in classic physics for large-scale objects, but Heisenberg noted that
quantum theory results in macroscopic effects and so even the typical language used for
large scale objects must also be used with some care.
Atoms and elementary particles

Heisenberg, Development of Philosophical Ideas, 8183; Omns, Understanding, 52.
Lindberg and Numbers, 432; Heisenberg, Theory, 4647; von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 4.
Heisenberg, Language and Reality in Modern Physics in Physics and Philosophy, 167168; Omns,
Understanding, 49.
Ibid., 177.

are not as real as the phenomena of daily life: they form a world of potentialities or
possibilities rather than one of things or facts.

The concept of complementarity by Bohr introduced physicists to the necessity to
use ambiguous or counterintuitive language. Classic concepts and words referring to
classic concepts are used in quantum mechanics in a rather vague manner for the purpose
of trying to illustrate in a familiar way the unobservable behavior in the microscopic
world. If these vague and contradictory uses cause confusion, then the physicist has the
mathematical scheme as the only fallback to express the situation accurately and

Heisenbergs paper in 1927 on uncertainty
convinced most physicists that it is
impossible to use classical terms in the microscopic domain of quantum theory and
further, that it is not meaningful to assign definite orbits or paths to particles.

Heisenberg collaborated with Bohr in the formulation of the Copenhagen interpretation,
but where Bohr emphasized an instrumentalist interpretation (Copenhagen I), Heisenberg
wanted to go further and assigned an ontological reality to the wave function
(Copenhagen II). Heisenberg distinguished between subjective and objective elements:
If we want to describe what happens in an atomic event, we have to realize that
the word happens can apply only to the observation, not to the state of affairs
between two observations. It applies to the physical, not the psychical act of
observation, and we may say that the transition from the possible to the
actual takes place as soon as the interaction of the object with the measuring
device, and thereby with the rest of the world, has come into play; it is not
connected with the act of registration of the result by the mind of the observer.
The discontinuous change in the probability function, however, takes place with

Ibid., 186.
Ibid., 179.
Werner Heisenberg, ber den anschaulichen Inhalt der quantentheoretischen Kinematik und
Mechanik in Zeitschrift fr Physik 43 (1927): 172198. English translation: The Physical Content of
Quantum Kinematics and Mechanics in Wheeler and Zurek, 6284.
Wigner, Interpretation, 263.

the act of registration, because it is the discontinuous change of our knowledge in
the instant of registration that has its image in the discontinuous change of the
probability function.

This implies that there is a sense of reality to the wave function. The reality is
characterized by the tendencies or propensities necessary for the description of a
measurement event. Heisenberg assumed that wave function collapse takes place at the
point of measurement associated with the device itself to one definite outcome. A mixture
results from the interaction of the quantum system with the measurement instrument, and
this mixture represents the observers ignorance of the result. The measurement has one
definite objective outcome.
However, the propensities of the wave function interacting with the measurement
device are not a reflection of our knowledge but are actual and real, and therefore these
are objective propensities.
These occur only as a result of the interaction with the
measurement device, which is objective, in contrast to the registration of the result of the
measurement in the minds of the observer, which is subjective.

Heisenberg proposed a partial ontologization of the Copenhagen interpretation.
The observer, and with that the dangerous subjectivity, is kept out of science by
restricting the ontologization to the effects to what is observed by the measurement
device. The classic world of physics is implicitly assumed to begin at that boundary. The
quantum system is then represented in the macroscopic world by the probability of
certain classic results to be obtained. Heisenberg reasoned that an objective description of
the world necessitates the description of the world without reference to ourselves,

Heisenberg, The Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum Theory in Physics and Philosophy, 5455.
Stapp, Quantum Propensities, 124.
See also Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 177178; Cushing, Philosophical Concepts,

Objectivity has become the first criterion for the value of any scientific result,
the partial ontologization flows from that line of reasoning. Heisenberg denied any role of
consciousness in quantum theory:
Certainly, quantum theory does not contain genuine subjective features, it does
not introduce the mind of the physicist as a part of the atomic event.

Heisenberg made the distinction between subjective and objective elements of the
wave function. The subjectiveness of quantum theory is only a result of knowledge
available to the observer. Similar ideas of ontological real propensities have been
proposed by Karl Popper
and by Bohm in his early work Quantum Theory.

However, the result is a definition of measurement or wave function collapse appropriate
only for the laboratory and for which von Neumann developed a mathematical proof that
this wave function collapse could be envisioned to take place anywhere in the signal
chain up to our consciousness without affecting the results as discussed earlier in this
7. Louis de Broglie: The Pilot-Wave Theory
Louis de Broglie (18921987)
proposed an understanding of quantum theory in
1923, which was named the pilot-wave theory because it was based on a particle guided
by a wave, and was very similar to Bohms later proposal (see Chapter Four). de
Broglies approach was revolutionary because he claimed that every particle has the

Heisenberg, 55.
Karl R. Popper, The Open Universe: An Argument for Indeterminism, W. W. Bartley, III, ed. (Totowa,
New Jersey: Rowman and Littlefield, 1981), 101104; idem, Quantum Mechanics without The
Observer in Quantum Theory and the Observer, M. Bunge, ed. (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1981).
Bohm, Quantum Theory, 132, 138139, 157161, 624628.
David Associates, Inc. Wave Mechanics (Newton, Massachusetts: Internet, 2003). <http://www.davis-
inc.com/physics/index.shtml>. Accessed 28 August 2003.

potential to exhibit characteristics that had so far only been associated with waves, and he
thereby laid the foundation for the wave-particle dualism.
de Broglies approach was
initially supported by Einstein and served as an inspiration for Schrdinger as he
developed his wave theory.
However, when de Broglie presented his own theory at the
Solvay conference in 1927, he was unable to respond to criticism by Pauli who claimed
that the pilot-wave theory would produce different results than the Copenhagen
interpretation because the symmetry in the treatment of position and momentum was not
The nonlocal character of the pilot-wave theory also led to the conclusion
that local causalityan important concept in classic physicscould not be preserved by
de Broglies approach, and therefore Einstein withheld his support since he felt that de
Broglies approach challenged the fundamental nature of reality. As a result, no effective
response was given to Paulis argument, and de Broglie subsequently changed his mind
about the pilot-wave theory due to von Neumanns demonstration of the impossibility of
hidden-variables theories and the rising popularity of the Copenhagen interpretation.

However, when Bohm rearticulated the ideas of the pilot-wave theory in 1952
(see Chapter Four), de Broglie also revived his belief in the pilot-wave theory. Bohm
gave a belated response to Paulis thought experiment that was used to refute the pilot-
wave theory but did not respond to the complaint of symmetry violation. Consequently,

Hermann, 4647.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 285286.
Myrvold, 10.
Cushing, Philosophical Concepts, 288.

Heisenberg and Pauli did not change their position on the pilot-wave theory and
evaluated Bohms theory in the same way as the pilot-wave theory.

Bohms theory was based on the concept of localized particles, which is in
particular problematic for the development of a relativistic version.
Recently Antony
Valentini has abandoned Bohms particle concept in favor of earlier wave based ideas by
de Broglie and is continuing research on an early version of de Broglies pilot-wave

8. Conclusion
The initial development of quantum theory proceeded from a classic worldview
which had already been somewhat challenged by Einsteins theory of relativity.
However, in the discussions during the years of the development of quantum theory
Einstein insisted that quantum mechanics should be consistent with a classic account of
causality and reality. Bohrs Copenhagen interpretation emerged, resulting in an
adversarial relationship between Bohr and Einstein. Consequently, Bohrs approach was
to limit the number of contested issues by insisting on a description of the experimental
arrangement and the measurement instrument in the language of classic physics and by
avoiding any ontological claims.

Myrvold, 10; Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 129130,133, 145146; Wolfgang Pauli,
Remarques sur le problme des paramtres cachs dans la mcanique quantique et sur la thorie de londe
pilote in Louis de Broglie: Physicien et Penseur (Paris: ditions Albin Michel, 1952), 39. See also
Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 118123. Cushing only investigates the actual experiment used by Pauli to
refute de Broglie, which was indeed shown to be explainable by Bohm within his theory. Cushing never
discusses the underlying symmetry complaint. See also Hodgsons use of Cushing in Chapter Five.
See the discussion of Bohm in Chapter Four for details.
Antony Valentini, Pilot-Wave Theory in James T. Cushing, Arthur Fine and Sheldon Goldstein, eds.,
Bohmian Mechanics and Quantum Theory: An Appraisal (Dortrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic
Publishers, 1996), 4647; Bub, 237238.

Heisenberg developed a partial ontologization of quantum theory while arguing
against the necessity of consciousness to cause wave function collapse, whereas von
Neumann attempted to formalize and describe all of quantum theory while avoiding a
classic description
and reasoned that an observer is essential for wave function collapse
given its nonlocalizable nature. von Neumanns 1932 book is still widely used today in
research on the problem of the measurement process and could be characterized as the
standard text on the subject.

The acceptance of the implications of quantum theory was a gradual process
because of the challenges to important elements of the established worldview as evident
by Einsteins reaction. After the formation phase of quantum mechanics, another phase
followed in which alternate interpretations of quantum theory were suggested in order to
try to recover elements of our traditional classic worldview, focusing mainly on
determinism and the ability to assign definite properties to particles as discussed later in
Chapter Four. The result of this work was a refined understanding of the Copenhagen
interpretation without any essential change in its basic formulation.
In the next phase an attempt was made to preserve the classic view of the world as
existing independently of our conscious observation. A theory of wave function collapse
describing objective collapse in the physical world is necessary in order to avoid von
Neumanns conclusion that collapse ultimately requires a mind or consciousness.
Currently strong claims have been made on certain of the proposed theories. However,

Omns, Understanding, 58.
Domenico Guilini, Erich Joos, Claus Kiefer, Joachim Kupsch, Ion-Olimpiu Stamatescu and H. Dieter
Zeh, Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classic World in Quantum Theory (Berlin, Germany: Springer
Verlag, 1996), 15, 17, 21, 40, 97, 295. Roland Omns, Understanding Quantum Mechanics (Princeton,
New Jersey, Princeton University Press, 1999), 5565, 75, 7779, 90, 103, 105, 110, 134, 150; Wojciech
H. Zurek, Decoherence and the Transition form Quantum to Classical in Physics Today (October 1991):

examination of these theories shows them to be unable to explain wave function collapse
and therefore unable to preserve an objective observer-independent world (Chapter Six).
These attempts seem to be waning, and it is possible that a shift in the scientific
consensus will occur given the difficulty of finding support for the notion of observer-

Chapter Three
The Pioneers of
Quantum Divine Action
1. Introduction
The metaphysical frameworks within which theology is pursued play an important
role in the assessment of the significance of quantum theory for theology. One of the
ways that theologians have tried to make use of quantum theory is by using quantum
concepts (such as the wave-particle duality or complementarity) as analogies or in
metaphorical ways to explain faith statements (such as the human and divine nature of
However, these uses avoid the impact that quantum theory has on the
fundamental way that we understand the world and leave the established metaphysical
frameworks untouched. We are here considering those thinkers who have used quantum
theory to redefine the basis of theology and the nature of the world, not those who used
concepts of quantum theory in a metaphorical or analogical way. This chapter covers
early proposals regarding the implications of quantum theory that contributed to the later
development of QDA approaches.
The deterministic worldview had put theology in a straightjacket (as discussed in
Chapter One) by depicting the world as functioning like a mechanical device. The earliest
proposals for an alternate nondeterministic worldview can be found in ideas based on an
electromagnetic perspective at the end of the nineteenth century. British scientists
attempted to discover ways to break out of the deterministic framework and thereby lend
support to the Christian notion of divine action. Sir Oliver Lodge (18511940), a

Saunders, Divine Action, 9596; Lindberg and Numbers, 431433.

specialist in electromagnetic wave theory, was the most vocal of this group, publishing
approximately twenty books over three decades on the subject of a spiritualized ether and
speculating on the consequences for religion. The possibility of the existence of an ether
associated with electromagnetism was brought into question by experimental evidence
gathered late in the nineteenth century and by Einsteins theoretical arguments early in
the twentieth century.

In the same time period as Lodge, William James also objected to a deterministic
understanding of the universe. The investigation of Jamess view of the universe as
influenced by human agents (in the first section of this chapter) resulted in the
development of an embryonic concept of divine action in an indeterministic world.
Jamess conception of the world and the mind will be important when Stapp applies
Jamess insights to quantum theory (see Chapter Six) and for the new QDA proposal (in
Chapter Seven). It is known that Bohr and Heisenberg were influenced by Jamess
pragmatic philosophy.
The next section considers Arthur Compton, one of the physicists involved in the
development of quantum theory, who wondered why he was able to lift his hand at his
choosing given a deterministic understanding of the world. He thought that quantum
indeterminacy might provide a solution to the problem of free will. Key elements of
QDA, such as an Urform of noninterventionism, are found in Comptons thought.
Karl Heim was the first theologian who provided a comprehensive integration of
quantum theory into a systematic theology. Heim conceived of the world characterized
by indeterminacy as an interaction medium between personal agents and God through

Erwin N. Hiebert, Modern Physics and Christian Faith in Lindberg and Numbers, 428429.

which personal and spiritual powers could be exercised. Concepts similar to the Jamesian
view of the world can be found in Heims thought.
William G. Pollard, an ordained priest and physicist, is the precursor to
contemporary QDA approaches (to be discussed in Chapter Five). He argued that the
nature of the world is chance-based and developed the idea of divine determination of all
chance events in the universe.
Eric Mascall investigated a model of divine action through quantum
indeterminacy in a Thomist framework of causation and proposed that the primary and
secondary cause can interact. Some of the Thomist ideas have been developed further by
modern QDA proponents (see Chapter Five).
Finally, Frederic Belinfante, a physicist, offered proof for the existence of God
from quantum theory and analyzed how a theory of divine agency could be argued in the
framework of quantum theory. Belinfante provided groundwork for later QDA theories
by developing scientific criteria for theories of quantum divine action.
Karl Heim is the only formally educated theologian discussed in this chapter, he
provided a fully integrated theology of divine action. Another partially developed
theology was proposed by Pollard. The other thinkers mentioned here only provide some
pieces of an argument for divine action.
The historical context in which Pollard and Heim developed their approaches was
well after the conclusion of the pioneering phase for quantum theory just after the Second
World War. The Copenhagen interpretation was widely accepted, and von Neumanns
proof of the impossibility of hidden variables in quantum mechanics was seen as
precluding other interpretations, among them the only alternate interpretation by Einstein,

who insisted that quantum theory was of a statistical nature applicable to ensembles of
particles only. The focus of the early proposals for quantum divine action was therefore
on the integration of these new insights into an understanding of the world.
2. William James: A Nondeterministic Universe
William James (18421910)
argued that the universe must be an open universe in
which uncertainty, choice, novelties and possibilities exist.
He suggested that the parts of
the universe might only be coupled in a loose way so that the events happening to one
part are not necessarily determining the other parts. Multiple possibilities for the
occurrence of future events might exist, and only in the case of one possibility becoming
real will the others become impossible.
James pointed out that the possibility of choice
exists in an indeterministic universe, which would be impossible if the universe is
conceived of as having a deterministic nature.
Such a world of possibilities allows free
will and the exercise of personal choices. Morality and accountability for ones actions
become possible.
The universe is then also interactive because the choices made by one
person can affect other persons.
James reasoned that determinism would imply that our choices are predetermined
and therefore we should not be held responsible for our choices because these choices
were not true choices. For example, it must have been predetermined that a murder would

Ekaterina Roubina, William James 18421910 [online] (1996, accessed 16 July 2003).
<http://website.lineone.net/~williamjames1>. James most popular work is likely William James,
Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking (New York: Longmans, Green and Company,
1907; Reprint; New York: Dover Publications, 1995). The religious aspects of his thinking are found in
William James, The Varieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature ([1902]; Reprint, New
York: Touchstone, 1997).
John J. McDermott, Introduction to The Writings of William James: A Comprehensive Edition (Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1977), xx.
James, Determinism, 591.
Ibid., 595.
Ibid., 606.

occur. Why punish the murderer if he or she was unable to act otherwise?
Therefore, it is
necessary to conceive of the universe as having a probabilistic nature, thereby allowing
for the development of many distinct chains of events. James suggested that the creator
could be seen as having created the universe with these potentialities and restricted
himself from determining the outcome of these possibilities.

Accompanying Jamess understanding of the universe was a corresponding
understanding of consciousness as a stream of thought,
not as a discrete event, but
characterized as unified by relations between the different entities flowing into
James suggested that the activity of consciousness is based on the
understanding that the world has an extramental reality shared by others and that
conscious thought may represent this external reality: Thought may, but need not, in
knowing, discriminate between its object and itself. It is therefore not necessary, as
frequently insisted on by other philosophers, to always distinguish between the thought of
a thing and the thing in itself.

James reasoned that a primary function of consciousness is selecting. The senses
of the body are already selective and can only sense the environment in a limited way.
From this information coming in through the senses, consciousness selects information of
interest. Possible future scenarios are simulated using the filtered information, and then
consciousness makes a selection to pursue one scenario. Scenarios of interest are

Ibid., 597.
Ibid., 610.
William James, The Stream of Thought in McDermott, 33 also in William James, The Principles of
Psychology: Volume One (Henry Holt & Co, 1890; Reprint; New York: Dover Publications, 1918), 224
James, Stream, 4959.
James, Stream, 5962; McDermott, xxxvxxxvi.

attended to by active consciousness which results in the initiation of an action.

James considered the mind not as an automaton but as capable of exerting an effect on
the body primarily through the selecting agency.

There is a similarity here between quantum mechanical processes and the
understanding of the world and consciousness that Stapp exploited (to be discussed later).
The potentialities generated by the wave function cause alternate possibilities to come
into existence. The selection of one of them results in the disappearance of the others,
comparable to the nature of wave function collapse. This is particularly interesting given
von Neumanns argument that process one could not take place without consciousness.
One interesting proposal pursued by Stapp is the possibility of linking wave function
collapse to a concept of consciousness (in Chapter Six).
James proposed a concept of divine action at the end of his essay The Dilemma
of Determinism, describing how God could act in an indeterministic world:
Suppose two men before a chessboard, the one a novice, the other an expert
player of the game. The expert intends to beat. But he cannot foresee exactly
what any one actual move of his adversary may be. He knows, however, all the
possible moves of the latter; and he knows in advance how to meet each of them
by a move of his own which leads in the direction of victory. And the victory
infallibly arrives, after no matter how devious a course, in the one predestined
form of check-mate to the novices king. Let now the novice stand for us finite
free agents, and the expert for the infinite mind in which the universe lies.
Suppose the latter to be thinking out his universe before he actually creates it.
Suppose him to say, I will lead things to a certain end, but I will not now decide
on all the steps thereto. At various points, ambiguous possibilities shall be left
open, either of which, at a given instant, may become actual. But whichever
branch of these bifurcations become real, I know what I shall do at the next
bifurcation to keep things from drifting away from the final result I intend.
The creators plan of the universe would thus be left blank as to many of its
actual details, but all possibilities would be marked down. The realization of
some of these would be left absolutely to chance; that is, would only be
determined when the moment of realization came. Other possibilities would be

James, Stream, 7073; McDermott, xxxviixxxix.
James, Principles of Psychology, 138139.

contingently determined; that is, their decision would have to wait till it was seen
how the matters of absolute chance fell out. But the rest of the plan, including its
final upshot, would be rigorously determined once for all. So the creator himself
would not need to know all the details of actuality until they came; and at any
time his own view of the world would be a view partly of facts and partly of
possibilities, exactly as ours is now. Of one thing, however, he might be certain;
and that is that his world was safe, and that no matter how much it might zigzag
he could surely bring it home at last.

James understood the universe as a set of potentialities that are modified through
interaction over time. God has the ability to steer the development in a certain direction
as desired. However, there are large areas left to be freely determined by us finite
agents. The result is that free will is not an illusion but has a real effect on the course of
events, although the effect might be limited by the potentialities that the universe is
capable of developing and by our capabilities of exerting an influence on the universe.
Jamess pragmatist philosophy might have had an influence in the development of
quantum theory. Stapp saw a pragmatic approach by Bohr in the formulation of the
Copenhagen interpretation. Bohr avoided a commitment to a reality underlying quantum
theory and instead insisted on quantum theory being about observations (see Chapter
Two). Heisenberg mentioned Bohrs interest in the pragmatism of James but Rosenfeld
noted Bohrs fear of being associated in public with Jamess philosophy, which led Bohr
to never mention his interest in James.

3. Arthur Compton: Personal Agency Through Indeterminacy
Early in the development of quantum theory, Arthur Compton (18921962), a
physicist with an interest in religion but most famous for his X-ray scattering experiments
which confirmed a certain aspect of early quantum theory, suggested in his book, The

James, Determinism, 608610.
Stapp, The Copenhagen Interpretation, 73, 76.

Freedom of Man (1935), a model of personal agency through quantum indeterminacy that
is in many ways similar to the one proposed by theologians in later years.
His criticism
of determinism in classic science was that determinism did not allow for an account of
free will or freedom of action:
It seems unfortunate that some modern philosopher has not forcibly called
attention to the fact that ones ability to move his hand at will is much more
directly and certainly known than are even the well-tested laws of Newton, and
that if these laws deny ones ability to move his hand at will the preferable
conclusion is that Newtons laws require modification.

Compton concluded that determinism had been challenged by quantum mechanics
because obtainable knowledge of the past was shown to be insufficient for the exact
prediction of the future. Therefore, he felt that mental influences might be factors that
help determine which action a body would pursue.

Compton discussed a thought experiment to illustrate how consciousness could
influence the outcome of a quantum event. The experiment involves a photon that can be
detected with fifty percent probability by either of two detectors, A and B. There is a
shutter in the path of the photon that has the capability of letting only one photon pass at
a time so that this single photon is detected by one of the detectors.
Compton sought a
way to envision how consciousness could influence which detector would first detect a
The uncertainty characterizing quantum theory is typically only observed in the
motions of small particles. It could therefore be reasoned that a photon is very small and
therefore cannot have any significant macroscopic effect. However, there are ways that

Arthur Holly Compton, The Freedom of Man (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1935; Reprint, New
York: Greenwood Press, 1969), xi.
Ibid., 26.
Ibid., 29.
Ibid., 3739.

the uncertainty involved in small-scale events could become significant for the larger-
scale world. Compton suggested expanding the thought experiment by attaching a stick
of dynamite to one of the detectors. The uncertainty of that one photon now has the
significant effect of blowing up the whole thought experiment.
Therefore, he concluded,
although the indeterminate character of the microrealm typically cancels out in
macroscopic environments, scenarios do exist where that is not true.
Compton saw the processing in the human brain as providing a similar
mechanism for the amplification of small effects. Nerve pulses are small electrochemical
reactions and brain processes could have an appreciable uncertainty making quantum
theory applicable to the functioning of the human brain. The organism as a whole then
acts as an amplifier of these small events manifesting themselves in small electric pulses
that initiate bodily functions.
The only question that is left is how these indeterminate
quantum events are determined by something nonphysical like consciousness.
Compton viewed consciousness as an undetectable emergent property of the
human brain that must exist; otherwise the existence of consciousness as the basis of all
knowledge would be denied.
Consciousness in Comptons understanding is an
awareness that is able to bypass the physical processes of measurement and can sense the
state of quantum systems without measurement. He reasoned that this information about
quantum systems must be available to consciousness so that it can predict future quantum

Ibid., 4849.
Ibid., 5051.
Compton, 43. Another theory that uses quantum indeterminacy for the exercise of free will is proposed in
Robert Kane, The Significance of Free Will (New York: Oxford University Press, 1998).

Today, we would think about such a capability of a consciousness as comparable
to extrasensory perception (ESP).
The straightforward connection between consciousness and physical processes
could be established now by simply declaring that consciousness controls von
Neumanns process one in order to cause a certain outcome. However, Compton took
another route: The shutter control of the thought experiment mentioned earlier is taken
over by a daemon representing the actions of consciousness. The daemon can accurately
observe the photon (ESP and therefore without an interaction, hence bypassing process
one) and can predict what it will do. In order to prevent an explosion the daemon simply
waits to open the shutter until a photon comes along which the daemon knows will be
detected by the detector that does not cause the explosion. The daemon would not
interfere with any known physical process but still be able to influence the outcome of
the measurement.
According to Compton the control of consciousness over the body
can be envisioned in an analogous way.
Comptons thought experiment established a probability of fifty percent that
detector A detects the photon. If the daemon (or the control of process one) would disturb
the probability distribution by consistent intervention, then the daemon would cause an
observable effect that could be scientifically analyzed, leading to the possibility of
scientifically inferring another causal influence, and therefore to a different probability
that detector A would detect the photon. However, a single event does not cause a
scientifically detectable effect, and therefore we find the following statement by Compton
which might be taken as the Urform of a definition of noninterventionism:

Compton, 47.
Ibid., 6061.

Under the conditions as described, however, only an individual event is
determined by the daemon, and the statistical equilibrium is unaffected. Thus the
intervention of the daemon is physically undetectable. That is, the action has
occurred strictly according to physical laws, in spite of the fact that the course of
the event was not governed by chance but was determined by the whim of the
daemon. The point is that the event under consideration is really an individual
act, to which, since it can be performed but once, the laws of statistics do not

The interaction between consciousness (a nonphysical entity) and quantum
processes is therefore possible by consciousness controlling the outcome of quantum
measurements, given the ability of consciousness to predict what the future effect of the
determination would be. Consciousness, according to Compton, is able to sporadically
control the outcome of quantum measurements in order to exercise a will. He pointed out
that quantum determinations of the kind discussed above could, for example, cause a
small electric current in the brain that then effects bodily actions:
It is not necessary to elaborate any particular brain mechanism for performing the
selection, for the example just given shows that it is possible to select one of a
number of physically possible acts without violating or modifying any physical
law. In this way the determination of a mans actions by his will is, I believe,
shown to be wholly consistent with the principles of physics.

Schrdinger argues against such an approach as proposed by Compton in Would
Physical Indeterminacy Give Free Will a Chance (1950).
His argument specifically
targets a similar proposal by the physicist Pascual Jordan (19021980).
Quantum laws
establish statistics for events, which predict and therefore establish boundaries for what
could happen if an event is repeated. A repeated interference by an agent would violate
the quantum statistics in the same way that classic physical laws are violated.

Ibid., 62.
Ibid., 64.
Schrdinger, Would Physical Indeterminacy Give Free Will a Chance in Nature and the Greeks and
Science and Humanism, 162171.
Pascual Jordan, Science and the Course of History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1955);
Schrdinger, Science and Humanism, 116.

Schrdinger therefore insists that Jordans proposal to see free will as determining
quantum outcomes is an interference with the laws of nature, in particular those of
quantum theory. According to Schrdinger anything could be done by such a mechanism,
even the formulation of new laws of nature, and therefore such approaches are definitely
not the solution to the problem of free will.

Compton addressed Schrdingers concern through proposing that control over
quantum outcomes is only sporadic and therefore no violation of quantum statistics
occurs. However, the inevitable question arises: May I just lift my arm once a week?
Compton contended that once the arm lift is exercised, the regularities in the brain are
modified and therefore repetitions, such as things done habitually, do not need an
additional quantum determination.
It seems to me that Comptons argument is awkward
at this point. A consistent approach would require a theory allowing the consistent control
of an extraphysical consciousness over processes in the brain, resulting in the ability to
lift a hand whenever there is a desire to do so.
In my opinion Comptons way of reasoning is useful since he discussed a
mechanism for determining the outcome of quantum processes, and his discussion
provided ideas for later proposals of special divine action, which is by its very nature
sporadic. Saunders evaluates Comptons views and finds the following key elements of
later proposals regarding divine action:

1. An individual event can be determined by an outside influence, which remains
undetectable because the laws of quantum theory describe probabilities only verifiable in

Ibid., 164165.
Compton, 63.
Saunders, Divine Action, 97100.

large ensembles. This understanding of Compton is compatible with our current
understanding of noninterventionism.
2. The agent needs detailed knowledge of the quantum process to be determined,
going beyond what is physically measurable without disturbing the system, and needs
foresight regarding the effect the determination will cause.
3. Comptons proposal contained the idea that an individual quantum
determination can potentially cause macroscopically important outcomes through
amplifying processes.
Saunders objects to Comptons proposals regarding individual events because
there is no justification for the claim that these determinations do not violate statistical
and claims that Compton failed to give an ontological basis for agency. However,
Compton gave a basis for agency through brain currents being influenced by quantum
determination. In my opinion Saunders is correct in his claim that the daemon operating
the shutter cannot be considered as the process behind the determination. However,
Compton did not imply the actual presence of a daemon but used the daemon to illustrate
the process of determination. von Neumanns process one would be the logical choice to
replace the daemon.

Comptons suggestion of a form of psychokinesis and extra-sensory perception
implies that consciousness can exercise an influence on quantum processes to determine
their outcomes and that consciousness can sense the state of quantum systems beyond
what would be possible through our measurement devices. However, the psychokinetic

Saunders refers to Hempels treatment on statistics. However, nothing in Saunders discussion on Hempel
in chapter 3 of his book Divine Action results in any requirement to justify a violation of statistical law.
Saunders, Divine Action, 99100.

influence proposed is not a force per se; it can only cause a force through quantum state
selection and therefore is not detectable. If those determinations and the sensing would
not be limited to the human brain as assumed by Compton, but could occur over a
distance, then supernatural influences or forces could be envisioned to occur through
human consciousness. Psychokinetic influences and extrasensory perception are made
explicit in Karl Heims approach of integrating quantum theory into his systematic
4. Karl Heim: Personal and Divine Agency Through Indeterminacy
Around the middle of the twentieth century, the German theologian Karl Heim
published on the relationship between science and faith. Although Heim
was a professor of systematic theology in Tbingen, his contribution to the science and
religion debate was widely ignored both in Germany and in the international arena when
English translations appeared 1953. This was mainly due to the impression that Heims
work appropriated science as illustrations for his sermons rather than as engagement
with the actual scientific content in any depth.
Heims work contains anecdotes of how
people have experienced divine action, and in some cases he used analogies to scientific
models to argue for theological concepts.
Heim understood relating to physics as a

A short biography is available from the Karl-Heim Gesellschaft at
<http://www.ulm.org/khg/k_heim.htm> (accessed 16 July 2003).
Saunders, Divine Action, 101; Beck, 33.
See in particular the discussion on miracles in Karl Heim, The Problem of Miracles in the Light of
Modern Natural Science in The Transformation of the Scientific World View (New York, Harper &
Brothers, 1953), 169199.

missionary endeavor and as a fight against secular materialism.
Consequently only a
few divine action scholars have reviewed his work, and he remains largely unknown.
Heims major work is a systematic theology in the six volume series Der
evangelische Glaube und das Denken der Gegenwart.
Not all volumes in the series are
available in English. The most widely read are Christian Faith and Natural Science and
The Transformation of the Scientific World View. In Christian Faith and Natural Science,
Heim still argued from a law-based view of science for the acceptance of a supra-polar
space, which is a nonobjective region parallel to the world in polar-space, representing
the whole of reality that can be scientifically investigated. Supra-polar space also
includes the ego-beings who stand in the presence of God.
In The Transformation of
the Scientific World View, Heim used quantum theory and other elements of
contemporary physics as a basis for his argument for divine action.
For Heim, materialism has the character of a religious belief system with the
eternal nature of matter as a core dogma of that belief system. According to Heim,
quantum physics and the theory of relativity have questioned the absolute nature of space,

Heim, Materialism as a Religious Faith in Transformation, 2732; Beck, 55, 6061; Karl Heim, Der
Kampf gegen den Skularismus in Adolf Kberle, Karl Heim Denker und Verkndiger aus
evangelischem Glauben (Stuttgart: Steinkopf Verlag, 1979), 161166.
Karl Heim, Glaube und Denken: Philosophische Grundlegung einer Christlichen Lebensanschauung, 5

ed. (Wuppertal, Germany: Aussaat Verlag, 1987); idem, Jesus der Herr: Die Herrschervollmacht Jesu und
die Gottesoffenbarung in Christus, 5
ed. (Wuppertal, Germany: Aussaat Verlag,1977); idem, Jesus der
Weltvollender: Der Glaube an die Vershnung und Weltverwandlung, 6
ed. (Wuppertal, Germany:
Aussaat Verlag, 1985); idem, Der Christliche Gottglaube und die Naturwissenschaft: Grundlegung, 2
(Hamburg, Germany: Furche Verlag, 1953); idem, Die Wandlung im Naturwissenschaftlichen Weltbild:
Die Moderne Naturwissenschaft vor der Gottfrage, 2
ed. (Wuppertal, Germany, Aussaat Verlag, 1978);
idem, Weltschpfung und Weltende: Das Ende des Jetzigen Weltzeitalters und die Weltzukunft im Lichte
des Biblischen Osterglaubens (Hamburg, Germany: Furche Verlag, 1952).
Karl Heim, Christian Faith and Natural Science: The Creative Encounter Between 20
Century Physics
and Christian Existentialism (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1953), 172, 122, 211, 219220; Saunders,
Divine Action, 102.

time, causality and the understanding of reality as of an objective nature.
An object can
no longer be separated from the investigating subject, and therefore the ultimate
component of reality must not be something material that is dead but something mental
and alive related to the human self.
For Heim the acceptance of the theory of relativity
marked the abandonment of the notion of absolute time and space. The only reference
frame that subjects have in such a relativistic space is themselves.
Furthermore, the
collapse of causality in quantum theory has caused uncertainty about the future due to the
loss of confidence in our ability to control matter. The loss of the absoluteness of reality
is a motivation for us to rely on God as the only absolute.
Heim stated that we need to
abandon the polar mode of being (this world) in which we are imprisoned. We must
access the supra-polar space of Gods omnipresence.

Heim contended that the presence of indeterminism in quantum theory requires
the abandonment of the early Thomist conception of a miracle as a violation of a law of
nature. The Thomist understanding of a miracle saw natural processes either to proceed in
the normal way or to be altered by divine action through intervention. It therefore
allowed proof of Gods existence through such extraordinary events.

This Either/Or can no longer be maintained. For the process of nature has
assumed a form such that a divine will can stand behind it. A miracle then, can
no longer consist in the intervention of a will in the behavior of a machine. A
quite different view is called for.

Heim, Transformations, 30.
Heim, Transformation, 6364; Heim, Die Wandlung 66.
Heim, Transformation, 87.
Ibid., 150.
Ibid., 151.
Ibid., 171.
Ibid., 173.

Heim thought that we need to move beyond the interventionist concepts, which
have characterized the debate during and after the Enlightenment. The nature of the world
has become something which in some sense is alive; something which man may
influence by the interposition of the will.
He proposed to see a miracle no longer as the
intervention of a will into the operation of a machine but as a contest of opposing wills
that attempt to exercise control in a competing way.

Heim seemed to have viewed divine action as the determination of all quantum
outcomes when one reads the following passage, which is often referred to in the

Jesus points to the smallest and most trivial things that happen on earth as
illustrations of the Fathers power, as when a bird from one casual flock falls
dead to the ground without anyone noticing it, or when a man loses a hair. Today,
in the era of atomic research, we might say: No quantum-jump happens without
your Father in heaven. The saying shines in its true light in the context of current
atomic physics. Here we are facing a fundamental law which runs through the
whole of creation. All events, however great, we now know to be the cumulation
of decisions which occur in the infinitesimal realm.

The events that seem to be influenced are the elementary parts (or in more
recent terminology, quantum events; Heim accepted a reductionist view of the world).
Heim then reasoned that the macroscopic reality that we are dealing with is a large mass
of these single events that can be influenced in a coordinated way in order to bring out
effects visible in the macrorealm.
However, the quoted passage should not lead to the

Ibid., 174.
Ibid., 180.
Russell, Special Providence and Genetic Mutation in Russell, Stoeger and Ayala, 208; Saunders,
Divine Action, 103.
Heim, Transformation, 156.
Ibid., 157.

conclusion that Heim proposed divine omnidetermination as understood by Russell
One needs to be aware that Heim was a systematic theologian at one of the
most renowned European schools, and that the book in question is part of Heims
magnum opus. Therefore, it is hard to imagine that Heim was not aware of the danger of
omnideterminism as well as of the problem of evil resulting from omnideterminism. It is
also inconsistent with Heims understanding of the will of the individual exerting an
influence on matter and therefore also constituting an influence on the elementary parts.
Heim insisted on the next page of The Transformation of the Scientific Worldview that
God only potentially acts in all events but that the exact form of agency is not
omnideterminism. God does not act in all events but all events happen in the divine
supra-polar space:
Without the Father, says Jesus, not one of these smallest events takes place, and
the world process is constituted by their interplay. This does not mean that it is
the Father who kills the sparrow or extracts the hair. Jesus says only that each of
the smallest events within the created world does not take place without the
Father. Each is taken up into the all-embracing space of the presence of the
Almighty. No creature dies alone, not even one of the innumerable birds of the

In order to clarify the situation, it is necessary to discuss Heims view of the
world. Heim claimed that the only part of the world we are able to observe is the space
of objectivity, the polar-space. The other parts of the world, such as our consciousness,
cannot be given an objective representation and exists in the nonobjective supra-polar
The objective space is the area where one can directly influence reality through
interaction. The objective space has both a foreground and a background. Our being, the

Russell, Special Providence, 208, reads Heims statement to mean that Heim supports
Saunders, Divine Action, 103.
Heim, Transformation, 157158.
Heim, The Riddle of Life, 200201.

I, is in the foreground and is interacting with the objective space accessible to us. Since
we know the objective space by our interaction with it, we cannot discover more about
our I, and therefore the I is imperceptible. From our own mode of being, we infer
that others are also interacting with the objective space in the same way. They form the
background of the objective space. We can only communicate with others through the
medium of the objective space, which is like a transparent screen, with an imperceptible
being appearing through it by means of shadows, and manifesting itself more or less
Heim reasoned that the development that tore down the notion of absolute
space, time and causality has also led to the need to take the foreground and the
background with its observers seriously. The Enlightenment period and the view of
Laplace represented an endeavor in which both the invisible foreground and the magic
glimpse into the invisible background were ruthlessly eliminated from the mind.

The objective space is the medium for multiple actors present in the universe to be
able to communicate. This includes not only humans, but also animals, spiritual beings
and, of course, God, who is able to override any other will. The determination of events
in the objective space is a contest of wills exercised from the ego-beings in the
nonobjective space. Heim took Comptons proposal to extremes and argued for
psychokinetic abilities and extrasensory perception of all actors. These abilities are
effective through the faith of the individual person:
Much more in all these cases [of the miracle stories discussed by Heim], are we
aware of witnessing a conflict of wills. With the intervention of the power of
faith, which lays claim on the whole person, an opposing will is beaten down
after serious resistance, and there is a shout of joy like that of the victor after a
fight. Think of the dramatic scene in Mark 9. In the absence of Christ the

Ibid., 205.
Ibid., 206.

disciples had tried to heal a possessed youth, and they had failed. Christ comes
back and expresses the strongest emotion in the words: O faithless generation,
how long must I be with you! How long must I put up with you! Bring him to
me! The interposition of faith by the disciples was too feeble to overcome this
strong enemy. Then Christ Himself takes the field and settles the issue.
Miraculous events of this character are only understandable on the hypothesis, to
which also we have been led by the latest developments in physics, that the
process of nature in its deepest essence is not a dead mechanism, whose course is
laid down in fixed terms, but that it is something which in some sense is alive;
something which man may influence by the interposition of his will in the same
way in which he can affect a human opponent. We are inclined to the view
that in the whole of nature forces are engaged and decisions are being made
which must be similar in some way to our own acts of will, however different
may be the form in which these decisions are made from the form of our own

These psychokinetic faith-based influences are not only active over a distance but
they are necessary for the proper operation of the body by the I:
Only if the knowledge is present am I able to will, and to give orders to my
members. If I entertain doubts as to whether my hand or my foot will in fact obey
me, which is what happens in certain states of paralysis, I am able only to wish
that the movement might happen, but am not able to will it. A person suffering
from nervous paralysis says: I cannot get out of bed. I simply cannot achieve it
because I cannot bring my will to bear on it. We see therefore that the simplest
motions in our everyday life rest, if one may so put it, on a faith which cannot
see, but which does not doubt.

Heim viewed the regularities of the world not as causal necessities, as frequently
assumed, but as personal ordinances of the omnipotent will, the product of Gods
covenant with the forces of nature, which covenant can be compared with the covenant
God enters into with the people whom He has selected for a particular purpose out of all
the nations.

Therefore, in summary, the laws that emerge from quantum events, as well as the
probabilities, are reflections of a divine ordinance (and therefore of a covenantal nature)

Heim. The Problem of Miracles in Transformation, 174175.
Ibid., 176.
Ibid., 161.

rather than being inviolable laws of nature. In a sense, these have a degree of autonomy
from God and foreshadow the later kenotic approach to divine action.
In contrast to divine action through faith there is also evil action working in the
same way as personal agency and divine action. Heim suggested that humans can
exercise psychokinetic powers through the concentration of their will and through their
faith in themselves.
The power of suggestion is that it removes the doubt that miracles
can happen in the mind of the ones influenced and as a result, even physical phenomena
can be generated by the faith of those believing the suggestions. Heim reasoned that the
power of miracle healers is rooted in the ability to create faith in their customers for their
own healing.
Heim accepted the existence of demonic forces that gain their powers
from those that have rejected God. They are cooperating with dark forces to create black
magic and supernatural evil powers that then also operate as agents competing for control
in the universe.
Heim concluded that miracles can never provide an experimental proof
for Gods existence because they can also be caused by demonic forces or the human

Heim discussed biological effects, the wholeness of organisms and the mutation
of genetic material through quantum effects in his concluding chapter The Riddle of
Russell reads Heim as not making the connection between genetic mutation and
divine action. However, Heim recognized the quantum nature of genetic mutation (Heim
realized these implications during the early development of knowledge about genes and

Heim, Die Wandlung, 200.
Ibid., 184189.
Ibid., 196.
Ibid., 199.
Heim, The Riddle of Life in Transformation, 213214; Heim, Die Wandlung, 222223.

before the discovery of DNA) and proposed a divine determination of quantum events.
The connection seems to be inevitable although it is not directly mentioned by Heim.

Heims development of ideas regarding QDA in a fully developed theology in his
series Der evangelische Glaube und das Denken der Gegenwart, shows a sophistication
of comprehension and presentation (seen within the historical context) that compares
favorably with other later work on QDA. However, his proposals contain several
elements that are difficult to accept today: First, the parapsychological elements that are a
fundamental component of Heims approach (they might have had their origin in
Comptons or Jordans earlier work); Second, the proposal of multiple actors involved in
the determination of quantum events including spiritual and demonic forces. It should be
pointed out that the current discussion on divine action is mainly concerned with the idea
of God as a singular being acting in the universe.
5. William G. Pollard: Determination of Chance Events
William G. Pollard (19111989)
was the first theologian to articulate a theory of
divine action using quantum theory within the Anglo-American culture. Pollard was a
professor of physics at the University of Tennessee and worked on the Manhattan project
during the Second World War in the development of the first nuclear bombs.
later became an ordained priest of the Episcopal Church, causing quite a stir and
speculations that he felt guilty about his participation in the development of the bomb.

Russell, Special Providence, 208.
A biography can be found on ORAUs website: <http://www.orau.org/visitor/history/pollard.htm>
(accessed 16 July 2003). The biography by ORAU states that the work on the atomic bomb was the reason
for him to join the priesthood, contradicting Pollards own account given in Transcendence and Providence
on pages 3 and 7.
Thomas F. Torrance, General Foreword to William G. Pollard, Transcendence and Providence:
Reflections of a Physicist and Priest (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1987), xxi.

However, for Pollard it was a gradual process initiated by his active participation in a
local congregation and, in contrast to other theologians in the science and religion debate,
he accepted the orthodox form of Episcopalianism and did not develop his own special
interpretation of Christian theology.
Pollard developed a unique way of integrating his
knowledge about science and his commitment to the historical faith of his community
through his concept of divine action.

The literature is mostly limited to comments on one of Pollards works, Chance
and Providence, published in 1958.
While Chance and Providence contains the most
comprehensive argument for divine action by Pollard, it might be considered as an early
work. We will examine the trajectory of his views as they emerged in his later
publications, such as the article, Transcendence in Science, published as part of a book
in 1987 as well as earlier in the American Journal of Physics,
and the article Creation
through Alternative Histories
which is a response to Jacques Monods (19101976)

Chance and Necessity.

Pollards concept of divine action emerged from his understanding of chance.
Pollard claimed that Monod failed to understand the role of chance in science and in
history when Monod demonstrated that the understanding of modern molecular biology

Pollard, The Faith of a Physicist in Transcendence and Providence, 3, 7.
Pollard, The Place of Science in Religion in Transcendence and Providence, 2022. The most
comprehensive coverage of his theology that I found is in idem, Physicist and Christian: A Dialogue
Between the Communities (Greenwich, Connecticut: Seabury Press, 1961).
William Grosvenor Pollard, Chance and Providence: Gods Action in a World Governed by Scientific
Law (New York: Charles Scribners Sons, 1958). Comments can be found in Saunders, Divine Action, 105
110; Russell, Special Providence, 208209; Barbour, Science meets Religion, 8687.
William G. Pollard, Transcendence in Science in Transcendence and Providence, 247264; William
G. Pollard, Rumors of Transcendence in Physics in American Journal of Physics (1984): 877881.
William G. Pollard, Creation Through Alternative Histories in Transcendence and Providence, 161
Timeline of Nobel Winners (Internet, 2003).
<http://www.nobel-winners.com/Medicine/jacques_monod.html>. Accessed 28 August 2003.
Jaques Monod, Chance and Necessity, Austryn Wainhouse trans. (New York: Vintage Books, 1971).

required elements of both necessity and chance, and then reasoned from the presence of
chance in science to the impossibility of divine agency in the creation of the universe.
Monod argued in a sophisticated way that the chance-based nature of the evolutionary
process results in the potential for an immense number of alternate histories of which
only some lead to the emergence of humans,
and claimed that pure chance was the
reason for our coming into existencethus implying that chance is a causative agent.
Pollard instead insisted that chance is the characterization of an absence of any
scientifically describable causation standing in opposition to the causality of natural
causes which specify reasons for the selection of alternate histories:

For the introduction of probability into any scientific description constitutes the
one case in which science expressly renounces an explanation in terms of natural

Monod himself speaks about random events due to the absence of any discernable
cause. These chance events were interpreted by Pollard to imply that many alternative
chains of events could have occurred and that science has no explanation for the reason
why a particular chain was chosen.
Pollard claimed that theology has an answer to why
a given chain was chosen: The fulfillment of a divine will.
He therefore viewed
Monods argument as providing support for the idea of divine agency.
For Pollard, chance is therefore the key element for divine action because chance
shows the openness of the universe for realizing one of multiple potential outcomes.

God works through the chance elements by actualizing the outcomes he desires.

Pollard, Alternative Histories, 161162; Monod, 118137.
Ibid., 166167.
Ibid., 167.
Ibid., 168.
Ibid., 179.
William G. Pollard, Science and Faith: Twin Mysteries (New York: T Nelson, 1970).

Pollard viewed divine action as essentially a divine selection from multiple potentialities
generated by the chance-based nature of the universe. Events are made up of several
independent chains of cause and effect which happen to come together accidentally at the
same time.
Therefore, miracles come about in the following way:
A miracle in history is not a violation of natural laws by some outside
intervention in an otherwise orderly process. Rather it is the extraordinary
coming together in accidental and unforeseeable ways of the most improbable
instances of various natural laws.

Pollard consequently concluded that evolution, as a process based on chance and
necessity, is also evidence for divine action
because of the purposeful creation of the

For Pollard the chance-based nature of the universe is apparent in many areas of
scientific study such as those already pointed out by Monod in biology, the absence of
forces ordering the arrangement of nucleotides in DNA or amino acids in proteins. Even
the application of the classic laws of physics must always include the application of a
theory of errors and therefore implies indeterminacy resulting from unavoidable
inaccuracies. Consequently Pollard contended that even classic physics should be
considered as fundamentally chance-based. Finally, quantum mechanics shows that
probability and chance are introduced at the outset as a fundamental law of nature.
concluded that the statistical nature of science appears in all areas of scientific study.

Pollard, Alternate Histories, 165.
Ibid., 172.
There is a nice pamphlet on creation by William G. Pollard, The Cosmic Drama: A Faculty Paper (New
York: National Council Episcopal Church, n.d.).
Pollard, Alternate Histories, 161.
Ibid., 167.

Pollard pointed out that the early triumphs of physics in the formulation of the
laws of motion by Newton created an expectation of universal determinism.
These laws,
affirmed to be universally true, caught the imagination of scientists and the vision of a
deterministic universe was developed. However, it was never possible to do something as
simple as calculate with 100% accuracy the path of a thrown ball, due to effects from the
environment such as the motion of the air through which it moves. A statistical
description involving at least some uncertainty is always a practical necessity, and reality
must therefore be seen as fundamentally characterized by indeterminacy.

Pollard saw hope in the possibility that science would disprove the supernatural as
mistaken, such a hope being Einsteinian Utopianism.
He contended that the
experience in science is just the opposite: The more we learn the stranger it all seems,

the further science develops, the more mysterious does it become. Pollard stated that
Science has pointers to the supernatural.
In Science and Faith, he compared science
to a palace and saw his task to be the introduction of the reader to the more amazing
sections of the palace.

Pollard suggested that the scientific idea of determinism is advocated by
scientists [who] do their work in the laboratories,
as experimental work is generally
concerned with regularities rather than providing a view of the larger picture. Pollard felt
that such a viewpoint arises because divine action is hidden behind chance: There is no
way to prove that a transcendent purpose or supernatural influence such as God is

Pollard, Chance and Providence, 43.
Ibid., 59.
Pollard, Science, X.
Ibid., XI.
Ibid., XII.
Ibid., 72.
Ibid., 67.

involved in such [divine] events.
Scientific explanations must stop when it comes to
chance because of the boundary of chance and accident which confines the natural.

Divine action is possible through chance and accident but the intervention does not
violate what we know from science. God does not intervene in that sense: He does not
have to. Chance and accident give him plenty of leeway and enough opportunity to
achieve his purpose.
Pollard was defining divine action according to what we
understand today as noninterventionist.
Divine action is not another force that produces
verifiable empirical consequences by means of which it can be objectively established.
Pollard reasoned that ample evidence from scientific investigations have not led to
evidence for such a force, for scientific investigation has only led to the discovery of
chance and probabilities.

The governance of God over all creation is affirmed in the strongest way by
Pollard. One could think that chance is not chance at all because God is determining the
outcome of all events:
In every situation and in every event throughout the whole of His creation,
animate and inanimate alike, He acts in might, in power, and in mercy.

At each turning point in the sequence God must have acted in a determinative
way in order that the sequence in question might form the pattern which he
willed that it should, rather than any of the other patterns which the combination
of all available alternatives would allow. As soon as we have asserted this,
however, have we not asserted that what seemed to be chance or accident in the
events concerned was not really so at all?

Ibid., 69.
Pollard, Science, 70.
Pollard, The Character of Typical Physical Law in Chance and Providence, 3761.
Pollard, Providence as Chance and Accident in Chance and Providence, 7879.
Pollard, Chance and Accident, 8687.
Pollard, The Paradox of Freedom and Providence, 122.

It is here that the major problem with Pollards approach surfaces. The
consequence of Pollards concept of divine omnideterminism is that he could only
account for free will by affirming freedom as a paradox; Pollard used the wave-particle
duality as an analogy to explain this paradox.
The implication for the problem of evil is
that God causes evil because God determines everything. There are no autonomous self-
governing areas in the universe in Pollards reckoning.
However, in other parts of his writings Pollard suggested that an alternate
interpretation of his divine determination of chance events as only sporadic would be
possible. In parts of Chance and Providence, he affirmed the true chance nature of events
as following the probability patterns established by scientific investigation. Pollard
seemed to suggest only the determination of single events by divine action. The nature of
the chance element could be reinterpreted as pure chance according to Monod, which
would not be determined by God. For example during an explanation of divine action
using dice, Pollard affirms the scientific nature of chance as essentially of a truly random
nature until a singular event, a crucial throw of the dice, gains special significance:
In most scientific applications of probability theory this difficulty [of probability
and the nature of the individual event] is not crucial either because it does not
matter what comes up in a single throw or because all that is being studied
anyhow is the pattern formed by a large number of repeated throws. But it
becomes a very different matter when, say, a mans life depends on a four turning
up, and a four does turn up. It is doubtful whether, in reflection on this event
thereafter, he could ever be satisfied by the simple assertion that the chance of his
living then was exactly one-sixth.

The crucial events of history, the turning points if you wish, are singular, and the
assignment of probabilities to them is either fruitless or misleading. There is a
stark and sturdy impregnability about events which constitutes their singularity.
It is indeed just this impregnability, which gives an elemental character to the
barrier, which chance and accident throw up in the path of a purely scientific
understanding of history. The difficulty with the attempt to understand history in

Pollard, Freedom and Providence, 121152.
Pollard, Chance, Time, and Miracle in Chance and Providence, 90.

scientific terms is that the role of any given event in shaping history is generally
entirely unrelated to the manner in which that same event fits into the probability
pattern formed by the class of all such events when repeated a large number of
times. The determination of the probability of throwing a four spot with a given
die is a proper subject for scientific investigation. It cannot, however, illuminate
in any way the mystery for the man whose life was saved because in a single
throw a four spot actually did turn up.

We could now make a distinction between the general chance-based operation of
nature that follows scientific probability patterns and individual events that are divinely
determined, analogous to Comptons single event. The following statements further
clarify how such a position on singular divine events could be argued in Pollards
thought, although it also shows the tension between the affirmation of divine action in a
single event and the general determination of chance events:
Science deals with repeatable events for which the laws of nature determine
probabilities of occurrence. Providence in the Biblical sense deals with isolated
singular events apprehended in a given historical context as responsive to Gods
will. One and the same event can equally well be regarded as under the full sway
of all laws of nature and natural causality and at the same time under the full
sway of the divine will. What is labeled chance in one context can without
contradiction manifest the will of God acting in judgment or in redemption in the
other. It is in this way that a world ruled by God and responsive to His will can
be at the same time a world capable of scientific description in terms of natural
law and natural causality.

But any such notion [i.e., of God manipulating probabilities] of divine activity in
history is completely non-Biblical. Providence is manifest in single events, not in
multiple tries to which probability can be assigned. It is clearly of the essence
of the idea of providence that there be no compulsion on the will of God to act in
the same way on subsequent repetitions of the event as He did act when it
occurred in its historical context. God willed that that particular alternative
should be selected on that particular occasion.

Pollards early view in Chance and Providence was that nature has a classic
character, and therefore he saw quantum theory as being valid only in its own domain,
which is the microscopic realm.
The reason that Pollard can uphold the classic nature

Ibid., 91.
Ibid., 94.
Ibid., 96.
Pollard, Freedom and Providence, 147.

of the world seems to be that the implications of the measurement problem in quantum
theory are never considered. Later, in Transcendence and Providence, Pollard developed
another way of thinking about the universe that would allow the representation of
macroscopic entities like amoebas, trees and humans through wave functions and
suggested a connection of knowledge to the real world. These arguments are in a vague
way foreshadowing elements of Stapps ontological interpretation of quantum theory and
could have been found in an embryonic way in von Neumanns and Wigners
However, given the contextual limitations, Pollard was not able to follow
through on these lines of argumentation in Chance and Providence.
Instead, he
accepted Martin Bubers conceptualization of the world as consisting of I and It and I
and Thou. The world of I and It is the world of science, whereas the world of I and
Thou is the world of relationship and spirituality.
God (Bubers ultimate Thou)
expresses himself through revelation in the world of I and It. The world of I and
Thou allowed Pollard a way out from his divine omnideterminism in I-and-It to
develop concepts of freedom and personal agency that would not be possible in the other
The later view of Pollard in Transcendence and Providence was that the universe
can no longer be described as a classic world: Nature is embedded in supernature or
a transcendent order. This supernature is provided by the wave functions, which are not
part of nature.
According to Pollard, only particles are observed in nature and therefore

Pollard, Transcendence in Physics in Transcendence and Providence, 263, shows Pollard discussing
Wigners work from At Home in the Universe, which includes discussions of the measurement problem.
Pollard only considers the implications for creation.
Pollard, Freedom and Providence, 147148.
Pollard, The Twofold Nature of Reality in Chance and Providence, 154155.
Pollard, Transcendence in Physics, 252.

are real.
Bohrs wave-particle duality is commonly accepted as implying that either
wave or particle characteristics can be observed, but Pollards view was that Bohr failed
to recognize that only particles can be detected in nature.
Wave aspects of matter exist
in configuration-space, but this configuration-space is a transcendent space. Pollard
concluded that quantum mechanics provides a concept of the reality of the transcendent
pointing to a reality underlying the natural order but that quantum mechanics is
not an accurate representation of that reality.
Pollards views at the end of his life
approached Heims view of a supra-polar space.
Pollards work, typically seen as one of the first involving a proposal of quantum
divine action, has elicited frequent comment, mostly regarding Chance and Providence.
However, even these limited accounts frequently misappropriate key elements of
Pollards thought as also noted by Saunders and Polkinghorne. Barbour, Russell and
Murphy have consistently read Pollard as proposing divine action based on quantum
indeterminacy. Some read Pollard to suggest divine action exclusively through quantum
indeterminacy. However, Pollards consistent argument is from chance and not from
indeterminacy: The key to the Biblical idea of providence, and, therefore to providence
in the form in which we as Christians perceive it, is to be found in the appearance of
chance and accident.

For Pollard, quantum indeterminacy is just one element demonstrating the
chance-based nature of the world and he accepted chance-based laws of nature at other

Ibid., 253.
Ibid., 254.
Ibid., 264.
Pollard, Chance and Providence, 66.

The conclusions by Barbour, Russell and Murphy on Pollards view might have
their origin in Hieberts argument that Pollards thought, as well as the thought of other
thinkers that Hiebert considered, implies that God controls the world at a subatomic level.
However, such a statement is difficult to support when considering Pollards work alone,
even if one is only considering Chance and Providence.
Even the well-known historian
of quantum theory, Max Jammer, has now adopted Russells conclusion that Pollard
argued for divine action through quantum indeterminacy, as seen in his book Einstein and
Religion (1999).

Barbour has three objections to Pollards concept of divine action: First, the
argument that God controls all events leads to a problem with human freedom and the
problem of evil; Second, Gods will is achieved by the unlawful rather than the lawful
aspects of nature. I assume that Barbour here refers to the lawful nature of process two
(deterministic evolution of the wave function) rather than the chance-based nature of
process one (wave function collapse). The unlawfulness of process one is somewhat
debatable since it is an established process of quantum theory.

Saunders, Divine Action, 107; Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 189190; Barbour, When Science
meets Religion, 87; idem, Religion in an Age of Science: The Gifford Lectures, 19891991, Volume 1 (New
York: HarperSanFrancisco, 1990), 118; idem, Issues in Science and Religion (London: SCM Press, 1966),
430f; Russell, Special Providence, 208; Murphy, Divine Action, 355; Pollard, The Character of
Typical Scientific Knowledge in Chance and Providence, 3941.
Erwin N. Hiebert, Modern Physics and Christian Faith in Lindberg and Numbers, 433. Hiebert
summarizes the thoughts of a group of authors on divine action at the end of the paragraph discussing
Pollards position. This summary might be true in general of the authors that Hiebert was surveying, but it
is an awkward fit to the position of Pollard summarized earlier in the same paragraph. It might be
accidental, that the summarizing statement was not put in a separate paragraph, and so it appears that
Hiebert was expressing that Pollards understanding was that God acts only at the subatomic level.
Jammer, Einstein and Religion, 231. Jammer considers the work of Russell on page 229. Since Jammer
only mentions Chance and Providence without a page reference, it is possible that he did not read Pollard
but relied on Russell. The term quantum event is mentioned on page 231 as well, which is unique in
Jammers thought and therefore evidence of Russells influence on this page.

Barbours third objection (in When Science meets Religion) that Pollard insisted
on divine action only at the lowest level is, in my opinion, a misrepresentation.

Barbour states in an earlier book, Religion in an Age of Science, that Pollard suggested
that God controls the world through the determination of indeterminacies. This is
certainly correct but it is not an adequate statement of Pollards view since he did not
propose that as the only agency.
Barbour is overstating Pollards position in another
way when he claims that Pollard contended for divine agency in wave function collapse.
However, Pollard only proposed that God selects from multiple potentialities that result
from the chance-based character of the world in general. The measurement problem in
quantum theory is never considered by Pollard and therefore there is no explicit claim of
divine agency through wave function collapse.

Russell evaluates Pollard in a way similar to Barbour, rearticulating most of
Pollards way of thinking but only in a quantum mechanical framework, and even claims
that Pollard did not allow indeterminacy at other levels of reality.
However, Pollard
clearly states in Chance and Providence:
Elsewhere [apart from gene mutations due to quantum indeterminacy] in these
sciences where variability, alternatives, and probability are found, we must
suppose that they arise out of as yet undefined principles or sources of
indeterminacy proper to biological organisms or man as such. Such
indeterminacies are probably very different from and unrelated to the Heisenberg
principle appropriate to the submicroscopic world of atoms.

Barbour, Science meets Religion, 82.
Ian Barbour, Religion in an Age of Science, 117118).
Pollard, Alternate Histories, 168.
Russell, Special Providence, 210.
Pollard, Scientific Knowledge, 56. Italics mine.

It is evident from Pollards citations that he knew of Heims work on divine
However, Pollard only acknowledged Heims work in one example of how
classic determinism could be understood like a printing press, which is then immediately
discredited. The effect of such a comment is to put Heim in a very negative light in
Chance and Providence.
As noted by Saunders, Pollards views reflected key elements
of Heims thought, such as the genetic-mutation material. Pollard made an explicit
connection between divine action and genetic mutation that Heim only implied.

Pollards reasoning was significantly simpler than Heims since he omitted elements of
Heims that are controversial, such as the proposal of multiple agents determining
quantum indeterminacy and the psychokinetic elements. Pollard was able to substitute a
simple divine determination of chance because he had no elaborate theological
framework as Heim had into which he needed to fit his proposal of divine action.
A recent and more elaborate account of Pollards thought can be found in
Saunders writings; however, Saunders only covers Pollards views in Chance and
A more comprehensive survey of Pollards thought would be useful.
6. Eric Mascall: Quantum Chance in a Thomist Model of Divine Action
Eric Mascall (19051993)
in his 1956 Bampton Lectures viewed quantum
theory as leading to the inability to account for events based on natural causes alone. He
stated that divine action in the nineteenth century was only conceivable as interference

Pollard, Chance and Providence, 26; Saunders, Divine Action, 101.
Ibid., 2627. Maybe this is due to publication of Pollards work in a post-war situation where German
theologians had fallen out of favor.
Saunders, Divine Action, 101.
Ibid., 105110.
David Darling, The Encyclopedia of Astrobiology, Astronomy, and Spaceflight (Internet, 2003).
<http://www.angelfire.com/on2/daviddarling/Mascall.htm>. Accessed 28 August 2003.

from the outside.
However, with the emergence of quantum theory, the situation has
changed and it is now conceivable that divine action is possible within the known
processes of nature. Mascall understood divine action in the context of a Thomist
understanding of causation through a divine primary cause and natural secondary causes.
The secondary causes can no longer be seen as fully determining an event, and
consequently the primary cause will ultimately decide what the outcome will be:
The situation in fact is as if, while conferring a certain degree of autonomy upon
his universe and giving his creatures a certain freedom in sharing out that
autonomy between them, God has reserved to himself the final decision as to
whether a specified event occurs or not.

Mascall stated that secondary causes are determined by Gods creation and by the
degree of autonomy given to his finite agents. Secondary causes result in the
determination of the probabilities for an event,
but it is the primary cause that
determines the outcome of an event. In contrast to the classic concept of dual causation,
which separates the two causes but considers them as identical, Mascall understood the
two causes to interoperate and each cause has a specific role to play in what is
essentially a Thomist quantum event.

7. Frederik Jozef Belinfante: Quantum Theory Proves Gods Existence
Frederic Jozef Belinfante (19131991)
was a theoretical physicist famous for
his book A Survey of Hidden Variables Theories (1973) and the controversial

Eric L. Mascall, Christian Theology and Natural Sciences: Some Questions on Their Relations (London:
Longmans, Green and Co, 1956), 181.
Ibid., 200201.
Ibid., 200.
Ibid., 201; Saunders, Divine Action, 103104.
Johan G. F. Belinfante, A Brief Vita (Atlanta: Georgia Institute of Technology, 2003, accessed 29
September 2003). <http://www.math.gatech.edu/~belinfan/research/vitae/>. Date of birth verfied in
Wolfgang Pauli and Frederik Josef Belinfante, On the statistical behaviour of known and unknown
elementary particles in Physica 7, no. 3 (March 1940).

Measurements and Time Reversal in Objective Quantum Theory (1975).
noted that the discussion among physicists regarding the determinism and indeterminism
of quantum theory often shows evidence of an almost religious zeal for one or the other
solution. According to Belinfante, the desire for the recovery of determinism in quantum
theory has been a strong motivator in the search for hidden-variables theories in the face
of the offensive highhandedness of such a decree of indeterminism by the Copenhagen
school. He added that others are of the opinion that the search for hidden-variables
theories is an expression of an unrestricted belief in determinism, which is a form of
In this context, maybe only to illustrate his own position within the
zealous religious discussion about indeterminacy, Belinfante attempted to give a proof
for Gods existence from indeterminacy:
People are accustomed to assume that only persons can decide what to do .
Therefore, if I get the impression that nature itself makes the decisive choice
what possibility to realize, where quantum theory says that more than one
outcome is possible, then I am ascribing personality to nature, that is, to
something that is always everywhere. Omnipresent eternal personality which is
omnipotent in taking the decisions that are left undetermined by physical law is
exactly what in the language of religion is called God. We thus see how quantum
theory requires the existence of God. Of course, it does not ascribe to God
defined in this way any of the specific additional qualities that the various
existing religious doctrines ascribe to God. Acceptance of such doctrines is a
matter of belief or faith.

Belinfantes proof is rather unique because it reasons from the appearance of
chance to the existence of God, whereas Monod offered just the opposite argument from
the appearance of pure chance to the nonexistence of God.

Frederik Jozef Belinfante, A Survey of Hidden-Variables Theories (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1973);
idem, Measurements and Time Reversal in Objective Quantum Theory (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1975);
James L. Park, Measurements and Time Reversal in Objective Quantum Theory (Book Review) in
Physics Today 29, no. 6 (August 1976).
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 18.
Belinfante, Measurements, 9899.

Belinfante asserted that if God is conceived of as acting in the determination of
the elementary systems when we measure them, then God is acting in a highly regular
way in these systems because experiments show results that can be expressed in the
form of statistical laws of nature. The macroscopic deterministic laws of physics may be
conceived of as relying on the exact statistical behavior of the underlying zillions of
atomistic constituents.
However, he noted that such an understanding is idealized
given the limited nature of realism in quantum theory. Elementary systems do not have
definite values for their observables unless prepared to have values by a measurement
process. Consequently, we should avoid simply saying that observables would have
values on elementary systems.
Belinfante already realized in 1975 the questionable
nature of a reductionist understanding of elementary systems or quantum events.
Belinfante provided a detailed discussion of the measurement process in the
laboratory, but did not even speculate how measurement and wave function collapse
could be envisioned to occur outside of the laboratory and apart from classic
measurement devices.
8. Conclusion
One of the results of the pioneering phase of QDA was the development of
constraints for possible future models of divine action as outlined in the clearest way by
Belinfante: First, a theory of divine action must explain the concept of reality given the
problematic realism of particles and events in quantum theory. The theory must therefore

Ibid., 100.
Ibid., 102.

explain the nature of the measurement process and wave function collapse.
divine agency (if envisioned to be happening on the small components out of which the
world is composed) must be able to explain the potentialities that emerge from the wave
function and that result in highly regular but probability-based behavior in the laboratory.
According to Belinfante and others, divine action cannot simply determine the outcome
of quantum events.

In my opinion none of the proposals for divine action in this pioneering phase
address the difficult questions related to the measurement problem. Instead, we have
rudimentary approaches that assume in general a reductionistic view of quantum theory.
The two approaches by Heim and Pollard can therefore not be seen as scientifically
defensible because both lack an explicit discussion of how their approaches would
integrate with the details of quantum theory.
Heims approach challenged the absolute nature of space, objects and causality.
He then proposed to conceive of the world as an interacting medium or as a stage for a
battle between the wills of divine and human agents. The advantage of Heims approach
in my opinion is that it explains free will and the existence of evil, as well as how
miracles on a large scale are possible. However, his approach involved parapsychological
phenomena and severely challenged the accepted contemporary worldview.
On the other hand, Pollards approach only challenged the understanding of
causality and proposed to see divine agency where science suggests the existence of pure
chance. In my opinion the advantage of Pollards proposal is the minimal challenge to the

Ibid., 102.
Ibid., 100.

established contemporary worldview. However, he was unable to explain free will. The
proposal that all chance events are divinely determined exacerbates the problem of evil
and correspondingly he had no concept of evil in his proposal. Pollards approach is
further developed at the end of the twentieth century by the VO/CTNS collaboration (see
Chapter Five).

Chapter Four
The Interpretation of Quantum Theory
1. Introduction
The Copenhagen interpretation was well established after the Second World War
and accepted as an epistemological explanation following Bohrs understanding. Other
physicists involved in the development of quantum theory ontologized the Copenhagen
interpretation in various ways as discussed in Chapter Two. In the third quarter of the
twentieth century proposals were made to interpret quantum theory in a variety of
different ways in order to rid the theory of various aspects that were felt to be deficient,
particularly in order to recover determinism.

The first attempt involved assigning definite properties to particles in defiance of
von Neumanns proof of the impossibility to do so in order to recover the classic view of
physics. The inability to determine the outcome of experiments led to the assumption that
there were extra factors not taken into account by quantum theory that had an influence
on the outcome of a measurement. If these factors were known, the outcome of a
measurement would be determinable. The nature of those extra variables was heretofore
unknown, hidden, and therefore these theories were labeled hidden-variables theories.
Frederick Belinfante surveyed hidden-variables theories in A Survey of Hidden-
Variables Theories
and suggested a categorization of these theories in three ways:
hidden-variable theories of the first, the second and the zeroth kind.

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables Theories, 3.
Frederik Josef Belinfante, A Survey of Hidden-Variables Theories (Oxford: Pergamon Press, 1973).

All theories that result in the ability to determine the outcome of a measurement
are included in the category of hidden-variables theories, although the ability to
determine the outcome of a measurement does not necessarily imply that a hidden-
variables theory must always generate definite properties for particles and therefore
provide an objective nature for particles. The outcome of a measurement generated by a
hidden-variables theory might still depend on the set of eigenstates used by the
measurement instrument.

Theories of the first kind emerge from Einsteins ensemble interpretation,
reasoning that quantum theory is only applicable to large quantities of particles where the
fluctuations of the assumed hidden-variables average out (see also the ensemble
interpretation in Chapter Two). Deviations from standard quantum theory could therefore
occur when the equilibrium of the hidden variables is disturbed, which would then in
theory allow a testing of the validity of these hidden-variables theories.
However, as
stated by the advocates of these theories, it is generally difficult to realize the necessary
experiments due to the great speed with which the equilibrium is restored. It is therefore
difficult to evaluate the correctness of standard quantum theory over and against
proposals of hidden-variables theories. The decision in favor of standard quantum theory
is therefore frequently made based on simplicity. Standard quantum theory has a simpler
formalism than any hidden-variables theory. Consequently, the uneasy consensus in
physics was that hidden-variables theories must disprove standard quantum theory in
order to be considered viable.

Ibid., 1920.
Ibid., 9.
Ibid., 10, 17.

Theories of the second kind are motivated by the EPR paradox and equip each
particle with a hidden-variables manual that allows the measurement of each of the two
entangled particles to occur independent from the measurement of each other and thereby
restore locality. These theories are verifiable by checking the correlations and comparing
them to standard quantum theory.

Theories of the zeroth kind are not viable theories but rather hidden-variables
theories that fall in the range of theories covered by the impossibility proofs for certain
types of hidden-variables theories. The role of hidden-variable theories of the zeroth kind
is therefore like a warning for the future development of hidden-variable theories.
impossibility proofs originated in von Neumanns work,
and were later enhanced by J.
M. Jauchs and Andrew M. Gleasons contributions.
Bell demonstrated later that von
Neumanns proof only applies to local hidden-variables theories and therefore nonlocal
hidden-variables theories such as Bohms interpretation of quantum theory are possible.
However, Bell also proved that nonlocality is an essential element of quantum theory.
Therefore hidden-variables of the second kind conflict with the nonlocality requirement
and need also to be considered to fall under Belinfantes hidden-variables theories of the
zeroth kind today.

Ibid., 1213.
Ibid., 5, 17.
von Neumann, Quantenmechanik, 107110; Max Jammer, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics: The
Interpretations of Quantum Mechanics in Historical Perspective (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1974),
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 17, 2434; J. M. Jauch, Foundations of Quantum Theory (Reading,
Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1968); Andrew M. Gleason, Measures on the closed subspaces of a
Hilbert space in Journal of Mathematics and Mechanics 6 (1957): 885893; Jammer, Philosophy of
Quantum Mechanics, 296301.
Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 302312; James T. Cushing and Ernan McMullin, ed.,
Philosophical Consequences of Quantum Theory: Reflections on Bells Theorem (Notre Dame, Indiana:
Notre Dame Press, 1989).

The use of the criterion of simplicity to argue for the standard interpretation is not
undisputed. The recovery of determinism has been argued to be a more important factor
than simplicity and therefore a theory that would propose hidden variables, which are in
principle inaccessible, would need to be favored over standard quantum theory.
would be theoretically impossible to gain knowledge of the hidden variables and
therefore such a theory is labeled a cryptodeterministic theory by Belinfante.

Theories that fall into the zeroth kind, which have been disproven or abandoned,
will not be discussed here. For that, the reader might consult Jammers extensive
discussions on the history of quantum theory.
The focus will be on only one hidden-
variables theory, the only hidden-variable theory that is still accepted by a minority in
physics as viable: Bohms interpretation of quantum theory. I find that there are a number
of unresolved and likely irresolvable problems with the theory, which leads me to adopt
Heisenbergs opinion that Bohms theory is not a viable alternative to quantum theory.
An alternate alternate approach by Hugh Everett to preserve determinism while
replicating all predictions of standard quantum theory is then considered. Everetts
approach was to represent both the observer and the experiment in one wave function. He
was then able to describe process one in terms of process two. The state of the mind of
the observer becomes part of the wave function and an observation relates that observers
state to the outcome of a measurement within the same wave function through a relative
state. Everetts approach attempted to restore determinism by preserving all possible

Belinfante notes that the debate sometimes has religious overtones by demanding that everything in the
universe must be explainable in terms of human reasoning.
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 18.
Details on a variety of abandoned hidden variable theories might be found in Hidden Variable Theories
in Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 252339.

(mind) states of the observer. However, the observer is still experiencing an
indeterministic result. The indeterminism of the standard quantum theory is preserved
from the viewpoint of the observer but since all potentiality exists concurrently, no
possibilities vanish from the wave function and therefore a rather strange claim for
determinism can be made. We find that relative states are used to describe measurement
events and that these relative states cannot always be established without an observer.
Bryce DeWitt elaborated on the implications of Everetts proposed understanding
of the universe and tried to objectify Everetts approach. DeWitt argued that the universe
splits during objective measurement-like events into parts that cannot affect one another
later. This resulted in the famous many-worlds interpretation. The objectification of
measurement required DeWitt to equip each measurement device, or each entity
participating in a measurement-like event, with a memory in order to introduce an
essential feature of the classic physical world into the observer-independent measurement
process. Therefore, it appears that the many-worlds interpretation cannot be considered as
a solution to the problem of determinism nor as a solution to the measurement problem.
In the last two sections, we return to von Neumanns argument that consciousness
causes wave function collapse and trace the further refinement of this approach. Eugene
Wigner discussed the consequences in the paradox of Wigners friend and proposed a
potential method of experimental verification of wave function collapse through
consciousness. John Archibald Wheeler then pointed out that the determination of
quantum systems can be conceived as also involving the determination of so far
indeterminate events in the past. One of the consequences of this thought is that

consciousness might have brought the world into existence the way it is today. Wheeler
speculated about the implications of such a possibility.
The Copenhagen interpretation has stood its ground against the other approaches.
The many-worlds approach and Bohms theory are theoretical approaches that are still
useful in discussions about the nature of quantum theory. However, neither of those
theories emerges as a viable alternative to quantum theory.
The nature of wave function collapse remains a fringe issue in this time period.
Wave function collapse is generally assumed to result from natural processes in the world
so that an objective, observer-independent, world exists. Only a few physicists support
the idea of the necessity to include consciousness in the understanding of wave function
collapse. The importance of a solution to the problem of wave function collapse outside
of the laboratory did not come to the forefront of the discussion in physics in this period.
2. David Bohm: The Causal Interpretation
2.1. Introduction
David Bohm (19171992)
challenged the standard understanding of quantum
mechanics with his proposal of a deterministic interpretation in 1952, arguing that
particles always have a definite position.
Since von Neumanns proof of the
impossibility of hidden-variables theories, the search for such theories had been
discouraged and it was therefore a surprise that Bohm was able to develop a hidden-
variables theory able to replicate the predictions of standard quantum theory. John Bell

Biography: F. David Peat, Infinite Potential: The Life and Times of David Bohm (Reading,
Massachusetts: Addison-Wesley, 1997). See also Sheldon Goldstein, A Theorist Ignored in Science 275
(March 1997): 1893. See also Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 278295 for an extensive
discussion of the history of Bohms theories.
Bohm, Suggested Interpretation, 166193.

was motivated by Bohms approach to review von Neumanns proof of the impossibility
of hidden-variables theories and found that von Neumanns proof only applied to a
restricted set of such hidden-variables theories that were satisfying a locality criterion.
Bohms theory was nonlocal: It included the concept of instantaneous action at a
distance, and therefore von Neumanns proof did not cover Bohms approach.

Similar to de Broglies pilot-wave theory (discussed in Chapter Two), Bohms
interpretation also envisions particles influenced by a guiding wave. The wave is
dependent on nonlocal influences from all other particles and in particular can depend on
the influence of the measurement instruments.
It could be said that the wave senses the
and exercises an appropriate influence on the particle.
The problem then
is that object and environment cannot be separated in a quantum mechanical description.
Wigner comments on the merits of such an approach: It seems highly questionable
whether a theory which does not permit the specification of the states of isolated objects
can be in any way useful.
In other words: even if only a single particle is considered
then the influence of the rest of the universe on that particle must also be considered
because that influence is embedded in the guiding wave. However, as we have seen in the
discussion of Schrdingers exposition of quantum theory in Chapter Two, the same
conclusion is possible from the phenomenon of entanglement in the Copenhagen
interpretation. In this respect, Bohms theory is simply reflecting what is widely accepted
today to be the nature of quantum theory.

See the references in the section on von Neumann in Chapter Two.
Bohm and Hiley, 5759.
Ibid,. 331.
Bohm and Hiley, 6162.
Wigner, Interpretation, 294.

The formulas in Bohms theory are essentially the same as de Broglies. However,
Bohm interpreted the results in a different way. de Broglie did not understand the wave
function to be real and considered it simply a pilot-wave. A second wave would tell
where the particle is actually located. In Bohms understanding, the wave function acts
on the real particle with an exact position (ironically the hidden variable in this approach)
through the quantum potential. Bohms theory could be interpreted as generating a set of
trajectories from the initial position of the particle to a final position, and a specific
trajectory could theoretically be determined if we could establish the initial or final
properties of the particle.

Bohm disputed Bohrs claim that the wave function is the complete description of
a quantum system. In addition to the wave function, a real particle with a real position
and trajectory exists. However, the relationship between the wave function and the
particle is a one-way relationship because the wave function influences the particle but
the particle position does not influence the wave. This shows a potential troublesome
issue in the theory because the wave function alone is evidently essential to Bohms
The problem is that there is an action, but no reaction.
The wave is influenced by the quantum potential, which is in turn determined in a
nonlocal way by the system as a whole and could be envisioned to be determined by all
the positions of other particles in the system. The influence is instantaneous and does not
diminish over distance since the influence of the quantum potential depends on the form

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 90; Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 281.
Craig Callender and Robert Weingard, Trouble in Paradise? Problems for Bohms Theory in Monist
80, no. 1 (January 1997): 2; Myrvold, 3; Omns, Understanding, 62.

of the wave function and not on the amplitude.
Bohms theory has similarities with
Einsteins unpublished theory that quanta are particles governed by a Fhrungsfeld
(guiding field). However, Einstein was unable to reconcile his approach with the
conservation laws for energy and momentum and consequently never published his
Bohms theory therefore draws on a history of similar thoughts by physicists
in earlier times and is certainly not to be seen as a completely new approach. However,
the emphasis on the reality of the particle is unique to Bohms view.
Bohms first notable publication was his textbook for quantum theory titled
Quantum Theory (1951)
in which he described the Copenhagen interpretation according
to Bohr. However, he later felt that the Copenhagen interpretation was deficient and, after
communication with Einstein, he proposed an alternate interpretation of quantum theory
in 1952. Bohm wanted to discover the true nature of reality rather than just be content
with an instrumentalist framework as proposed by Bohr.
Bohms theory was first articulated in full in his book Causality and Chance in
Modern Physics (1957).
de Broglie wrote the foreword, in which he reaffirmed his
beliefs in his old theory and in Bohms development of the theory. In a subsequent book,
Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980),
Bohm began to argue for a holistic
understanding of the universe and proposed an underlying sub-quantum structure which
he called the implicate order. His later works, Science, Order, and Creativity (1987),

Bohm and Hiley, 60.
Wigner, Interpretation, 262.
Bohm, Quantum Theory.
Bohm, Causality and Chance. I think Causality and Chance is the most credible scientific work of Bohm
since later books contain more proposals for other undetectable and therefore metaphysical entities.
Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
Bohm and Peat.

authored with Peat, and his final work, The Undivided Universe (1993)
with Hiley,
continue the holistic argument and refine his theories.
Bohm died in 1992 while
finishing the work on The Undivided Universe. He had just called his wife and told her
that he felt that he was about to discover something spectacular, but he suffered a fatal
heart attack on the way home.
In his final work, Bohm argued for an ontological
understanding of his theory and responded to a variety of proposals for alternate
interpretations of quantum theory.
Bohms approach was characterized by an intuitive understanding of reality and
of his physics. Peat viewed Bohms problem-solving abilities as less guided by logic
than by a combination of imagination and intuition. Bohm studied under Einstein and
became a fan of the pioneers of modern physics, in particular Einstein and Planck. He felt
that the physics of his day was rather small and boring compared to the golden age when
physics involved the deep and quiet contemplation of nature.
With his interpretation
of quantum theory, he reopened the debates of the pioneers about the nature of quantum
theory. Bohm idolized Einstein and in a sense fulfilled the hope of Einstein to develop a
possible classic ontology at the quantum level.

2.2. Implicate and Explicate Order
Bohm viewed reality, an explicate order, as being unfolded from the implicate
order. One illustration he used to explain an implicate order is a hologram. A hologram

Bohm and Hiley.
Sheldon Goldstein, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological Interpretation of Quantum Theory in
Physics Today (September 1994), 90 notes some scientific inaccuracies and also favors another realization
of spin than proposed.
Peat, Introduction to Infinite Potential.
Peat, Infinite Potential, 35.
Ibid., 1, 116, 120122, 172.

displays a three-dimensional image when it is illuminated. However, if a hologram is
analyzed, no significant order can be found in its material. Yet, each piece of the
hologram can generate the points of the three-dimensional image on its own. A larger
hologram only leads to a sharper image. The hologram can be smashed into pieces and
the pieces will still be able to generate the three dimensional image. The object is
enfolded in each part of the hologram essentially similar to that of the object and yet
obviously different in form. The order in the hologram from which the hologram is
generated when it is illuminated is implicate. The order of the hologram itself, as well as
the image that is generated, is an explicate order. The process of unfolding when the
image becomes visible is explication or unfoldment.

The visible world of experience is an explicate order. However, it is affected by
active information that is embedded in the quantum potential which constitutes an
implicate order. Particle movement is not self-determined in the explicate order in which
it is described, but the explicate order reveals the deeper implicate order in the quantum
potential that is underlying its operation.

The implicate order at the quantum level is a multi-dimensional reality that
represents the unbroken whole of the entire universe, and therefore particles must be
understood as a projection of this higher-dimensional reality and not as separate particles.
The unbroken whole is manifest, for example, in the EPR experiment where the behavior
of two particles is correlated, and therefore the two particles can be conceived of as a
projection of a higher dimensional reality. Multiple levels of implicate and explicate

Bohm and Hiley, 353354; David Bohm, Hidden Variables and the Implicate Order in Basil J. Hiley
and F. David Peat, Quantum Implications: Essays in Honor of David Bohm (London: Routledge, 1987),
Bohm and Hiley, 362.

order might exist and be nested, each governed by its own regularities that unfold to
generate reality.

2.3. Measurement and Wave Function Collapse
Bohms theory always assumed a definite location for a particle. The uncertainty
principle is not understood as an inherent limitation on the precision of measurement of
momentum and position. Uncertainty is caused by the uncontrollable disturbances of the
observed system by the measurement apparatus.
Measurement correlates the system
under observation with the eigenfunctions of the measurement device in the same way as
in the standard theory. During the interaction the wave function becomes very
complicated as does the quantum potential, which depends only on the wave function and
not on the position of any particle. As a result the particle follows a wildly fluctuating
path. At the end of the interaction, the packets of the wave function, corresponding to the
results of the interaction of different eigenstates of the measurement device with the
particle, will cease to overlap.
The particle is then assumed to have entered one of the
packets since the probability density outside of the area described by those wave packets
is practically zero. At the end of measurement, the other packets are then ignored since
they do no longer affect the quantum potential. The potential overlapping of the ignored
packets with the selected packets in the future is regarded as inconsequential.

In theory, Bohms measurement process allows the visualization of a particle
interacting with the measurement device and then entering one of the result packets.
However, the motion of the particle fluctuates wildly during the interaction. Extremely

Bohm, Implicate Order, 238240; Bohm, Hidden Variables and the Implicate Order, 43.
Bohm, Hidden Variables II, 383.
Ibid., 384.
Ibid., 385.

small differences in the initial position of the particle or in the wave function of the
measurement device can cause different outcomes. Calculation of the probabilities for
each of the eigenstates, given the uncertainties in position and in the measurement
instrument, reproduces the results that the standard interpretation would give. Bohm
concluded that his theory has the same predictive power as the standard theory.

Measurement in Bohms theory cannot in practice exactly predict an outcome but
can only specify a probability distribution like the standard theory. The hidden-variables
in Bohms interpretation are the particle position and momentum, which cannot be
determined simultaneously. Bohm argued that if it would be possible to determine these
properties accurately, then it would be possible to predict the outcome of the result since
the result is uniquely determined by the position of the particle. However, for all practical
purposes one needs to restrict oneself to the probability distribution.

One issue with the observables, other than the position in Bohms theory, is that
they do not measure the real properties of the system but depend in a crucial way on
the experimental setup. The momentum measured is difficult to relate to the actual
momentum of the particle since it is not assumed to be a real property of the particle but
is generated by the quantum potential and the wave function. Similarly, spin
measurements depend on the position of the particle and cannot be conceived of as the
measurement of an intrinsic property of the particle.
However, even if we would know
the particles position and the (true, not measured) momentum exactly, then a
measurement would still generate a probability distribution because of the chaotically

Ibid., 386.
Bohm, Hidden Variables II, 387; Myrvold, 45.

complicated character of the coupling between the classic system and the particle to be

In the discussion of the application of Bohms theory to the EPR paradox, it
becomes clear that a measurement on one particle causes a disturbance of the whole
system including the entangled particle, insuring that Bohms theory provides the same
correlated EPR results as the standard theory. The forces acting through the quantum
potential act instantaneously over arbitrary distances.
However, the proposal of
instantaneous forces over arbitrary distances violates relativity. Bohm stated that the
information on the quantum potential cannot be obtained (unless his envisioned accurate
measurements in violation of uncertainty become possible), and therefore the quantum
potential cannot be used for information transmission in violation of relativity. Hence the
instantaneous influences do not violate relativity.

Belinfante analyzed Bohms theory of measurement and found it remarkable that
the theory preserves wave function collapse as the standard theory: During measurement,
a mixed state is generated that is then reduced to a single outcome.
Belinfante found
that the measurement process is identical in nature to what is done in pure quantum
theory. The only difference is that the particle is then detected, which causes collapse.

Belinfante noted that there are some interesting theoretical scenarios. In principle Bohms
theory can tell us, for example in the classic double-slit experiment, through which slit
the particle came. The slit can be deduced from the final position of the particle (if we

Bohm, Hidden Variables II, 388.
Ibid., 389.
Ibid., 390.
Belinfante, Hidden Variables, 9597.
See also Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 282283.

would be able to accurately measure it) on the screen. However, it can be shown that any
change of the experiment in order to experimentally verify that the particle has passed
through a certain slit will change the interference pattern so that the experiment cannot be
repeated and therefore, even with an accurate measurement of the final position, the slit
through which the particle passed can only be deduced in theory.

Stapp concluded, after arguing in a similar way to Belinfante, that the
measurement process is identical to the standard theory, and that Bohms theory
overcomes the question of the reality of quantum propensities by introducing a classic
world. Quantum probabilities are probabilities that a particle will be detected in one
branch or another. There is no need for consciousness to cause wave function collapse
since the particle is assumed to be simply there and therefore the propensities for
detecting a particle are real and not only an epistemological issue.

In 1966 Bohm and Jeffrey Bub proposed another solution to the measurement
problem in which a term was added to the Schrdinger equation for an objective form of
measurement, foreshadowing the later spontaneous-collapse models.
According to
Jammer, the approach was challenged by an impossibility proof for hidden variables by
Jauch and Piron, which put the theory into the zeroth kind after hot disputes over the
validity of the hidden-variable proof between Bohm and Bub with Jauch and Piron.

Belinfante and Ballentine also report that this approach was refuted by experiment.

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 9798.
Stapp, Propensities, 137.
The history of the theory is narrated in Jeffrey Bub, Interpreting the Quantum World (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1997; Paperback, 1999), xivxv.
Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 313321.
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 11, 88, 163164, 312; Leslie E. Ballentine, The Statistical Interpretation
of Quantum Mechanics in Review of Modern Physics 42 (1970): 378.

In The Undivided Universe Bohm clarified some issues regarding measurement.
The wave packets after measurement are relabeled as channels. The particle after
oscillating between those channels finally enters one of them and stays in that channel.
The inactive channels are physically ineffective and could be ignored following the
measurement. However, they may not be ignored permanently if two apparatus packets
are brought together again later. Suddenly the previous inactive packet (that could have
been ignored) may now affect the quantum potential and cause interference phenomena.
The product of the measurement process is therefore not irrevocable unless the
interaction is envisioned to take place with a macroscopic object.
However, Benedikt
Blsi and Lucien Hardi find that even in this ideal situation the empty waves cannot be
simply discarded because a wave description cannot be complete without them. Removal
of an empty wave packet removes part of the overall wave function, which might have
effects much later in the development of the wave function. Bohms interpretation
emphasized the particle nature over the wave aspects, and the essential need for the wave
function in Bohms theory is often forgotten. However, both are essential for Bohmian
quantum theory to work properly.

At the end of the measurement, collapse has happened according to the standard
interpretation. In Bohms interpretation, there is no actual collapse. In The Undivided
Universe measurement is merely a process in which the information represented by the
unoccupied packets effectively loses all potential for activity, or it can also be said that

Bohm and Hiley, 99.
Benedikt Blsi and Lucien Hardy, Realism and Time Symmetry in Quantum Mechanics (Durham, UK:
University of Durham, 1995, accessed 16 July 2003), 11, <http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9505017>.

the range of potential activity of this information is spontaneously narrowed down.

However, the problems with discarding wave packets, as mentioned before, show that
this is only possible in some situations. In my opinion the main difference from the
standard understanding of measurement is the use of new terms.
2.4. Determinism and Causality
In contrast to the commentators on Bohm, who characterized his solution as the
proof that determinism is a viable option for quantum theory, the issue of determinism is
not that simple to resolve in Bohms own opinion.
In his initial publication, Bohm
claimed that his theory fulfilled Einsteins requirements and allowed us to conceive of
each individual system as being in a precisely definable state, whose changes with time
are determined by definite laws.
If that were the case then one would think that
determinism has been restored. However, in Causality and Chance (1957), Bohm
concluded that Laplacian determinism is impossible because a super-being would have to
know all the laws of nature in their totality to predict future events, which is impossible.
Any research into the laws of nature shows that results are always depending on
independent contingencies which exist outside the context under investigation, and
which are therefore undergoing chance fluctuations. The holism of nature leads to the
impossibility of separating out one part without having to consider what appear to be
chance fluctuations from outside of the considered context.
This implies that the overall
physical laws governing the universe are in principle only discoverable to a limited
extent. For any known effect we can only trace its causes from which its essential

Bohm and Hiley, 100.
Louis de Broglie, foreword to Bohm, Chance and Causality, x; Cushing, Quantum Mechanics.
Bohm Hidden Variables I, 369.
Bohm, Chance and Causality, 158.

aspects came. As we go further into the past, we discover that the number of causes that
contribute significantly increases without limit.
Bohm therefore rejected the possibility
that any agent in the universe would be able to determine the future. However, the
question still remains whether the universe itself would be deterministic and would only
be unpredictable due to out-of-context influences.

Bohm recognized very early that quantum theory implied a connectedness of the
universe and therefore a holism that needed to be expressed in quantum theory. If we
only look for causal connections in one context, as we have to in any of our scientific
investigations, then we have to exclude the influences from outside of the context from
our analysis. However, those influences exist and may surface within our analysis as
apparent random influences since we cannot consider effects from elements outside of
our scope of analysis. This explanation for indeterminacy in general and in quantum
theory in particular is very convincing and it is widely used in the discussion of
decoherence today.
The effect might just be a partial influence on quantum
indeterminacy but we have alreadyin the potentialities emerging from the wave
functionanother environmental effect that shapes the probability distribution.
The introduction of the implicate and explicate orders to explain indeterminacy
and the quantum potential in Wholeness and the Implicate Order (1980) led Bohm to
modify his position to argue that the quantum potential was a reflection of a holistic sub-
quantum order. Doing so may have significantly weakened his later position in the debate
about interpretations of quantum theory.

Ibid., 159160.
A similar conclusion is reached in Bohm, Implicate Order, 135, and in Bohm and Peat, 88.
Bohm, Chance and Causality, 20.

Bohm argued in Science, Order, and Creativity (1987) that there are multiple
levels of nested explanation for the quantum potential. The creative operation of
underlying, and yet subtler, levels of reality (the implicate orders) was labeled causal
but should not be taken as implying a form of complete determinism.
deterministic character of the sub-quantum orders was therefore considered to be
unresolved by him.
In The Undivided Universe (1993) Bohm stated that his theory is not necessarily
causal because a stochastic application of his theory is possible. The question of
determinism is secondary; the primary issue is one of an adequate conception of the
reality of a quantum system regardless of its nature.
Bohm maintained that all theories
are to be regarded as approximations with a limited domain of validity, with some of
them more deterministic than others. Nature is unlimited in its depth and subtlety of
laws and processes.
New theories are discovered but there is no reason to suppose
that physical theory is steadily approaching some final truth. Since there is no final
theory, a conclusion regarding the deterministic or indeterministic nature of the universe
cannot be reached.
Each theory is an abstraction of a totality that is inherently
unlimited and therefore determinism must be limited. Even in a deterministic
framework, chaotic orders might exist that show approximate randomness. Bohm
suggested that it might be possible that the stochastic character of the chaotic processes

Bohm and Peat, 88, 135.
Bohm and Hiley, 2.
Ibid., 321.
Ibid., 3.

could be determined by forces outside of what is described by the theory used for the
description of the chaotic process.

Bohm therefore believed that the question of determinism was not settled,
although he had a strong tendency to argue for determinism, and therefore also did not
claim that his interpretation necessarily leads to a deterministic universe. He did make
the claim of the possible determination of quantum systems in his first publication.
However, the realization of nonlocality and the proposal of a rather unusual nature of the
quantum potential later muted those claims.
Nowhere in his last book, The Undivided
Universe (1993), do we find an explicit claim for determinism.
The arguments of the late Bohm for his theory do not allow the unqualified
conclusion that the world is deterministic at the fundamental level. Predictability remains,
as Schrdinger pointed out a long time ago, a matter of order in disorder.
Any argument
for a deterministic interpretation of quantum theory would have to be based on Bohms
early work in Causality and Chance, and one would argue that the out-of-context
influences fully determine the indeterminacy that are observed at the quantum level.
However, that was not Bohms own later position on the issue. If a claim is made for
Bohms theory allowing a deterministic view of quantum theory, then that claim needs to
be accompanied by an explanation of how Bohms later views of his own theories are to
be explained.

Ibid., 324.
The early insistence on determinism might be related to his inspiration by Marx. Later he explored
alternate views of reality. See Peat, Infinite Potential, 157.
Schrdinger, What is Life, 6869; Myrvold, 29.

2.5. Hopes for an Experimental Verification
In the initial publication of his theory (1952), Bohm claimed that standard
quantum theory would become inadequate at distances of the order of 10
and that his theory might be able to predict effects the standard theory would not be able
to cover when it would become possible to perform experiments at that scale.
particular, Bohm suggested that the interpretation of the wave function as a probability
distribution would break down because his own theory uses the wave function for two
purposes: First to generate probabilities, and second as a force acting on the particles.

In the Implicate Order (1980), Bohm similarly viewed indeterminacy as the result
of an incomplete degree of self-determination at the quantum mechanical level. Sub-
quantum-mechanical processes in very small intervals might not be subject to the same
limitations. At that sub-mechanical level different regularities, from what we know of
today in physics, might surface which would operate under sub-quantum laws and require
special measurement devices such as a sub-quantum microscope.
Bohm then suggested
a method already outlined by Belinfante to detect the difference between interpretation of
quantum theory by affecting the equilibrium of the hidden-variables using rapidly
changing measurement setups to disturb the communication of quantum entities with
the measurement device.

New phenomena might also arise in the yet unexplored high-energy area where
present theories might show deficiencies.
Furthermore, new mathematical methods may

Bohm, Hidden Variables I, 369, 371, 374, 382.
Ibid., 374375.
Bohm, Implicate Order, 134135.
Ibid., 138.
Ibid., 139.

be developed which would lead to an improved ability to handle multi-layered
descriptions and allow a coherent treatment of the problems current theories cannot solve.
These methods might allow an analysis and proof of Bohms theories.

In Science, Order, and Creativity (1987) the same hope exists in the revealing of
the so-far hidden nature of context dependence. In new scientific contexts, the so far
hidden orders might one day be discovered.
Similarly, The Undivided Universe (1993)
affirms that the process of scientific discovery is an unlimited endeavor and outlines
approaches that might be made to Bohmian quantum mechanics in the future.
suggested that a breakdown of quantum theory might occur at the dimension of the order
of Plancks length.

However, none of those hopes has materialized yet because we are still unable to
perform experiments at the scale required by Bohm.
2.6. The Problem of Relativistic Generalization
The initial responses to Bohms theory were concerns about violations of
These were mostly due to the aspect of Bohms theory that proposed
instantaneous forces over arbitrary distances. However, concern was also rising about the
difficulty of a relativistic reformulation of Bohms interpretation. Belinfante stated that
Bohms theory cannot in principle accommodate a relativization without violating
Lorentz invariance because a relativistic form of Bohms theory cannot properly
incorporate pair creation and annihilation. Particle pairs are not only created in high-

Ibid., 215217.
Bohm and Peat, 135136.
Bohm and Hiley, 321.
Ibid., 348.
Jammer, Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics, 288.

energy situations but virtual pairs are created even at lower energies. These pairs violate
Lorentz invariance in any conceivable form of a relativistic Bohmian theory.
attempts to amend the theory have failed. Belinfante concluded that Bohms theory can
only be considered as a nonrelativistic approximation to quantum theory. Omns

concluded from the failure to accommodate relativistic effects that Bohms theory is not
However, the commonly used standard theory as represented by the use of the
Schrdinger equation is also only a nonrelativistic approximation.
There are suggestions that a relativistic version of Bohmian quantum theory does
exist in Antony Valentinis work,
and other work seems to be developing;
however, it
is widely accepted that no satisfactory solution exists yet.

Cushing points to Valentinis work for a relativistic version of Bohms theory.
However Valentini abandons the particle concept as well as the quantum potential and
reverts back to the earlier ideas of de Broglie related to fields influencing fields. It is
therefore unlikely that the central elements of Bohms theory will remain in whatever
will finally come out of Valentinis work.

2.7. The Problem of the Symmetry of Position and Momentum
The first responses by the founders of quantum theory to Bohms approach were
led by Pauli and focused on the violation of the symmetry of position and momentum.
Bohmian Hilbert space is formulated in coordinate space rather than the infinite number

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 112120; Especially 115.
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 118, 312; Omns, Understanding, 63, 250.
James Cushing, Determininism Versus Indeterminism in Quantum Mechanics in Russell, Clayton,
Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, 106.
Cushing refers to Valentini for a relativization of Bohms interpretation. A brief bio is available at
<http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/bios/valentini.html> (accessed 16 July 2003).
Bub, 238.
Antony Valentini, Pilot-Wave Theory in Cushing, Fine and Goldstein, 4647; Bub, 237238.

of other spaces used in the standard theory. Therefore, momentum is derived from the
particle position and the influence of the environment whereas the position is a true
property of the particle. Pauli claimed that standard quantum theory is invariant when
momentum is substituted for position, which is not possible in Bohms theory,
and then
concluded that Bohms theory is artificial metaphysics.
Heisenberg argued in the
same way that symmetry properties always constitute the most essential features of a
theory which are violated by Bohms theorythus it is to be considered inferior.

Bohms initial response was that his theory is merely of a provisional nature
demonstrating that alternate interpretations are possible.
The issue is not addressed in
The Undivided Universe and therefore no final response from Bohm can be obtained.
2.8. The Problematic Nature of Particles
Bohms approach to understanding quantum theory was to preserve the reality of
particles. The probability function of quantum theory describes the likelihood of finding
an actual particle in a certain region. The preservation of the particle nature was achieved
by linking all particles in the systems (or the universe) by instantaneous forces. What
happens to one particle of the system instantly affectsaccording to Bohmevery other

Stapp concluded that if this is actually the case then we might be unable to
continue to use the term particle because all the particles in Bohms universe act as a

Callender and Weingard, 2.
Myrvold, 1011.
Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 132133; Myrvold 12.
David Bohm, Classical and non-classical concepts in the quantum theory; an answer to Heisenbergs
Physics and Philosophy in British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 12 (1962): 270; David Bohm,
Implicate Order, 103104; Myrvold, 1314.
Stapp, Copenhagen, 57.

single indivisible entity. The classic idea of a particle is abstracted from the experience of
macroscopic objects. Therefore we would expect that the particles have a form of
independence and are only acted on by forces whose effect on a particle we can calculate,
resulting in our classic notion of causality. In Bohms interpretation, the instantaneous
connections between particles lead to questions regarding the appropriateness of the use
of the term particle.

The problematic nature of the particle concept was already evident in 1952 when
Bohm had to concede that photons can only be conceived in his theory as
electromagnetic wave packets.
In The Undivided Universe (1993) Bohm claimed that
bosons (photons are classified as bosons) are not particles.
He stated that photons have
never been observed directly but only through the manifestation in particular matter that
are attributed to them. Bosons are to be conceived of as fields and these fields may only
be visualized in a limited way as composed of infinitely many particles. Therefore, the
fundamental elements of Bohms world are particles (the fermions accompanied by a
wave) and fields (the bosons). The boson fields are distributed throughout space.
However, they generally manifest themselves in a discrete particle-like way, which
explains particle-wave duality.
In that context, Bohm developed the concepts of the
super-Schrdinger equation and the super-quantum potential to describe the
trajectories of boson fields.

Ibid., 57.
Bohm, Hidden Variables II, 396.
Bohm, Undivided Universe, 234, provides proof that a particle conception of bosons is impossible.
Ibid., 230238.
Ibid., 240.

Cushing suggested that the particle concept might also have to be abandoned for
fermions in a future version of Bohmian quantum mechanics.
The result would be that
Bohmian quantum theory would become a field theory like the standard theory. And in
fact, Antony Valentini, the theorist working on developing a future version of Bohmian
quantum mechanics, proposes that a future pilot-wave theory should be based on fields
and that the idea of the quantum potential influencing the particle needs to be abandoned:
De Broglie (rather like Maxwell) emphasized an underlying mechanical
picture: particles were assumed to be singularities of physical waves in space. In
a paper of 1927, however, de Broglie recognized that one could abandon this
scaffolding and that (like the electromagnetic theory) the resulting pilot-wave
theory in configuration space could stand on its own feet. The Schrdinger
equation and the de Broglie guidance condition are, then, the fundamental
equations of what might be termed pilot-wave dynamics. In this sense one
may regard the concept of a guiding field as fundamental and irreducible, like the
electromagnetic field. Bohms quantum potential is, like the luminiferous
ether, a concept best abandoned.

Stapp also suggested that the point-like entities called particles in classic physics
are superfluous for a quantum view of the world and claimed that even Bohms model
uses waves alone for the calculations of the positions of particles. It is not necessary to
know the location of a particle in order to calculate the outcome of a measurement in
quantum theory. Particles are therefore unnecessary and the representation by a wave
alone is sufficient:
The orthodox interpretation of quantum theory dispenses altogether with these
superfluous classical particles. It represents any physical system by a waveform
alone. The particle concept demands information far beyond that of the
magnitude of the quantum of energy. It demands also the specification of an
exact spacetime path from the emitting atom to the absorbing atom, and even of
exact paths of the particles within these atoms. Most physicists believe that this
demand for exact spacetime paths originates in our experience with macroscopic
phenomena and classical physics, and need not be met by nature itself in the
microscopic domain of atomic and subatomic physics. The observed phenomena

Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 191.
Valentini, Pilot-Wave Theory, 47.

are represented far more economically and aesthetically without using the notion
of classical particles.

In short, Bohmian quantum mechanics is inconsistent because it cannot give a
coherent account of particles and it seems that the concept of a particle will have to be
abandoned in future developments of Bohmian quantum mechanics. However, Bohms
theory was proposed for the purpose of preserving the classic concept of the particle.
2.9. Not Equivalent to Standard Quantum Theory
Frederick Kronz considered how to formally prove the equivalence of Bohms
theory to the standard theory following von Neumanns proof of the equivalence of
matrix and wave mechanics in the early phase of development of quantum theory.
Kronzs results show that Bohms interpretation is not equivalent to the standard theory.
However, if modifications would be made to the definition of Hilbert space in the
standard theory, then Bohms interpretation can be shown to be equivalent in two of the
modified standard interpretations. Kronz suggested that a modification to Bohms
interpretation be made to insure compatibility with standard quantum theory.

2.10. Conclusion
The usefulness of scientific theories is determined by their ability to make correct
predictions for actual experiments. For example, at one point Stephen Hawking refused to
consider string theory because it had not made any testable predictions.
theories use a large quantity of concepts and entities that are not part of the standard
theory such as the quantum potential, the super-Schrdinger equation, super quantum

Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 85.
Frederick M. Kronz, Bohms Ontological Interpretations and Its Relations to Three Formulations of
Quantum Mechanics in Synthese 117 (1999): 3152.
Hawking and Penrose, 4.

potentials, channels, and implicate, generative and explicate orders. Bohm was highly
creative in contributing many interesting ideas. However, none of these entities and
concepts resulted in testable predictions that deviate from the standard theory, which
would justify the existence of the entities and concepts proposed. Stapp states that a
scientific theory should be judged on how well it serves to extend the range of our
experience and reduce it to order.
Bohms theory did not extended the range of
experience since it does not seem to predict any new phenomena.
Belinfante speculated about what it would take to prove that Bohms theory is
correct and argued that Bohms theory would only be verifiable if three consecutive
measurements could be made on a particle without disturbing the particle. It is unlikely
given our current knowledge in physics that we will ever be able to perform such

Throughout his life, Bohm pursued exotic theories in physics as well as in other
areas, with the hidden-variables theory being just one of them. There was his fascination
with Marxism in the period of the Second World War,
and then the idea that
consciousness could affect matter, which resulted in sessions with Uri Geller.
was connected for a long period with an Indian guru, Krishnamurti, and this rather
strange relationship with the gurus religious movement led to a variety of controversial
The leadership of the sect finally felt challenged by Bohms popularity,

Stapp, Copenhagen, 60.
Ibid., 120.
Peat, Infinite Potential, 5672.
Peat, Infinite Potential, 271272; See also Bohms enlarged version of his 1990 paper A New Theory
of the Relationship of Mind and Matter in Philosophical Psychology 3, no. 2 (1990) at
<http://www.uri-geller.com/bohm1.htm> (accessed 16 July 2003) which contains references to a super
quantum potential causing parapsychological phenomena such as psychokinesis.
Peat, Infinite Potential, 230231.

which resulted in Krishnamurti confronting Bohm with his spiritual shortcomings when
Bohm was already struggling mentally during a time of crisis. Bohm then slid into a
chemical dependency.
A book finally exposed a scandal involving Krishnamurti and
the hypocritical nature of his preaching. As a result, Bohm focused on completing his
contribution to physics at the end of his life.
However, Bohm had serious doubts
regarding the validity of his theories
and repeatedly required psychiatric treatment
because of depressions.

Bohms brilliant ideas and his ability to formulate novel ideas in his field brought
a significant number of new developments into physics. He was the pioneer he wanted to
be. However, Bohmian quantum theory has not significantly changed since it was first
proposed and therefore the analysis of Bohmian quantum theory still shows entities that
are not measurable and are unnecessary in standard quantum theory. Bohms ideas need
to be appreciated. However, the system of Bohmian quantum theory, as it currently
stands, is inconsistent, and postulates new but not experimentally verifiable elements.

The earnest consideration of a theory which contains entities for which no evidence can
be determined in principle is questionable.
It needs to be considered that Bohm tried to establish another version of quantum
theory when the overwhelming number of physicists was already using the standard
interpretation. Certain deficiencies in the theory might therefore be due to the lack of

Ibid., 284286.
Ibid., 303306.
Ibid., 307.
Ibid., 306313.
Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 174, saw Bohms theory to be superior to standard quantum theory.

resources to address these issues. If we ignore some of the deficiencies then we can agree
with Heisenbergs conclusion regarding Bohm in 1958:
Bohms language says nothing about physics that is different from what the
Copenhagen interpretation says. There then remains only the question of
suitability of this language. Besides the objection already made that in speaking
of particle orbits we are concerned with a superfluous ideological
superstructure, it must be particularly mentioned here that Bohms language
destroys the symmetry between position and velocity which is implicit in
quantum theory. Since the symmetry properties always constitute the most
essential features of a theory, it is difficult to see what would be gained by
omitting them in the corresponding language. Therefore, one cannot consider
Bohms counterproposal to the Copenhagen interpretation as an improvement.

3. Hugh Everett and Bryce DeWitt: The Many-Worlds Interpretation
In 1957 Hugh Everett (19301983)
proposed a solution to the measurement
problem which he called the Relative State formulation of quantum theory. Everetts
intent was to remove the postulates of wave function collapse (von Neumanns process
one) from quantum theory and deduce the properties for process one from process two
alone. Everett was looking for a way to describe quantum mechanics without external
observers by considering the observer as a quantum mechanically described system that
is entangled with the quantum system under observation. von Neumann only considered
the measurement device to be described by a wave function. Everett extended the
approach to include the observer.

Everett considered an observer as being characterized by the possession of
memory in a definite state marking each of the possible states of the observer. It should
be immediately noted here that memory is always assumed to exist in one definite

Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 133; Myrvold, 12.
Galaxy. The Everett Biography (Internet, 2003). <http://galaxy.bykr.org/galaxy_everettbio.htm>.
Accessed 28 August 2003.
Hugh Everett, III, Relative State Formation of Quantum Mechanics in Wheeler and Zurek, 315323.

state. This constitutes the insertion of a characteristic from classic physics into quantum
The complete system of observer and quantum system is describable by one wave
function combining the two systems. It follows from quantum theory that no individual
state for either of the systems can be specified after those systems have interacted. In
order to allow a theoretical separation of the systems after their interaction, Everett
developed the concept of a relative state. The relative state specifies the state of one
system; however, the relative state of one system depends on the state of the system as a
whole. Measurement interactions like the observation of a result by an observer can now
be specified through a relative state.
Everett noted that the observer now exists in multiple states in the wave function
of the combined system corresponding to the possible outcomes of the measurements
performed by the observer. Each of those states corresponds to the observer making one
definite observation on the quantum system under observation expressed through a
relative state. Therefore, a measurement appears to have happened for the observer.

With some additional work, Everett was also able to extract the probability distribution of
the outcomes that the observer experiences in experiments from the combined state and
then claimed to have deduced the major elements of process one from a consideration of
process two alone:

The continuous evolution of the state function of a composite system with time
gives a complete mathematical model for processes that involve an idealized
observer. When interaction occurs, the result of the evolution in time is a
superposition of states each element of which assigns a different state to the
memory of the observer. Judged by the state of the memory in almost all of the

Ibid., 320.
Ibid., 321.

observer states, the probabilistic conclusion of the usual external observation
formulation of quantum theory are [sic] valid. In other words, pure Process 2
wave mechanics, without any initial probability assertions, leads to all the
probability concepts of the familiar formalism.

Everett used process two in an inventive way to deduce elements of process one
that were postulated before. The statistical assertions are also not an independent
hypothesis, but are deducible (in the present sense) from the pure wave mechanics that
starts completely free of statistical postulates.

In the proposal by Everett, multiple states of the mind of the observers exist
simultaneously and therefore one might be rightfully call Everetts proposal the many-
minds interpretation.
In addition to the publication in 1957, Everett wrote a longer
exposition on the subject that was not published at the time. Bryce DeWitt (1923)
picked up Everetts ideas later and published The Many-Worlds Interpretation of
Quantum Mechanics in 1973,
which contained Everetts unpublished exposition titled
The Theory of the Universal Wave Function where Everett proposed to extend his
understanding to include the description of the whole universe.
The present thesis is devoted to showing that this concept of a universal wave
mechanics, together with the necessary correlation machinery for its
interpretation, forms a logically self consistent description of a universe in which
several observers are at work.

Everett suggested that measurement is a natural process and not distinguishable
from any other natural processes. It is an interaction between physical systems that
correlates one quantity in one subsystem with quantities in another through a relative

Ibid., 323.
Bohm and Hiley, 303.
Bryce S. DeWitt and Neill Graham, eds., The Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: A
Fundamental Exposition by Hugh Everett, III, with a Paper by J. A. Wheeler, B. S. DeWitt, L. N. Cooper
and D. Van Vechten, and N. Graham (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1973).
Hugh Everett, III, Theory of the Universal Wave Function in DeWitt and Graham, 9.

state. Everett reasoned that nearly every interaction produces some correlation.

However, the discussion of measurement is questionable because the correlations cannot
necessarily be established in the same way as in the standard theory. Belinfante observes
that a relative state is a handy tool for writing down reduced states when it works.
There is no guarantee that a relative state is possible because relative states depend on the
wave function of the composite system being treatable as a mixture:

There is, however, no a priori guarantee that a relative state could always be a
possible reduced state, because the formalism contains no verification whether or
not (for calculating predictions for future measurements) it is allowable to treat
the state of the original composite system as a mixed state. In order to provide
this guarantee, one could confine use of this formalism to states relative to
memory states.

Memory states are those typically associated with observers in Everetts proposal
and introduce the definiteness of classic physics. Observers are conceived as systems
with memory (and therefore in a classic definite state necessary to produce the mixed
state) and are capable of responding to the environment.
Relative states can also be
envisioned to be possible if measurement is understood classically as forcing the quantum
system into an eigenstate of the measurement instrument, which will then generate a
mixture. However, such an understanding presupposes a classic conception of the
measurement device that might not be warranted if the instrument would be given a
quantum mechanical description as also envisioned by Everett.

Everett, Universal Wave Function, 53.
Belinfante, Measurements, 46; See also Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, 312.
Belinfante, Measurements, 46.
Everett, Universal Wave Function, 9.
Bohm and Hiley, 301, understand the situation as resulting in an ambiguous memory. However, it is
definitely the intention of Everett to generate distinctive states in the memory of the observer. Therefore, it
is the concept of measurement that is the problem not the nature of mind. Bohm reads Everett as
introducing a new idea of relating the mind to Hilbert space.

Everett assumed a classic concept of definiteness in his observers that does not
follow from the wave function alone. These entities are prominent in his theory because
they are the only components in the wave function that can always create valid relative
states. As a result Everetts definition of measurement, as simply a natural process of
interaction, can be brought into question. If the overall system involved in the interaction
is not in a possible mixed state then, it means that no catalog of possibilities necessary for
the generation of a relative state exists. Consequently, observation by observers with
memory states is a necessary and privileged element in Everetts theory.
realized the reliance on a classic framework:
Another objectionable feature of this position is its strong reliance upon the
classical level from the outset, which precludes any possibility of explaining this
level on the basis of an underlying quantum theory. (The deduction of classical
phenomena from quantum theory is impossible simply because no meaningful
statements can be made without pre-existing classical apparatus to serve as a
reference frame.) This interpretation suffers from the dualism of adhering to a
reality concept (i.e., the possibility of objection description) on the classical
level but renouncing the same in the quantum domain.

The observer in Everetts theory cannot discover the total wave function of the
universe nor of any physical system since observation results in a composite system
state in which the object-system states are inextricably bound up with the observer
states. Only a communication of all possible states of the observer would allow a
determination of all the potential states of an object-system.

Bryce DeWitt first introduced the visualization of the universe splitting into
mutually unobservable but equal real worlds which resulted in the name many-worlds

Bohm and Hiley, 299, similarly thought that the essence of Everetts approach is the association of
observer states with frames of reality.
Everett, Universal Wave Function, 111.
Ibid., 98.

Bohm and Hiley see DeWitt as reinterpreting Everett in yet another
attempt to rid quantum theory of the problematic observer. It is not the observer and his
memory that causes the splits, but the world itself is splitting on its own.
measurement device is equipped with memory in order to make this possible. However,
the consequence of this move is that each measurement device must have the classic
definiteness from the outset and cannot be treated in a pure quantum mechanical way:
Every laboratory measurement consists of one or more sequences of interactions,
each essentially of the von Neumann type. Although it is only the results of the
final interactions with the recording devices that we usually regard as being
stored, each von Neumann type apparatus in every sequence leading to a final
interaction may itself be said to possess a memory, at least momentarily. This
memory differs in no fundamental way from that of the sophisticated automaton
[Everetts observer:memory] (apparatus-plus-memory sequence) at the end of
the line.

DeWitt then asserted that the concept of apparatus is applicable to the natural
systems in the universe by making the following claim:
Everett, Wheeler and Graham (EWG) postulate that the real world, or any
isolated part of it one may wish for the moment to regard as the world, is
faithfully represented solely by the following mathematical objects: a vector in a
Hilbert space; a set of dynamical equations and a set of commutation
relations. Only one additional postulate is then needed to give physical
meaning to the mathematics. This is the postulate of complexity: The world must
be sufficiently complicated that it be decomposable into systems and

DeWitts motivation of enhancing Everetts approach was the desire to do away
with metaphysical assumptions coming with the interpretation in quantum theory. He
wanted to consider the mathematical formalism of quantum theory in its purity, deny any
existent classic reality and avoid the use of process one. DeWitt saw Everett as having
accomplished just that. The fine points in Everett about the influence of classicality, the

Bryce S. DeWitt, Quantum Mechanics and Reality in DeWitt and Graham, 155.
Bohm and Hiley, 304; DeWitt, Quantum Mechanics, 158159.
DeWitt, Quantum Mechanics, 157.
Ibid., 160.

recording of the results, the nature of the observer, and the problematic nature of the
establishment of a relative state, are generally not reflected upon in the later literature.
DeWitt argued that we need to reject the metaphysical ideas of Bohr who
deflected Heisenberg somewhat from his original program and convinced everyone that
quantum mechanics has no meaning in the absence of a classical realm capable of
unambiguously recording the results of observations. This led to the inevitable
conclusion that the quantum realm must be viewed as a kind of ghostly world whose
symbols, such as the wave function, represent potentiality rather than reality. We need to
take the mathematical formalism without adding anything to it, deny the existence of a
separate classical realm and to assert that the state vector never collapses.
The result
of the description of the universe by a wave function is that the universe is constantly
splitting into a stupendous number of branches, all resulting from measurement-like
interactions between its myriads of components.
However, the characteristic of
DeWitts approach was an objectification of measurement interactions. These are
suspect because they are assumed to be of a classic nature due to their memory.
The advantage that many of its adherents see in the many-worlds interpretation is
that it provides a kind of ontology for quantum theory. Everything is related to Hilbert
space, which generates a world that is consistent and not split between a macro- and a
The alternate branches of the wave function are considered real, which is
similar to Stapps interpretation.
Cosmologists also frequently use the many-worlds
interpretation because of the difficulty with the requirement of an observer in the

DeWitt, Quantum Mechanics, 161; Bohm and Hiley, 302.
Bohm and Hiley, 316.
Stapp, Propensities, 137.

Copenhagen interpretation.
However, as explained above and also stated by Everett,
the use of classic characteristics in the many-worlds interpretation without an observer is
The many-worlds interpretation implies that these split-off worlds are worlds with
which we cannot have any contact, nor can those worlds exercise any influence on ours.
Wigner noted that from a positivist standpoint, one has to immediately conclude that such
statements are entirely meaningless because they can neither be confirmed nor refuted.

Bohm and Hiley claimed that there are significant problems with such an
approach. When exactly does the splitting happen? It seems that the same problems with
quantum measurement as in the standard interpretation are encountered at the splits of the
many-worlds theory. DeWitts theory did not specify exactly when the splitting happens.
Two wave packets might interact in the future; if they are now in two different universes,
then interference effects would no longer be possible. Bohm and Hiley also evaluated
other aspects of the many-worlds interpretation focusing especially on the problematic
notion of probability and provided a history of the theory as well as a history of
enhancements to the theory.

Stapp argued that the many-worlds interpretation is unreasonable because the
wave function and its conjugate have the properties of a probability function. It is natural
to see the wave function as an expectation-catalog with associated probabilities and not
as the evolution of the actual outcomes. A collapse of the wave function into separate
branches would mean that the information about the probabilities would be lost.

Stapp, Propensities, 117; Wojciech H. Zurek, Decoherence and the Transition from Quantum to
Classical in Physics Today (October 1991): 37.
Wigner, Interpretation, 294.
Bohm and Hiley, 296318.

Therefore, the aim of preserving the superposition of the wave function has failed in the
many-worlds interpretation.

In summary, the many-worlds interpretation is a nice tool to illustrate aspects of
quantum theory emerging from the use of the wave function. However, the nature of
measurement is a problem that requires the introduction of characteristics of classic
physics or classically understood observers in order to satisfactorily address the problem.
It is not clear that a relative state can always be generated when it is necessary to split
the universe. It is hard to conclude that the theory is able to reach the goal to which it
4. Eugene P. Wigner: Consciousness Causes Collapse
Eugene P. Wigner (19021995)
and John von Neumann were well acquainted
with one another since both of them attended the same high school in Budapest.

Wigner articulated the implications of von Neumanns description of the nature of
quantum measurement in his article Remarks on the Mind-Body Question.
suggested a return to the consideration of the mind as primary before matter in this
frequently cited passage interpreting von Neumann:
There are several reasons for the return, on the part of most physical scientists, to
the spirit of Descartess Cogito ergo sum, which recognizes the thought, that is,
the mind, as primary. First, the brilliant successes of mechanics not only faded
into the past; they were also recognized as partial successes, relating to a narrow
range of phenomena, all in the macroscopic domain. When the province of

Stapp, Copenhagen, 55; Roger Penrose, The Large, the Small and the Human Mind (Cambrige:
Cambridge University Press, 1999), 77.
Nobel Lectures, s.v. Wigner, <http://www.nobel.se/physics/laureates/1963/wigner-bio.html>.
Lifshitz, 57; J. J. O'Connor and E. F. Robertson, Eugene P. Wigner (Scotland: University of St.
Andrews, 2001, accessed 16 July 2003),
Eugene P. Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question in Symmetries and Reflections. First
published in I. J. Good, ed., The Scientist Speculates (London: William Heinemann, Ltd., 1961; New York:
Basic Books, Inc., 1962). Also included in Wheeler and Zurek.

physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena, through the
creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore
again: it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully
consistent way without reference to the consciousness. All that quantum
mechanics purports to provide are probability connections between subsequent
impressions (also called apperceptions) of the consciousness, and even though
the dividing line between the observer, whose consciousness is being affected,
and the observed physical object can be shifted towards the one or the other to a
considerable degree, it cannot be eliminated.

Wigner viewed the content of our consciousness as the ultimate reality. That
something exists means that it can be measured and therefore observed by

Wigner illustrated the necessity of consciousness by describing a quantum system
that is observed by a human observer looking for a flash to signal the outcome of an
experiment. In such a scenario, there is no measurement instrument. The observer uses
his eyes to recognize the outcome of the experiment directly. It is then the recognition of
the flash by the observer that causes the collapse of the wave function to one outcome
and therefore it is unavoidable to assign consciousness a role in quantum mechanics:
It is the entering of an impression into our consciousness that alters the wave
function because it modifies our appraisal of the probabilities for different
impressions which we expect to receive in the future. It is at this point that the
consciousness enters the theory unavoidably and unalterably. If one speaks in
terms of the wave function, its changes are coupled with the entering of
impressions into our consciousness. If one formulates the laws of quantum
mechanics in terms of probabilities of impressions, these are ipso facto the
primary concepts with which one deals.

Wigner insisted that primary concepts are in our consciousness and that
consciousness can therefore not be denied. The materialist doctrine of an independent
objective reality that scientists accept is a result of wishful thinking grounded in an
emotional necessity to exalt the problem to which one wants to devote a lifetime. He

Wigner, Mind-Body Question, 172.
Ibid., 172173.
Ibid., 175176.

stated that the laws of physics, chemistry and other regularities, not considering the
atomic domain, are limiting laws and not a reflection of the true nature of the world. The
notion of the importance or truthfulness of these laws is necessary to insure the devotion
of the scientists in the pursuit of these laws.

If consciousness has the role of causing collapse, then the question arises: what
happens if multiple consciousnesses are involved? If consciousness causes collapse then
a person with a consciousness must have a different role in quantum mechanics than a
technical contraption such as a measurement device. Wigner illustrated the problem in
the famous story of Wigners Friend. Instead of a person directly observing an
experiment and causing a definite outcome, the person is asking a friend to observe the
experiment and report on the outcome. The combined system of friend plus experiment is
in an undefined state for the person until the friend reports the result of the experiment.
The question is how should the combined system be treated? If the friends consciousness
already caused a definite outcome for the experiment then the wave function for the
combined system will be a mixture, simply specifying the probabilities of each alternate
outcome, reflecting the ignorance of the person of the outcome of that collapse. If,
however, the friends consciousness would not cause a collapse (or if we would use some
kind of measurement apparatus instead) then the combined system would need to be
specified using a superposition and therefore be a pure state. This means that a conscious
observer and a measurement device could in theory be distinguished by experiment.
However, the difference between these two descriptions is not measurable in practice.

Wigner, Mind-Body Question, 177.
Ibid., 180184. Maybe someone will come up with a way to measure that difference in the future which
would then allow scientific proof of the necessity of an observer for wave function collapse to take place.

Wigner later retracted his views and adopted the position that quantum theory
cannot be applied to macroscopic objects since thermal influences disturb such quantum
systems. Macroscopic bodies like measurement devices cannot be treated like isolated
systems, but must be described using classic physics. Wigners later objection originated
in H. Dieter Zehs views of the influence of environment and is therefore an argument
from decoherence, which we will discuss in Chapter Six.

I think Wigner elucidated a very important point that if we consider consciousness
causing wave function collapse then the role of consciousness must be different from that
of any other object like a measurement device. One wave function might be considered to
describe a situation involving multiple persons. By their act of observation, each person
can cause independent collapses in this common wave function. The perception of one
observer, which also might be described by a wave function containing mixtures for facts
unknown to the respective observer, then reflects his knowledge of the one wave function
seen to be the objective representation of reality. Both observers would perceive the same
5. John Archibald Wheeler: The Determination of the Past
John Archibald Wheeler (1911)
further refined the understanding of the
influence of consciousness in quantum theory. In a simple EPR experiment discussed by
Wheeler, two photons are generated with entangled characteristics. The two photons have
opposite polarizations due to the way entanglement was produced in the experiment. If

Eugene P. Wigner, Review of the Quantum Mechanical Measurement Problem in Pierre Meystre and
Marlan O. Scully, eds., Quantum Optics, Experimental Gravity, and Measurement Theory (New York:
Plenum Press, 1983), 5861; Stapp, Quantum Propensities, 130; idem, A Quantum Theory of the Mind-
Brain Interface, 167.
Aczel, Wheelers Cat in Entanglement, 8394.

the polarization of one photon around an axis is now measured, then we can be sure that
the other photon will have the opposite polarization. However, if the polarization is not
measured, then the polarization is not fixed on either particle. The measurement effect is
independent of the time that has passed since the creation of the photon pair. If one
measures the photon five years after pair creation then the other photon might be ten
light-years away, but the measurement will determine the polarization of that photon
instantly. This is what Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen objected to as contrary to any
reasonable concept of reality.

Wheeler suggested that at the point of measurement, the reality of the quantum
system is becoming fixed over the entire spatial extent of the wave function. It could be
reasoned that the polarization of the photons must have had an effect when the pair was
created and the correlation of the polarizations was established. In essence, the
polarization of the pair, when it was created, was determined by a measurement of one of
the photons five years into the future. From the viewpoint of the observer, the observation
has determined what has happened in the correlation between those photons five years
ago when the pair was created. In some sense then the observer is participating in the
creation of the pair. Wheeler pointed out that this situation is a general characteristic of
quantum mechanics regardless of whether nanoseconds or billions of years have passed
since the creation of those particles. It could be said that one is participating in the big
bang when measuring the background radiation of the universe.

Wheeler further reasoned that if wave function collapse is caused by
consciousness, then nothing will be definite without consciousness. Consequently,

Wheeler, Genesis and Observership, 39.
Wheeler, Genesis and Observership, 42; Aczel, 92.

consciousness is necessary for the creation of the universe in the sense of it becoming
definite through von Neumanns process one:
Quantum mechanics has led us to take seriously and explore the directly opposite
view that the observer is as essential to the creation of the universe as the
universe is to the creation of the observer.

Wheeler proposed that it is necessary for the evolution of the universe to lead to
life; otherwise the universe could not have come into existence:
But unless the blind dice of mutation and natural selection leads to life and
consciousness and observership at some point down the road, the universe could
not have come into being in the first place, according to the views under
exploration here; there would be nothing rather than something.

Wheelers reasoning contributes two significant insights. First, measurement
affects a complete quantum system and consequently all entanglements with other
quantum systems (these related quantum systems should be treated as a single quantum
system). The collapse affects the quantum system throughout all of time and space of its
existence and would imply determination of so-far indefinite states in the past. Second,
observership is necessary for anything to come into being (if being entails definiteness).
A universe without an observer is therefore unthinkable.
If the ability of conscious beings to cause wave function collapse is conceived of
as a factor in the evolutionary process, following Stapp, then the universe might have
been determined step by step as organisms selected configurations of the universe and
scenarios of matter that were beneficial for their survival. From such a model, I suggest,
we can deduce a reverse anthropic principle. Humans through their observation
contributed to the world becoming real as needed for their existence from a prior set of

Wheeler, Genesis and Observership, 44.
Ibid., 45.

potentialities that might have been divinely created. Such a mode of creation is
comparable to search algorithms known in the field of artificial intelligence. A huge set
of scenarios is generated and then evaluated for fitness with the needed solution.
methods from artificial intelligence are known to save significant engineering effort,
which would otherwise be necessary to determine the exact rules for a construction. God
might have had a very effective method to create the beings he wanted.
6. Conclusion
The disputes about the nature of quantum theory have strengthened the
Copenhagen interpretation. Hidden-variables theories have been successfully challenged
by theoretical or experimental evidence. The surviving theories are Bohms causal
interpretation (assuming that the long list of grievances against the theory can be
addressed) and the many-worlds theory (assuming that the problems with the
establishment of the relative state can be addressed somehow). Both theories postulate
unobservable entities. Apart from a set of thorny issues in the theory, Bohms quantum
potential is not measurable in principle, but without knowledge of the quantum potential,
a prediction of measurement outcomes is not possible just as in the standard theory. The
many-worlds theory postulates the splitting of the universe into multiple versions of
itself, with no access between the different universes, and therefore no way of
verification that the splitting is actually happening. Both of them can at best only be
considered to be cryptodeterminist theories. They are both more complex than the
Copenhagen interpretation and therefore Occams razor still dictates that the Copenhagen

Elaine Rich, Problems and Problem Spaces in Artificial Intelligence (Auckland: McGraw-Hill, 1983),

interpretation be preferred over them even after we have given these theories a few

In the end, we can only say that the understanding of the standard theory has been
refined through the challenges. The two alternative approaches under discussion do not
have advantages that would have led to the adoption of either theory. The Copenhagen
interpretationstill without a solution to the measurement problemhas survived as the
consensus in physics, while interesting and somewhat disquieting arguments for wave
function collapse through consciousness from senior theoretical physicists continue to be

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 10, 17.

Chapter Five
Contemporary Quantum Divine Action
1. Introduction
Much of the contemporary development of theories of divine action has taken
place in the context of the conferences and publications of the Vatican Observatory and
the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences (VO/CTNS) in Berkeley, California.
Common to all recent QDA approaches is an understanding of quantum theory to be
about quantum events and the notion of a hierarchy of scientific descriptions. At the
lowest level of this hierarchy is quantum theory, which describes the microscopic realm.
In the microscopic realm quantum events occur, which underlie the phenomena observed
in the macroscopic layer or higher layers, which in turn are described by classic physical
theories or descriptions from other scientific disciplines.
Most of those involved in contemporary approaches to divine action see quantum
theory as implying a fundamental openness in physical process, and suggest that divine
action can influence the outcome of quantum events without violating the laws of
quantum theory itself, resulting in noninterventionist divine action. In order to generate a
macroscopically visible effect either the outcome of the divine determination of a single
quantum event is amplified by other physical processes or a sufficiently large number of
quantum events are influenced by divine action. In special casessuch as gene
mutationa single quantum event can in itself trigger a macroscopic effect.
Fundamental to the worldview emerging from QDA proposals is the idea that a
large number of quantum events generate macroscopic events and phenomena. The
understanding of the world is therefore largely reductionist. A higher layer event is based

on quantities of lower level quantum events. The result of this approach is the
preservation of the intuitively easy way to visualize nature as composed of small
components that comprise larger entities.
The various advocates for theories of divine action disagree on how exactly to
understand this reductionism, how to conceive of the emergence of phenomena at higher
levels from lower levels, and how to interpret the indeterminacy and nature of the
quantum events. However, the objective observer-independent nature of reality and the
possibility of a hierarchical description is widely accepted.
The investigation here of contemporary divine action proposals begins with the
advocates for QDA. In the next section Robert Russells proposal for an epistemological
understanding of the hierarchyand his explanation of quantum events as resulting from
measurement or wave function collapseis investigated. Russell proposed to understand
God as acting in wave function collapse by determining the outcome. However, I find
that no scientific theory is given by Russell to support his notion of wave function
collapse in nature and that the given definition for quantum events is scientifically
The next two sections contain Nancey Murphys and Thomas Tracys proposed
theological refinements for the understanding of the mode of divine agency in quantum
events. Murphy understood divine action as occurring in all quantum events, but saw
divine action as having a kenotic nature and therefore as respecting the potentialities
possessed by the entities. This allowed the incorporation of quantum probabilities in the
divine determination of quantum events. Tracy conceived of God as only acting in a

limited number of quantum events. Tracys approach preserves the pure-chance nature of
quantum events and would allow a distinct means for Gods special divine action.
Finally, George Ellis, saw wave function collapse as a form of top-down action on
microevents. Ellis understood the world as characterized by strong bottom-up causality
and therefore all higher-level effects are considered to have their counterparts in lower
levels of the hierarchy. However, he explained that it is not possible to assign definite
properties to microevents in the top-down scheme. The ontological reality of the lowest
level (the quantum events) is therefore also brought into question by Ellis.
The following sections cover those who question the possibility of QDA. First,
John Polkinghorne was concerned about the viability of QDA proposals because of the
existence of alternate deterministic interpretations of quantum theory, which would not
allow an opening for divine action. Moreover, there are basic issues regarding the lack of
a solution to the measurement problem. Polkinghorne concluded that only with a solution
to the measurement problem would it be possible to identify events allowing divine
action as well as to distinguish between the macro- and the microworld.
Then the views of Nicholas Saunders are investigated. He has argued that QDA is
scientifically questionable and suggested that divine action as conceived by Russell,
Murphy, Tracy and Ellis should be considered as an interventionist approach, since God
determines the outcome of a quantum event, disregarding the potentialities emerging
from the wave function. Saunders contended that QDA is only possible if certain choices
are made with regard to the interpretation of quantum theory and the measurement
problem. QDA, if possible at all, would lead to God only able to act in a limited way that
severely restricts divine acts such as, for example, the steering of an asteroid into the

world to kill the dinosaurs. However, one could argue that Saunders confirmed the
scientific basis of QDA because Russells proposal of quantum events is accepted as a
Arthur Peacocke suggested an approach to divine action based on emergent
properties at higher levels of the hierarchy. Higher levels can generate novel phenomena
and higher levels can be undetermined even if the lower levels are deterministic.
Peacocke claimed that the quantum level does not allow a satisfactory concept of divine
Lastly, Peter Hodgson argued for an interventionist understanding based on the
view that the world works like a mechanism (as widely accepted by the Enlightenment
thinkers). Hodgsons view is a contemporary antiestablishment quantum-mechanical
In my opinion Polkinghorne correctly observed that a viable QDA scheme
requires the adoption of a solution to the measurement problem. Without such a solution,
the identification of quantum events subject to indeterminism is not possible and
therefore contemporary QDA approaches are questionable.
2. Robert John Russell: The Founder
2.1. Introduction
The editor of the VO/CTNS book series on divine action, Robert John Russell,

has been a leading advocate for an approach to view science and religion as compatible
rather than in conflict, and to understand divine action as possible through quantum

A biography of Robert Russell can be found on the Metanexus site at
<http://www.meta-library.net/bio/bobr-body.html> (accessed 16 July 2003).

indeterminacy. Russell is not only the central figure in the development of modern QDA
approaches but also the founder of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. His
primary expertise is physics; however, he became interested early on in relating science
to religion and completed two degrees in theology while pursuing his doctorate in
physics. CTNS focuses on providing a highly academic environment for the discussion of
issues in science and religion.

Russell viewed the nature of the scientific endeavor and also of theology as the
construction of working hypotheses through metaphors and models. These models are
then tested in the light of scientific data. Models in science and theology are always of a
provisional nature, to be refined when better models with higher explanatory power
become available.

According to Russell, scientific and theological theories can be arranged in a
hierarchy of epistemic levels, with each of the levels having its own consistency and a
degree of autonomy from other levels in the hierarchy:

The sciences and the humanities, including theology, can be placed in a series of
epistemic levels that reflect the increasing complexity of the phenomena they
study. In this epistemic hierarchy, lower levels place constraints on upper
levels (against two worlds), but upper levels cannot be reduced entirely to
lower levels (against epistemic reductionism). Thus, physics places constraints
on biology and neurophysiology on psychology. On the other hand, the
processes, properties, and the laws of the upper level (e.g. biology) cannot be
reduced entirely to those of the lower level (e.g. physics). Within this
hierarchy, each level involves similar methods of theory construction and testing.
Thus theological methodology is analogous to scientific methodology (though
with several important differences). This claim is both a description of the way
many theologians actually work and a prescription for progress in theological

Margaret Wertheim, Science and Religion: Blurring the Boundaries, Cover Story in Omni 17, no. 1
(October 1994).
Robert John Russell, Bodily Resurrection, Eschatology, and Scientific Cosmology in Ted Peters, Robert
John Russell, Michael Welker, eds., Resurrection: Theological and Scientific Assessments (Grand Rapids,
Michigan: Eerdmans, 2002), 1012.
Ibid., 11.

research. Theological doctrines are to be seen as working hypotheses held
fallibly, constructed through metaphors and models, and tested in the light of the
data of theology now including the results of the sciences.

In the epistemic hierarchy, a higher level is supervenient
on a lower level, which
means that the lower level (subvenient) is necessary for the emergence of properties at the
higher level.
Top-down causation or downward causation is the influence of a law
operating at a higher level on lower levels, as essentially a constraint on the lower level
Bottom-up causation is the emergence of new phenomena at a higher level,
through what seems to be an action of a large set of subsystems at a lower-level.
whole-part influence is the effect that a higher-level system as a whole has on lower level
parts that constitute the whole.

2.2. How God Acts
Russell saw that contemporary physics shows that nature is intrinsically open
and no longer a closed causal system. Recent developments in a variety of scientific and
philosophical fields allow new modes of reflection on nature, which allow Christians to
talk coherently about Gods action. Science and theology have an opportunity to enter
into a partnership instead of the traditional conflict:

Moreover, Gods action can be understood in a noninterventionist way, if the
case can be made that nature is intrinsically open and that top-down and
whole-part as well as bottom-up causality is at work in complex biological

Nancey Murphy, Supervenience and the Efficacy of the Mental in Russell, Murphy, Meyering and
Arbib, 148152.
Ibid., 161.
Ibid., 156.
Ian Barbour, Neuroscience, Artificial Intelligence, Human Nature in Russell, Murphy, Meyering and
Arbib, 269.
Robert John Russell, Does The God who Acts Really Act? New Approaches to Divine Action in the
Light of Science in Theology Today 54 (1997): 4365; Arthur Peacocke, The Sound of Sheer Silence in
Russell, Murphy, Meyering and Arbib, 221.
Russell, God who Acts, 4445.

systems like us. I find recent efforts in this direction promising and deserving of
further pursuit and broader recognition.

Today, because of changes in the natural sciences, including quantum physics,
genetics, evolution, and the mind-brain problem, and because of changes in
philosophy, including the move from reductionism to holism and the legitimacy
of including whole-part and top-down analysis, we can now understand special
providence as the objective acts of God in nature and history, to which we
respond, and we can understand these acts in a noninterventionist manner
consistent with science. Whether God did, or does, act in specific instances
remains an open question, of course, but it can no longer be ruled out
automatically by the charge of interventionism.

A case can now be made that nature, at least as understood by quantum physics
and perhaps in other areas of the natural sciences, is not the closed causal
mechanism of Newtonian science. Instead, it is more like an open, temporal
process with an ontology in which the genuine, material effects of human and
even divine agency are at least conceivable.

Russell viewed the case for divine action as resting on the central notion of
noninterventionism or more exactly noninterventionist objective special action.
Noninterventionism means that divine action does not suspend or intervene in the laws of
nature. However, Russell pointed out that it is interventionistic in the sense that God
chooses between multiple potentialities that a scenario might present instead of pure
chance weighed by the probabilities:

If nature is open to alternative possibilities, and the actual direction taken is not
determined by nature alone, then the course taken because of divine action
working with nature is a kind of intervention, although I prefer not to use this
term because of its connotation of violation or suspension of the laws of nature.
The point is that God brings to be that which would not otherwise have occurred,
not by changing things and processes but by actualizing potentialities and
possibilities. Gods acts are thus a part of creation, not manipulation.

Russells basic concept of divine action follows Pollards lines of reasoning,
which we have already discussed in Chapter Three. As long as nature is described by
regularities (laws of nature), these regularities are not violated by God. The

Ibid., 44.
Ibid., 45.
Ibid., 5051.
Ibid., 51. Russell in Divine Action, 295, argues differently that events in nature are not sufficiently
determined. God acts in the un-determined aspects of nature.
Russell, God who Acts, 51, footnote 20.

indeterministic elements of nature result in an openness for divine action and God can
determine the outcome of those elements.
In contrast to Pollard, Russell argued for the primacy of a bottom-up,
noninterventionist and objective approach to divine action involving Gods ability to act
directly at the quantum level.
God can affect the macroscopic level since the underlying
quantum layers ultimately cause all macroscopic effects. However, Gods action is
hidden in principle from science through the indeterminacy of quantum mechanics.

Russell was describing divine action in terms of Heisenbergs understanding of quantum
A quantum system is, ontologically, a simultaneous variety of distinct but merely
potential states. Suddenly one of them becomes actual at a specific moment in
time. This interpretation now lends itself to our theological claim: Before God
acts, the quantum system is in a superposition of potential states. But when God
acts, the effect of that action together with that specific superposition, decides
which quantum outcome becomes actual. Now the system is in a definite state,
and it can lead to specific results in the future.

Divine action is the determination of the outcome of a measurement event when
the wave function collapses. The outcome takes into account the probabilities emerging
from the superposition. At the level of the purely scientific description, there are already
two factors that determine the outcome: the probabilities and the chance factor. The
probabilities that are described by the superposition can be experimentally verified in the
laboratory. Therefore, one cannot claim that the outcome is simply determined by divine
action, unless it is argued that the chance-based behavior, described by the probabilities,
is reflected in divine action. Consequently, Russell proposed an understanding of divine
action at the quantum level in two different modes:

Russell, Divine Action, 293.
Ibid., 295.
Russell, Special Providence, 210.

(1) We can view God as acting, in general, at the level of quantum physics, to
create the general characteristics and properties of the classical world, and (2) in
addition, we can view God as acting, in particular quantum events, to produce
indirectly a specific event at the macroscopic level, one we can call an event of
special providence.

The theological distinction between general providence and special divine action
(or special providence) surfaces here. General providence is identified as the regular
probabilistic behavior of quantum events, and special divine action with the
determination of outcomes in order to cause a special divine effect.
The probabilities
emerging from the wave function represent general divine action sustaining the world and
result in the characteristics of the macroscopic world.
Special divine action arises
because of a coordination and influence of God on multiple quantum events to produce a
desired event at another level. Russell saw the nature of quantum theory to be particularly
suited for a theistic interpretation, since God acts together with nature to bring about
quantum events. What we normally take as nature is really nature and God.

Russells response to Saunderss analysis of the method of divine influence in
QDA confirms this view:
I agree with Saunders that I and several others probably fit into his fourth
approach: as Saunderss puts it, God ignores the probabilities predicted by
orthodox quantum mechanics and simply controls the outcomes of particular
measurements. (I would rather say that God acts with nature to bring about the
outcomes of particular measurement consistent with the probabilities given
before the event occurs.)

Russell has suggested an integrated account of QDA in terms of top-down
causality, whole-part constraints and bottom-up causality. All three accounts are

Russell, God who Acts, 58. He first mentioned this understanding 1988 in Quantum Physics in
Philosophical and Theological Perspective in Russell, Stoeger and Coyne, 363365.
Russell, Divine Action, 299300. These ideas have a strong similarity with Tracys approach discussed
Ibid., 316.
Russell, God who Acts, 58.
Russell, Divine Action, 296, foot note 11.

necessary for a satisfactory model of divine action.
However, Russell saw it necessary
to give an account of divine action in terms of bottom-up causality first, because it is not
possible to use top-down and whole-part constraints before the emergence of biological
entities and human recognition. In the early universe divine action can only be envisioned
if God is able to act directly at the lowest level of the physical processes.

Divine action in a bottom-up scheme is effective through an indirect influence on
the macroscopic level through indeterminacy from the quantum level in a bottom-up
fashion. Quantum events are the smallest lower-level parts that influence the wholes at
the higher levels, and consequentlyaccording to Russelldivine action at this lowest
level can influence all other levels in the hierarchy.
2.3. The Interpretations of Quantum Theory
Russells view of the nature of the general scientific and theological endeavor is
to build models of reality that might be replaced later with models that are more accurate.
Following Bohr, Russell distinguished in quantum theory between the formalism
(physical theory) and its interpretation.
Quantum theory is of a provisional nature, as
it is virtually certain that quantum physics will be replaced eventually by a new theory,
which will most likely contain it as a limiting case.
Therefore, Russell maintains that
quantum theory is a descriptionbut not necessarily a true representationof actual

Ibid., 294.
Ibid., 301.
Robert John Russell, Philosophical and Theological Perspective, 348.
Russell, God who Acts, 57.

If quantum theory is of a provisional nature, then the status of the various
interpretations of quantum mechanics is unresolved and any of the available
interpretations could turn out to be the best interpretation. A particular difficulty exists
related to deterministic interpretations of quantum theory, because theories of divine
action depend on the existence of indeterminacy. Advocates of QDA cannot avoid the
choice of an indeterministic interpretation, and Russell chose the Copenhagen
interpretation, which is the most widely accepted interpretation by physicists.

Russell contended that it is possible (but not necessary) to interpret quantum
mechanics philosophically in terms of ontological indeterminism (as found in the
Copenhagen interpretation).
However, Bohrs interpretation of quantum theory
typically seen to be the canonical interpretationis merely an epistemological
description, indicating how to perform experiments and what results to expect. Bohr
explicitly renounced an ontological interpretation (as we have seen in Chapter Two).
Russell therefore followed Heisenbergs version of the Copenhagen interpretation, which
(as also seen in Chapter Two) allows a partial ontologization of quantum theory.
particular Russell insisted that indeterminacy is ontologically real, which means that a
defense against the claims that dispute the indeterministic nature of the world, especially
Bohmian quantum mechanics mentioned by other contributors to VO/CTNS volumes, is
The ways of conceiving of quantum mechanics as deterministic have been
discussed thoroughly in Chapters Two and Four. Here we will only trace the development

Russell, Divine Action, 302.
Ibid., 293.
Russell, Special Providence, 203; idem, Divine Action, 302.

of Russells thought on the subject. A thorough interpretation of quantum theory also
needs to address the problem of wave function collapse outside of the laboratory,
something that is not provided by Heisenbergs understanding. Russells unique solution
to the measurement problem will be discussed in the next section.
In his initial paper on divine action in 1988, Russell understood Bohm to argue
that potentialities characterize a quantum system until a measurement is taken, which is
compatible with the Copenhagen interpretation and also reflects the understanding of
some physicists, including Belinfante and Stapp, of Bohms work. Russell suggested that
Bohm could be understood also to argue for indeterminism because there is no difference
in the predictive power of the two interpretations.
In 1997 and 1998, Russell understood
Bohm to have provided a deterministic account of wave function collapse, and therefore
an alternate account that truly competes with Copenhagen interpretation. This would
result in the indeterminism at the basis of QDA to be a matter of choice. However, he
reasoned that Bohms conception of the world is nonclassic and would not allow the
return to a classic deterministic world. Russells reasoning here seems to be based on
Cushings investigation of the history of quantum theory.
In 2001, Russell elaborated
on that position and argued that Bohmian quantum mechanics is inferior to the
Copenhagen interpretation because of nonlocality, the quantum potential and action-at-a-
In an appendix to his 2001 article, Russell sketched how a comparison
between the Copenhagen interpretation and Bohmian quantum theory could help clarify

Russell, Philosophical and Theological Perspective, 350.
Russell, Special Providence, 202203, footnote 30; idem, God who Acts, 57; Cushing, Quantum
Russell, Divine Action, 304.

the nature of indeterminism and allow the recovery of central elements of the
Copenhagen interpretation from Bohmian quantum mechanics.

Russells suggestions regarding Bohmian determinism and the outline of how to
develop an argument against Bohm or how to integrate Bohms approach in Divine
Action and Quantum Mechanics are largely based on material from James Cushings
book Quantum Mechanics published in 1994. Cushing had an early copy of Bohms
masterpiece, The Undivided Universe (1993), available shortly before publication,
Cushings notes give ample evidence that Bohms latest arguments did not flow into
Cushings book. Russells argument against Bohms interpretation is therefore more an
argument against Cushings perception of the early Bohm rather than against Bohm
As pointed out in Chapter Four, there is reasonable doubt that the late Bohm
understood his theory as deterministic. Russell focused on the 1952 version of Bohms
theory since it was at the center of the discussion about indeterminism.
Bohms theory did not change, only Bohms assessment of his theory being deterministic
changed. Bohms later evaluation was not considered in the discussion.
2.4. Quantum Events
Russell did not commit to any model proposed by physicists for the solution to the
measurement or wave function collapse problems. However, wave function collapse is
the point at which the quantum events at the bottom of the epistemic hierarchy come into

Ibid., 324328.
Cushing, Quantum Mechanics, 255, note 1.
There is no space here to deal with Cushings argument in detail. A response to his revisionist view of
the history of quantum theory and an investigation of the tensions of Cushings understanding with Bohms
Undivided Universe is beyond the scope of this text.
Private communication 21 August 2003.

In his article Quantum Physics in Philosophical and Theological Perspective,

written in 1988, Russell simply suggested that interpretations of quantum theory play no
role in quantum calculations and predictions. One of the potentialities is actually realized
in measurement as explained by Heisenberg in The Copenhagen Interpretation.

However, Heisenbergs article restricts the discussion to measurement and wave function
collapse using a classically described measurement device in the laboratory, with no
discussion of how measurement could be understood outside of a laboratory setting.
In 1988, Russell simply accepted Heisenbergs description of a measurement.
is evident, although probably not intended, from the use of atomic and quantum
system that wave function collapse is understood to be happening on the scale of one
atom or one particle. For example, Russell discusses the decay of a large set of unstable
atoms and considers each of them to actually decay individually in separate events, which
are the basic quantum events:
One prepares a sample containing trillions of identical atoms and simply waits.
Suddenly atoms literally at random begin to decay. Each event is, as far as we
can tell, without cause. Quantum chance is not just accident, the unforeseen (but,
in principle, predictable) intersection of two causal streams. Quantum events
behave as though they are uncaused; their surprise is of a different order than we
experience in our daily lives. Moreover, these surprise events radically change
the history of the system involved. Atoms decay; they do not reassemble on
their own. Quantum physics reveals that nature is full of surprise:
deterministic causal explanation falls short of the reality being revealed, and the
world is radically changed and transformed at each quantum event.

Robert John Russell, Quantum Physics in Philosophical and Theological Perspective in Russell,
Stoeger and Coyne.
Heisenberg, The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory in Physics and Philosophy, 4458.
Russell, Philosophical and Theological Perspective, 349.
Ibid., 355356.

In his 1998 article Special Providence and Genetic Mutation,
addressed the problem of the understanding of measurement and suggested an extension
of Heisenbergs understanding by considering measurements to be occurring constantly
in the universe. Russell defined wave function collapse or measurement as occurring in
irreversible interactions of particles with larger aggregates of matter. This is basically a
generalization of the laboratory situation, discussed by Heisenberg, in nature:
What is crucial to realize is that we need not restrict the term measurement to a
laboratory experiment. Instead such events occur constantly in the universe
whenever elementary particles interact irreversibly with molecules, gases, solids
and plasmas.

The definition given is provisional and Russell understood this definition to cover
an array of possible approaches to the measurement problem. He stated in a footnote that
it is irrelevant what position one takes on the issue of measurement:
Any careful attempt to answer this question leads us directly into complex and
unsettled issues in the philosophical foundations of quantum mechanics, and they
are made even more complicated when Bells theorem and its implications about
non-locality and non-separability are considered. The theoretical issues lying
behind the measurement process thus form one of the most subtle and most
controverted topics in all of quantum physics. A full treatment would take far
more space than is possible here. Still, for the purposes of this paper, the point I
wish to emphasize is that whatever position one takes about the measurement
problem, the phenomenon it refers to is ubiquitous in nature and is not restricted
to the performing of measurements in the lab.

A further refinement followed in his 2001 article Divine Action and Quantum
Mechanics: A Fresh Assessment.
The reasoning from the Heisenberg interpretation is

Robert John Russell, Special Providence and Genetic Mutation in Russell, Stoeger and Ayala.
Ibid., 204. See also page 212 and 214.
Ibid., 204.
Robert John Russell, Divine Action and Quantum Mechanics in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and
Polkinghorne, 293328.

fortified further, but is still characterized as a provisional choice in order to explore the
implications of this interpretation:

I will engage in the theological conversation with quantum mechanics by
choosing one particular philosophical interpretation (ontological indeterminism
within the Copenhagen interpretation).

Russell then clarified what constitutes a quantum event, although he still noted
the deeply unresolved status of the measurement problem,
and consequently one must
consider the proposals regarding the measurement process more as a suggestion of a
provisional nature.
However, Russells writings regarding the nature of quantum events
are the only source available for the definition of quantum events. Russell began by
noting the two processes specified by von Neumann governing quantum behavior:
We begin with a well-known distinction that arises in the Copenhagen
interpretation between (i) the time development of the wave function of a
quantum system, as governed by the deterministic Schrdinger equation, and (ii)
the irreversible interaction between the quantum system and other systems. Ex
hypothesi, these systems must be of such size and complexity that their
interaction with the quantum system is, at least in practice, irreversible, i.e. the
Schrdinger equation does not apply. Irreversible interactions are routinely called

Russell concluded from Heisenbergs article that size and complexity are
characteristics of a classic and therefore macroscopic system. However, Heisenberg
followed Bohr in stating that a classic scientific description of a measurement device is
necessary. It is therefore an issue of the theory used for the description of the instrument
and not an objective issue of size or complexity.
Russell then suggested that the
implication is that the Schrdinger equation only applies at a certain scale. The term in

Ibid., 304305.
Ibid., 304.
Ibid., 308.
He also referred to Elliss work in the same volume. See Russell, Divine Action, 308, footnote 51.
Ibid., Divine Action, 306.
Heisenberg, Copenhagen interpretation, 52.

practice usually means that some factors are neglected or considered to be irrelevant.
This is reminiscent of Omns understanding of measurement and might be considered an
argument from decoherence (see Chapter Six).
Russell then continued to explore a variety of interactions that he suggested to be
irreversible and therefore constitute measurement (quantum) events. These must be
understood to arise from the need to defend the quantity of quantum events against
arguments by Polkinghorne that they are sporadic,
and it is also necessary to realize that
Russell did not want to make any claims regarding the validity of any theory of wave
function collapse.
Russell said that his method of argument should be understood in
comparison to the use of a Hammera rough argumentuntil a more refined
approach becomes possible.

Micro-Macro interactions are interactions between a classically described
measurement instrument and a microscopic system, as envisioned by the founders of the
Copenhagen interpretation. Russell reasoned that such interactions are irreversible, which
would follow directly from Bohrs and Heisenbergs proposal of the Copenhagen
interpretation. However, the Copenhagen interpretation does not clarify what constitutes
a macrosystem. The measurement device can be described by a wave function, as already
proposed by von Neumann in 1932, which results in a superposition rather than a classic
result during measurement.
If size determines the macroscopic nature of an object, then the question that
needs to be answered is: What is the exact size when wave function collapse happens?

Private communication by Russell 18 August 2003.
Russell, Divine Action, 306307.
Private communication by Russell 21 August 2003.

When is an object a macroscopic object? The solution to the measurement problem will
determine the border between macro- and microworld. Russell used the border (using the
notion of macroscopic) to conclude how the border is to be established.
Micro-Meso interactions are between elementary particles and (sub-)
microscopic objects with enough degrees of freedom to make the interaction irreversible
(at least in practice).
As in the micro-macro case, so also the mesosystem can be given
a quantum-mechanical description, and the interaction can then be expressed as a
superposition, without necessarily being irreversible.
Micro-Micro interactions are typically reversible; however, Russell suggested that
certain scattering phenomena or pair production and annihilation processes might
constitute irreversible events in complex environments. However, quantum field theory
considers pair-creation and annihilation ongoing in any interaction (scattering is the
prime example used to teach quantum field theory) with the amount of virtual pair-
creation increasing as one increases the detail of the analysis. Russells approach could
imply that wave function collapse would happen instantaneously everywhere if we would
consider the world to comprise a complex environment, since these omnipresent pairs are
most likely entangled with other particles. The immediate collapses would suppress all
quantum effects.
However, pair production and annihilation are known to be reversible

Russell, Divine Action, 306.
This argument was gathered from various sources since I could not locate a similar claim in the literature
on measurement. Jochen Rau, Entropy Production via Particle Production [online] (Heidelberg, Germany:
Max-Planck-Institut fr Kernphysik, 1994), <http://www.mpipks-dresden.mpg.de/~jochen>; accessed 16
July 2003; Michael E. Peskin and Daniel V. Schroeder, Quantum Field Theory, 13; Wheeler, Geons, 148.
Russell refers to Michael Berry, Chaos and the Semiclassical Limit of Quantum Mechanics in Russell,
Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, 4154, for details on his argument. However, pair creation
and annihilation are not discussed by Berry. Berry focuses on issues in quantum chaos and cites an article,
Quantum Theory Needs No Interpretation, by Fuchs and Peres on page 43 showing his preference to
Footnotes continued on next page.

processes in quantum theory and no other known irreversible processes exist in quantum
theoryat the microscopic levelexcept for measurement.

In summary, Russell defined again what he understands to constitute a
The term measurement should include all irreversible interactions in nature
from micro-micro to micro-macro. What is crucial, then, to making an interaction
a measurement is not that it involve something macro but that it is

Again, d`Espagnat, along with others in the physics community, has pointed out
that wave function collapse or measurement is the only irreversible process in quantum
Belinfante states that a measurement must be performed in the microscopic
realm before any process can be considered to be irreversible.
Any microscopic or
macroscopic interaction can be expressed by a superposition, as is evident from the
paradox of Schrdingers cat. In the list of scenarios for irreversible interactions, Russell
has given criteria for wave function collapse based on macroscopic phenomena that are
produced by microscopic processes after wave function collapse or measurement has
taken place. However, as long as wave function collapse has not taken place, these
irreversible interactions are mere potentialities. Does a quantum system itself that
develops the potentiality for an irreversible interaction perform a measurement or wave

understand wave function collapse like Bohr, as an epistemological issue and not an objective process. This
seems not to support Russells argument.
Ilya Prigogine, The End of Certainty: Time, Chaos, and the New Laws of Nature (New York: Free Press,
1996), 53; Asher Peres, Can we undo Quantum Measurements? in Physical Review, D22 (1980): 879
883; Reprinted in Zurek and Wheeler, 692694; David Bohm, Quantum Theory (New York: Dover
Publications, 1951), 608609; Bohm, Causality & Chance, 160.
Russell, Divine Action, 307. The argument might weaken the earlier argument for the irreversibility of
macro-micro interactions.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 455460; von Neumann, Messung und Reversibilitt in Quantenmechanik,
Belinfante, Measurements, 5589, 96.

function collapse? If the quantum system develops multiple potentialities for these
macroscopically considered irreversible interactions, then which one is realized?
What is common among the irreversible interaction scenarios discussed above is
the desire to locate the process of measurement on a very small scale in nature, so that
many quantum events can be generated that could be subject to divine action. However,
measurement also results in an influence on the system being measured. The elementary
particles go into an eigenstate during measurement, which suppresses interference and
nonlocal effects. If wave function collapse would actually happen at the scale of one or a
few particles, as Russell seemed to envision, then, as stated by Zeh, Belinfante and
others, those phenomena and others such as superconductivity and superfluidity would be
suppressed in nature.

Russells understanding of measurement in 2001 is at variance with his earlier
writing. In 1988, he wrote:
Fermi and Bose statistics also suggest that the behavior of quantum systems
cannot merely be analyzed in terms of the behavior of its parts. Bose
condensation and the Pauli exclusion principle, for example, apply to systems of
particles and seem to have little meaning for individual particles. The features
they describe are not mere extensions of the properties of the individual particles.
However one accounts for this (in terms of the several interpretations of quantum
physics discussed below), phenomenologically quantum systems display new and
irreducible features which are strikingly different from mere composites of those
of their components. The laws applicable to quantum systems, such as quantum
statistics, are more than mere generalizations of the laws governing its
component parts. Quantum statistics thus suggests for quantum systems a holistic
character strikingly different from classic systems.

Quantum systems therefore can not be taken apart as necessary for the existence
of quantum events. However, in 2001 Russell seemed to propose that measurement be

Zeh, Decoherence, 22; Belinfante, Measurements, 51. This problem is characteristic of the stochastic
collapse models discussed in Chapter Six.
Russell, Philosophical and Theological Perspective, 345.

conceived of sometimes as involving minuscule quantum events, which might destroy the
holistic features of these quantum systems.
George Ellis has also reviewed the notion of wave function collapse and the
quantum event. The irreducible, holistic features emerging from quantum systems
consisting of a large number of particles, such as superfluidity and superconductivity, are
understood as cooperative phenomena between multiple microevents (the components
at the lowest level comparable to Russells quantum events) that act as a whole. The
individual characteristics of those particles disappear. Ellis showed that if such a quantum
system is taken apart and analyzed particle by particle, then the holistic effects no longer
Measurements on individual particles or microevents would cause a suppression
of the cooperative effect. Consequently, individual particles do not possess properties of
their own in such a situation, and therefore microevents cannot be given an individual
description. Classic reductionistic ideas break down at this point.
The aggregate as a
whole must be considered as a unity at least for such phenomena as superfluidity and

The understanding of an event as an interaction results in other complications
arising from its peculiar microscopic behavior in quantum theory. Measurement or wave
function collapse can also take place without a macroscopically understood interaction,
and therefore can only be considered to constitute an interaction if the collapse of the
wave function in the microrealm is included in the definition of a macroscopic
interaction. This can happen in the case of a null-measurement. Consider, for example, a

George Ellis, Quantum Theory and the Macroscopic World in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and
Polkinghorne, 261.
Ibid., 262.
Ellis, Quantum Theory and the Macroscopic World, 260261.

situation described by a wave function with two possible outcomes, that of a particle
arriving at A or at B. If no particle is detected at A in one run of the experiment, then no
macroscopic interaction has occurred. However, we know now that the particle must have
gone to B and therefore the wave function collapses. This means that wave function
collapse, and therefore a quantum theoretical interaction, has happened in this case
because of the absence of a macroscopic interaction at A.

2.5. Conclusion
Russells concept of nature is twofold. On the one hand are the quantum
propensities of the microrealm that are not considered real. The macrorealm emerges
from the microrealm through wave function collapse and generates the world we
experience in our everyday lives.
This is in marked contrast to the indefinite quantum
worldviews espoused by Stapp and Heim. The VO/CTNS authors maintain the classic
picture of the world as definite at a large scale. However (as seen in the previous section)
the distinction between both is not well defined and the notion of a quantum event is
questionable. Nonlocality as well as entanglement, seen by Schrdinger as a key
characteristic of quantum theory, raise significant question regarding such an
understanding. These effects might be expressed as cooperative phenomena in a
reductionistic worldview, as suggested by Ellis, for the price of losing the objective
characteristics of the small components.

Erich Joos, Decoherence Through Interaction with the Environment in Guilini, Kiefer, Kupsch,
Stamatescu and Zeh, 112113.
Russell, Philosophical and Theological Perspective, 367.

3. Nancey Murphy: The Kenotic Approach
Nancey Murphy has provided two milestones in the development of the divine
action proposals. Her 1995 article Divine Action in the Natural Order in Chaos and
brought a series of theological ideas into QDA, and Russell still credits
Murphy for ideas in his current proposal for divine action.
Murphy has been a key
player in the development of terms like noninterventionism characteristic of modern
divine action proposals.
The book she authored in 1996 together with Ellis, On the
Moral Nature of the Universe,
developed the theme of the kenotic character of divine
action. Murphy understood Russell to suggest that the world consists of macrolevel and
microlevel objects, which can be conceived of in a reductionistic fashion. All macro-
objects ultimately are composed of entities of atomic and subatomic physics.

Quantum events from the microlevel result in macrolevel events. Divine action is
possible by God causing macrolevel events through the intentional orchestration of the
vastly many microevents.
The account of divine action is therefore visualizable using a
traditional reductionistic-atomist conception of nature.

Murphy proposed that divine action at the quantum level does not have an
arbitrary character but that the entities in the world have natural rights that God
What God has created has been created with "some measure of independence

Murphy, Divine Action.
Russell, Divine Action, 300, 301, 315, 316.
Russell, Special Providence, 193, footnote 6.
Murphy and Ellis.
Murphy, Divine Action, 342.
Ibid., 346.
Private communication 18 August 2003.
Ibid., 340.

and a nature of its own."
God is influencing quantum events to bring about an outcome
consistent with the potential behavior of the created entities. Within those limits, Murphy
saw God to be free to bring about extraordinary events.

Murphy went on to say that God can determine the outcome of any quantum
event, because "God is the hidden variable."
Murphy contented that the thesis of pure
random determination of the outcome of quantum events is not in conformity with the
principle of sufficient reason
and therefore God must be considered as an influence in
all quantum events:
God must not be made a competitor with processes that on other occasions are
sufficient in and of themselves to bring about a given effect. In addition, if Gods
presence is identified with Gods efficacy then a God who acts only occasionally
is a God who is usually absent. So our theological intuitions urge upon us the
view that, in some way, God must be a participant in every (macro-level) event.
God is not one possible cause among the variety of natural causes; Gods action
is a necessary but not sufficient condition for every (post-creation) event. In
addition, I claim that Gods participation in each event is by means of his
governance of the quantum events that constitute each macro-level event.

However, Murphy saw that divine action in each quantum event could result in
divine omnideterminism and therefore in the problem of evil as seen in Pollards divine
action proposal. She suggested that in exercising divine agency God respects not only the
laws of quantum theory at the micro-level but also the inherent created characteristics of
entities at higher levelsrespecting their natural rights. Murphy felt that she steers a
course between making God responsible for everything and undercutting any possibility
for divine action.
God restricts extraordinary divine action in order to maintain our

Ibid., 341.
Ibid., 343.
Ibid., 342.
Murphy, Divine Action, 342.
Ibid., 343.
Russell, Divine Action, 315; Murphy, Divine Action, 343, 355356.

ability to believe in an orderly and dependable natural environment.
With that move
the problem of evil arising from the omnideterminism of Pollard is avoided.

Murphy and Ellis book On the Moral Nature of the Universe was focused on the
nature of the universe rather than on divine action. The universe is seen to be anthropic,
providing features for the appearance of humans, and therefore as a moral universe.

The universe is law-like, encouraging humans to respond with certain moral behavior.
God respects the law-like nature of the universe and does not override the regular
operative principles of the universe. This kenotic approach, although described in a
different way, also characterizes Murphys divine action proposal in Chaos and
Complexity. Quantum indeterminacy is seen by her to be the best possible way that
noninterventionist, noncoercive divine action could work. Quantum indeterminacy makes
the universe an open system for Murphy and Ellis. They reasoned that quantum
indeterminacy may be necessary in order to allow genuine top-down causation.

4. George Ellis: Top-Down Causality
George Ellis
is a professor of complex systems at the University of Capetown,
South Africa. He has authored numerous books on physics and the implications of
physics for the nature of the universe, and among them The Large Scale Structure of
Space-Time with Stephen Hawking in 1973
and On the Moral Nature of the Universe
with Nancey Murphy in 1996 (mentioned before).

Murphy, Divine Action, 348.
Murphy, Divine Action, 348; Saunders, Divine Action, 117118, casts doubts on that argument.
Murphy and Ellis, 203.
Ibid., 213.
Elliss homepage at the University of Capetown is <http://vishnu.mth.uct.ac.za/~webpages/ellis>
(accessed 16 July 2003).
Hawking and Ellis.

Ellis saw divine action as possible through quantum uncertainty at the
microlevel that allows God acting in the world in a causally effective manner without
violating the laws of physics.
It is of a kenotic nature, as discussed previously with
reference to the book with Murphy.
Ellis suggested that quantum uncertainty might be
the expression of a process of a nonlocal nature, like a hidden-variables theory, in which
God or consciousness acts as the hidden variables. The common objection against such a
proposal is based on the assumption of an ontological reality of quantum uncertainty,
implying that quantum outcomes are determined by pure chance. Ellis suggested that the
determination of quantum outcomes is fully under Gods control, while seeming random
to humans.
Divine action is a bottom-up process and Ellis claimed that a divine
influence on masses of microevents can cause macroscopic events.

Analogous to Comptons solution to the problem of human free will, Ellis
reasoned that human agency works in a similar way to divine action when we activate
numerous individual cells in our arm to make muscles move as a result of a decision
to move our hand. Such a set of microevents constitute a holistic macro-action that can
be simply seen as a top-down action. Divine action is envisioned by Ellis in the same way
as a top-down influence through bottom-up causation at the quantum level.

Ellis did not understand the hierarchy of descriptions to be of an epistemic nature
as Russell did. Ellis stated that each of the levels in the hierarchy needs to be understood

Ellis, Quantum Theory, 282283.
Ibid., 285288.
Ibid., 288.
Ibid., 289.
Ibid., 290.

as being ontologically real with top-down and bottom-up action taking place between
each layer.
Top-down action depends on lower level actions:
By top-down action, higher-level entities coordinate vast numbers of actions at
the lower level so as to produce the desired effect at the higher levels; thus
bottom-up action takes place in a way that is controlled in a top-down manner.
This is how the higher-level entities are able to act in a way that is meaningful at
the higher level, so that there is an ontological reality of higher levels of the
hierarchy, which can be considered as comprising entities existing in their own
right and with their own effective laws of behavior.

The relationships between the different layers in the hierarchy is to be understood
like the virtual environments in a software architecture that typically constitutes the logic
of contemporary computers.
Ellis suggested therefore that the top-level phenomena in
the hierarchy are to be understood in a strongly reductionist way. The top-level
phenomena are determined exclusively by the lower-level. The independent causality and
phenomenology at the higher levels is dependent on the implementation of these
phenomena using the lower-level structures.

Ellis held that quantum theory is the basis for the understanding of most of the
commonly observed physical phenomena as well as the nature of matter and causality.
Quantum theory is underlying the various levels of structure and determinism in the
physical world.
The top-down effects occur everywhere, and therefore Ellis reasoned
that top-down effects must be based in quantum theory in two ways.
First, the wave
functions represent the environment including macroscopic objects and any other

George F. R. Ellis, Natures of Existence in Ellis, ed., The Far-Future Universe: Eschatology from a
Cosmic Perspective (Philadelphia: Templeton Foundation Press, 2002), 327.
Ibid., 319320.
Ibid., 319.
Ellis, Quantum Theory, 259. As a software developer, I have designed and implemented several of
these virtual environments. Elliss illustration was very helpful to me.
Ibid., 260.
Ibid., 265.

complex structures as well as a possible experimental setup. From those wave functions,
the probabilities for the potential outcomes are determined. Therefore, there is a top-
down influence on the quantum system.
Second, Ellis claimed the central additional
feature, where top-down action takes place, is in the collapse of the wave function to an
eigenstate. However, it is at this point that the notion of top-down causation breaks down
because there are no lower-level components that can be isolated. Wave function collapse
is a holistic process. We have to ask how can wave function collapse be understood as a
top-down effect when there are no vast number of actions at a lower level?

In marked difference to Russells conception of wave function collapse to
constitute quantum events as the smallest components, Ellis conceived of wave function
collapse as a top-down action on microevents. It seems that Ellis sees microevents to
exist at the micro-level that have a degree of independence from wave function collapse.
Ellis reasoned that wave function collapse is a problematic concept because it is unclear
when wave function collapse takes place in a naturally evolving system with
interactions, but without a conscious observer present.
Ellis decoupled his
understanding of nature from wave function collapse: Entities exist independently of our
ability to investigate their influence in events.
Ellis understands macroscopic quantum effects like superconductivity as
cooperative effects between multiple lower level entities as a result of quantum
entanglement. However, he stated that these effects require the consideration of the whole

Ellis, Quantum Theory, 266. The wave function is a complete description of the physical situation and
therefore includes the effect of the setup of the measurement apparatus, decoherence and state
preparation that are mentioned as other ways that the environment might influence a quantum system (see
page 267).
Ellis, Quantum Theory, 266; Ellis, Natures, 319320.
Ellis, Quantum Theory, 266.

system of entities as one quantum system and consequently such an understanding does
not permit us to assign a definite quantum state to each of the individual subsystems.

Quantum entanglement, a characteristic ubiquitous in nature, undermines the
reductionist idea at its very heart: The individual components do not possess specific
properties of their own right!
In other words, Ellis holds that the reductionist approach
fails in quantum theory and we are discussing entities that might be understood only as
possessing properties in a counterfactual way. If we would measure them, then the large-
scale holistic phenomena would be destroyed. However, Ellis reasoned that decoherence
typically limits this effect and allows the recovery of the parts in the whole:
One must consider cooperative effects between the constituent components that
modify their very nature. Because of quantum entanglement, it is difficult even to
talk of individual properties of constituent parts. But if the constituent particles at
the microlevel dont even have individual properties, a simplistic reductionist
view is undermined. In practice in many cases, because of decoherence (induced
by the top-down effect of the environment) the system may be regarded as
composed of individual particles with well-defined properties. But this
approximation is valid only because the interference terms are small. In principle
the particles have no separate existence. It can be suggested that our worldview
should take this seriously, if indeed we take quantum theory seriously.

The influence of decoherence on systems means that the interference terms are
becoming small and therefore the likelihood of alternate scenarios becomes smaller.
Actual wave function collapse might be understood to be happening through quantum
decoherence, if it is assumed that the interference terms vanish completely. However,
Ellis here clearly saw decoherence as an approximation and argued that our worldview
has not considered the full implications of quantum theory.

Ibid., 261.
Ibid., 261262.
Ibid., 270.
Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 30.

The challenge to reductionism has led Ellis to see reductionism more as a
guiding paradigm which can be used in the faith that this approach can succeed in
Impressive cases exist where the reductionist endeavor succeeds. However,
he stated that it must be realized that reductionism is not justified as universally
applicable because the purely reductionist approach misses higher-level structures and is
unable to provide a basis to understand the holistic aspects. Ellis stated that a reductionist
understanding is only applicable in bottom-up causation if the components involved
retain their individual properties.
Ellis insists that a reductionist understanding is not
appropriate for top-down causation when cooperative phenomena result in
fundamentally changed behavior in those constituents. The two features together lead
to the emergence of nonreducible properties. This is particularly true in quantum

Ellis recognized that the central weakness of contemporary QDA proposals is the
absence of an account of wave function collapse. He sees the impossibility of a
reductionist conception of nature and has considered to some degree the potential role of
consciousness and the possibility of applying quantum theory to macroscopic objects.
5. Thomas Tracy: God Acts Only in Some Quantum Events
Thomas Tracy is a professor of religion at Bates College. He suggested in 1995
that causal gaps must exist in the nature of the world if God is conceived to be acting
after the world was established.
The world might have an open structure that would

Ellis,Quantum Theory, 272.
Ellis,Quantum Theory, 272.
Ibid., 272.
Thomas Tracy, Particular Providence and the God of the Gaps in Russell, Murphy and Peacocke,

allow divine action without disrupting the causal structure.
However, in 2001 Tracy
saw that viable options have been developed to avoid the need to account for divine
action through causal gaps. The new idea is to use concepts of divine foreknowledge that
would enable God to determine all that he wills to effect in the world at the point of
Tracy seemed to be giving up on earlier proposals of divine action through
quantum indeterminacy. For Tracy quantum theory offered a bewildering variety of
different ways of interpretation and he concluded that the question of indeterminism is
not settled.
Following one interpretation would risk that the theological constructions
could be undercut by new developments.

However, Tracys earlier approach to the determination of quantum events was
unique and is therefore worth investigating. In his earlier work Tracy followed Russell
and interpreted quantum theory as implying the existence of quantum events. Tracy
followed a Thomist conception of events and therefore the first option of understanding
divine action that he developed is similar to the one proposed by Mascall: Secondary
causes do not fully determine the outcome. The first cause, God, determines the outcome.
Such an approach would imply the possibility of direct divine action without violating the
causal structures of the world.
However, divine determination of these events would

Thomas Tracy, Divine Action, Created Causes, and Human Freedom in Thomas Tracy, ed., The God
Who Acts: Philosophical and Theological Explorations (University Park, Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania State
University Press, 1994), 100.
Thomas Tracy, Creation, Providence, and Quantum Chance in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and
Polkinghorne, 248250.
Ibid., 251252.
Ibid., 254.
Ibid., 243244.

also entail omnideterminism with the associated problems of evil and independent agency
of humans as evident in Pollards work.

The second option considered by Tracy is that God only acts in a limited number
of quantum events. Einsteins objection to quantum theory is then true, God really does
play dice with the universe according to Tracy,
because nothing determines the
outcome of chance events. Tracy claimed that God has created the world with the ability
to select outcomes by pure chance. The world is truly open in terms of its potential
developments that are even unknown to God, enabling the generation of novel
Events would take place without sufficient cause, which is one point that
Russell objects to as a violation of the principle of sufficient reason.
However, Tracy
contended that we can still argue that God has created the possibility of pure chance and
that God sustains the processes that are based on pure chance since God is the creator of

One advantage of Tracys proposal is that special divine action is clearly
separated from Gods general activity in sustaining the operation of the universe. Russell
states that Tracys approach provides a more intuitive connection between the idea of
Gods occasional action at the quantum level and Gods special providence.
it seems to me that with the idea of occasional divine action comes also a sense of
interventionism because God essentially overrides the pure chance determination of
quantum events with his own choice when so desired.

Tracy, Particular Providence, 320.
Tracy, Creation, 244.
Tracy, Creation, 244; idem, Particular Providence, 320.
Tracy, Particular Providence, 320; Russell, Divine Action, 316.
Tracy, Particular Providence, 321.
Russell, Divine Action, 316.

Tracys approach preserves the role of the probabilities in quantum events since
God only intervenes occasionally to determine the outcome. Divine action therefore does
not need to take the probabilities into account as in Murphys proposal.
6. John Polkinghorne: Concerns About QDA
John Polkinghorne
is, like Pollard, a physicist and an ordained minister. He
studied under Paul Dirac, taught mathematical physics at Cambridge for a number of
years and later became an ordained minister in the Church of England. He is a popular
author of numerous publications in the area of science and religion. In his recent work on
eschatology, Polkinghorne reasoned that the laws of nature are reflections of the
faithfulness of the creator who ordains them.
These laws are not immutable but are
only in effect as long as God wills them. In other words, Polkinghorne saw an
interventionist account of divine action as an acceptable possibility.
However, he
reasoned that it is our testimony as Christians that God acts in the world and therefore it
is necessary to make the attempt to find a way to conceive of God as acting in nature.

The understanding that is sought is not of God intervening in or interrupting the world,
but in a form of interaction.
Polkinghorne envisioned such interactions with the world
to be possible through pure information input. While information in the universe

A biography and recent information about John Polkinghorne can be found at
<http://www.polkinghorne.org> (accessed 16 July 2003).
John Polkinghorne, Eschatological Credibility in Peters, Russell and Welker, 46.
John Polkinghorne, Kenotic Creation and Divine Action in John Polkinghorne, ed., The Work of Love:
Creation as Kenosis (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans, 2001), 98.
Ibid., 100.

requires energy for its transmission, Polkinghorne claimed that Gods active information
processes do not require energy.

Proposals for divine action invariably involve metaphysical choices. Polkinghorne
reasoned that the theories used for divine action proposals need to reflect our available
scientific knowledge and what is experimentally verifiable about nature:
One could define the program of critical realism as the strategy of seeking the
maximum correlation between epistemology and ontology, subject to careful
acknowledgement that we view reality from a perspective and subject to pushing
the search for knowledge to any natural limits it may possess. Its motto is
epistemology models ontology; the totality of what we can know is a reliable
guide to what is the case.

The move from epistemology, from what we can know, to what we believe is the
case, ontology, can be seen in quantum theory in the progress from the epistemological
approach of Bohr to the later widespread acceptance of the quantum mechanical
processes as ontologically real, as for example reflected in Heisenbergs

Polkinghornes concern about quantum divine action has been twofold. First of
all, he pointed out that there are alternate interpretations of quantum theory that show that
the consideration of quantum theory as indeterministic is a metaphysical choice and not a
necessary result from science.

The existence of this alternative interpretation [Bohm] shows that the claimed
indeterminacies of quantum theory are not absolutely required to be present but
they are a matter of metaphysical choice. A deterministic, but partly hidden
account, is perfectly possible.

Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 148.
Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 148. Heisenberg, Copenhagen Interpretation, 4458.
Polkinghorne, Kenotic Creation, 99; idem, Belief in God, 53.
Polkinghorne, Belief in God, 30.

We have seen in Chapter Four that Bohms interpretation of quantum theory is of
a cryptodeterministic nature. Bohms version of quantum theory provides exactly the
same predictions as does the standard theory but in addition contains hidden elements
that result in a potential for determinism. These hidden elements are not discoverable in
principle, which is a characteristic of hidden-variables theories of the first kind according
to Belinfante.
Polkinghorne stated that what we can know has to form the basis of what
really is there, ontologically. As we have seen in Chapter Four Bohms theory does not
enhance our knowledge of what we can know about reality. If epistemology is our guide
for the development of theories, then Bohms theory cannot be considered as an
alternative, since it predicts indeterministic results in the same way as does the standard
quantum theory.
The title of Bohms latest book, The Undivided Universe: An Ontological
Interpretation of Quantum Theory, already shows that Bohm and Hiley proposed an
ontological interpretation of a hidden-variables theory. However, we cannot observe the
hidden variables in principle and they are therefore outside of what we can know.
Bohms approach is one that seems to violate Polkinghornes principles for the
development of scientific explanations since it contains an unobservable ontological
It seems to be that Polkinghornes argument for alternate deterministic

Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 18.
I think this is the extent to which the subject needs to be dealt with here. A more detailed analysis of
Bohms theories can be found in Chapter Four. Saunders argued in the same way as Polkinghorne, so one
might also consult writings on Saunders. I was unable to locate a detailed exposition on Bohms theories in
Polkinghornes writings. Most of the references to the Undivided Universe and Wholeness and the
Implicate Order in the VO/CTNS volumes do not provide any page references and do not discuss specifics.
There is a more detailed account in The Quantum World (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1984). However, the Undivided Universe had not been published at that point and therefore the
exposition cannot reflect on the arguments of the later Bohm. There is another account in Quantum Theory:
A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002) which is updated to reflect the issue of
Footnotes continued on next page.

interpretations of quantum theory is inconsistent since all of these theories are of a
cryptodeterministic nature and predict the same indeterminate results. If Polkinghorne
would have followed his own standards for the evaluation of scientific theories then it
seems to me that he would have concluded that indeterminism can be considered to be an
ontological element of quantum theory.
Second, Polkinghorne suggested that quantum theory describes much continuity
and determinism in addition to its well-known discontinuities and indeterminacies.
Indeterminacy only occurs in acts of measurements, which Polkinghorne understood as
an irreversible registration of events in the macroworld. He claimed that measurements,
as understood by the Copenhagen interpretation, only occur from time to time and
therefore a God who acted through being their determinator would also only be acting
from time to time. Such an episodic account of providential agency does not seem
altogether satisfactory theologically.

In my opinion Polkinghornes contention regarding the episodic nature of wave
function collapse is questionable based on our experiences in everyday life. As evident
from the paradox of Schrdingers cat, we do not see a cat simultaneously dead and alive
in the box. Nor do we ever actually observe multiple potentialities. At a minimum,
therefore, it should be evident that wave function collapse (or measurement), which
replaces the potentialities with a definite outcome, has already happened or is happening
when we recognize that outcome. Consequently, given the billions of human minds on

initial conditions discussed in the VO/CTNS volumes. Neither of the two volumes gives any details about
the underlying sources. Yet another account is in Belief in God in an Age of Science (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1998), 52, giving references to Cushings Quantum Mechanics, which is also only based
on the early Bohm.
Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 152153.

earth, measurements must be ubiquitous and provide abundant opportunity for divine
action. Since we never ever perceive any of these potentialities, all events that we
perceive have therefore been, or are, subject to wave function collapse, subject to
indeterminism and, in a QDA theory, subject to be possibly influenced by divine action.
Polkinghorne concluded that the quantum measurement problem remains
unsolved, implying that our understanding of the microworld is limited.
In contrast to
Russell, Polkinghorne provided a definition of measurement that does not include the
notion of an interaction. A measurement event is an irreversible macroscopic
registration of a microscopic state of affairs.
Like Heisenbergs and Bohrs
understanding, Polkinghornes definition also did not specify the localization of
measurement but provides a workable understanding. The term macroscopic in the
definition of measurement to characterize the outcome of collapse is traditionally used in
the Copenhagen interpretation; however, it is possible to conceive of measurement as
resulting in a quantum state as demonstrated very early in the development of quantum
theory by von Neumann.

Polkinghorne noted that the problematic nature of measurement leads to a
difficulty in discussing reality. He saw the need to give an account of a single reality
since everything is composed of quantum constituents. However, the dialogue in
VO/CTNS volumes implies that the world consists of two physical worlds, one of a
quantum nature and the other a classic world. Polkinghorne contended that since the
measurement problem is unsolved, no boundary between the two physical worlds can be

Polkinghorne, Belief in God, 5960.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 183.
H. Dieter Zeh, The Program of Decoherence: Ideas and Concepts in Guilini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch,
Stamatescu and Zeh, 22.

defined. He claimed that in order to talk in an intelligible way about what is happening in
the universe we need an integrated account of the measurement process.
saw no viable proposal that would allow a basis for considering all levels of reality and
give a single account of the processes in the universe.

Polkinghorne has reasoned that the current account of the macroscopic world is
likely to be more complicated than we realize now, since models of complex systems
reveal the spontaneous creation of patterns of larger-scale order. For Polkinghorne the
implication is that a pattern-forming causality of a holistic kind, which is due to active
information, may be needed in addition to the regular forces of nature, which are energy

Polkinghorne has investigated other ways of accommodating divine action in the
past; one of them was chaos theory. He considered an energyless influence in the
development of strange attractors that would shape the development of chaotic systems
through active information.
Chaos theory is based on Newtonian physics, which allows
for the infinitesimally small energy-differences that Polkinghornes approach depended
on. However, quantum theory does not allow arbitrarily small energy differences and
therefore, as pointed out by Saunders and others, chaos theory is not usable for such a
model of divine action.
Polkinghorne has expressed the hope that such an approach can

Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 181182, 186187.
Ibid., 187. Obviously, quantum theory is that account if von Neumanns solution to the measurement
problem is accepted.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 187.
Polkinghorne, Metaphysics, 153.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 189; Jeffrey Koperski, God, Chaos and the Quantum Dice in Zygon
35, no. 3 (September 2000), 553557; Saunders, Chaos Theory and Divine Action in Divine Action, 173

be made fruitful in the future when the problems of quantum chaology have been

7. Nicholas Saunders: QDA is Scientifically Unsound
7.1. Introduction
Nicholas Saunders initially pursued a physics degree before turning to theology.
He has argued against theories of special divine action mainly through two publications
before he turned away from theology to follow a career in law.
The initial publication
in Zygon, Does God Cheat at Dice? Divine Action and Quantum Possibilities,
incisive rebuttal of many of the claims made by the authors on divine action, has had a
significant influence. As a result Polkinghorne questioned his own proposal of divine
action through chaos theory,
Peacocke felt confirmed in his skepticism regarding
divine action through indeterminacy,
and Russell further elaborated on what
constitutes a quantum event.
Russells new account of the notion quantum event in
2001 showed that the scientific underpinnings of reductionist QDA are questionable. This
in turn has motivated the writing of the present volume.
Saunderss article circulated for a few years while he gradually refined it until
publication in 2000.
Saunders claimed that the effects of divine action based on
quantum indeterminacy at the quantum level can only have minimal effects that are not
sufficient to allow God to effectively intervene in a manner required to perform the

Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 190.
Saunders, Divine Action, xviii.
Nicholas Saunders, Does God Cheat at Dice? Divine Action and Quantum Possibilities in Zygon 35,
no. 3 (September 2000): 517543.
Polkinghorne, Physical Process, 189.
Peacocke is directly quoting Saunderss article in Paths from Science, 107108. See also page 180181.
Russell, Divine Action, 298, footnote 11.
Saunders, Divine Action, xvii.

actions usually attributed to God. QDA cannot fulfill the hope that theologians have of
having found a loophole
that would allow them to defend special divine action.
Saunders doubted that the character of quantum mechanics is indeterministic, citing
alternate interpretations of quantum mechanics. Science has given us a highly
deterministic and precise picture of the world in terms of quantum mechanics,
which theologians are trying to escape through theories of divine action involving
quantum indeterminacy.

In 2002 Saunders published the book, Divine Action and Modern Science, which
contains detailed rebuttals of theories of special divine action. He argued that any
proposal for special divine acts is untenable in the light of our modern understanding of
the natural sciences.
Since some of his earlier arguments have been sharpened in the
book, more attention will be given to those in the following subsections.
7.2. The Deterministic Nature of the Wave Function
Saunders contended in Divine Action and Modern Science that the Schrdinger
equation is in not essentially different from corresponding equations in classic mechanics.
The Schrdinger equation is composed of the same mathematical elements, and
consequently the time evolution of the quantum state is deterministic and does not allow
for noninterventionist divine action.
Saunders claimed that Heisenbergs uncertainty
principle does not provide a valid reason to abandon determinism. He suggested that if

Saunders, Cheat at Dice, 518.
Ibid., 523.
Ibid., 524. The article at publication is more moderate in tone in comparison with the pre-publication
versions that I saw.
Saunders, Divine Action, xii. One reason for the tone of the arguments might be the death of his mother
through cancer. See page xviii.
Ibid., 129130.

the wave function is given an ontological status instead of position and momentum, then
the determinism in quantum theory can be preserved. The uncertainties that arise in the
simultaneous determination of position and momentum can be considered as effects that
result from forcing our ideas of position and momentum onto the wave function.
Saunders suggested that the uncertainty principle only expresses our inability to obtain
accurate information about the wave function in terms of our preconceived ideas of
position and momentum. He concluded that it might be advisable to relabel determined
and undetermined as predictable and unpredictable,
and that determinism is pervasive
in quantum theory. Divine action can only be envisioned to be possible when the
quantum state does not evolve under the Schrdinger equation in a measurement event.

7.3. His Critique of Quantum Events
Saunders saw the concept of a quantum event as too vaguely defined to be useful
in QDA theories and in need of clarification.
A theory of QDA depends on a theory of
measurement and therefore also on the philosophical approach to quantum theory
chosen. Saunders discussed the following set of possible solutions to the measurement
problem and insisted that the majority of them are deterministic.

I. The assumption of the existence of objects that are of a classic nature like, for
example, particles. Saunders claimed that Bohm provides a deterministic model for
measurement by introducing particles. However, Bohms theory gives position a
privileged role, resulting in tension with Saunderss earlier proposal to understand

Ibid., 133137.
Ibid., 139.
Saunders, Divine Action, 139, 124, 129. Russells response is in Divine Action where he clarified his
view of a quantum event.
Saunders, Divine Action, 142. Saunders follows Stapps discussion in Hiley and Peat, 258, where Stapp
discusses three ways of understanding reality based on the wave function. One of them is through collapse.

position as derived from the wave function in order to argue that the uncertainty principle
does not imply indeterminism.
Our discussion of measurement in Bohms theory in
Chapter Four has shown that all envisionable ways of measurement necessarily provide
probabilistic results. Bohms theory of measurement has been considered to be equivalent
to the standard theory by several physicists. I suggest therefore that Bohms theory does
not provide a deterministic solution to the measurement problem as claimed by

II. The neo-Copenhagen approach in which the world is divided into measurement
devices and quantum systems. Measurement devices are either systems that contain a
large number of particles, or the conscious mind, which Saunders viewed as a form of
solipsism. Saunders accepted this approach as indeterminate and therefore suitable for
QDA. Saunders here followed Russells thinking and implicitly accepted the idea that
objective criteria exist to characterize a larger number of particles as a measurement

III. The many-worlds theory. According to Saunders this is a deterministic
scenario when the totality of possible worlds/minds is considered. However, an
individual mind will still perceive the result of measurement to appear indeterminate in
this framework, and therefore the many-worlds scenario does not provide a solution for
Saunderss indeterminacy problem.
Our discussion in Chapter Four also resulted in
finding that the many-worlds interpretation does not address the measurement problem in

Ibid., 133137.
Saunders, Divine Action, 142.
Ibid., 142143.
Ibid., 143.

a satisfactory way because of the difficulties with establishing relative states, and hence
the use of the many-worlds theory to address the measurement problem is questionable.
IV. Wave function collapse through measurement with the assertion of
indeterminacy. This solution is essentially the same as proposition II.
V. Introduction of nonlinear elements into the Schrdinger equation. Saunders
judged this to be potentially indeterministic. However, as evident from the discussion
of these approaches in Chapter Six, modifications of the Schrdinger equation lead to
deviations from standard quantum theory. Moreover, these theories only cause wave
function collapse, but do not allow the determination of the outcome of measurement.

Stochastic collapse theories have been abandoned and are at this time not considered

VI. God decides which component of the wave function is realized during
measurement. In my opinion this option is inconsistent with the other approaches because
no criteria for wave function collapse to occur are given. Does God also decide when
collapse will happen? The determination of the outcome in II and IV is also accomplished
by selecting one component.
VII. The Transactional Interpretation by John Cramer, which includes forward
and backward sending of wave functions between entities. Cramers theory generates

Saunders, Divine Action, 143; Bohm and Hiley, 326328.
Roland Omns, The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1994), 350; Omns, Understanding, 254256; Ion-Olimpiu Stamatescu, Stochastic Collapse
Models in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch Stamatescu and Zeh, 266267.

complex feedback loops between the future and the past. However, Cramer does not state
that his theory is deterministic, as claimed by Saunders.

Saunderss discussion seems to me to be confusing because of the conflation of
the issue of the determination of the outcome of wave function collapse, divine action in
wave function collapse, and of the nature of wave function collapse. Saunders concluded
that only II, the neo-Copenhagen interpretation, is a viable option for the quantum events
in divine action proposals.

7.4. The Possible Modes of Divine Action in QDA
Four modes of divine action in process one are then discussed by Saunders: First,
God might alter the wave function. Second, God performs his own measurements. Third,
God alters the probability of obtaining a certain result. Fourth, God determines the
Saunders argued for each of the options that they constitute an intervention.
However, the fourth proposal is the only one used by QDA advocates. Saunders reasoned
that if God determines the result of a measurement, then the probabilities are ignored, and
therefore the lawful aspects of nature are overridden. If it is claimed that God determines
the outcome of quantum events, then the question is what role do these probabilities
They are either a deception or a representation of God acting in the same way on
subsequent occasions. Saunders saw Tracys approach of God determining only some
quantum events as the only QDA option that preserves the quantum mechanical role of
the probabilities in measurement. Saunders insisted that all possible ways of envisioning

Saunders, Divine Action, 144; Tim Maudlin, Quantum Non-Locality and Relativity. 2
ed. (Malden,
Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2002), 197.
Saunders, Divine Action, 144, stated that III will be followed, which would be the many-worlds
interpretation. However, it follows from the context that Saunders refers to II.
Ibid., 149155.
Ibid., 117.

divine action imply that God is intervening against the measurement probabilities
predicted by the orthodox theory.

Saunders agreed that divine action envisioned as determining the outcome of
quantum events would allow God to do anything at any scale.
At this point, Saunderss
work could be seen as a confirmation of the scientific portion of existing QDA proposals,
since QDA advocates argue in the same way that God determines the outcome of
quantum events but propose that divine action either takes the probabilities into account
or is of a sporadic nature. The underlying scientific means is agreed on by both parties as
possible. However, my investigation in the second section of this chapter has shown the
scientific basis of quantum events as understood by Russell to be questionable.
7.5. Limitations of What God Can do Through QDA
It seems to me that Saunders contradicted his statement that God can do anything
at any scale through QDA later by claiming that the scope of divine action is limited
because quantum theory is a precise science.
Saunders cited David Joness
Daedalus column in Nature, in which Jones states that it would take God 100 million
years to make adjustments to an asteroid that God is trying to steer into the earth to kill
the dinosaurs, if God would stay within the bounds of the Heisenberg uncertainty
However, a review of Joness publications shows that no such calculation
was performed by Jones. No claims are made in the publications regarding the number of
quantum events. The 100 million years is a number picked out of the blue by Jones
without giving any justification whatsoever. It should be noted that the Daedalus

Ibid., 155.
Ibid., 156.
Ibid., 126.
Ibid., 171172.

column in Nature has been created for comedic entertainment and not for serious
One could conclude that Peacocke and others haveby their acceptance of
Saunderss argumentused a joke to show that Gods action through QDA is limited.

7.6. QDA Allows the Violation of Higher Physical Laws
Saunders claimed that QDA proposals imply the violation of higher-level physical
laws because those regularities depend on the probabilistic behavior at the quantum level.
He stated that it is questionable to call QDA noninterventionist and concluded that the
principle of noninterventionism can only be applied in the microscopic realm.

7.7. Conclusion
In my opinion Saunderss contribution to QDA theories has been to point out
some the weaknesses of these theories. However, as evident from his discussion of the
measurement problem, Saunders, like the VO/CTNS authors, was committed to a classic
worldview and a reductionist understanding of nature, implicitly assuming measurements
as occurring on a small scale. He thereby missed the main weakness in contemporary
QDA proposals. He discussed nonlocality but did not realize that nonlocality challenges

The joke that Saunders refers to was later published in David E. H. Jones, The Further Inventions of
Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 1999), 152153.
The nature of the publication is discussed on pages vii-ix explaining the humorous nature and that the
collection contains additional information about how the numbers were generated. The original reference
by Saunders is D. Jones, Daedalus: God Plays Dice in Nature 385 (1997): 122. The initial drafts of
Saunderss paper contained calculations regarding the effect possible by God determining quantum
outcomes for large objects but these claims never made it into the final paper. Saunders mentions 3 million
years in his paper but 100 million years in his book. Jones claims 100 million years in his article as well as
in his book.
Peacocke, Paths, 106107; Thomas Tracy, Creation, Providence, and Quantum Chance in Russell,
Clayton, Wegter-McNelly and Polkinghorne, 258. Thomas Tracy, Divine Action and Quantum Theory in
Zygon 35, no. 4 (December 2000): 892; Jeffrey Koperski, God, Chaos, and the Quantum Dice in Zygon
35, no. 3 (September 2000): 546.
Saunders, Divine Action, 125.

the notion of a quantum event.
In my opinion Saunderss arguments did not refute
Russells proposal (it should be noted that Russell clarified his proposal after reviewing
Saunderss article) as intended, but instead confirm Russells scientific basis as a possible
8. Arthur Peacocke: Whole-Part Divine Action
Arthur Peacocke is a biochemist who was involved with the discovery of the
structure of DNA and later became an ordained priest in the Anglican church.

Although he is one of the contributors to the VO/CTNS volumes, he did not advocate a
form of QDA. Instead, he suggested that God has an effect on events in the world via a
whole-part influence on it as a System-of-systems.
God works (instrumentally) in
and through the processes of the world thereby effecting Gods purposes and
(symbolically) communicating Godself. (We could call this: sacramental pan-en-
Peacockes notion of divine action is based on a model of the epistemic
hierarchy explained in the introduction to this chapter. The flow of information between
higher layers and lower layers of the hierarchy results in constraints upon the lower
The higher layers are therefore of main importance for divine action because
they govern the lower layers and contain novel characteristics (emergent properties) that
are distinctly different from those in the lower layers.

Ibid., 168170.
Arthur Peacocke, Paths from Science Towards God: The End of All Exploring (Oxford: Oneworld,
2001), xiii; John Wilson, Examining Peacockes Plumage in Christianity Today (12 March 2001).
Arthur Peacocke, The Sound of Sheer Silence: How does God Communicate with Humanity in
Russell, Murphy, Meyering and Arbib, 245.
Arthur Peacocke, The Challenges and Possibilities for Western Monotheism in W. Mark Richardson,
Robert John Russell, Philip Clayton and Kirk Wegter-McNelly eds., Science and the Spiritual Quest: New
Essays by Leading Scientists (London: Routledge, 2002), 240.
Ibid., 228.

Peacocke understood personal agency as a whole-part influence similar to divine
agency. He saw human mentality as an emergent property of lower-level brain processes:
There is a strong case for designating the highest level, the whole, in that
unique system which is the human-brain-in the-human-body-in-social-relations
as that of the person. Persons are inter alia causal agents with respect to their
own bodies and to the surrounding world, including other people. They can,
moreover, report with varying degrees of accuracy on aspects of their internal
states concomitant with their actions. Hence the exercise of personal agency by
individuals transpires to be a paradigm case and supreme exemplar of whole-part
influence in this case exerted by persons on the bodies that constitute them and
on their surroundings. The details of the relation between cerebral neurological
activity and consciousness cannot in principle detract from the causal efficacy of
the content of the latter on the former and thus on behaviour.

The idea of the causal efficacy of persons over their bodies is in harmony with the
Jamesian concept of personal agency and will be reflected later in Stapps integration of
mind and matter (Chapter Six) as well as in the model of divine action proposed in
Chapter Seven.
Peacocke accepted Russells concept of quantum events:
On the larger scales that are the focus of most of the sciences, from chemistry to
population genetics, the unpredictabilities of quantum events at the subatomic
level are usually either ironed out in the statistics of the behavior of large
populations of small entities or can be neglected because of the size of the
entities involved, or both.

However, Peacocke reasoned that divine action exercised at the quantum level in
all quantum events, as advocated by Russell, Murphy and Ellis, would be a form of
omnideterminism. What could be defended is sporadic action in events that can be
amplified to create special events. Peacocke did not want to dispute that God upholds and
sustains the natural world. It is the postulation of divine action at this level that he
disputed. Peacocke saw the notion of divine action at the quantum level, like Saunders, as

Peacocke, Paths, 61.
Ibid., 96.

a form of intervention. God would need to intervene by altering probabilities or the actual
outcome of quantum measurements. The contention that such an action would be hidden
does not help the argument since divine action would still imply that what God has
created is not suitable to effect Gods intentions without intervention.
According to
Peacocke, all the processes of the world are evidence of Gods activity and there is no
need to look for a mechanism by which God might be acting.

Furthermore, it would be necessary to change a fantastically large number of
quantum processes over extraordinary long periods in advance to change events in the
world that we experience. Drawing on Saunders, Peacocke concluded that QDA
approaches are irreconcilable with quantum theory as well as theologically

Peacocke has a panentheistic view of how God relates to the world. The world is
in God although Gods Being is distinct from the world. The immanence of God
addresses the problem of evil because God is suffering with us under the creative
processes of the world with their costly unfolding in time.
The world is an
interconnected and interdependent system, and Gods action in that system can be
conceptualized the following way:

Ibid., 105106.
Ibid., 146.
Peacocke, Paths, 107. Peacocke did accept the interplay of chance and law as the model of divine
action in Chance and Law in Irreversible Thermodynamics, Theoretical Biology, and Theology (1995) in
Russell, Murphy and Peacocke, 142. Divine action through indeterministic processes was also endorsed in
Theology for a Scientific Age (1993), 153157, although it was evaluated as an interventionist
understanding. The same occurred in 1998 in Biological Evolution in Russell, Stoeger and Ayala. In
The Sound of Sheer Silence in Russell, Murphy, Meyering and Arbib (1999) the whole-part causality
became dominant. QDA was explicitly abandoned in his 2001 book Paths from Science Towards God.
Arthur Peacocke, Biological EvolutionA Positive Theological Appraisal in Russell, Stoeger and
Ayala, 371372.

If God interacts with the world-system as a totality, then God, by affecting its
overall state, could be envisaged as being able to exercise influence upon events
in the myriad sublevels of existence of which it is made without abrogating the
laws and regularities that specifically apply to them. Moreover, God would be
doing this without intervening within the supposed gaps provided by the in-
principle inherent unpredictabilities noted earlier. Particular events could occur in
the world and be what they are because God intends them to be so, without any
contravention of the laws of physics, biology, psychology or whatever is the
pertinent science for the level in question as in the exercise of whole-part
influence within the many constituent systems of the world.

The key component of divine action as suggested by Peacocke is a whole-part
influence. Through that whole-part influence, God can cause events expressing his
intentions, which would not otherwise have taken place. God interacts with the whole
world-System, and the interaction works as a trickle-down effect from the higher levels
through each of the lower levels. Divinely influenced information from the world-
System is transmitted down to the lower levels in order to constrain their actions.

Peacocke reasoned that since the world lies within God, divine action can also
conceived of as a holistic action on the world like the exercise of the human will on the
body. God communicates with humans through the world, and therefore the world
becomes a medium of divine communication. Through the observation of patterns in the
world, Peacocke felt that humans gain insights into Gods character and purposes.
Experiences of unmediated divine inspiration without the observation of the external
world are accomplished by Gods direct influence on brain patterns analogous to the
influence of God on patterns of events in the world.

Peacocke, Paths, 109.
Ibid., 100.
Peacocke, Paths, 121123; Arthur Peacocke, Theology for a Scientific Age: Being and Becoming
Natural, Divine, and Human (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 206210.

9. Peter Hodgson: God Intervenes
Peter Hodgson is engaged in research in theoretical nuclear physics at the
University of Oxford and is a former editor of Science and Religion Forum Reviews.
Hodgson believes on theological grounds that the universe is a determined system.
understands the world and the laws under which it operates as a creation by God.
world is therefore characterized by determinism. Hodgson suggests that even if the world
were indeterminate it still would not be able to accommodate the recorded interventions
in Scripture within the constraints of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle. However, if
God is not bound by his own laws it is unnecessary to think that God would be trying to
stay within the limits of quantum indeterminacy to accomplish his purposes. Hodgson is
outside the realm of noninterventionist divine action advocates considered in this text and
argues that the concept of noninterventionist divine action is unnecessary.

Hodgson questions the scope of divine action through QDA because QDA
depends upon minute interventions constrained within the limits of the uncertainty
principle to produce macroscopic events.
Hodgsons considerations show the
consideration of the scope question for reductionist QDA, much like Saunders, but he
does not provide an explanation how the uncertainty principle could be understood as a
constraint on QDA.

Private communication 11 September 2003. The account of Hodgsons view is in the present tense
following his wishes.
Peter E. Hodgson, Gods Action in the World: The Relevance of Quantum Mechanics in Zygon 35,
no. 3 (September 2000): 505.
Ibid., 514.
Ibid., 506.

Hodgson views quantum theory, as Einstein did, as a statistical theory (see
Chapter Two for an evaluation of the ensemble theory),
and claims that it is possible to
increase the accuracy of a measurement to an arbitrary degreein violation of
Heisenbergs uncertainty principleby using an experiment first discussed by Leslie
(and later proposed in another form by Karl Popper)
that determines the
momentum of an electron from the measured position through knowing the angle of
deflection at a slit.
However, both Ballentine and Popper use an experiment that
assumes accurate knowledge of the momentum of the electron before it enters the
measurement instrument.
The momentum of the particle after it has passed the slit can
only be deduced if a particle with known momentum has been diverted at the slit in a
certain angle.

In analyzing such scenarios, Asher Peres has noted that they typically involve an
improper mixing of classic concepts with quantum theory. In the case mentioned by
Hodgson, the momentum is calculated using the classic laws of optics.
The article by
Ballentine referred to by Hodgson contains a quote from Heisenberg regarding this
Knowledge of the past is of a purely speculative character, since it can never
(because of the unknown change in momentum caused by the position
measurement) be used as an initial condition in any calculation of the future
progress of the electron and thus cannot be subjected to experimental

Hodgson, Gods Action, 507; idem, Realism, 55.
Leslie E. Ballentine, "The Statistical Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" in Review of Modern
Physics 42, no. 4 (October 1970): 367.
Karl R. Popper, Quantum Theeory and the Schism in Physics, ed., W. W. Barclay III (London:
Hutchinson, 1982), 62.
Hodgson, Realism, 56.
Ballentine, Statistical Interpretation, 365366.
Hodgson, Gods Action, 508.
Asher Peres, "Karl Popper and the Copenhagen Interpretation" in Studies in History and the Philosophy
of Modern Physics 33B (March 2002): 1; Hodgson, Gods Action, 508; Ballentine, Statistical
Interpretation, 365366.

verification. It is a matter of personal belief whether such a calculation
concerning the past history of the electron can be ascribed a physical reality or

Heisenberg basically said that the past history of an electron is a matter of
speculation since position and momentum can never be accurately determined in order to
predict or track the history of an electron. The speculation here is based on assumed prior
knowledge of momentum and an application of the classic laws of optics to an electron.
Hodgson views particles as always having a definite position, momentum and

Quite generally, our inability to measure any physical quantity with unlimited
accuracy does not imply that it does not have a precise value, unless of course,
one believes that the reality can be attached only to the results of a measurement.
Such a positivistic view not only has been thoroughly discredited philosophically
but also is inimical to science.
Thus physics gives us no grounds for saying that the position and momentum are
unknowable within the limits of the uncertainty principle, and still less for saying
that it does not have position and momentum. Indeed, the uncertainty principle is
perfectly compatible with each electron moving along a definite trajectory
determined by forces in the vicinity of the slit that we are as yet unable to
calculate or measure.

The problem with such an understanding is the existence of impossibility proofs
for hidden-variable theories (as discussed in Chapter Four) showing that assigning
definite quantities for position and momentum is not possible. Hodgson suggests that von
Neumanns proof was disproven, without the typical qualification that it was only shown
invalid for nonlocal hidden-variable theories, and he then concludes that hidden-variables
theories are theoretically possible.
Hodgsons reasoning is based on Bells doubts

Heisenberg, Physical Principles of Quantum Theory, 20; Ballentine, Statistical Interpretation, 367.
Ibid., 61.
Hodgson, Gods Action, 509.
Ibid., 511.

regarding von Neumanns assumptions about dispersion-free (classic) states.
d`Espagnat has shown that von Neumanns assumptions regarding dispersion-free states
are applicable if one assumes particles to have definite momentum and position between
measurements, like Hodgson, and therefore hidden variables assigning definite values to
position and momentum are still to be considered impossible.

Hodgson questions the experiments that are accepted as confirmation of Bells
inequality on the grounds that the measurements in the experiments always influence and
disturb subsequent measurements in the system under observation as claimed by Thomas
A. Body and Luis de la Pena.
For Hodgson Bells inequality lacks experimental
support and therefore hidden-variable theories are still to be considered viable.

One might consult Belinfantes work on hidden-variables theories that we have
used as the basis of our discussion of quantum theory in Chapter Four and Six to respond
in a systematic way to Hodgsons hopes for deterministic theories.
Hodgson states that
large quantities of promising deterministic theories exist and he mentions two of them:
The pilot-wave theory and stochastic electrodynamics. In Chapter Four, we noted that
Bohms pilot-wave theory is not necessarily deterministic.

John Bell, On the Problem of Hidden Variables in Quantum Mechanics in Review of Modern Physics
38 (1966): 447 also in John Bell, Speakable and Unspeakable in Quantum Mechanics (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1987), 113; Hodgson, Realism, 58.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 299.
Thomas A. Brody and Luis de la Pena, Real and Imagined Non-localities in Quantum Mechanics in Il
Nuovo Cimento 54B (1979): 455. See also Thomas Brody, The Philosophy Behind Physics. Luis de la Pea
and Peter Hodgson ed. (Berlin: Springer-Verlag, 1993).
Hodgson, Realism, 62.
Belinfante, Hidden-Variables, 312314.
Hodgson, Gods Actiom, 512.

Hodgson finds, following de la Pena and Ana Maria Cettos suggestions,
stochastic electrodynamics (SED) shows that random influences from the environment
result in a fluctuating electromagnetic background field and therefore indeterminacy in
quantum theory could be understood in an analogous way as resulting from the random
influences originating in the environment. Bohms initial argument for indeterminacy in
Chance and Causality (1957) followed the same lines of reasoning, but was abandoned in
favor of the implicit order. The effect of random influences from the environment are
discussed at length in the literature on decoherence (see Chapter Six). However, Hodgson
would have to give evidence that the environment completely determines quantum
events in order to produce a conclusive argument. He noted that it is unfortunately, and
perhaps not surprisingly, complicated, so that only a few simple cases can be worked

Recent work has shown SED to be at variance with standard quantum theory
because it does not violate Bells inequality and can therefore only be used to
approximate quantum theory for large quantities of particles.
The equations of SED are
nonlinear and therefore cannot replicate all the predictions of standard quantum theory.

Luis de la Pena and Ana Maria Cetto, The Quantum Dice: An Introduction to Stochastic
Electrodynamics (Dortrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1996); Hodgson, Realism, 59.
Hodgson, Gods Action, 513.
D. T. Pope, Peter D. Drummond and W. J. Munro, Disagreement Between Correlations of Quantum
Mechanics and Stochastic Electrodynamics in the Damped Parametric Oscillator in Physical Review A62
(2000): 042108-1; S. Chaturvedi and Peter D. Drummond, Macroscopic Test of Quantum Mechanics
Versus Stochastic Electrodynamics in Physical Review A55, no. 2 (February 1997): 912.
Peter Szegi, The History of the Stochastic Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics: From Hungary to
Mexico [online] (Hungary: Etvs University, 2003, accessed 7 August 2003), 2,

Deviations of SED from quantum theory have even been found when a large quantity of
particles is considered.

Hodgson suggests that the indeterministic nature of the world needs to be
confirmed in order to consider QDA as viable. However, in my opinion we experience
the world as non-deterministic in our daily life, as in the case of a person deciding to lift
his or her hand (see Compton in Chapter Three). Hodgson would need to provide
evidence of a deterministic world in order to make his case that QDA proposals are

Hodgsons views are based on Cushings suggestion that quantum theory took a
wrong turn when the Copenhagen interpretation was accepted because, as Hodgson put it,
of the persuasiveness of Niels Bohr,
and that Bohm successfully answered Paulis
objections to the pilot-wave theory. However, as discussed in Chapters Two and Four,
Pauli and Heisenberg both claimed that Bohm failed to respond to the main complaint
that the pilot-wave theory violated the symmetry of position and momentum.
answer acknowledged that his theory still failed to address the issue.

10. Conclusion
The notion of a quantum event, as envisioned by Russell as an elementary
component of nature from which higher-level laws emerge, is questionable given that the

Chaturvedi and Drummond, 914.
Hodgson, Gods Action, 506.
Myrvold, 814; Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy, 129130,133, 145146; Wolfgang Pauli,
Remarques sur le problme des paramtres cachs dans la mcanique quantique et sur la thorie de londe
pilote in Louis de Broglie: Physicien et Penseur (Paris: ditions Albin Michel, 1952), 39.
Myrvold, 1314; Hodgson, Gods Action, 507; David Bohm, Classical and Non-Classical Concepts
in Quantum Theory; An Answer to Heisenbergs Physics and Philosophy in British Journal for the
Philosophy of Science 12 (1962): 270.

advocates cannot cite a single scientific theory to give support for the existence of these
events. Quantum events are a conjecture based on Heisenbergs exposition on
measurement in the laboratory.
A similar reasoning can be applied to the definition of the border between the
classic world and the quantum world. The existence of a classic world could even be
doubted in light of quantum theory.
Even if we understand wave function collapse as a
holistic process in the way Ellis did and place the Heisenberg cut above the level of the
description of large bodies of matter, then we still face the issue of larger scale quantum
correlations being lost through the assumed measurement process. The situation is
awkward because, according to von Neumann, quantum collapse can be envisioned as
occurring at any scale of a scientific description of nature, with the consequence that
quantum effects involving even larger scales are then lost. The understanding of the parts
that compose these holistic quantum events can be affirmed only as a counterfactual. If
taken apart the parts can be examined. However, the analysis of the components cannot
account for effects that are generated through the description of the whole using a wave
It has become clear that the word noninterventionism might give the wrong
impression of how special divine action is envisioned. Noninterventionism is envisioned
as the statement that divine action does not violate any physical law. However, as argued
by Saunders and as accepted by Russell, QDA is a kind of intervention at the quantum
level, where the scientific idea of pure randomness weighed by the potentialities
determining the outcome of quantum events is replaced by divine agency. QDA

Erich Joos, Introduction to Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch Stamatescu and Zeh, 1

advocates argue that through a mass orchestration of divinely determined quantum
events, higher-level laws can be violated. Therefore, as reasoned by Saunders, the
account of divine action can also be considered in the end to be highly interventionistic.
This is necessary and desirable if God is to act in a way that allows macroscopically
desired events to take place.

It might be useful to develop a new unambiguous term, such as scientifically
compatible divine action, to describe the mode of divine action. This implies that divine
action is compatible with scientific laws and that the determination of the outcome of
quantum events would preserve the probability distributions emerging from the wave
function. Intervention in higher-level laws is then possible through the determination of
chance-based events at a lower level in a way compatible with the scientific description.

Christoph Lameter, Cosmology in On the Moral Nature of the Universe in CTNS Bulletin 18, no. 4
(Fall 1998): 1617.

Chapter Six
Theories of Wave Function Collapse
1. Introduction
Wave function collapse is the emergence of a mixed state from a pure state. A
pure state is represented by a wave function, which in turn might be composed of a sum
over wave functions multiplied by a possibly complex factor. A mixed state is an
expectation-catalog, a set of possible pure states (commonly eigenstates) with associated
probabilities that the corresponding state will be the result of wave function collapse. A
mixed state can be understood as a classic probability distribution over potential
outcomes whereas a pure state cannot be given a classic representation.

The measurement problem is the problem of how a pure state can develop into a
mixed state. The development of the wave function under the Schrdinger equation
cannot result in such a transition and therefore the early conclusion by von Neumann was
that quantum theory needed two processes of which only one (process two) describes the
evolution of the wave function under the Schrdinger equation, whereas the second
(process one) generates the mixed state from a pure state.

However, the generation of the mixture is only one element of the whole
measurement process as described by von Neumann. Another component is reduction,
which occurs when the result of the measurement has been determined and the mixture
can be replaced with the actually known state of the outcome of the measurement.

Zurek, 3839.
Belinfante, Measurements, 2.
Ibid., 16.

One early response to the question of the reality beyond the quantum mechanical
description was Heisenbergs ontological understanding in which the measurement
process is split into an objective and a subjective component, a procedure that is still
widely used. The initial wave function before wave function collapse is considered to be
objectively real. Wave function collapse causes the wave function to objectively collapse
to one resulting state. However, since the state is not yet known to us, the result must be
described by a mixed state or a density matrix reflecting our knowledge of the result of
the measurement. The mixed state is therefore a subjective element that can only be
eliminated when we gain the knowledge of the actual outcome of the measurement.
Reduction is therefore a subjective process and can be considered as a purely
epistemological problem.

Heisenbergs ontology is tied to the use of a measurement device that is
instrumental for wave function collapse and is well understood for laboratory situations.
The question naturally arises of what in the measurement device could be triggering wave
function collapse and how such an understanding would be applicable outside of the
laboratory in order to develop an understanding of the nature of reality. For an objective
understanding of the world, a description is needed of how wave function collapse is
triggered by physical processes. Everett has suggested that the world will only consist of
potentialities, if there is no wave function collapse. However, our experience is that
reality is definite and we are not able to perceive reality as potentialities.
One possible
answer is that a process of wave function collapse is in operation without any special

Belinfante, Measurements, 17; Zurek, 39.
Zurek, 36.

measurement devices when we process information from the outside world as proposed
by Stapp (see below in this Chapter).
The process of wave function collapse could be related to our processes of
perception or there could be an objective process of collapse that is ubiquitous in the
world. The theory that wave function collapse would be triggered by human perception
would for many scientists introduce unacceptable elements into quantum theory. The
Copenhagen interpretation avoided these issues by insisting that quantum theory was of
an epistemological nature and tied wave function collapse to measurement devices.
However, the objective nature of reality is then only definable in terms of these
observations. Belinfante developed the following approach to define the objective
nature of quantum theory in the context of the ensemble interpretation favored by him:
Quantum theory is objective in as far as its rules are objective and prescribe the
same theoretical conclusions irrespective of who makes them. That is, two
persons considering the same ensemble will calculate the same probability
distribution in it The objective point of view here taken is part of what
Groenewold has called the skeptical interpretation of quantum theory
Quantum-theorists do not deny that nature really exists. What is meant by the
latter is merely that under normal circumstances (in absence of anything like
hallucinations) all persons observing an event appear to be able to come to an
agreement about what was observed. This is said to prove that the observed
fact has reality.

However, the notion of an observer-induced collapse is scientifically not
acceptable in physics since it conflicts with the principle of causality and the necessity of
an objective form of realism:
The statement that the pointer position in a single measurement would remain
objectively indeterminate until someone becomes conscious of the results of the
measurement may fit into a solipsistic picture of nature, but it does not fit into a
picture that ascribes to outside nature any objective realism. In as far as physics
tries to give an objective description of this outside world, therefore, it either
ignores or rejects this point of view. It is not our task here to argue whether or not

Belinfante, Measurements, 1415.

physics is right in this attitude. Objective quantum theory simply states as a fact
that observables can be successfully measured upon single systems, which means
that at the end of the measurement some record will have been created of its
definite results (known or unknown to any living mind). This objective point of
view agrees with what our mind experiences when it becomes conscious of a
result. It is admitted that objective (outside) reality may influence the mind, but
the reaction of the mind upon the outside world is in physics commonly
neglected, particularly as it clashes with any ideas of causality to assume that the
mind would influence the realization of a definite result of measurement, as the
mind usually interacts with the results only after the measurements have been

Belinfante characterizes the desire for an objective reality as an attitude and
therefore as an element of common belief in physics. Objectivity can be satisfactorily
asserted without engaging in speculation about the measurement process and the nature
of reality. Belinfante takes us as far as the classic understanding of quantum theory
allows us to go and exercises the option of simply not explaining where collapse occurs.
The next section will consider this option because it is either explicitly or implicitly
widely used.
The significance of wave function collapse is that it describes the only way to
obtain information from a quantum system. Wave function collapse is the key to
understand how the classic world of definite objects emerges from the quantum nature of
the world.
Without a proper explanation for wave function collapse, no connection
between classic physics and quantum theory can be established, leading to an inconsistent
understanding of the world with no justification for the existence of the well-known
classic world of physics.
It is therefore natural for physicists to look for an objective

Ibid., 21.
Wojciech H. Zurek, Decoherence and the Transition form Quantum to Classical in Physics Today
(October 1991): 36.
Erich Joos, Introduction to Domenico Guilini, Erich Joos, Claus Kiefer, Joachim Kupsch, Ion-Olimpiu
Stamatescu and H. Dieter Zeh, Decoherence and the Appearance of a Classic World in Quantum Theory
(Berlin, Germany: Springer Verlag, 1996), 1.

process of wave function collapse in nature, so that a role for consciousness in the
elementary processes of physics can be avoided.
One way to insure the regular occurrence of wave function collapse is to modify
the Schrdinger equation to periodically generate wave-function-collapse events. These
proposals are referred to as stochastic collapse models, which will be discussed in the
following section.
Examples for such theories are the approaches developed by
Ghirardi, Rimini, Weber and others. However, we find a wide consensus that
spontaneous collapse models fail because they result in the creation of energy in minimal
quantities. These proposals are incomplete as evident by the existence of constants in the
stochastic formalisms that need to be tuned in a specific experimental situation to
generate wave function collapses in a way fitting the experiment.
The next section discusses collapse models based on quantum gravity. Roger
Penrose proposed that quantum gravity, described in a future theory incorporating general
relativity and quantum theory, triggers wave function collapses. However, quantum
gravity is a highly speculative area since no theory exists yet for integrating general
relativity and quantum theory, and therefore an evaluation of Penroses theory is rather
The widely accepted approach to the understanding wave function collapse and
the emergence of the classic world is decoherence.
Fluctuations from the environment
cause the dissipation of information from quantum systems, which results in any state
approximating a mixture over time. However, the result of decoherence is only that

Ion-Olimpiu Stamatescu, Stochastic Collapse Models in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch Stamatescu and
Zeh, 249267.
Erich Joos, Decoherence Through Interaction with the Environment in Giulini, Joos, Kupsch,
Stamatescu and Zeh, 35136.

interference terms approximate zero but are never truly zero. Therefore, the potential for
nonclassic behavior always remains. Decoherence might make quantum entities more
definite but not completely definite. Zeh contended that decoherence is no complete
solution for the measurement problem and thought that the psychophysical parallelism of
von Neumann is unavoidable. Therefore, integration of the result of the work on
decoherence with an observer-based approach, like the one proposed by Stapp, might be
Robert Griffiths proposed consistent histories as an alternate approach to
analyzing quantum systems and argued that measurement and wave function collapse are
not satisfactory foundations for quantum theory. Griffiths considered the proposed
histories to be describing real trajectories. However, d`Espagnat and others note a
problematic understanding of reality in particular when discussing the EPR paradox.
Claus Kiefer insisted that the histories in Griffithss theory can only be considered as
potential courses of action that are then subject to traditional wave function collapse.
Roland Omns argued for ignoring the small probabilities, and proposed that
wave function collapse be considered to be effective through decoherence. He insisted
that decoherence and the consistent histories approach to quantum theory provide a
complete and consistent solution to all the problems of the interpretation of quantum
theory if one ignores potentialities with small probabilities, and if one redefines the
meaning of determinism and classicality.
Henry Stapp proposed that reality is observer-dependent. He claimed that
observation causes wave function collapse as suggested in von Neumanns proposal in
1932. Stapp understood the world to be describable by one wave function shared by

multiple observers, all causing process one through observation and personal agency.
Stapp claimed reality to be indefinite until observation occurs, whereupon parts of the
wave function become definite. The approach has none of the problems of the proposals
considered earlier, but the argument from consciousness to wave function collapse would
result in the impossibility of the preferred view of physicists of the world as observer-
independent. Stapps model satisfies Belinfantes requirements of a viable conception of
reality because multiple observers share the same wave function and therefore also have
the same experiences. Moreover, it seems to me that Stapps approach can provide a
model of consciousness and free will that addresses other key issues in the discussions
about the nature of the universe and divine action.
Finally, in the last section, Stephen Hawkings views on the issue of measurement
and reality are discussed because he is a widely read theoretical physicist and likely
reflects a major opinion in physics today. We note his commitment to an objective reality
and tendencies toward a reductionistic understanding of reality.
Given the contrivances of other approaches, it appears to me that Stapps
approach may be the only viable option for a quantum ontology. Stapps theory is well
suited for a theory of divine action because of its explanatory power and the solution it
provides for the emergence of classicality from the quantum world. Nature can be
conceived of as a communication medium of potentialities that is acted upon by
individual agents, reflecting a view of an indeterministic world discussed earlier by
William James and Karl Heim and used by them to propose models of divine agency.

2. Unexplained Collapse
The option of not explaining where collapse occurs in nature follows from Bohrs
epistemological approach to quantum theory. Collapse is associated directly with the
interaction of the measurement apparatus and the quantum system under observation in
the laboratory. The classification of a part of reality as the quantum system, to be
described by a wave function, and another as the measurement apparatus, to be described
by classic physics, is to a large degree arbitrary and not grounded in physical
characteristics. One might insist that something physical must happen. However, von
Neumann has shown that quantum theory allows the location of the Heisenberg cut, the
separation between the system with a quantum theoretical description and the classic
measurement system, to be imagined anywhere in the chain between the observed system
and the observer without affecting the result.
Unexplained collapse does not address the
issue of how to conceive of quantum collapse outside of the laboratory setting and
therefore cannot address the question of how the classic world emerges from the quantum
world. Most textbooks discuss the standard approach without mentioning the possibility
of locating the border between classic and quantum system in an arbitrary way.
However, by considering the boundaries of the quantum system to be too small, quantum
aspects important at a larger scale might be missed.

Bohrs interpretation considers the wave function as a representation of the
observers knowledge about the system. The wave function therefore does not have an
objective character. If Bohrs interpretation is applied to a quantum system, including
observers, it will lead to paradoxes like the paradox of Wigners friend because the wave

Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 22; Zurek, 36; Stamatescu, 252.
Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 22

functions will then represent the perspectives of the different observers, which are not
easily reconciled.
Heisenbergs approach of giving the measurement process in the
laboratory an ontological character avoids these conflicting perspectives.
3. Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber: Spontaneous Collapse Models
Spontaneous collapse models modify the Schrdinger equation so that the
evolution of the quantum state is no longer unitary but characterized by spontaneous
wave function collapses. Process one has been integrated into process two and therefore
there is no need to resort to a separate quantum process as proposed by von Neumann.

Collapse is in principle observable since it is an objective process and therefore
spontaneous collapse models lead to measurable deviations from the predictions of
standard quantum theory, which means that these approaches can be falsified.
obvious objection against spontaneous collapse theories is the need to modify the
Schrdinger equation. However, the advocates insisted that the modifications make the
evolution of the wave function more realistic by incorporating wave function collapse in
the Schrdinger equation.

One of the most widely discussed models was the spontaneous collapse model by
Ghirardi, Rimini and Weber (GRW). They envisioned wave function collapse to happen
spontaneously at stochastically selected intervals.
The rate of stochastic collapse
depends on the number of particles involved in the system and on a set of adjustable

Stamatescu, 251252.
Bub, 118; d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 292.
Stamatescu, 252.
Ibid., 256.
G. C. Ghirardi, An Attempt at a Macrorealistic Quantum Worldview in Report ICTP Trieste (1992):
IC/92/392; G. C. Ghirardi, A. Rimini and T. Weber, Unified Dynamics for Microscopic and Macroscopic
Systems in Physical Review D34 (1986): 470491.

parameters. The higher the number of particles, the faster spontaneous collapse occurs,
which allows the attractive argument that superpositions of macroscopic objects are
highly unlikely.
Therefore, systems with many degrees of freedom collapse fast. For
example, a macroscopic system like a needle on an instrument with 10
degrees of
freedom might collapse within a millisecond into a localized state.
The typical choice of
parameters leads macroscopic systems to collapse on average of 10
times per second
whereas microscopic systems collapse once every 10

Like all other spontaneous collapse models, GRW has parameters that need to be
adjusted in order to make the theory work in a certain setting. If the parameters in use are
delaying collapse too long then macroscopic systems such as the needle would not be
fixed fast enough. If the parameters are causing a too rapid collapse, then quantum
effects, such as those that are the basis for solid-state physics, would be suppressed.

A further development of spontaneous collapse models has been continuous
spontaneous localization (CSL). GRW generates a quantum jump when a collapse is
triggered whereas CSL introduces a process that describes an orderly flow of the -
function during a measurement from a superposition of possible outcomes to a single
actual outcome. CSL avoids instantaneous collapse and therefore the arguments against
GRW because of the violation of relativity constraints in wave function collapse.

d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 292294.
Stamatestcu, 256; Abner Shimony, Our Worldview and Microphysics in Cushing and McMullin, 35;
Omns, Understanding, 249.
Stamatescu, 258. The numbers given should be taken as rough estimates since there are many factors
influencing the rate of collapse.
Roland Omns, The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1994), 349; Omns, Understanding, 249; Bohm and Hiley, 328329.
Stamatescu, 260 citing P. Pearle, Toward a relativistic theory of statevector reduction in Sixty-Two
Years of Uncertainty, A. I. Miller, ed. (New York: Plenum Press, 1990), 193214; See d`Epagnat, 295, on
the problematic nature of CSL and relativity.

Another frequent objection to spontaneous collapse theories is that they violate
the conservation of energy and momentum. Wave function collapse through the modified
Schrdinger equation narrows the wave packet and thereby increases the energy of a
particle, although that increase might be unobservable.
One common argument against
stochastic collapse models is therefore that they continuously produce energy and violate
the principle of the conservation of energy.

Abner Shimonys main objection is that the stochastic collapse theories allow
for a short timea needle without a definite position.
Stamatescu and Omns see
stochastic collapse models accomplishing the same as recent decoherence models and
conclude that stochastic collapse models have only illustrative character today since
decoherence does not suffer from the energy problem but produces the same result of a
definite and objective reality.

4. Roger Penrose: Collapse Driven by Quantum Gravity
Quantum gravity is a future theory expected to emerge from a unification of
general relativity with quantum theory. Typically, theories of collapse based on quantum
gravity are assumed to either remove components of the wave function or cause
components of the wave function to disappear behind a horizon, which could be created,
for example, by baby universes. The models removing wave function components are

d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 294295; Shimony, Worldview, 35. Stamatescu, 261264.
Stamatescu, 266; Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, 334.
Shimony, 36.
Omns, Interpretation, 350; Omns, Understanding, 254256; Stamatescu, 266267.

essentially a form of spontaneous collapse whereas the disappearance behind a horizon
could be categorized as a form of decoherence or as an only apparent collapse.

The most widely known theory in this class is Roger Penroses understanding of
collapse based on quantum gravity and incorporating a potential explanation of
consciousness. Penroses complaint against standard quantum mechanics was the lack of
a concept of reality. Quantum theory does not explain why we perceive only one space-
time continuum on the macroscopic level.
Penrose considered two options that would
result in reality: Either we explain our experience of a definite nature of reality or we
provide a physical theory describing quantum state reduction.
A supporter of the
experiential approach (like von Neumann) brings the human mind or consciousness into
the discussion and therefore needs a theory of mind. However, Penrose felt that the
experiential approach would lead to all sorts of troubles.
Penrose also claimed that the
most popular theory describing quantum state reduction, decoherence, is also not a
solution to the problem since decoherence only results in interference terms becoming
small, but the effect, even of small interference terms, might still turn out to be

Penrose expects the measurement problem to be solved with a new theory of
quantum gravity.
Black holes in the universe destroy information, but the loss is
balanced out by a process of spontaneous quantum measurement in which information

Stamatescu, 252; Omns, Understanding, 249250.
Roger Penrose, The Debate in Hawking and Penrose, 134.
Penrose, Debate, 128; Roger Penrose, Large, Small, 74.
Penrose, Debate, 129.
Ibid., 124.
Roger Penrose, Quantum Theory and Spacetime in Hawking and Penrose, 62; Penrose, Large, Small,
92; Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, 335.

is gained.
Collapse is irreversible, and therefore an asymmetry is produced reflecting
the asymmetry of the universe in time as expressed through the second law of
thermodynamics. The second law of thermodynamics is related to the problem of the
initial singularity in general relativity, which shows that wave function collapse might be
connected to gravity.
Penrose viewed gravity as a special force, distinct from all other
forces because it can affect causality,
and suggested that superpositions of two different
geometries (such as encountered in the two potential outcomes of Schrdingers cat) are
unstable due to their divergent gravitational fields, and hence decay into one of the
possible alternatives. Penrose termed these automatically triggered wave function
collapses Objective Reductionism (OR). The time it takes for such decay to be triggered
is inversely proportional to the energy involved in the interaction. For small particles, the
timeframe is exceedingly long, but the timeframe shrinks to fractions of a second for
macroscopic objects.

Penroses proposal was a form of spontaneous collapse, and hence carried with it
the problem of the violation of energy conservation associated with spontaneous collapse
theories. However, Penrose contended that the energy of gravity in general relativity is
nonlocal and characterized by uncertainty. Gravitational energy can be continuously
exchanged in a nonlocal way, and consequently the problems associated with other

Penrose, Quantum Theory, 64.
Ibid., 6667.
Penrose, Quantum Theory, 73; Roger Penrose, The Emperors New Mind: Concerning Computers,
Minds, and the Laws of Physics (New York: Penguin Books, 1989), 367368.
Penrose, Quantum Theory, 7172.

spontaneous collapse models would not occur in an approach based on quantum

In addition, Penrose saw a connection between wave function collapse,
consciousness, the generation of the classic world and noncomputability through
quantum gravity.
He viewed the noncomputability of quantum gravity as an essential
characteristic of consciousness,
and suggested that consciousness could be a global
phenomenon of the brain generated through the microtubule walls of neurons that work
like quantum computers.

Omns complains that the time delay of Penroses wave function collapse process
is too long. Research into decoherence shows that the superpositions are destroyed (for
Omns that means that they become vanishingly small) much faster than predicted by
Penroses formula. If Penroses effect would compete with decoherence then it would
spoil the excellent agreement between experimental results and decoherence theory.

Omns reasons that if a process of wave function collapse exists, then both processes
must be the same. He thinks that Penroses wave function collapse needs to complete the
job of decoherence and therefore would need to be triggered by decoherence instead of
quantum gravity.

Hawking comments on Penroses approach by stating that it is magic to
envision any physical process that would correspond to the reduction of the wave

Ibid., 72.
Penrose, Large, Small, 102103, 117.
Penrose, Large, Small, 120; Penrose, Shadows of the Mind.
Penrose, Large, Small, 133135.
Omns, Understanding, 251.
Ibid., 251253, 256.

function or to think that wave function collapse could be related to quantum gravity or

In my opinion Penroses approach is highly speculative and highly creative, and it
is, therefore, much too early to either seriously consider the theory or to reject it.
However, the idea of relating consciousness to wave function collapse seems something
that should be pursued further. There is a tension in first denying the role of
consciousness in wave function collapse and then introducing it again later in order to
generate the phenomenon of consciousness. Stapp has a simpler argument that avoids
some of the steps in Penroses thought.
5. Collapse by Environmental Decoherence
Decoherence is the idea that the monitoring effect of the environment leads to the
destruction of interference terms between macroscopically distinguishable states and
therefore causes the emergence of the classic world.
Another explanation is that the
coupling of a macroscopic quantum system with the environment leads to a loss of
quantum coherence, through the dissipation of information about the quantum system
into the environment. Zurek claimed that macroscopic systems in particular are never
isolated from the environment. Since the Schrdinger equation is applicable only to
isolated systems, it is not to be expected that macroscopic systems can be adequately
described by a wave function.
A density matrix can be used to describe the probabilities
of the alternate outcomes.

Hawking and Penrose, 124.
Bub, 208.
Zurek, 37.
Zurek, 38; Joos, Decoherence, 3637.

The emergence of the classic world is therefore explainable by the vanishing of
the probabilities for superpositions or interference terms (the elements that are not
diagonal in the matrix and refer to the combination of macroscopically different scenarios
in the density matrix) in a very short timeframe through an irreversible influence of the
environment. Macroscopic objects are therefore assumed to be rapidly made classic by
their interaction with the environment.

The importance of recognizing the influence of the environment was already
evident from Schrdingers argument for entanglement as the primary characteristic of
quantum systems in 1935. The later proof of nonlocality through Bells theorem
strengthened that argument. A consequence of the inseparability of quantum systems is
that the universe should be understood as only accurately describable by one holistic,
entangled wave function for the entire universe. The treatment of subsystems like cats
and trees, as describable by a wave functions, is then problematic because relevant
degrees of freedom are ignored when the subsystem is called a system.

The effects of the environment on a subsystem should be regarded as an
uncontrolled disturbance if the subsystem is given a description using a wave function,
signaling the acceptance of Bohms argument in 1957
that the restriction of our
observation to a subsystem necessarily results in an influence that appears to be random
in the description of the subsystem. A unique quantum state can therefore only be
assumed to exist for a system under observation. Since all quantum states are global,

Erich Joos, Introduction to Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch Stamatescu and Zeh, 2.
Erich Joos, Decoherence Through Interaction with the Environment in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch
Stamatescu and Zeh, 3536.
Bohm, Chance and Causality, 20.

irreversibility in quantum theory must also be understood as a global effect affecting the
whole environment and therefore, given inseparability, the whole universe.

Discussions regarding decoherence vary in terms of what constitutes wave
function collapse. In microscopic environments the occurrence of collapse through the
influence of the environment is disputed, because decoherence in a microscopic
environment has been confirmed by experiment to be reversible in what is termed as a
quantum erasure of a measurement.
Decoherence in a microscopic environment is
distinguished from genuine decoherence, which is characterized by practical
unavoidability and irreversibility and is alternately also termed continuous
measurement. Genuine decoherence is in turn distinguished from genuine collapse
where all the other potentialities vanish and are replaced by one of the possible outcomes,
which Zeh labeled as fundamentally irreversible.
Genuine collapse is the traditional
understanding of wave function collapse.
Some authors have claimed that continuous measurement by the environment
results in the ultimate solution to the measurement problem. Zeh responds that this
overlooks the issue of the generation of improper mixtures by the influence of the
environment, which in turn has led to the claim by others that decoherence has failed.

Zeh further states that decoherence represents an essential dynamic step in the
measurement process. Decoherence describes how mixtures could result from
environmental influence; however Zeh claims that decoherence might not cause genuine

Erich Joos, Decoherence Through Interaction with the Environment in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch
Stamatescu and Zeh, 3536.
Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 2223. Greenstein and Zajonc, 206209.
Zeh, Program of Decoherence, 22-23.
Ibid., 29.

collapse. He then concludes that the rest may even remain a pure epistemological
problem (requiring only a reformulation of the psychophysical parallelism).
authors, like Omns, claim that genuine collapse happens through decoherence (see the
next section).
Bubs analysis of Zureks understanding of decoherence finds that the influence
of the environment on the quantum system under investigation is mostly ignored. The
reduced density matrix obtained by incorporating the environment into the composite
system of the measurement instrument plus the system under observation is constructed
by ignoring (tracing over) the uncontrolled (and unmeasured) degrees of freedom
the environment. Zureks argument revealed that only the degrees of freedom of the
environment relevant for the outcome that one wants to measure are included in the
reduced matrix. Bub claims that a consideration of the influence of the environment as a
whole would result in the necessity to represent the combined system as a pure state
instead of a potential or real mixture. Moreover, Zureks discussion of decoherence
assumed the relevant environmental states to be orthogonal. Bub finds the resultthat
the coupling of the measurement instrument, the observed system and such an
environment leads to a system describable by a mixturenot at all surprising given
that Zureks approach was not much different from Everetts need for relative states or
from Bohrs requirement that the measurement instrument be conceived of as classic.
Here it is the environment that is required to exercise a classic-like influence through the

Ibid., 30.
Bub, 216217.

requirement for the environmental states to be orthogonal and only limited in the degrees
of freedom to what one wants to measure.

Another issue with decoherence is that the influence of the environment should be
particularly significant when particles travel over cosmic distances. One would expect
photons traveling over long distances to show slight influences of the environment and
hence distant objects to show a small degree of fuzziness. However, recent observations
of the Hubble telescope, which allows observations without the distortions due to the
atmosphere of the earth, show an unexpected sharpness of images of distant galaxies
billions of light years away. Models of decoherence assume that the influence from the
environment is inevitable. However, the sharpness of the Hubble images suggests that
such an effect is insignificant at least for some quantum systems stretched out over
cosmic distances.
Omns therefore argues that the coupling of photons to the
environment is particularly weak, although not zero, and consequently interference
effects can be a dominant characteristic of light even after photons have traveled over
cosmic distances.

Stapps interpretation of quantum theory is based on the idea that only
consciousness can cause wave function collapse. If another form of wave function
collapse could be established, then Stapps understanding of quantum theory is in

Zurek, 3940; Bub, 216217, 227; Bub, 217231, discusses one way that Zurek tried to address the issue
later by appealing to Everetts relative states. See also Omns, Understanding, 213.
Richard Lieu and Lloyd W. Hillman, The Phase Coherence of Light from Extragalactic Sources Direct
Evidence Against First Order Planck Scale Fluctuations in Time and Space (27 January 2003, accessed 16
July 2003), <http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0301/0301184.pdf>; Roger Roy Britt, Hubble
Pictures too Crisp, Challenging Theories of Time and Space in Space.com (2 April 2003, accessed 16 July
2003), <http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/quantum_bits_030402.html>; Axel Tillermanns,
Schrfer als erlaubt - Weiterer Rckschlag fr die Quantelung von Raum und Zeit in Wissenschaft.de (31
March 2003, accessed 16 July 2003), <http://www.wissenschaft.de/wissen/news/205949>.
Omns, Understanding, 294205.

question. However, we have seen that there is no consensus in theories of decoherence
about when the ultimate collapse happens. Zeh agreed to the inevitability of the use of the
psychophysical parallelism. Decoherence, interpreted according to Zeh, does not conflict
with Stapps view of the ultimate collapse caused only through the consciousness of the
Stapp argues that it is necessary to place quantum collapse in the minds of the
observer because otherwise the unity of thought and the wholeness of conscious action
would not be possible.

Wigner first argued that quantum theory depends on the observer causing wave
function collapse following von Neumann. Later he changed his position and argued that
wave function collapse is due to decoherence causing macroscopic systems to behave
classically. Wigner argued that even the cosmic background radiation is enough to
severely disturb the vibrational modes of a quantum system and concluded that his
idealization of a system as isolated was the reason for his earlier conclusions. However,
Stapp responds to the later Wigner by reasoning that the thermal influence only destroys
certain quantum interference effects in macroscopic bodies.
The modes of interest
need to be first identified. Stapp cites one example of a simple harmonic oscillator that is
not appreciably disturbed by such influences. Moreover, some classically observable
features of quantum systems are generated by coherent quantum states, which are very
little disturbed by sufficiently cool thermal radiation.
Stapp presents a calculation of
the effect of photon radiation on neural pulses and finds the effects from the environment

Stapp, Propensities, 138139
Ibid., 140.
Ibid., 130.

Joos confirms that the various types of coupling to the environment affect
the process of decoherence in a significant way.

6. Robert B. Griffiths: Consistent Histories
Robert Griffiths
developed the concept of consistent histories in an attempt to
account for quantum events in a consistent way that does not rely on measurement.
Griffiths thought that measurement and wave function collapse are not satisfactory
foundations for a fundamental physical theory and that the introduction of the concept
of measurement and wave function collapse raise more conceptual difficulties than are
solved by it. The way out of the problems is the consideration of the wave function alone
as representing physical reality, which resolves a number of paradoxes and dilemmas
which have troubled some of the foremost quantum physicists of the twentieth century.

For example, Griffiths viewed nonlocality as the result of a failure to properly apply
some principle of quantum reasoning.

Griffiths insisted, in the same way as Bohr, that the wave function needs to be
considered the complete representation of a physical state.
Properties can be deduced
from the wave function using projectors on a Hilbert subspace. Classic properties can
then usually be described by the statement that a property is within certain bounds. A
definite value for a property can be obtained, if the system happens to be in an

Joos, Decoherence, 39.
For more details on Griffithss work, see the Consistent (Decoherent) Histories Home Page,
<http://quantum.phys.cmu.edu> (accessed 16 July 2003).
Robert B. Griffiths, Preface to Consistent Quantum Theory (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
2003), <http://quantum.phys.cmu.edu/CQT/pref.html>; accessed 16 July 2003; Kiefer, 168.
Griffiths, Preface, 8.
Robert B. Griffiths, Wave Functions in Consistent Quantum Theory, 3,
<http://quantum.phys.cmu.edu/CQT/chap2.pdf>. Page numbers follow online version accessed 16 July

The development of a quantum system is described by quantum histories,
which consists of a sequence of quantum events described by wave functions and their

The events in a history do not need to be considered as describing the continuous
development of a wave function. Instead, wave functions associated with one distinct
quantum event in a history are in general not related to wave functions associated with
later quantum events in the same history. A collection of possible quantum histories
forms a family of histories, with the family being characterized as having the same
Each history can be assigned a probability to occur within a family, if all
histories in the family satisfy a consistency condition. This description leads to what is
called a consistent family of histories or also a framework.
Consistency conditions are
used to separate compatible and incompatible histories and families of historiesa
complex task. However, the assignment of probabilities is not possible if the histories of
incompatible families are combined.
Multiple frameworks might describe the same data
and allow the derivation of different conclusions in these different frameworks describing
the same experiment. Griffiths admitted that the impossibility of combining the
conclusions in these alternate frameworks is bizarre from the perspective of classical

Robert B. Griffiths, Introduction to Consistent Quantum Theory, 2,
<http://quantum.phys.cmu.edu/CQT/chap1.pdf>. Page numbers follow online version accessed 16 July
Claus Kiefer, Consistent Histories and Decoherence in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch, Stamatescu and
Zeh, 167.
Robert B. Griffiths, Consistent Histories and Quantum Reasoning in Phys. Rev. A 54 (1996): 14.
Griffiths, Consistent Histories, 8.
Griffiths, Introduction, 3.
Griffiths, Consistent Histories, 14.

The role of wave function collapse has been taken over by conditional
probabilities. Griffiths suggested that one needs to realize that wave function collapse
does not take place in the laboratory but in the notebook of the physicists. There is no
physical process associated with wave function collapse.
The ability to assign consistent
quantities to properties in individual histories is ensured by the consistency conditions.
However, the occurrence of the properties is only as probable as the occurrence of the
history in which the property occurs.

d`Espagnat notes that Griffithss theory is another attempt to restore classic
concepts. The success of Griffithss approach relies on the ability to assign a quantity to a
property of a quantum system prior to measurement, but according to d`Espagnat such a
statement is meaningless in the standard interpretation.
Griffithss theory therefore must
assume that observables have properties before they are measured through an

Since the concept of nonlocality is questioned it is almost inevitable that problems
with the EPR paradox arise. d`Espagnat shows that the two histories describing the two
entangled particles imply that the particle has two different spins at the same time if the
detectors are set up so as to measure different spins.
Griffiths would answer that these
are mutually different frameworks because of the different projectors for spin
d`Espagnat points out that the dispute shows the need for basic
alterations in our thinking, if the consistent histories approach would be adopted: First,

Griffiths, Introduction, 7.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 235.
Ibid., 233234.
Ibid., 236.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 236237; Kiefer, 186.
Griffiths, Consistent Histories, 14.

we need to accept that multiple histories are real within a framework. Schrdingers cat
must be dead and alive at the same time in a very real sense.
Second, truth, in
Griffithss sense, is what we prefer to discuss since there are multiple distinct frameworks
possible for a given experimental scenario. Griffithss truth is what recovers locality and
is Griffithss solution to the EPR paradox. Third, we can only discuss elements of reality
that are part of consistent histories. Consistent histories can only be applied to closed
systems where consistency conditions can be verified. However, the phenomenon of
universal entanglement shows that we cannot treat any system as a closed system, and
therefore the validation of the consistency conditions is impossible in practice.

Claus Kiefer thinks, as does d`Espagnat, that Griffithss understanding of
consistent histories as real would lead to paradoxes because histories exist that cannot be
simultaneously considered as real. Kiefer reasons that consistent histories are useful for
the description of decoherence phenomena. Consistent histories can be used to describe
potential sequences of possible events, but the ultimate selection between those histories
must still happen through wave function collapse. Kiefer denies Griffithss claim that the
envisioned quantum events could occur in a dynamic way and still be understood
ontologically and insists that Griffithss events can only be considered as constructs of

7. Roland Omns: Decoherence and Consistent Histories
Roland Omns argued that the period of competing interpretations in quantum
theory has passed. He claimed that we can talk about the interpretation of quantum

Bub, 231 argrees with d`Espagnat.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 238239.
Kiefer, 167, 186.

mechanics today. After some necessary trimming after more than seventy years of the
Copenhagen interpretation, combined with recent advances in quantum theory through
the discovery of decoherence and the consistent histories approach, we can now,
according to Omns, piece together a complete and consistent theory, free from
paradoxes and self-contradiction. Quantum theory can now provide a definite prediction
for every experimental situation.

Omns Logical Interpretation rested on two concepts: decoherence and the
consistent histories approach first formulated by Robert Griffiths.
For Omns, the
solution to the measurement problem was to assume that alternate outcomes with small
probabilities described by the wave function truly vanish. Wave function collapse is
ongoing continually in the universe:
I came to the conclusion that these so-called fundamental questions hinge on the
meaning of extremely small theoretical probabilities. An interpretation of
probability calculus must therefore stand at the entry to an interpretation of
quantum mechanics, and the most convenient one was proposed by mile Borel:
an event with too small a probability should be considered as never occurring.
From an empirical standpoint, a very small probability is one which cannot be
measured by any experimental device that can be realized, or even conceived, in
the universe. One can then assert that decoherence cannot be bypassed and is
really fundamental.

Omns understanding of decoherence allowed the concept of an objective event
and therefore also an objective fact, which might make Omns theory useful as a
resource to define a quantum event as needed in reductionist QDA:
A measurement datum must stand once and for all after its establishment, so that
it can be considered as a fact (this is true, by the way, of any macroscopic
phenomenon, whether or not it originates in a quantum event) The notion of

Omns, Interpretation, xi-xiii.
Omns, Understanding, ix.
Ibid., xi.

fact had no sense in pure quantum mechanics before the discovery of the
decoherence effect.

However, alternate outcomes with small probabilities must always be discarded in
order to make facts possible:
One must therefore face a larger problem, which is the qualitative meaning of
assertions relying on probabilities nearly equal to 1, when these assertions justify
common sense (viz., classical physics) or objectification (viz., the status of facts).
The phenomena resulting from decoherence are almost irrevocable, except for
incredibly small probabilities of errors, just like classical physics and its
determinism. One can always dream of a giant quantum fluctuation by which, for
instance, the ink molecules on the pages of the present book would move to turn
it into perfect English. This kind of event, like a dead cat returning alive from a
subtle measuring operation, does not belong to the empirical physics.

Everybody knows that although quantum fluctuations exist, they are completely
negligible in many circumstances. Who wants more?

What determinism and classicality mean was also redefined by Omns in the
quantum mechanical framework of decoherence:
The resulting emergence of classical physics from a quantum substratum is now
essentially complete. The relation between determinism and probabilism is the
easiest one to explain in a few words and I already mentioned it: determinism is
valid, up to some probabilities of error, which are extremely small in most
practical circumstances. All the features of classical physics derive directly
from quantum mechanics. Most macroscopic systems behave classically,
although there are exceptions that are well under the control of theory and in
agreement with observation.

Determinism has a simple probabilistic expression. Rather than considering it as
an absolute rule as Laplace did, one can consider it as a relation between two
events whose probability of error is extremely small. The difference between the
extremes of celestial physics and atoms is then found in the magnitude of the
errors in determinism, extending from practically zero to approximately 1.

One can confidently rely on classical determinism. It has an extremely small
probability of error in most cases of practical interest.

The main difference between a purely classical and a quantum conception of
determinism lies in the existence of very small probabilities of error.

Ibid., 83.
Ibid., 8384.
Ibid., 167.
Ibid., 77.
Omns, Understanding, 184.
Ibid., 187.
Ibid., 188.

Advocates for QDA theories have always held that these small probabilities of
error exist and constitute evidence for the potential of divine action. Omns work
provides support for these arguments. Omns argued for an objective world resulting
from the consideration that alternate outcomes vanish when the probabilities for their
occurrence become very small. However, the smallness of the probabilities does not
mean that these alternate outcomes do not occur at all, the alternate outcomes are only
highly unlikely to occur. It is essentially only a metaphysical reason that led Omns to
assume wave function reduction when the probabilities become vanishingly small. No
detailed criteria for how small these probabilities need to be in order to assume wave
function collapse are provided. The significance of the small probabilities obviously
depends on the frequency with which the event they characterize happens and is therefore
difficult to assess.
Divine action is sporadic, and as long as a nonzero probability for alternate
outcomes exists, one can argue for the potential of divine action to bring these alternate
outcomes about. Kiefers disagreement with Griffiths also applies to Omns: Wave
function collapse cannot happen in Omns scheme because small probabilities always
exist and might lead to alternate outcome. In my opinion Omns reality can be perceived
to be only potential until real collapse occurs, and only then are alternate potentialities
truly eliminated.
8. Henry Stapp: Consciousness Causes Collapse
Henry Stapp first became known in the physics community when he created the
theoretical framework for proton-proton scattering data. He worked with Wolfgang Pauli
on fundamental problems of quantum theory until Paulis death in 1958. Later he became

interested in the work of von Neumann on the foundations of quantum theory, and wrote
an essay Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, which developed into a book published
thirty-five years later. He took part in the development of S-Matrix theory, which was
created by suggestions from Heisenberg and Wheeler. Stapp worked with Heisenberg in
Germany and with Wheeler in Texas.

Henry Stapps major publication, Mind, Matter and Quantum Theory (1993),
a collection of articles in which Stapp argued for a connection between matterlike and
thoughtlike stuff in nature as aspects of primal stuff. Stapp saw that metaphysical
considerations have led to the separation of those two aspects of nature in the past, but
quantum theory, seen without metaphysical preconceptions, provides a link between
these two aspects that have been thought to be separate so far. Stapp attempted to relate
Heisenbergs conception of matter to William Jamess conception of the mind
reasoned that the coupling of those two ideas produces a mind-matter universe that
realizes within contemporary physical theory the idea that brain processes are causally
influenced by subjective conscious experience.
The nature of quantum indeterminacy
provides the possibility that some entity not strictly controlled by the laws of physics
could exercise supervenient downward control over the course of physical events, and
consciousness is such an entity.

Recent publications by Stapp are available from his webpage at
<http://www-physics.lbl.gov/~stapp/stappfiles.html> (accessed 16 July 2003). A nice overview and other
formats of his documents can be found at <http://www.categoricalanalysis.com> (accessed 16 July 2003).
The biographical details come from a response by Henry Stapp, <hpstapp@lbl.gov>, to an inquiry by
email. A warning to the reader: Stapps material is difficult to comprehend, most quotes are given without
sources and references are only provided sporadically.
Henry Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics (New York: Springer Verlag, 1993).
Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, vii.
Henry Stapp, and then a Miracle Occurs in Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 4.
Henry Stapp, A Quantum Theory of Consciousness in Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 38.

Stapp reasoned that such a connection between matter and mind is possible
through quantum theory, which has often simply been regarded as confined to the
physical microscopic realm. However, quantum effects such as implied in the EPR
paradox show that the domain of quantum theory cannot be confined to the scope of
individual entities. The EPR paradox shows separated quantum systems manifesting
effects that could only be understood in terms of instantaneous connections, as if the
quantum systems are linked-up wholes and not separate. Stapp viewed these effects as
predicted and included by the commonly accepted model of thinking about quantum
theory by Heisenberg.

Stapp understood quantum mechanics to have shown that reality cannot consist of
point-like entities with properties, as required by the understanding of classic physics.
What we know about the space-time continuum is that it was useful for organizing our
experience of the world.
Classic physics culminated in field theory. However, field
theory failed to account for microscopic sources of the field. This failure implies the
rejection of the idea that the external world resides in a space-time continuum and forces
the recognition that space lies in the minds of the beholder.
Stapp interpreted
Heisenbergs model as dispensing with the classic physical world. The probability
distribution and its abrupt changes, emerging from the quantum theoretical description,
become the complete representation of reality:
The present work is based on Heisenbergs model of physical reality, or rather
upon my elaboration of his model, which he did not describe in great detail.
Heisenbergs model is simpler than either of the others. It dispenses with Bohms

Stapp, Miracle, 1, 45, 8; Stapp, The Copenhagen Interpretation in Mind, Matter and Quantum
Mechanics, 4978.
Stapp, Copenhagen, 65.
Ibid., 66.

classical world. However, it retains the idea that the probability distribution that
occurs in quantum theory exists in nature herself. Indeed, in Heisenbergs model
this probability distribution, and its abrupt changes, become the complete
representation of physical reality. This shift from Bohms manifestly dualistic
representation of physical reality to a somewhat more homogeneous one is
compensated, however, by a shift to a dualistic dynamic. The dynamical
evolution of the physical worldas represented by this probability distribution
proceeds by an alternation between two phases: the gradual evolution via
deterministic laws analogous to the laws of classical physics is punctuated, at
certain times, by sudden uncontrolled quantum jumps, or events.

Stapps conception of the universe is a world that is exclusively describable by
quantum theory, a quantum world. The EPR paradox shows that quantum states must be
given a global nature. Stapp envisioned all minds in the universe as sharing the same
quantum state and so in effect, the world is describable by a single wave function. To be
more accurate the world is this wave function. Quantum theory is ontologically real.

Bohr required a classic description of the experimental environment in the
Copenhagen interpretation. For Stapp these uses of classic physics are within the
framework of quantum thinking, idealizations, used by scientists to bring order into
mans experience in the realm of atomic phenomena.
The objective nature of the
specifications used for experimental setups in quantum theory is due to our conception of
the objective elements as existing independently of our perception. The specifications in
terms of a classic description allow an elimination of the observer from the quantum
mechanical description of nature. However, this elimination is simply a semantic
sleight of hand because the classic world has to be recognized as fundamentally an

Stapp, Miracle, 1820.
Ibid., 2829.
Ibid., 67.

invention of the mind, and therefore at the end the observer always emerges as the
fundamental reality upon which the whole structure rests.

Stapps concept of the mind was based on the similarity of the brain to a
measurement device. Patterns of neuronal activity are correlated to human conscious
events that can then trigger process one or quantum collapse (which Stapp labeled
Heisenberg events).
In that way, Stapp reasoned, the Cartesian hope for a connection
between the mind and the body is fulfilled.
Stapp followed a definition by William
James of the mind as a stream of thought involving memory of earlier thoughts and as
having the ability to discern memories about what is me. Thought is different at each
following moment; thought itself is the thinker, and there is nothing behind the mind so
The thoughts of the mind and the physical acts that implement the thought
in the brain are two sides of the same event following the psychophysical parallelism
discussed when the nature of von Neumanns process one was considered in Chapter

Stapp concluded that only quantum theory can provide a means for consciousness
to become causally efficacious.
Stapp cannot avoid dualism because he needs to give
privileged abilities to the mind since the mind is able to cause process one, quantum
collapse. However, he saw these privileged abilities to follow from von Neumanns

Ibid., 70.
Stapp, Miracle, 20.
Stapp, Propensities, 126.
Stapp, Miracle, 2122.
Ibid., 22.
Stapp, Mind-Brain, 163.

argument and the Heisenberg quantum ontology.
Stapp understood the mind as a
computer that stores and processes an enormous number of patterns in parallel:
But in the brain a huge number of separate patterns of neural excitations can be
present at one time. These patterns can become correlated to stimuli and
responses, and can mediate the behavior of the organism. In a manner discussed
in some detail in one of the following papers, the structure of these neural
patterns can form representations of the body and its environment, with a history
of the occurring representations becoming stored in memory. The main postulate
of the model is that every conscious event is the psychological counterpart of a
certain special kind of Heisenberg event in the brain, namely an event that
actualizes a pattern of neuronal activity that constitutes a representation of this
general kind. However, any such representation must be formed before it can be
selected; the representation must be constructed by unconscious brain activity,
governed by the preceding mechanical phase of the dynamical evolution, before
it can be actualized. During this preliminary mechanical phase a superposition of
many such presentations must inevitably be generated. During the subsequent
actualization phase one of these representations will be selected.

The mind simulates a set of possible scenarios and actions to take through process
two. Then the mind at the highest level of integration and control, namely at the level of
the actualization of patterns of neural excitation that correspond to conscious
triggers von Neumanns process one (Heisenberg event) which causes
one of the potentialities to be selected and causes the brain to go into a new state. This
new state might then cause actions of the body. Classic theory considers the concept of
consciousness as occult. However, quantum theory allows the consideration of
consciousness as an integral part of the world:
Insofar as consciousness cannot be conceived to be a rationally integral
component of the world described by the other sciences, then consciousness will
appear to scientists to be intellectually occult, in spite of its phenomenological
immediacy. The conceptual framework provided by classical mechanics indeed
makes consciousness occult, in this sense, and also epiphenomenal. Yet
within the quantum framework consciousness is neither of these. For it is
represented in a rationally coherent way within our basic physical theory, namely

Stapp, Miracle, 25.
Stapp, Propensities, 139.

quantum mechanics, as a choice that converts open future possibilities into fixed
and recorded past events.

The typical understanding in contemporary quantum theory is that process one as
purely chance-based. Stapp saw this view is reflecting the fact that the basis for quantum
choices cannot be conceptualized in terms of the ideas that it [quantum theory] employs,
and consequently the only way to express what is happening in process one is as

For Stapp, process one is inherently a global process, affecting the whole
universe. The process does not respect spatial separations in the way that familiar causal
processes do. The choices by process one can be implemented only by actions that
transcend spacetime separation.
Randomness is the result of our confining
observations to a localized object and therefore a reflection of our ignorance. Process one
integrates complex patterns over the brain and related patterns all over the universe in
order to cause wave function collapse. Consequently, he suggested that the selection of
the outcome of process one should not be conceived of as the result of pure chance:

Naught happens for nothing, but everything from a ground and of necessity
(Leucippus). This is the law of necessity. Some writers claim to be comfortable
with the idea that there is in nature, at its most basic level, an irreducible element
of chance. I, however, find unthinkable the idea that between two possibilities
there can be a choice having no basis whatsoever. Chance is an idea useful for
dealing with a world partly unknown to us. But it has no rational place among the
ultimate constituents of nature.

Stapp insisted, as the QDA advocates described in Chapter Five, that chance is the
evidence of ignorance of the factors determining the outcome. The outcome of process

Ibid., 141142.
Ibid., 169.
Stapp, Mind, Matter and Quantum Mechanics, 91.

one is determined by the exercise of personal agency through the influence of the brain or
consciousness and by factors emerging from the world. Stapps viewpoint showed strong
similarities with Heims ideas of personal agency.
9. Steven Hawking: Quantum Mechanics for the Masses
Steven Hawkings view is included here in order to present an account of a
scientific perspective on the nature of the world at the end of the twentieth century as
represented to general audiences by a famous physicist. Hawkings most popular book
(and it could be argued that it is the most popular book on modern physics available
given the number of copies sold)
is A Brief History of Time (1988).
Hawking published another illustrated book on the nature of the universe titled The
Universe in a Nutshell.
However, his views on quantum measurement and on the
nature of reality are best expressed in the debate with Penrose in The Nature of Space and

Hawking categorized physicists as Platonists and positivists. The positivists have
adopted the view that physical theories are simply models reflecting the observations or
experiments. It is meaningless to argue whether these models correspond to a reality that
is conceivable in a meaningful way. The Platonists, who would rather call themselves
realists, insist that something like a real world must exist and take theories in physics to

Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of A Brief History in Black Holes and Baby Universes and other
Essays (New York: Bantam Books, 1993), 3340.
Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes (New York: Bantam
Books, 1988).
Stephen Hawking, The Universe in a Nutshell (New York: Bantam Books, 2001).
Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton
University Press, 1996).

be a description of an underlying reality.
The Platonists are worried about such
paradoxes like Schrdingers cat, which they feel cannot correspond to a reasonable
concept of reality. Hawking pointed out that the reasoning of the Platonists implies that
reality must reflect ideas about reality that have so far not been established by
experimental verification. There is the danger that the notion of reality of the Platonists is
just a contextually conditioned concept without any warrant and therefore merely
constitutes a reflection of the convictions of the physicists rather than a model of reality
emerging from the scientific data.

Hawking characterized himself as a positivist and therefore as committed to the
reality as it emerges from the scientific theories. All he cared about is that the theory
should predict the result of the measurement.
However, Hawking adhered to Omns
decoherence scheme and understood matter to become classic due to the influence from
the environment. The reason we do not perceive a cat that is dead and alive in
Schrdingers cat paradox is that the environment insures that one or the other outcome
was generated.
Hawking adhered therefore to a notion of a definite reality that could be
questioned given the problematic elements in Omns as discussed above.
Popular books in physics like A Brief History of Time inform the thinking of the
general reader about the nature of the world. Content targeted at these audiences is by
necessity simplified and does not cover all the detail that would be covered in a
discussion among scientists. Simplification necessitates the choice of visualizations and
results in some inaccuracies so that presentations be understandable. In some sense,

Hawking and Penrose, Space and Time, 45, 134.
Ibid., 121.
Ibid., 121122, 131.

physicists today have taken on the role of the priests of prior ages, revealing knowledge
about the nature of the world to the population. Popular books contain an interpretation of
incomprehensible scientific jargon by these priests to the laity, and are somewhat
comparable to sermons of earlier days.
It is therefore interesting to review the picture
of reality drawn by Hawking for general consumption.
Hawking described the universe as consisting of small particles influenced by
forces, and this description is comparable to the classic view at the end of the nineteenth
century, suggesting atomism and reductionism. Hawking depicted quantum theory and
the measurement process in the following way:
[Uncertainty] led Heisenberg, Erwin Schrdinger, and Paul Dirac in the 1920s to
reformulate mechanics into a new theory called quantum mechanics, based on the
uncertainty principle. In this theory particles no longer had separate, well-defined
positions and velocities that could not [sic] be observed. Instead, they had a
quantum state, which was a combination of position and velocity.
In general, quantum mechanics does not predict a single definite result for an
observation. Instead, it predicts a number of different possible outcomes and tells
us how likely each of these is.

The implication of Hawkings description, although not directly expressed, is that
the act of observation of a particle has multiple possible outcomes due to uncertainty. The
visualization produces two problematic suggestions for the general reader:
First, uncertainty only applies to particles and not to larger objects that might be
describable by quantum theory. Uncertainty applies only to the microscopic domain and
does not challenge our view of the classic nature of reality.
Second, the problematic nature of measurement is not mentioned. It is assumed
that the nature of the world becomes classic when large-scale descriptions are involved,

See also Stapps argument in the introduction to Mindful Universe.
Hawking, Brief History, 55.

which is certainly warranted based on Hawking acceptance of the theory of decoherence.
However, the inference that the measurement problem, and therefore uncertainty, only
applies to one particle is not challenged. Decoherence requires the interaction of large
quantities of particles in order to significantly reduce interference terms.
Both problems have haunted the debate on divine action because the implicit
assumption is frequently made that uncertainty is restricted to the very small scale
particle world and that it is natural for the classic world to emerge from an atomist-
reductionist conception of the quantum world.
In his illustrated work, The Universe in a Nutshell, Hawking presented the wave
function as an accurate description of reality. The wave function develops in a
deterministic way comparable to the classic laws of physics, but only allows us to make
half the predictions that were possible in the classic worldview. In some sense,
determinism is preserved through the wave function. The problematic nature of wave
function collapse is again not mentioned and is implicitly assumed to be solved. The
example given suggests the application of quantum theory to a single particle.
On the
other hand, to the reader with prior knowledge in physics it is plain in all cases that
Hawking was simplifying a complex subject in order to make it understandable, using
common methods of visualizing quantum phenomena.

However, given the dispute about the nature of reality emerging from quantum
theory, which we have reviewed in earlier chapters, we might question the validity of
such a simplification of the subject matter, because Hawkings presentation suggested to

Hawking, Nutshell, 107108.
Henry Stapp, The Vulgar Copenhagen Interpretation in Quantum Ontology, and the Mind-Matter
Synthesis, 812.

the general reader that the atomist-reductionist ideas of enlightenment thought are still
applicable today with only minor modifications.
10. Conclusion
While it is evident from Hawkings writing that the belief in the necessity of the
existence of an objective, observer-independent world is dominating in the physical
sciences today, there is the fact that the observer (and therefore a role for consciousness)
invariably enters the discussion when the measurement process is discussed in detail. von
Neumann first mentioned the inevitability of a role for the observer, and Wigner,
Wheeler and Stapp followed in his footsteps. Everett developed the many-worlds
interpretation, an alternate interpretation of quantum theory, trying to avoid process one
with its problematic mental aspects, but he could not avoid introducing the observer in
the form of memory, then giving it a pivotal role in the measurement process. Recently
Zeh mentioned that theories of decoherence cannot completely account for wave function
collapse and supported the view that wave function collapse requires a form of the
psychophysical parallelism, echoing von Neumanns position seventy years earlier.
Omns ignored small probabilities and redefined determinism and classicality the
quantum way in order to establish a fuzzy notion of an independent classic reality.
It is my opinion that these characteristics of the various positions on measurement
are strong reasons to conclude that an integration of consciousness and the observer may
be unavoidable for a proper understanding of quantum theory. Seventy years of attempts
to find an objective process that would result in an objective, observer-independent
nature of reality have failed. It is time that science faces the issue that quantum theory
might need to include mental aspects and therefore a role for consciousness.

Perhaps we should consider one of Omns statements evaluating the situation of
the early phase of quantum theory and take it slightly out of context since it seems to
adequately evaluate the results of scientific endeavors regarding theories of wave
function collapse until today:
The essential point is perhaps that everything was tried by some of the best
people in the entire history of physics to save the classical vision of the world,
and yet they failed.

Stapp has proposed a unique integration of mind and matter. His abandonment of
an objective world in favor of a Jamesian indeterminate world allows for a
noninterventionist incompatibilist account of personal agency. As such, it seems to me to
be an ideal framework for the articulation of a theory of divine action, which is basically
a theory explaining personal agency of God in the world.

Omns, Understanding, 11.

Chapter Seven
Divine Action in a Quantum World
1. Introduction
The purpose of this chapter is to develop a scientifically credible model of divine
action by integrating the conclusions regarding the different approaches to the
understanding of quantum theory and divine action that have been evaluated in the earlier
chapters. Since there are competing interpretations of quantum theory and of wave
function collapse as well as other scientific theories that aim to account for reality, a
review of the rationale for the selection of the theory used as a basis for the model is
given in the next section of this chapter.
Following the explanation of the reasons for the choice of von Neumanns
interpretation of quantum theory, the next section investigates the implications for the
understanding of the world as a whole, represented by a single wave function,
. The
universal wave function represents the state of the universe at a particular point in time
but also includes all potentialities and possibilities, both those still indefinite in the past
and the potentialities for the future.
The next section populates the world with conscious beings able to affect the
universal wave function through wave function collapse. A set of consciousnesses is
defined and an understanding of minds interacting with matter in a quantum world is
developed using Stapps model of personal agency.
The following sections discuss two proposals for conceptualizing divine action in
such a quantum world. The first approach is to understanding God as a super or divine
, who is able to cause wave function collapse at will in order to bring about

desired outcomes in the world. The divine observer has capabilities going beyond any
other mind in the universe because God can affect the world at any location and can
control the outcome of wave function collapse. However, the disadvantage is the
anthropomorphic understanding of God as one of many participating consciousnesses in
the world processes.
The second proposal is to envision divine action during the exercise of wave
function collapse by any of the minds populating the universe. The concept of kenotic
divine action, following Murphys ideas of underdetermination, integrated with Stapps
understanding of personal agency in a quantum world, allows the development of an
understanding of immanent divine action. In this model, God can be envisioned as being
active in any collapse in the same way as proposed in contemporary QDA proposals
before. However, we find that this approach results in the danger of perceiving the world
in a matrix-like way as merely an illusion, since God is working within the processes of
In the conclusion, the two proposed holistic approaches are compared with the
reductionist models for the determination of quantum events by Tracy and Murphy (as
discussed in Chapter Five). I suggest that the concept of the divine super-observer is the
most appropriate approach to divine action since it emphasizes the transcendent character
of God and allows divine action in a single event. The second proposal suffers from the
problem of evil since God is envisioned to act in all wave function collapses and
therefore, in accordance with Saunderss argument (see Chapter Five), God could be seen
as an active participant in evil.

2. Evaluation of Scientific Theories
In the classic understanding of science the Newtonian laws of nature are
fundamental. The world is viewed as composed of particles and forces acting on those
particles. However, as suggested in Chapter One, today we can no longer accept the view
of the universe as governed by the classic laws of nature. The universe has a quantum
Classical physics works well in many situations, but is inadequate for problems
involving the atomic or subatomic structure of objects and materials. For
problems of this kind one must use quantum theory, which supercedes classical
theory in that it reproduces all the experimentally validated predictions of
classical theory, and covers the atomic and subatomic domains as well.

Four theories exist in physics today that are generally accepted to be fundamental
for the understanding of the physical nature of the world. On the one hand are theories
that are usually seen as useful to describe the microscopic realm: quantum theory and
quantum field theory, which is an integration of quantum theory with special relativity.
On the other hand are the theories that specify how matter behaves at relativistic speeds:
the special theory of relativity, a simplification of the theory of relativity, omitting
gravity, and general relativity. Two are simplifications of the two other more complex
ones but all originate in Newtonian physics as seen in Table 2.

Stapp, Quantum Theory and Mind-Matter in Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, 83.

Table 2: Theories of the Fundamental Nature of the World
Relativity Quantum Mechanics
Classic Newtonian Physics
Standard Special Relativity Quantum Theory
Refined General Relativity Quantum Field Theory

Quantum theory and relativity are fundamentally incompatible because relativity
assumes an objective world in which objects or particles travel on trajectories, whereas
quantum theory conceives of matter in quanta, small chunks, and these quanta can only
exist in discrete states. The quantum world is indefinite until the collapse of the wave
function whereas the relativistic world is always definite. Both theories describe essential
characteristics of matter and both apply at any scale. Quantum mechanics can be applied
at a large scale when it is used in cosmology for theories of the early development of the
universe. Theories of relativity might be required even at the quantum level for
calculations involving fast-moving entities.
The full integration of general relativity and quantum mechanics has so far eluded
us. The best theory available today is quantum field theory, which integrates quantum
theory with special relativity. Therefore, we need to conclude that the nature of our
scientific descriptions can only be taken as approximate descriptions of what is truly
there. One cannot claim that any theory represents reality as reality really is. Any
ontological claims must be seen as relative assertions of the existence of an underlying
reality conforming in an unknown way to the theory.

All of the above theories describe the fundamental character of the world. One
would expect that the more refined theorieseither general relativity or quantum field
theorywould be preferred over the simpler ones. However, both theories are generally
avoided because they are more difficult to handle. For the purpose of developing an
argument for divine action quantum theory will be used, realizing that a potentially more
accurate description that would be possible through quantum field theory is omitted, and
also noting that relativistic effects are outside of the scope of what we are considering in
terms of the scientific theory at the foundation of this proposal.
One reason not to use relativity is that relativity is a deterministic theory with no
fundamental indeterminacies and is therefore not suitable for theories of divine action.
The model of divine action proposed here is therefore developed in an idealized
environment of non-relativistic quantum theory, which might be taken as a warning about
potential inaccuracies involved in our discussion of this model of divine action. The same
comment could of course be made regarding all prior proposals in the literature on QDA.
I can therefore only claim to develop a simplified model of divine action.
The choice of quantum theory is not without its own problems. As discussed in
Chapters Two, Four and Six, the interpretation of quantum theory is disputed and
therefore various interpretations of quantum theory exist. In order to develop a credible
model of divine action one of those interpretations needs to be selected. Choosing any
interpretation puts the model at risk because other interpretations might turn out to be
better and would bring the approach to divine action presented here into question. The
main interpretations that have been surveyed in Chapter Four are outlined in Table 3.

Table 3: Interpretations of Quantum Theory
Interpretation Proposed by Issues
Ensemble Einstein Hidden variables theories covered by von Neumanns, Bells inequality
and other impossibility proofs for hidden-variables theories.
Copenhagen Bohr, Heisenberg Epistemic understanding and therefore not useful for a development of a
world model. The measurement problem is solved by an appeal to a
classic description of the measurement device and other elements of the
experiments in a laboratory.
Pilot-Wave Bohm,
de Broglie
Problematic particle nature, problems with relativity, symmetry of
position and momentum not preserved.
Many-Worlds Everett, DeWitt Relative states cannot always be generated as necessary for splits to
occur. Enormous multiplicity of other worlds generated that we cannot

What emerged from the period of controversy regarding the interpretation of
quantum theory from 19501980 was a widespread agreement on the validity of the
Copenhagen interpretation, although the other interpretations continued to be used in the
discussion of specific problems in quantum theory (Chapter Four). Each of the alternate
interpretations still has its advocates, although the weaknesses of each are known. The
Copenhagen interpretation has been accepted as the simplest and least problematic
Within the context of the Copenhagen interpretation itself, a variety of approaches
to the measurement problem developed that have led to in turn to a variety of views on
the nature of the world. Initially there was the instrumentalist approach of Bohr, who did
not commit to any underlying ontology. Heisenberg then suggested a partial
ontologization of quantum theory based on the notion that the measurement instrument
causes real wave function collapse (Chapter Two). Heisenbergs approach is accepted
widely today, however often with grave misgivings because the measurement problem
has not been addressed in a satisfactory way. Measurement devices typically imply a

laboratory situation and require a classic description. Therefore the difficulty persists of
understanding how measurement could happen outside of the laboratory. Physicists
have proposed to resolve the measurement problem in the following ways as illustrated in
Table 4 (see Chapter Six).
Approach Proposed by Remarks
Epistemic Bohr No commitment to an underlying ontology.
Real Propensities Heisenberg Quantum propensities are real. Generation of a mixture by the
measurement device representing knowledge of a definite
Consciousness von Neumann, Stapp,
Wigner, Wheeler
Full ontologization of quantum processes. The observer is
necessary for ultimate wave function collapse.
Spontaneous Collapse Ghirardi, Rimini,
Weber and others
Deviates from the predictions of quantum theory. Creates small
amounts of energy. Allows an objective observer-independent
Quantum Gravity
Penrose A highly speculative approach since it depends on a yet
undeveloped theory of quantum gravity. Allows the
consideration of consciousness as emerging from quantum
Decoherence Hawking, Zeh, Omns
and others
Wave function collapse through environmental influences. Small
probabilities need to be ignored. Problem of partial traces of the
environment. Potentially compatible with von Neumanns
approach (Zeh).
Table 4: Approaches to the Measurement Problem
Physicists have not settled the question of the interpretation of quantum theory
yet. However, von Neumann proposed a complete ontologization of quantum theory
more than seventy years ago, concluding that it was inevitable to give the observer a role
in process one. von Neumanns theories are still widely used for the discussion of the
measurement process although his conclusion regarding the necessity of considering
consciousness as an essential element of the measurement process has not been accepted.
The research on alternate possibilities for locating collapse has enhanced the
understanding of quantum theory and wave function collapse to a significant degree.
However, no effective response has been developed to question von Neumanns proposal.

The alternate approaches are questionable on scientific and other grounds. Some of the
leading theorists on decoherence, which was hoped would finally solve the measurement
problem, today acknowledge that decoherence can at best only provide a partial solution
to the measurement problem. Some, like d`Espagnat, Zeh and Joos, even concluded that a
notion of an observer might be unavoidable in quantum theory. Others such as Omns
and Hawking simply chose to ignore potentialities with small probabilities as well as
other difficulties and believed in decoherence since this provides a good approximation
of what wave function collapse is envisioned to do.
At this point is it hard not to accept von Neumanns approach to measurement
because it seems to be the only scientifically tenable solution that is available to account
for the nature of reality based on quantum theory.
The advantage of choosing an
understanding of wave function collapse that includes the concept of an observer is that it
suggests a model of personal agency and therefore a solution to the problem of free will.
A model of personal agency will be useful for the development of a concept of divine
agency in the world.
3. The Quantum World
A wave function is commonly used by physicists for the description of the
behavior of quantum systems in the laboratory. Measurement devices used in the
laboratory are considered part of a classically conceived physical world. Only the
examined quantum systems are represented by the wave function, and the wave function
used in the experiment changes depending on the information available to the

Henry Stapp, Actions and Information in The Mindful Universe [online] [draft] (Berkeley, California:
Livermore National Laboratories, 2003, accessed 16 July 2003),

experimenter about the quantum system.
This common use is reflected in the typical
understanding of the Schrdinger equation to only apply to an isolated system, whose
interaction with the environment can be ignored.
However, one might also conceive of
the totality of the universe as such an isolated system as proposed by Everett
and Stapp
because there are obviously no interactions possible with the environment if the totality
of the universe is taken as one quantum system.
Schrdingers argument for universal entanglement and the nonlocal nature of
quantum theory demonstrated by the experiments of Aspect and Gisin
lead to the
conclusion that all entities in the universe are correlated in an inseparable way. The
universe has been evolving since the big bang, nonlocality has always been a
characteristic of the universe and in any quantum interaction there is no limit on the
number of quanta that could interact. It is therefore reasonable to conclude that all quanta
have interacted in the past and that the universe is therefore one quantum system in a very
real sense.

One advantage of conceiving of the world as a wave function is that the random
influences on the system from the environment are eliminated. As evident from Bohms
as well as from the arguments for decoherence,
restricting an observation to
a part of a whole can result in the interactions of the whole with the part manifesting

Stapp, Copenhagen, 56.
Stapp, Quantum Propensities, 121.
Hugh Everett, III, Theory of the Universal Wave Function in DeWitt and Graham, 9, 109119.
Stapp, Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, 2829.
Kafatos and Nadeau, 134. Greenstein and Zajonc, 139144.
Kafatos and Nadeau, 134; Raymond Chiao, Quantum Nonlocalities in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-
McNelly, Quantum Mechanics, 38.
Bohm, Chance and Causality, 20.
Joachim Kupsch, Open Quantum Systems in Giulini, Joos, Kiefer, Kupsch, Stamatescu and Zeh, 223

themselves as random fluctuations. By considering the universe as one wave function, the
potential influences from the environment are eliminated. Any alternatives represented in
the wave function are then true alternatives that are independent of influences from within
the universe. All entanglements are represented within the wave function. The
probabilities emerging from the wave function still exist and show the probabilities for
the choices that can be made; however, no other causal connection in the universe,
describable in terms of physical causes, could be affecting the outcome. The probabilities
emerging from the wave function in collapse reflect all influences from within the
universe, since the whole universe is represented by one wave function.
The development of the universe proceeds according to the two von Neumann
processes, using a universal wave function as proposed by Everett. Process two is a
unitary development process, which describes the development of the universe in time
through the deterministic evolution of the universal wave function. Any punctuation in
the development of the wave function through wave function collapse is described by
process one and is characterizing an interaction of a mind with the universe. Without
process one the world only develops potential scenarios as in the many-worlds scenario
by Everett.
In a quantum world scenario, William Jamess view of a nondeterministic world
becomes a scientific possibility. Given the scientific environment of his time, James had
to argue from knowledge outside of physics for an indeterminate world. Quantum theory
now allows scientific support for key elements of the indeterministic nature of the world
that James felt was necessary. As envisioned by James the world develops alternate
scenarios (process two) and the selection of one alternative results in the elimination of

others possibilities (process one).
A Jamesian world is a world, where choice is
possible. In a sense then, such a universe is ready to be acted upon by agents that trigger
process one and limit the possibilities of the universe for the future. These irreversible
actions can be understood as making a part of the universe definite, removing the
possibilities that existed before.
In order to describe the processes of the world, a partially formalized model of the
world will be developed that shows how conscious entities can act in that world. The
need for simplification results in several approximations, but the model itself will be seen
to be consistent. The model contains two basic entities: The world wave function or
universal wave function and the minds of the observers, the consciousnesses. The first is
the world represented by a wave function,
, the universal wave function, which is
an extremely complex wave function, describing the world with all its potentialities as
discussed above.
According to Bohr, a wave function provides complete knowledge of
the quantum system it describes.
Therefore, we are assured by our knowledge of
quantum theory that the wave function represents everything that can be known
scientifically about the universe, if the understanding by Bohr and others is correct.

James, Determinism, 591.
Stapp, Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, 110111.
Bohr, Discussion with Einstein, 203.

Figure 2: Divine Action in Stapp's Quantum World

The universal wave function represents both the potentialities as well as the world
as we see it as presented in Figure 2. However, there are notable differences from the
classic worldview. The wave function can represent subsystems that are in a definite
classic state, and therefore these subsystems are comparable to the state of objects as
considered in classic physics. However, the major part of the wave function needs to be
interpreted as describing the world as a set of potentialities. Wheeler sees these
potentialities as not restricted to the present, since present potentialities might be based
on indefinite scenarios from the past. The present is entangled with the past, which might
Propensities of the world or
Universal Wave Function
part of reality
Observer 1
Observer 2
The Divine

be more entangled with the past even further back.
The future is described by the wave
function in terms of probabilities, and the possibilities of the future are restricted by the
possibilities that the universal wave function can develop in time. The elements of the
wave function representing the past and the present might contain classic definite
elements whereas the future is always only a set of potentialities.
During the evolution of the wave function, von Neumanns process one continues
to act on the wave function actualizing one of a set of potential outcomes, and thereby
fixing outcomes that then become definite or classic.
4. Personal Agency
I accept Stapps proposal of seeing the world as a structure of propensities and
tendencies as also proposed in the early work of Heisenberg and von Neumann, which
was discussed in the last chapter.
Consciousness is understood by Stapp in the Jamesian
way, as an emergent property of the human brain,
able to exercise control over its own
development and over human biological processes. Consciousness or the mind then
interfaces with the world of propensities, described by the universal wave function.

Boundary conditions on the world of propensities are generated by the dynamics
of the world process. Every act, like a conscious recognition of an event by quantum
collapse, causes a further limiting of possibilities, whereas possibilities are increased by
the development of the wave function as time progresses. The world therefore has a built-
in capability to develop regions of freedom that are necessary for the exercise of free will.

Wheeler, Genesis and Observership, 42; Aczel, 92.
Stapp, Mind-Matter, 91.
James, Principles of Psychology, 138139.
Stapp, Mind-Matter, 9293.

Comparable to Everetts many-worlds interpretation, the world of propensities
contained in the universal wave function describes sets of other possible worlds. In
contrast to Everett, wave function collapse is not avoided in Stapps view of the world
but conscious recognition eliminates scores of possible worlds. The observers never exist
in multiple instances in the universal wave function and are always recognizing a definite
world. Stapp expressed these ideas in the following way:
Imagine, therefore, that the boundary conditions are not set at some initial time,
[as in classical physics,] but gradually by a sequence of acts that imposes a
sequence of constraints. After any sequence of acts there remains a collection of
possible worlds, some of which will be eliminated by the next act. This
elimination is achieved by acting on the existing collection with a projection
operator in phase space that eliminates some members, but leaves the others
untouched. The laws of classical physics are not disturbed by fixing the
boundary conditions progressively in this way.

The interface of the mind and the world of propensities is consciousness. In
consciousness, the neural patterns are matched with external stimuli to cause potential
courses of action to develop. A conscious act is a selection of one of the potential

The selection will be determined almost completely by the causal quantum-
theoretic laws acting on the localized personal data, provided only one of the
superposed codes has non-negligible weight. But if several of these codes have
appreciable weight, then the global and seemingly statistical element will become
important. Thus the selection process has, from the quantum-theoretic viewpoint,
both a causal-personal aspect and also a stochastic-nonpersonal aspect.

In other words, Stapp proposed that the outcome of process one is determined
partially by random chance and partially by the influence of consciousness. The
determination of process one is only possible in the brain, which has a special capability
to effect the collapse of the wave functions.

Ibid., 9394.
James, Stream, 7073.
Stapp, Mind-Matter, 106.

Walker reasoned in a similar way that the probabilities emerging from the wave
function are not fully determining the outcome, and concluded that quantum mechanics is
underconstrained. Consciousness acts through the will to choose the outcome of wave
function collapse. Walker claimed that the nature of the world must be underconstrained
in order to allow the exercise of will.
Therefore Stapps stochastic-nonpersonal aspect
should not be seen as completely determining the outcome of process one. Walker
explicitly extended that notion to include the effects of mind on matter in general:

We are saying that mind can affect mattereven other brainsand that distant
matter and minds can have an effect on us. What we have here, what is forced on
us by the formalism of quantum mechanics itself, is something that sounds like
telepathy or psychokinesis. What we have found in our quest for the tangible
fabric of reality has carried us past objectivity, beyond mind even, and into the
realm of things paranormal!

I think that Walker was going too far in arguing from nonlocality to the exercise
of remote influences constituting paranormal abilities. Nonlocality and entanglement only
implies the correlations of outcomes and not the ability to exercise remote forces. The
mind, viewed as an intrinsic emergent property of the brain, cannot exert any direct
control over matter outside of the brain, and therefore the basis for the psychokinetic
effects does not exist.
The concept of understanding the world as a wave function,
, was
introduced in the last section as the first element of a divine action model. One other
entity needed is a set of consciousnesses or minds that exist in the universe, , with each

referring to one of the active consciousnesses in the universe. Doing so produces the

Walker, 259260.
Ibid., 263266.
Ibid., 265.

familiar classic Cartesian dualism separating the world and our minds from each other,
since it implies a separate domain for consciousness from the physical world.
In addition, each of the
is associated with a control domain in
, in which a
consciousness is able to initiate wave function collapse and influence the outcome of
collapse. The need to do so follows from Stapps understanding of consciousness as an
emergent property of the brain, and therefore a connection between the brain and the
mind needs to be established. In actuality, the mind and the brain are two sides of the
same object, consistent with von Neumanns and Bohrs understanding of the
psychophysical parallelism.
are able to sense the quantum states in the brain and are able to influence
the quantum outcomes of wave function collapses in the brain. It is unclear how the
actual physical interface between brain and consciousness could be described or even
investigated. The conceptual separation of consciousness from the brain into the

implies the need to postulate the ability of consciousness to influence the processes in the
brain as well as the ability of consciousness to sense the state of the brain at the
quantum level. These unusual capabilities need to be limited to the brain, otherwise
consciousness obtains parapsychological powers as seen in Walkers and Heims
The physical area of the interface to consciousness is described by the control
domain of

, and all consciousnesses
are separate with nonoverlapping
control domains. The minds can therefore not directly communicate with one another

except through influencing and observing the world as represented by the universal wave

The universe then evolves according to the two processes described by von
Neumann, also involving the consciousnesses
Process one is the collapse of the wave function. Any
can initiate process one at
any time, and this process will cause the removal of potentialities from the world wave
. Since

operate on the same
, any such determination by one

will cause the result to become available for subsequent actions of other
resulting in the
ability of the
to interact. The
are only able to affect wave function collapse of parts of

that are overlapping their control domain, which is the brain. However, these
collapses are then able to cause global instantaneous collapse of other elements of

entangled with the collapsed pieces in the control domain. Process one is atomic and
serializable; two consciousnesses cannot simultaneously cause process one, and the
occurrence of observation events must be ordered.
Process two is the continuous evolution of the wave function, as described by the
Schrdinger equation. In effect process two is the development of potentialities over
which the consciousnesses
have no influence. Process two represents the regularities of
the world.
The result of the so-far developed model is a Jamesian view of an interactive
universe containing free agents able to interact through
Jamess view of the

I therefore reject Walkers claim (Walker, 265) of direct consciousness to consciousness communication,
siding with Heims view of minds being prisoners that can only communicate through the world. See Heim,
The Riddle of Life, 205.
James, Determinism, 597.

selecting agency of consciousness fits with Stapps model of personal agency.
idea of the objective realm as a negotiating element among all conscious entities of the
universe is very similar to what is proposed here.
However, Heim, like Walker,
proposed that the control domain expands beyond the brain through faith, which leads to
problematic consequences of extrasensory perception as well as psychokinesis.
approach restricts these phenomena to the brain since consciousness is conceived of as
only operational in the brain.
The dualism in the model is necessary for accommodating the psychophysical
parallelism in process one as defined by von Neumann.
As we have also seen in
Everetts discussion of observation,
the observer must be in a state that is at least
potentially classic (Everett uses memory for this purpose) and therefore cannot be
subject to the general indefiniteness characterizing the quantum world. The necessarily
classic nature of the observer is one problematic element not discussed in detail by
and Kafatos and Nadeau
who all envisioned the mind
causing process one as existing essentially as a classically described mind.
However, the therefore essentially metaphysical character of consciousness might
only be a temporary necessity due to our limited understanding in this area. There could

James, Principles of Psychology, 138139.
Karl Heim, The Riddle of Life in The Transformation of the Scientific World View (New York, Harper
& Brothers, 1953), 205.
Heim, The Problem of Miracles in Transformation, 174175.
John von Neumann, Der Meproze in Mathematische Grundlagen der Quantenmechanik, (Berlin:
Springer Verlag, 1932; reprint, Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1996), 222237.
Hugh Everett, III, Theory of the Universal Wave Function in Bryce S. DeWitt and Neill Graham eds.
The Many-Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University
Press, 1973), 6383.
Penrose, Shadows of the Mind, 349350.
Stapp, Mind-Matter, 106.
Walker, 259260.
Kafatos and Nadeau, Conscious Universe, 138139.

potentially be a way to confirm that matter can cause wave function collapse. Penrose
suggested the existence of a physical process to explain the effect of mind on matter
based on a future theory of quantum gravity.
Penrose thought that the neurons in the
brain have a cytoskeleton built out of, among other things, microtubules. These
microtubules, acting as a network, cause special quantum effects as well as wave function
collapse. The microtubules are the essential building blocks of consciousness.
Kafatos and Nadeau reason that, given our current state of knowledge, there is
insufficient warrant to give wave function collapse a pivotal role in the creation of
consciousness, and that Penrose most likely oversimplified the complexities involved.

Stapp suggested the existence of feedback loops for multiple action plans
(represented by potential outcomes of process one) in the brain activated through
attention. Rapid rerouting then causes a quantum Zeno effect that causes one outcome
to be selected.
Kafatos and Nadeau critique Stapps position because he suggested a
quantum reality existing outside of the brain, but implicitly assumed a classic reality
inside the brain that does the processing of the wave functions. Stapps defense was that
the classic nature of the mind developed as a result of the evolutionary process, but
Kafatos and Nadeau see this as a philosophical speculation.
Stapp viewed the mind as
using classic concepts for communication and reasoning but insisted that he always treats
the brain in a quantum mechanical way. The mind correlates its classic view of the world

Ibid., 335347.
Ibid., 369, 373374.
Kafatos and Nadeau, 138139.
Stapp, Psycho-Physical Theory and Will in Mindful Universe, 6768, 3948; Stapp, A Quantum
Theory of the Mind-Brain Interface in Mind, Matter, and Quantum Mechanics, 45172.
Kafatos and Nadeau, 138.

with a quantum mechanical reality of the brain.
However, the quantum Zeno effect
necessary in Stapps thought for the emergence of definite outcomes through wave
function collapse already requires repeated wave function collapses in order to generate
one outcome. It is therefore difficult to see how the quantum Zeno effect could be used to
explain wave function collapse in the brain if it is considered to be of a quantum nature.
These explanations are attempts to avoid the dualism of consciousness and matter
in order to recover monism. I agree with Kafatos and Nadeau that the triggering of
process one by matter might be something that is beyond our science today and might
stay outside of the realm of what we can possibly know since it is related to our processes
of perception.
Various conflicting theories have been proposed on what characteristic of
matter could cause process one. None of them have so far provided a satisfactory solution
and thereforeas also suggested by Kafatos and Nadeaua limited dualism needs to be
accepted until better explanations becomes available.

Given the understanding of personal agency and the operation of the world
through quantum theory, the paradox of Wigners friend mentioned earlier can now be
solved. Wigners friend will simply be described by a mixture to the observer. The
outcome of the observation by Wigners friend will already be reflected in
however, a wave function is used in the paradox to describe the observers knowledge or
perspective. A mixture is therefore necessary to describe the observers ignorance of the
already collapsed outcome that Wigners friend has obtained through his own
observation. A demonstration of the correctness of this approach could be shown in an

Private communication by Henry Stapp, 23 May 2003.
Heim, Riddle of Life, 205.
Kafatos and Nadeau, 139.

experiment that would need to be capable of distinguishing between the wave function
representation of Wigners friend as a mixture or a superposition.

Schrdingers cat presents a dilemma because the cat is an animal with a
consciousness. Therefore, the solution to the paradox of Wigners friend would also
apply here and the cat could die, or find out that it had died,
whenever it observed the
flask of poison. The scenario is certainly cruel but the cat might hope that a quantum
Zeno effect could reduce the chance of the atom decaying. It could continuously observe
the flask of poison and thereby cause the quantum Zeno effect, which could potentially
enhance its chances of survival.
When a person looks into the box, the person sees the
result of wave function collapse as caused by the cat.
If the cat is considered not to have a consciousness allowing it to cause wave
function collapse itself, then a superposition of a dead cat and a live cat exists until one
looks into the box. At that point, observation causes wave function collapse, resulting in
one of the potential outcomes to be determined, and thereforefollowing Wheelers
concept of the determination of the pastthe observation also determines the time of the
radioactive decay should it have occurred.

Eugene P. Wigner, Remarks on the Mind-Body Question in Symmetries and Reflections, 171184.
Here is the potential for a new form of the cat paradox.
An easy-to-follow discussion on the quantum Zeno effect is contained in Greenstein and Zajonc, 198
204. A theoretical discussion can be found in S M Roy, Quantum Zeno and anti-Zeno paradoxes in
PRANAMA Journal of Physics 56, nos. 2 and 3 (February and March 2001): 169178. A report on an
observation of Zeno and anti-Zeno effects can be found in M. C. Fischer, B. Gutierrez-Medina and M. G.
Raizen, Observation of the Quantum Zeno and Anti-Zeno Effects in an Unstable System in Physical
Review 87, no. 4 (July 2001).
Wheeler, Genesis and Observership in At Home in the Universe; Erwin Schrdinger, The Present
Situation in Quantum Mechanics in Wheeler and Zurek, 158.

5. Divine Action by a Divine Observer
One way of adding divine action to the model of the universe is to add another
special divine observer,
, exercising personal agency analogous to all the other
consciousnesses. However, in contrast to the other consciousnesses there is no body for

and therefore also no brain that would restrict the control domain. It is necessary to
consider the control domain
to be
as a whole in order to be able to obtain a
reasonable ability for God to take action on the world. One could therefore think that the
universe represents Gods body or brain following the concept of the immanent God so
popular in Eastern religions and also reflected in Einsteins understanding of Spinoza.

However, I suggest that the control domain merely constitutes an area of influence and
control and does not necessarily imply the existence of a brain or body. The analogy to
personal agency breaks down at this point. In addition, the assignment of the control
domain violates the nonoverlapping nature of the control domains of all other
consciousnesses because Gods control domain contains all other control domains.
In this scenario divine action is the exercise of personal agency of
, as
discussed in the last section, through the use of process one on
. Since the control
domain is the whole world, God can perceive all the details of every part of
without causing process one and, based on his knowledge, is able to cause desired
outcomes by collapsing
at key points of interest to him at any time. In addition to
initiating process one, we also need to assume that God also can completely determine the
outcome of process one by overriding the stochastic-nonpersonal factor.

A similar idea is proposed, including the divine control over events through space and time, by Raymond
Chiao, Quantum Nonlocalities in Russell, Clayton, Wegter-McNelly, Quantum Mechanics, 38.

God is therefore able to determine a desired outcome of any potentiality in the
universe at any time, resulting in a form of divine omnipotence. However, divine action
is hidden from the other observers in the universe as actions of any other consciousness
are also hidden. Divine action is always constrained within the potentialities of the wave
function generated by the regularities of process two and is therefore noninterventionistic
in the sense used in the proposals by Murphy and Russell.
Divine action restricts the
degrees of freedom by eliminating alternate possibilities and therefore also limits the
autonomy of Gods creation, but divine action is not distinguishable from what could
have come about through the autonomous processes of the creation as long as it is
sporadic. If God would regularly determine certain outcomes of wave function collapse
then divine action would be detectable by scientific experiments sensitive to the
regularities of nature. The proposed idea of divine action on the one hand allows God to
insure that desired events happen while on the other hand preserves the freedom of
human action. It provides a solution to the problem of free will in harmony with the all-
powerful will of God, preserving the self-determination of beings in the world as far as
possible. The proposal is therefore kenotic as defined by Murphy and Ellis.

This approach has strong similarities with Tracys proposal of divine action in the
context of reductionist QDA.
The world could function properly without divine
intervention, developing possibilities that are only collapsed by personal and random
factors. Divine action is a special and distinct event where a process of personal agency
intervenes to bring about a desired event, and as argued by Tracy, these kinds of divine

Russell, Divine Action, 296, footnote 11.
Murphy and Ellis, 246247.
Tracy, Creation, 244; idem, Particular Providence, 320.

action proposals only allow an accounting for special divine action. General providence
can be understood to have been exercised by God in creating the universe with the
abilities to develop potentialities and methods of divine and human agency in the world.
However, even when God exercises his divine will in special divine action,
maximum flexibility is preserved for other events to take place that are not in conflict
with the desired event brought about by divine action. In such a way the freedom and
independence of the world is respected,
allowing humans as autonomous agents in the
world. The world can function independently without divine action, and therefore the
problem of evil is avoided since evil can be attributed to processes not directly influenced
by God. God can potentially act anywhere, which might be thought of as leading to a
reduced form of the problem of evil since he might not have acted to prevent evil from
However, Murphy and Ellis have insisted that a kenotic approach to divine
action, such as the one presented here, is a satisfactory solution to the problem of evil
since suffering and disorder are a necessary byproduct of a noncoercive creative process
that aims at the development of free will and intelligent beings.
God would hinder the
exercise of free will if he would act to avoid all evil.
The autonomy of the world also implies that in general the probabilities emerging
from the wave function are not discarded but retain their significance. Divine action is a
single act of wave function collapse through process one which cannot be detected
through any change in probabilities. In reductionist QDA, often large quantities of
quantum events must be influenced through many wave function collapses which results

Murphys kenotic conception of divine action applies even for the divine observer. See Russell, Divine
Action, 315; Murphy, Divine Action, 343, 355356.
Tracy, Particular Providence, 320.
Murphy and Ellis, 247.

in a vulnerability to the argument that the probability distribution for these quantum
events is violated. The divine observer in the approach presented here can produce the
necessary macroscopic effect with a single wave function collapse. Macroscopic objects
are, like the rest of the universe, described by the universal wave function and therefore
exist in multiple potential states from which one can then be selected by a single collapse.
The necessity of a divine observer might also be seen to arise from the absence of
consciousnesses in the early universe. Without a divine observer, the first consciousness
emerging from the evolutionary process would need to have caused massive collapse
covering several billions of years of past history in a universe understood to have
developed into a pure collection of potentialities, as known from the Everettian many-
worlds situation. In my proposal the divine observer can be envisioned as guiding the
evolution of the universe by actualizing some potentialities and removing others, insuring
the emergence of humans. The first point has been argued before by Wheeler
and the
second by Chiao.

6. Divine Action by Underdetermination
It is not necessary to conceive of God anthropomorphically as a distinct observer
in the universe if divine action is understood to be exercised in each wave function
collapse caused by consciousness. If one of the minds in the world initiates process one
then God would participate in the determination of the outcome. Stapp has proposed that
the outcome of process one is determined by two factors: the causal-personal and the

Wheeler, Genesis and Observership, 44.
Chiao, 39.

Walker has suggested similarly that quantum mechanics
underconstrains the determination of an outcome of process one.
We take that to refer
to Stapps stochastic-nonpersonal factor and as an argument for the causal-personal
factor. Now a third factor for the determination of the outcome of process one can be
added, the divine-action factor. Divine action takes the personal factor and the stochastic
factors into account (insuring a kenotic character of divine action), but the outcome of
process one is determined analogous to the determination of the outcome of process one
in reductionist QDA.

Divine action can then be envisioned in a way comparable to the
underdetermination proposed for quantum events by Murphy. God respects the natural
propensities of nature as arising from the stochastic-nonpersonal factor and the causal-
personal factor, and therefore the natural rights of the entities created.

Divine action is therefore inextricably bound to the act of observation through
consciousness, and therefore divine action implies that God works through the perceptual
processes of the consciousnesses in the world. The unsatisfactory aspect about God
influencing our perceptual processes is that such a proposal is generating an almost
situation where God exercises control over what is observed through our
senses. God in essence could be seen as creating a virtual reality for the
consciousnesses. If that is the case, then one could question the true nature of reality and
take quantum theory to be evidence that we live in a divine simulation.

Stapp, Mind-Matter, 106.
Walker, 259.
Russell, Divine Action, 296, footnote 11.
Murphy, Divine Action, 342.
Warner Studios, The Matrix (1999); idem, The Matrix Reloaded (2003),
<http://www.whatisthematrix.com> (accessed 16 July 2003). The matrix is a huge computer simulation of
the world interfacing with the human brains of the population.

Divine action also might necessitate the influence on the observations of multiple
consciousnesses. If one of the minds involved does not fully recognize an object, then
there are still underdetermined elements of the object to be influenced by divine action.
Divine action might necessitate the determination of multiple collapses.
Since God acts in every quantum collapse, the problem of evil can only be
addressed through theological arguments that follow along the lines of Murphys
reasoning for the quantum event situation.
God acts in a kenotic way by respecting the
natural propensities of the world. However, there is limited autonomy of creation. God is
involved in all events in the world and therefore, as argued by Saunders, could also be
seen as taking part in causing evil.
The other element of Saunderss criticism also remains. The probabilities
emerging from the wave function are not really determining the outcome of wave
function collapse. They are only respected by God because it is ultimately God who
determines the outcome of all wave function collapses.
7. Conclusion
In this chapter, a model of divine action has been developed by integrating
Stapps conception of the quantum world with two modes of divine action in the
framework of the reductionist QDA model. The first is based on the model of sporadic
action by a divine observer as proposed by Tracy and Chiao, and the other one following
the idea of underdetermination of process one by Murphy. Both models allow for the
understanding of divine and human agency and are compatible with Stapps proposal for
the quantum nature of the universe. The selected approaches are holistic and are based on

Murphy, Divine Action, 340341.

personal agency in contrast to the proposals of the VO/CTNS authors, which are
reductionist and based on the concept of an objective, observer-independent reality. See
Table 5 for a comparison of the approaches.

Table 5: Comparison of Divine Action Proposals
Divine Observer
able to exercise
process one at will
Underdetermination of
process one by the
minds in the universe
Determination of
some quantum
events (Tracy)
Underdetermination of
quantum events
Concept of
Stapp, von
Stapp, von Neumann Objective wave
function collapse
Objective wave function
Type Holistic Holistic Reductionist Reductionist
Mode of
Divine Action
Transcendent Immanent Potentially
Evolution of
Early Universe
Guided by divine
First consciousness
causes massive collapse
over billions of years
Divine guidance Divine guidance
Preserved God respects innate
Preserved God respects innate
Divine Agency Sporadic wave
function collapse
anywhere in the
universal wave
Process one always
influenced during
observation of observer
determination of
quantum events
Divine determination of
all quantum events.
Quantity of
divine acts for
a macroscopic
One A few if one observer
does not have full
knowledge of an object
Myriads or
Myriads or amplification

The distinction between the reductionistic QDA approaches and the holistic ones
is apparent in particular in the number of divine actions necessary for effects on
macroscopic objects. Only the divine observer approach allows divine action in a single
act and is therefore the simplest possible explanation so far for divine action. The
problem of preserving quantum probabilities arises when divine action is considered to be
influencing all events: this also results in the need to address the problem of evil since
God is involved in all events. Sporadic divine action proposals like the one by Tracy and

the divine observer approach do not suffer from the problem of evil because the world is
assumed to operate largely in an autonomous way.
A significant problem for the reductionist QDA approaches is the concept of
reality, which is based on an extension of Heisenbergs discussion of wave function
collapse by Russell as discussed in Chapter Five. The corresponding holistic approaches
can provide a foundation in the concept of reality developed by Stapp, and at the same
time preserve major characteristics of the reductionist approaches.
Another advantage of the divine observer approach is that it allows envisioning
God as a separate personal agent in the universe, and hence the concept of a transcendent
God. Divine action through the concept of a divine observer allows a clear distinction
between special divine action and the autonomous operation of the world. The
approaches suggesting divine influence in every wave function collapse have the
advantage of an immanent concept of God. God participates in each and all events and
therefore one could solve the problem of evil by adopting Peacockes theological
argument that God is affected by the suffering of the world and suffers through evil.

A choice exists between an immanent or a transcendent conception of God. It is
probably my religious heritage that leads me at this time to choose the transcendent
option over the immanent. In the divine observer model, God can be conceived of in the
most anthropomorphic way as intervening in the world on behalf of those he loves
without these interventions being interventionistic. The world has the potential of

Arthur Peacocke, Biological EvolutionA Positive Theological Appraisal in Russell, Stoeger and
Ayala, 371372.

autonomous operation, which is important as an ingredient in an approach to the solution
of the problem of evil.

The causal joint that Murphy was looking for existsas already proposed by
Russell beforein von Neumanns process one. However, the existing conception of
divine influence at that point was based on a somewhat reductionist conception of reality,
which is questionable given the implications of holism emerging from quantum theory. It
was then assumed that divine action could be effective in the smallest events, the
quantum events. However, the notion of these events is questionable since no scientific
theory of wave function collapse exists that would support an objective notion of
quantum events. The notion of quantum events arose in contemporary QDA out of a
conjecture from Heisenbergs definition of the Copenhagen interpretation as to what
would constitute a measurement outside of Heisenbergs laboratory environment.

Bernard d`Espagnat noted the following regarding the tendencies in physics to
understand reality in an atomist-reductionist way:
Needless to stress here that contemporary physics itself shows such a view is
most nave. A special version of the view in question is even flatly contradicted
by this discipline and, ironically enough, this is just the conception most
persuasively suggested by the whole vocabulary of high-energy physics, with
such expressions as elementary particles, particle states, and so on. These
terms strongly suggest philosophical atomism, that is, the idea that Ultimate
Being is dispersed in myriad simple tiny, localized elements; whereas such a
conception is, as we saw, strictly incompatible with present-day knowledge.
Indeed, the information we now have makes such a picture of Being less
scientific than its opposite: Plotinism!

The understanding of noninterventionism proposed in contemporary QDA is
designed to be compatible with the Enlightenment view of nature and was conceived in

Belinfante, Measurements, 102. Belinfante realized the problematic nature of such events in 1975.
d`Espagnat, Veiled Reality, 401402. Plotinism included an understanding of the mind having an effect on
matter as well as the conceptualization of the world to be similar to an organism. Kafatos and Nadeau also
suggest in The Conscious Universe that the universe has the character of a consciousness. See also Simon
Blackburn, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 290.

the context of liberal and conservative theology. As brought out by Belinfante, the
indeterminate processes embodied by these quantum events would typically need to be
determined in a highly regular way in order to generate significant effects.
The notion of
divine determination can therefore be seen as interventionistic in the sense that the
probabilities emerging from the wave function either are ignored or need to be considered
by God if he acts on a quantum event. The argument that God would act in all quantum
events can therefore be questioned.
Occasional divine acts determining quantum events, following Tracy, would not
be noticed and could be seen as compatible with the scientific understanding. However,
something different happens from the regular pure chance-based behavior of the quantum
events during divine action, which was seen by Saunders to constitute an intervention.
Given the situation and the historical connotations of the term interventionism, I would
suggest that the best way out of this difficulty in the reductionist QDA model is to use
another term, scientifically compatible divine action, instead and characterize divine
action as of a sporadic cryptodeterministic nature.
In the divine observer model that I
proposed in Chapter Seven, divine action is by its very nature sporadic and therefore
compatible with the preservation of the probabilities governing process one in the
overwhelming number of observation events. Saunders would likely argue that my
approach is interventionistic in the same sense as Tracys approach.
I have essentially suggested that divine action be conceived in the framework of a
holistic scheme instead of a reductionist one. The implication of quantum theory, that
reality must be conceived of as the result of an interaction with consciousness or the

Belinfante, Measurements, 100.
See the introduction to Chapter Four for a definition of cryptodeterminism.

mind, is an essential ingredient of this proposal. Instead of God acting on the most basic
God is envisioned to be acting directly on the world as a whole. Events are
the global effects of the exercise of process one on the world by observation through
consciousnesses in the world or through the observation of the divine observer. These
might be characterized as quantum events and might then serve to provide a bridge to
bring the existing contemporary QDA approaches into a proper quantum theoretical
context. My model is compatible with Pollards view of divine action in which God
selects between the potentialities of different outcomes. However, in contrast to Pollard, I
have proposed that it is not necessary that God must act in every potentiality. God can
choose to eliminate potentialities and to bring about outcomes as he pleases as the divine
observer in the universe. He can defer or choose not to act at all, and thereby the problem
of evil is addressed in a satisfactory way.
My view of the world as influenced by minds is obviously counter to the
established perspective of science that considers the world as an objective observer-
independent causal framework. What I have proposed here is merely a model. The
limitations of the approach, due to the simplification already evident in the scientific
theories that I have chosen as a base for the model of divine action were discussed in
Chapter Seven.
However, if this model is a good approximation of reality, then perhaps some
progress has been made. The implication would then be that God is interacting with the
potentialities of the universe and therefore can also control catastrophic potentialities.
One might ask why we have not destroyed ourselves yet, given the numerous destructive

Murphy, Divine Action, 342.

technologies (nuclear, biological, chemical, cybernetics and so on) that have become
usable for that purpose in the last fifty years. If God watches the potentials and can
essentially cut off branches of destructive potentiality, then we might infer from this
scenario an eschatological hope that the universe will terminate as God wills, and not
because of some irresponsible action by humans.

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