Thursday, September 13, 2012

Modern physics is not a threat to Christianity

Martin Rees, is the UK Astronomer Royal and a former President of the Royal Society. He is an atheist. He has an interesting article in the Telegraph newspaper, Even a theory of everything has limits. It is stimulated by Stephen Hawking's new TV series The Grand Design based on his recent book with Leonid Mlodinow.
Rees points out the limitations of Hawking's reductionist triumphalism.
Nearly all scientists are “reductionists” in so far as they think that everything, however complicated, obeys the basic equations of physics. But even if we had a hypercomputer that could solve those equations for (say) breaking waves, migrating birds or human brains, an atomic-level explanation wouldn’t yield the enlightenment we really seek. The brain is an assemblage of cells, and a painting is an assemblage of chemical pigment. But in both cases, what’s important and interesting is the pattern and structure – the emergent complexity. 
This is why the Grand Design has no relevance to most of the things that humans value. True, if you believe God is some magician who lit the blue touchpaper to set our universe expanding, you need to modify your beliefs. But nothing in modern physics – and here I disagree with Hawking and Mlodinow – need give Rowan Williams (for instance) any intellectual discomfort.
Thus, a very distinguished atheist scientist, acknowledges modern physics does not represent an intellectual threat to Christianity.

No comments:

Post a Comment