Saturday, April 29, 2017

Quantum mechanics and consciousness - Part 7/8: Connections to Theism

7. Connections to Theism

In theology, there has long been a tension between the transcendence and the immanence of God. To avoid a deism which has only transcendence, to avoid pantheism which has only immanence, and thus to see how theism may be a coherent belief, it is necessary to give some rational account of how God may be both transcendent of and immanent in the world. One common account [12] has been to see God as the ‘Author, Sustainer, and Finisher’ of all natural processes. For thinkers ranging from Aquinas to Descartes “the action of divine conservation is construed to be an ‘extension’ of the action of divine creation”, but the means of this conservation is rarely explained further. Such accounts leave uncertain the question of exactly how, in an effective as well as in an abstract sense, the Divine is immanent in nature. They do not describe the actual relationship between the immanent Divine and the causal powers determined by physical investigation.

I suggest [13] that even the Divine and creation together can be considered two generative levels, by analogy to all the other kinds of generative levels we have seen to exist within physics, within psychology, and between physics and psychology. The Divine would be the ‘A’, the first in the sequence, as the ‘deepest underlying principle’, ‘source’, or ‘power’ that is fixed through all the subsequent changes to in created beings. This is in agreement with the fundamental concept of theism, where the Divine is the source of changes, but in itself is constant in essence. This essence or underlying power would thus be the Divine Love, and could reasonably be called the Substance of the Divine. Consciousness is therefore not the divine source itself, but an essential aspect of operations from that source. More details are in [14].

The existence, powers and changes in all finite beings follow the rule that the dispositions of an object are those generated derivatives of Divine Power that accord with what is actual about those beings. Consider two analogies. God provides life as the sun shines on the earth. The sun shining on the earth is constant, but the energy received by the earth varies by days and seasons. We know, however, that this variation is according to the earth’s distance and orientation: according to something actual about the earth, not because of variations in the sun. A second analogy is that God provides life as we are provided with food. Consider the way animals consume food in order to live. What an animal is capable of doing after eating depends on its digestive system and how it has assimilated the food. Different species will respond quite differently to the same food, according to how they are constituted. 

[12] J. Newman, Essay in Aid of a Grammar of Assent (1870), London: University of Notre Dame Press, 1979. 
[13] I. J. Thompson, "The Consistency of Physical Law with Divine Immanence," Science & Christian Belief, vol. 5, pp. 19-36, 1993. 
[14] I. J. Thompson, Starting Science from God, Pleasanton, CA: Eagle Pearl Press, 2011. 

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