Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

by Stephen M. Barr
Pub. Date:
University of Notre Dame Press
Pub. Date:
University of Notre Dame Press
Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

Modern Physics and Ancient Faith

by Stephen M. Barr
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A considerable amount of public debate and media print has been devoted to the “war between science and religion.” In his accessible and eminently readable new book, Stephen M. Barr demonstrates that what is really at war with religion is not science itself, but a philosophy called scientific materialism. Modern Physics and Ancient Faith argues that the great discoveries of modern physics are more compatible with the central teachings of Christianity and Judaism about God, the cosmos, and the human soul than with the atheistic viewpoint of scientific materialism. Scientific materialism grew out of scientific discoveries made from the time of Copernicus up to the beginning of the twentieth century. These discoveries led many thoughtful people to the conclusion that the universe has no cause or purpose, that the human race is an accidental by-product of blind material forces, and that the ultimate reality is matter itself. Barr contends that the revolutionary discoveries of the twentieth century run counter to this line of thought. He uses five of these discoveries—the Big Bang theory, unified field theories, anthropic coincidences, Gödel’s Theorem in mathematics, and quantum theory—to cast serious doubt on the materialist’s view of the world and to give greater credence to Judeo-Christian claims about God and the universe. Written in clear language, Barr’s rigorous and fair text explains modern physics to general readers without oversimplification. Using the insights of modern physics, he reveals that modern scientific discoveries and religious faith are deeply consonant. Anyone with an interest in science and religion will find Modern Physics and Ancient Faith invaluable.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780268021986
Publisher: University of Notre Dame Press
Publication date: 03/31/2006
Edition description: 1
Pages: 328
Sales rank: 638,754
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 10.28(h) x 0.97(d)

About the Author

Stephen M. Barr is professor of physics and director of the Bartol Research Institute, University of Delaware.

Table of Contents

Part IThe Conflict between Religion and Materialism
1The Materialist Creed1
2Materialism as an Anti-Religious Mythology4
3Scientific Materialism and Nature19
The Scientific Materialistis View of Nature19
Five Plot Twists22
A New Story and a New Moral28
Part IIIn the Beginning
4The Expectations33
5How Things Looked One Hundred Years Ago36
6The Big Bang38
The Discovery of the Big Bang38
Attempts to Avoid the Big Bang44
The Big Bang Confirmed45
7Was the Big Bang Really the Beginning?47
The Universe in the Standard Big Bang Model48
The Bouncing Universe Scenario52
The Baby Universes Scenario54
The Eternal Inflation Scenario54
8What If the Big Bang Was Not the Beginning?58
Part IIIIs the Universe Designed?
9The Argument from Design65
The Cosmic Design65
Two Kinds of Design69
10The Attack on the Argument from Design71
Pure Chance71
The Laws of Nature72
Natural Selection72
11The Design Argument and the Laws of Nature76
Two Ways to Think about Laws of Nature76
In Science, Order Comes from Order79
In Science, Order Comes from Greater Order80
An Example Taken from Nature: The Growth of Crystals85
The Order in the Heavens87
12Symmetry and Beauty in the Laws of Nature93
13"What Immortal Hand or Eye?"105
The Issue105
Can Chance Explain It?107
Is Natural Selection Enough?109
Does Darwin Give "Design without Design"?111
Part IVMan's Place in the Cosmos
14The Expectations115
15The Anthropic Coincidences118
16Objections to the Idea of Anthropic Coincidences138
The Objections140
Answers to the Objections143
17Alternative Explanations of the Anthropic Coincidences149
The Weak Anthropic Principle: Many Domains151
The Weak Anthropic Principle: Many Universes152
The Weakness of the Weak Anthropic Principle153
The Problem with Too Many Universes154
18Why Is the Universe So Big?158
How Old Must a Universe Be?160
How Big Must a Universe Be?160
Are We Really So Small?161
Part VWhat Is Man?
19The Issue167
The Religious View168
The Materialist View169
Clearing Up Some Confusions172
20Determinism and Free Will175
The Overthrow of Determinism175
Quantum Theory and Free Will178
Is Free Will Real?184
21Can Matter "Understand"?190
Abstract Understanding191
What are Abstract Ideas?193
If Not the Brain, Then What and How?204
22Is the Human Mind Just a Computer?207
What a Computer Does207
What Godel Showed211
The Arguments of Lucas and Penrose213
Avenues of Escape215
23What Does the Human Mind Have That Computers Lack?220
Can One Have a Simple Idea?223
Is the Materialist View of the Mind Scientific?225
24Quantum Theory and the Mind227
The London-Bauer Argument in Brief229
Going into More Detail232
Is the Traditional Interpretation Absurd?242
25Alternatives to Traditional Quantum Theory245
Modifying Quantum Theory246
Reinterpreting Quantum Theory: The "Many-Worlds" Idea248
26Is a Pattern Emerging?253
A.God, Time, and Creation257
B.Attempts to Explain the Beginning Scientifically268
C.Godel's Theorem279
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