Quantum Theory, Philosophy, and Theology

Is there a Distinct Roman Catholic Perspective?

Authored by: S.J. William R. Stoeger

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415492447
eBook ISBN: 9780203803516
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634178

10.4324/9780203803516.ch16

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Abstract

Quantum mechanics, along with the special and general theories of relativity, ushered in a contemporary physics that has been amazingly fruitful and has completely changed the way we view reality. The other prong of this thoroughgoing scientific revolution has been biological evolution in tandem with genetics and molecular biology. But quantum mechanics and the much richer quantum field theory it eventually spawned have been distinctive in revealing a fundamental realm – the sub-microscopic realm – of reality, which behaves in a very different way from the everyday reality we experience, and yet enables everyday reality to be what it is. The standard results of quantum theory are very reliable – and precisely model the behavior of particles, fields, and detectors as they interact. Despite that overwhelming success, there are deep and unresolved controversies about the philosophical interpretation of quantum theory – about what it is really telling us about reality. Is there ontological indeterminacy – and even insufficiency – at the quantum level? Does quantum theory really reflect reality as it is at that level, or is it merely providing us with phenomena that veil its true nature?

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