The findings of science is pretty solidly against this antiquated model of matter as things in particular places moving around at particular speeds, since those two things are actually incompatible measurements. Thus this picture is no more valid than that of an electron as a spinning top. So I think GJDS is making a valid objection.
It is just as valid to go with C.S. Lewis’ popular idea that all of reality is composed of vibrations at different frequencies extended to angelic entities beyond our perception. A favorite of mine is to visualize the universe as a 11 dimensional space-time fabric with vibrational modes (like in string theory) accounting for all the elementary particles, thus reducing all the laws of nature to geometry and wave mechanics. Though I have that other complementary picture of point particles getting lost in a sea of virtual particles. …all just visualizations to help our minds picture what is going on… but ultimately failing to capture the reality or even the mathematical equations we use to describe it.
One thing is for certainly is that most of our equations are ultimately based on statistical descriptions rather anything mechanically exact. In particle physics even those single reactions are described by summing over a collection of Feynmann diagrams for all the possibilities rather than nailing them down to anything which “actually” happened. It seems that reality at the ground level remains in a fuzzy state of possibilities unless we insist on imposing our macroscopic singularity of reality on them with measurements.
On the contrary, the role of chance is ubiquitous in the physical sciences – even unavoidable. The findings of science that there are no hidden variables make it impossible to remove it no matter how closely you look at the supposed components of things. But that is precisely where the lack of causal closure is found in the scientific worldview. We are forced to accept that things happen which cannot be put down to mathematical equations and initial conditions alone, and that even Laplace’s demon isn’t able to predict everything after all. At least that is the case without extending reality to something beyond what is demonstrable or measurable. That is why we have this choice of beliefs in divine involvement, free will, and chance, to which I suppose we should add a Bohm-like picture of a holistic mechanistic reality beyond what we can measure that somehow rescues determinism (but I refuse to call anything beyond what is measurable by the phrase “physical determinism”).
So I would cross measurable physical determinism off the list of possibilities:
- total indeterminism, in which it is all just chance
- non-measurable “physical” determinism (like Bohm insisting that natural law is all there is)
- divine determinism, popular in theology by such terms as “absolute predestination”
- mental determinism or metaphysical solipsism (which overemphasizes free will)
- mixed view which accept the role of all these causal factors: natural law, divine involvement, free will, and chance.
Obviously, I think the mixed view is best. And for a more narrow discussion of any one of these I insist on searching for the topic discussed elsewhere or going to another thread with a discussion open to everyone.