Quantum properties, God, and determinism

Does God know if it’s going to rain tomorrow?

If God grounds being, He does so without a trace; He creates nature, from eternity of course, as if He didn’t. @bilbo’s OP goes unanswered and I’ll build up my ramblings here from the top down.

I’ll posit God for a dollar, again that He grounds infinite being, from eternity of course (never, EVER forget eternity), and that therefore His sovereignty and our free will are meaningless. He - Love - is sovereign in that He grounds being and incarnates in solidarity with and apology to it. Nature does the rest, as it must by His instantiation of prevenient law which obviously includes self tuning. Prevenient of Him. Like truth, beauty, kindness; Love. Oh and there is the sublime of course. Heaven. Eternal, infinite heaven. How that could possibly work no one has the faintest idea.

Screeds of debate over ontological deterministic randomness and claims of God healing as if He didn’t, obliterating all His traces in creation, leaving a perfectly smooth statistical surface with no anomalies can be ignored. But don’t worry, I’ll continue rambling down from the top to the impossibility of squaring, relativizing QM circles which invalidates neither, in my tottering mediocrity.


Oooh what a rich seam!

Never quite sure where @gbrooks9 is coming from. Ultimately like @Jon_Garvey he seems to be on the line of false dichotomy and/or being very allegorical.

Human volition is on the false dichotomy, even polyotomy, but God certainly doesn’t touch evolution in any way unless He does and pretends not to: Lies.

They’re wrong unless God lies.

Allegorically. He doesn’t do any of those things, which He grounds. Sorry if that’s what you meant.

He is so right. His will is in instantiating the prevenient laws of nature (Gk. physis), incarnating in it and doing heaven. His will is also that we be nice, with no coercion either way.

I like it.

But what follows is the false dichotomy involving only God and/or chance, sovereignty and/or free will. Squaring those illusory circles. So it seems to me in my dotage.

I’m probably misreading @gbrooks9 and @Jon_Garvey and they completely agree with me.

Free will is meaningless and chance, indeterminacy, contingency is absolute, God is utterly subservient to that as He is to all the prevenient laws of nature. All. Which includes the laws that fix ‘fine tuning’. Just as He has no choice in being Love.

THIS! Is perfect. Hence my opening question. Because indeterminacy is absolute. God has no need to predict or plan anything at all, not that He could, never has, in all infinite past eternity of creation, natural and supernatural, never will, in all infinite future eternity. When He incarnates, it’s because the opportunity exists, as it always has somewhere. Always. And it will always end badly for Him, His incarnate will will ensure that. Intentional beings will always miss the impossible mark, will always abuse power. And He always has to confront that powerlessly.

But here, we’re back on the false dichotomy line. I’m not misreading. No ‘proper’ explanation is needed beyond indeterminacy. Unless I’m just soooooooo, old and dim I’m missing something. Apart from what’s been written for four years here and lacking for @Jon_Garvey for eight before. Which astounds me. That nobody has said what I am saying. In 12 years. Not since Kierkegaard. Well not round here.

Unplanned things happening to creatures randomly is in [any way related to] God’s wisdom, love or providence. That’s how they’re related. I mean really, this isn’t even sophomoric is it?


Where were we? Decorating. At my age I ask you. Nearly tea-time.

This intrigues me:

As it demonstrates two fallacies, from a brilliant physician I believe, a man who I infer so far heals by means of nuclear physics. I mean I’m a third rate old duffer, but I know that the statistically exact behaviour of the QM model of reality is because it is truly fully random, probabilistic and truly fully deterministic; it has rules like the Pauli exclusion principle which explains supernovas, not that there is any such nonsense as many worlds. The next fallacy, the poncey Latin ‘modus’ phrase for which eludes me, is built on that ignorance of determinism - laws - and that something is necessary to explain organisation beyond nature. I.e. the supernatural, the non-natural, the unnatural. What? What could it be? What need it be?

Tea time.

Roast root vegetable tagine. Gimme an FEB any time.

At this point the thread died and was resurrected.

@Bilbo asked '[i] Did God plan on Pharaoh freely choosing to refuse Moses’ request to free the Israelites? Or did God force Pharaoh to refuse?

[ii] I’ve been told that mutations happen at such a small level of reality that quantum events can play a significant role in their occurrence. Am I mistaken?’

[i] Oooh look, another false dichotomy.

[ii] Makes sense to me, I wonder what minds immeasurably superior to ours say?

Dear me, we’re only at the 8th of 96 comments on the dead thread. Tell you what, I’ll sign off on this one and pick up more as we go.


It’s sophomoric to even have a concept of God if he is helpless to intevene providentially in his children’s lives.

So don’t have such a concept. The helplessness of God is one of His most [endearing] features.

No it is not a fact. In this you are going too far.

The FACT is that SOME versions of the Copenhagen interpretation are very philosophical. But when the majority of quantum physicists say they prefer the Copenhagen interpretation they are not talking about such philosophical rhetoric. They pretty much mean they just go with the most straightforward understanding and acceptance of the mathematics as it is without adding a lot of philosophical dodging.

It is like the difference between the full blown philosophical and excessive claims of logical positivism and the simple recognition of the fact that physics consists of conclusions about the way things can be mathematically modeled without necessarily making any metaphysical claims. It is not to say that metaphysics is meaningless as the logical positivists say, but only that metaphysics really isn’t the business and work of physics when all is said and done. That is something the physics consensus is happy to leave to the philosophers.

Yes of course. The failed forays into string theory, inventions of dark matter, dark energy, and other inconsistencies do indeed strongly suggest that we are still missing some rather big pieces to the puzzle.

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I think that would be called a faith-based statement, a badly mistaken faith based on false presuppositions, presuppositions rooted in inexperience with the living God.

Alright. Thank you for clarifying that. Your comments were very helpful for me. I appreciate you taking the time to clear up some of my misconceptions.

So how unhelpless was God on the cross?

He was in complete control.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
1 John 3:16

Note the verbs. What voice are they? (Hint: they are not passive.)

That scene of extreme Divine vulnerability is still scandalous for us all today. And we work hard to try to turn it into pat answers with lots of "yeah, but"s thrown in to make our brains feel better about it. E.g. … “Jesus got killed as a criminal” … Yeah, but he could have called down legions of angels if he’d wanted to! (and we immediately feel better about the whole thing by insisting that our apparently “weak” hero really is the winner here, but he just chose to walk away from the fight. And furthermore, we throw on - as our power-admiring selves start getting their steam back again - furthermore: He’s coming back, and this next time he’s gonna get the job done right! …meaning: how we wanted him to do it the first time. We tolerate all this talk about “the lamb”, but we make sure to bury all that stuff under what we’re really enthused about: the Lion! Which shows that the offense and significance of the cross is catching most of us by surprise even today still, after a couple thousand years of thinking about it.


I am reminded of this quote,

To the extent that he or she takes risks, those risks should be on behalf of others.

Jesus knew what he was doing. By choice.

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Absolutely. In faith and faithfulness.

Being fully human he had none whatsoever. He controlled the situation to that point. By faith.

His Father was in complete control. To think otherwise is, to quote someone recently, sophomoric. The cross was voluntary, not helpless, and inordinately strong, not unlike a first responder going into danger, sacrificially. He willed himself to be submissive.

Like when he calmed the storm on Galilee?

From the original dead thread:

@Jon_Garvey: 'Bilbo

The problem with the first question is that it doesn’t begin to address the nature of free choice under God’s sovereignty. A strictly correct, but woefully incomplete, reply would be “the first”, ie that Pharaoh freely chose, and that God had planned that he should. That leaves a lot of metaphysical options open, a lot of mystery, and yet agrees with what Scripture implies about human choice in relation to God’s sovereignty, and that’s where I take my lead from. In this particular case, it states that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and yet that Pharaoh was freely accountable for his actions.’

How… Evangelical. It’s just a story. It’s worth exploring as ancient fiction, but says nothing whatsoever about meaningless free choice and God’s meaningless sovereignty.

‘A number of the problems are reduced if we don’t buy into the post-Renaissance definition of free-choice as “completely autonomous and completely arbitrary”: character, circumstances and other things all constrain the freedom of the will.’

Isn’t the Enlightenment post-Renaissance? But yes, that’s on the way to the meaninglessness of irrelevant free choice.

‘The question of “randomness” in nature, however, is simpler, in that once divorced from mere epistemology, it can only mean that things happen without cause, and therefore without any intelligibility whatsoever to God or man. Constrain chance by a probability curve, and it’s no longer random, but simply of a real but unknown cause - and God knows all things, and sustains all things, and governs all things for good.’

This idiosyncratic idiolectic is rich with fallacy. No effect happens without cause. I can’t think of anything in nature which isn’t an effect ultimately apart from the if null then not null principle that grounds being in the absence of God. In QM random effects are driven by indeterminate causes. There is no lack of information there of course. It is indeterminacy that makes effects as unintelligible to God as to the cat. Oooh, we haven’t mentioned the relativity of simultaneity anywhere have we? Or chaos. What’s that I hear you say? Indeterminacy is obviated by the collapse of the wave function? That QM has no effect up here at the mesospheric Newtonian level? So God DOES know if it’s going to rain tomorrow? Even though nobody knows specifically why it rains? At what scale, with what precision does He know? Can He know? And the formation, the position, the velocity of a raindrop tomorrow isn’t influenced by photon quanta?

How is randomness, chance constrained by a probability curve and therefore no longer… chance, randomness? Where is that assertion in physics? And what’s the difference between a chance, random effect and one caused by an indeterminate reality, that God can not possibly know any more than the cat?

‘So his purpose for randomness beyond his knowledge and sustaining and governance would be what, exactly? Would you rather fly in a plane engineered entirely by expertise, or one in which 5%, or 50% of the decision nodes in the design were generated randomly? But it’s logically impossible to create randomness anyway, because by definition it’s the absence of organisation, and creation is by definition organisation.’

God’s purpose for randomness beyond his knowledge and sustaining and governance is that He’s cool with that, humble in the face of its prevenience. Organization is part of that prevenience. He just instantiates it. If God doesn’t ground being, if null then not null comes with meaningless order. There’s a remarkable adherence to the false dichotomy line here. Reminds me of Clive Staples. ‘Jack’ Lewis.

I too have heard it said that quantum events play a role at molecular scales for individual mutations. However, I haven’t heard anyone actually present any evidence that it’s so, least of all on the Solid Scientific Consensus platform of Biologos. If it were so, then surely one would expect any directionality to be statistically non-existent over the course of time. I understand from the study of mutations that the same ones tend to occur over and over again, which is why scarcely any useful new strains came out of decades of mutation experiments. In other words, the mutations aren’t actually ontologically random at all - they form patterns.

That looks like another example of the same pareidolia to me. Seeing patterns that aren’t there, as in a probability curve is a supernatural constraint on chance.

And if one did manage to show that “random” quantum events were a significant influence on the direction evolution has taken, you’d be back to the truth that their randomness is formally indistinguishable from choice: there is no known cause of individual quantum events within nature, which most logically means the cause is outside nature - R J Russell’s “quantum tweaking” rides again, suggesting that God was directing evolution all along, since nature wasn’t.

There it goes again. There’s nothing logical about it. It’s purely fallacious. Mutations are majorly deleterious, minorly neutral and in about the third sigma, beneficial.

But where is the scientific evidence that ontological randomness exists in the universe anyway? If so, where is it, and how is it distinguished from divine or creaturely choice? And where is the theological evidence that God has ever made unintelligibility a creative force?’

And again! The scientific evidence is in the eye of the beholder. For some of us there’s nothing but. Where isn’t it? The divine, if anything, instantiates it as it has no choice. Creatures are prewired by it and determinism for it and determinism: chance and necessity.

@Klax has brought this discussion back to the original theme, which is evolution guided or not. My position is that the random vs predetermined is a false dichotomy.

This whole issue becomes even thornier when we look at the opposite side of human evolution, the issue of genetic diseases. If God is guiding each and every mutation then we can only conclude that God is purposefully giving children horrific genetic diseases that cause them serious pain and can even lead to their death. @T_aquaticus

My position that God used evolution to create humanity, which means used random variation. This does not mean that God guides each and every mutation, since God uses natural selection to “edit,” or select in or out every mutation. Evolution is not random as Darwin clear, but every one else seems to ignore. It is mixed, both random and guided, but it is ultimately guided because natural selection has the final say…

Let me cite an important example of sickle cell anemia. Most people know that SCA originated in the part of east Africa which is afflicted by the deadly disease malaria. One sickle cell gene is a Godsend because it provides immunity to malaria, but a pair of these genes produces the at times painful, but not fatal anemia.

Where malaria is a threat, sickie cells are a blessing. Where it is not it is a curse. So which is it, good or evil?

@T_aquaticus ,raises the question as to why God would allow millions of babies to be born with serious genetic defects which causes serious pain and even death? I will raise the even more serious question as to why God would allow each and every one of us to be born in to this evil world knowing that each one of us will surely die?

The fact is that God is good, not because this world is not without sickness, sin, and death, but because God gives us the ability and tools to overcome sickness, death, and sin. Sickness is not ultimate. Death is not ultimate. Sin is not ultimate. Jesus Christ is ultimate. …

The very human and vulnerable Jesus we see in the Garden of Gethsemane in Mark is not the same Jesus as in the Gospel of John. One was helpless, one was not, My views move towards Mark for two reasons. Given the two mutually exclusive portrayals, its obvious which version would be made up and John’s completely undermines the sacrifice Jesus actually made. Hercules times ten-million on the Cross loses all its value. It just ends up being an unnecessary event steeped in primitive blood magic.


St. John the Stenographer of chapters 14-17, yes, he certainly had a different take.

Jesus is perfectly God and perfectly human. He died on the Cross not because He was helpless, but because He choose not to use His power, which was the power of God, not of Man-Hercules.

Mark and John both portray His sacrifice clearly, but from different perspectives. Jesus Christ paid the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual price of my sins not because He had to, but because He choose to do so out of Love.

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