“Quantum” Arguments Can’t Explain Consciousness or the Supernatural

Victor Stenger is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and an accomplished quantum physicist who has written numerous books explaining physics, analyzing religious claims, and debunking popular ideas supposedly derived from quantum physics. In the foreword to Stenger’s latest book, Quantum Gods: Creation, Chaos, and the Search for Cosmic Consciousness, Michael Shermer writes,

Either there is evidence for the supernatural and the paranormal, or there isn’t. There isn’t. Victor Stenger explains why there isn’t. Read this book to find out why.

Some Christians have unwittingly morphed into Deists.  A recent survey shows that almost half of Americans do not believe in a personal God who answers prayers and performs miracles. In previous books, Stenger has argued that a personal God is ruled out by the data. In this book he goes even further, arguing that a Deist God is also highly improbable.

Some apologists think there is a way God could intervene in the world by manipulating quantum events; others think quantum mechanics can explain free will and consciousness, allow for a unified cosmic consciousness, and even allow us to create our own reality. Stenger shows that such speculations are wildly inaccurate misappropriations of concepts from advanced physics.

There is a lot of physics in this book. It’s hard to understand, but well worth the effort of trying to understand as much as we can. And it’s very reassuring that someone who really does understand it has gone through all the philosophical, theological, “energy medicine,” and New Age spirituality arguments based on “quantum” concepts and can explain in detail why they are wrong.

Why is there a Universe? He calculates from standard equations that “something” is about twice as probable as “nothing.” “We appear to have good evidence for a universe that came about spontaneously, without cause, from nothing. The laws of physics also came from nothing. The structure of the universe emerged from nothing. Indeed, we can view that structure, including Earth and humanity, as forms of frozen nothing.”

A challenging, thought-provoking book. Well worth reading.

This article was originally published in Swift, the online newsletter of the James Randi Educational Foundation.

Dr. Hall is a contributing editor to both Skeptic magazine and the Skeptical Inquirer. She is a weekly contributor to the Science-Based Medicine Blog and is one of its editors. She has also contributed to Quackwatch and to a number of other respected journals and publications. She is the author of Women Aren’t Supposed to Fly: The Memoirs of a Female Flight Surgeon and co-author of the textbook, Consumer Health: A Guide to Intelligent Decisions.

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