A Quantum-Theoretic Argument Against Naturalism

In Bruce L. Gordon & William A. Dembski (eds.), The Nature of Nature: Examining the Role of Naturalism in Science. Wilmington, DE: ISI Books. pp. 179-214 (2011)
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Abstract

Quantum theory offers mathematical descriptions of measurable phenomena with great facility and accuracy, but it provides absolutely no understanding of why any particular quantum outcome is observed. It is the province of genuine explanations to tell us how things actually work—that is, why such descriptions hold and why such predictions are true. Quantum theory is long on the what, both mathematically and observationally, but almost completely silent on the how and the why. What is even more interesting is that, in some sense, this state of affairs seems to be a necessary consequence of the empirical adequacy of quantum descriptions. One of the most noteworthy achievements of quantum theory is the accurate prediction of phenomena that, on pain of experimental contradiction, have no physical explanation. It is the purpose of this essay to make clear why quantum mechanics and quantum field theory are complete physical descriptions that describe the metaphysical incompleteness of the physical world, then to press the negative implications of this fact for naturalistic metaphysics.

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Bruce Gordon
Northwestern University (PhD)

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