Modern Physics and Ancient Faith by Stephen M. Barr

(South Bend: University of Notre Dame Pess, 2003), 328

Part I: The Conflict between Religion and Materialism (Introduction)

Chapter 1: Religion and Materialism

  • the battle is not between religion and science, but between religion and materialism (1)
  • this chapter gives an overview of the materialist's position

Chapter 2: Materialism as Anti-Religious Mythology

  • continues to summarize the materialist's position and show the extent to which is relies on a faith of its own
  • separation of realms between the natural and supernatural
  • discussion of mystery (14+)
    • "A religious 'mystery' is not a statement that reality is in itself unintelligible. On the contrary, belief in God is bound up with the idea that reality is completely rational and intelligible. This is akin to the scientist's faith that his own questions about the natural world have rational and intelligible answers. This attitude of the scientist is also a form of faith, for the scientist is convinced in advance that the intelligible answer exists, even though he is not yet in possession of it." (14)

Chapter 3: Scientific Materialism and Nature

  • discusses the scientific materialist's view on nature, and responds
  • provides a summary of the book:
    1. Big Bang and the beginning of time (chapters 4-8)
    2. The Argument from Design (chapters 9-13)
    3. Anthropic Coincidences (chapters 14-18)
    4. Is the mind a computer? (chapters 19-23)
    5. Free will, determinism, and quantum mechanics (chapters 24-26)

He concludes this chapter with two great anecdotes about intellectual discovery:

  • "G.K. Chesterton (in Orthodoxy) once compared his own intellectual development to the voyage of an English yachtsman 'who slightly miscalculated his course and discovered England under the impression that is was a new island in the South Seas.' The Yachtsman of his story 'landed (armed to the teeth and talking by signs) to plant the British flag on that barbaric temple which turned out to be the Pavilion at Brighton.'" (28)
  • "We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." - T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets, "Little Gidding"

Part II: In the Beginning

Chapter 4: The Expectations

Chapter 5: How Things Looked One Hundred Years Ago

Chapter 6: The Big Bang

The Discovery of the Big Bang

Attempts to Avoid the Big Bang

The Big Bang Confirmed

Chapter 7: Was the Big Bang Really the Beginning?

The Universe in the Standard Big Bang Model

The Bounding Universe Scenario

The Baby Universes Scenario

The Eternal Inflation Scenario

Chapter 8: What If the Big Bang Was Not the Beginning?

Part III: Is the Universe Designed?

Chapter 9: The Argument from Design

The Cosmic Design

Two Kinds of Design

Chapter 10: The Attack on the Argument from Design

Pure Chance

The Laws of Nature

Natural Selection

Chapter 11: The Design Argument and the Laws of Nature

Two Ways to Think about Laws of Nature

In Science, Order Comes from Order

In Science, Order Comes from Greater Order

An Example Taken from Nature: The Growth of Crystals

The Order in the Heavens

Chapter 12: Symmetry and Beauty in the Laws of Nature

Chapter 13: "What Immortal Hand or Eye?"

The Issue

Can Chance Explain It?

Is Natural Selection Enough?

Does Darwin Give "Design without Design?"

Part IV: Man's Place in the Cosmos

Chapter 14: The Expectations

Chapter 15: The Anthropic Coincidences

Chapter 16: Objections to the Idea of Anthropic Coincidences

The Objections

Answers to the Objections

Chapter 17: Alternative Explanations of the Anthropic Coincidences

The Weak Anthropic Principle: Many Domains

The Weak Anthropic Principle: Many Universes

The Weakness of the Weak Anthropic Principle

The Problem with Too Many Universes

Chapter 18: Why Is the Universe So Big?

How Old Must a Universe Be?

How Big Must a Universe Be?

Are We Really So Small?

Part V: What Is Man?

Chapter 19: The Issue

The Religious View

The Materialist View

Clearing Up Some Confusions

Chapter 20: Determinism and Free Will

The Overthrow of Determinism

Quantum Theory and Free Will

Is Free Will Real?

Chapter 21: Can Matter "Understand"?

Abstract Understanding

What are Abstract Ideas?


If Not the Brain, Then What and How?

Chapter 22: Is the Human Mind Just a Computer?

What a Computer Does

What Gödel Showed

The Arguments of Lucas and Penrose

Avenues of Escape

Chapter 23: What Does the Human Mind Have That Computers Lack?

Can One Have a Simple Idea?

Is the Materials View of the Mind Scientific?

Chapter 24: Quantum Theory and the Mind

The London-Bauer Argument in Brief

Going into More Detail

Is the Traditional Interpretation Absurd?

Chapter 25: Alternatives to Traditional Quantum Theory

Modifying Quantum Theory

Reinterpreting Quantum Theory: The "Many-Worlds" Idea

Chapter 26: Is a Pattern Emerging?

Topic: Faith and Science

Source: Read in preparation for a lecture at U. Cincinnati that I was unable to attend.


file:(2018-02-19-Modern Physics and Ancient Faith)

New Words

  • apodictic: clearly established or beyond dispute (16)

Created: 2018-02-19
Updated: 2023-11-20-Mon