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Theology of the Quantum World - Professor Mark Harris

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Professor Mark Harris will delve into many aspects surrounding theology and the quantum world.

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Mark Harris is the Professor of Natural Science and Theology in the School of Divinity, University of Edinburgh. He is programme director for the School's postgraduate qualifications in Science and Religion.

Abstract

Quantum mechanics is the most rigorously-tested and successful theoretical framework in all of physics, if not the entire natural sciences. As such, it informs our best guess of a fundamental description of nature. As far as we know, all of the boundaries of nature begin and end with quantum mechanics. Theologians who wish to build bridges to the sciences, and to incorporate our best understandings of nature into their doctrines of creation, cannot avoid quantum mechanics. And neither do they seem to want to: quantum physics has been mined enthusiastically for decades by Christian theologians in order to develop new approaches to divine action, to models of the God-world relationship, to Christology, and even to the mysteries of God as Trinity.

The attractiveness of quantum mechanics to theologians is at least partly down to its mysterious counter-intuitive nature; one of its founding figures, Niels Bohr, famously declared that, ‘Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.’ But herein lies a pitfall, since the mystery of quantum mechanics is so beguiling, and so easily misunderstood, that the science which leads to that mystery is widely overlooked in the theology. In short, the physics is frequently confused with all kinds of speculative metaphysics. In this talk, I will look at some of the ways in which theologians have exploited quantum mechanics, and will ask what we (as working scientists) can learn from this, in ways which respect the science as well as the theology.

Extra

If you would like to brush up on or discover quantum mechanics prior to the event please here are some helpful links:

A 13 minute video simple overview of quantum mechanics - https://youtu.be/Usu9xZfabPM

Wikipedia introduction to QM - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Introduction_to_quantum_mechanics (particularly Sections 2, 4 and 7).

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Book tickets for our upcoming talks at: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/cis-manchester-science-amp-philosophy-group-17239646656

To view our past talks please go to https://youtube.com/playlist?list=PLmR0gS6ShpyP-g-1iZ2sO6KCxl_IAnPuG

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