Archive for August 20th, 2010

August 20th, 2010

Quantum Mechanics and Libertarianism

by Max Andrews

One of the most important premises behind quantum physics is to understand its indeterminacy.  My question is whether or not a theist can use this as an argument for libertarianism.  Subatomic particles behave in indeterminate ways (i.e. if you know the location of a particle you do not know it’s velocity and vise versa).  It should be noted that this doesn’t negate the laws of causality.  Without the laws of causality science absolutely breaks down.  It’s really an issue of probability with quantum physics.  The case a libertarian may make is that because quantum mechanics function in an indeterminate way, only with a probability, then nothing can be determined, everything is random.  Atheist Daniel Dennett and agnostic Stephen Hawking hold to this view of soft-libertarianism (as naturalists).

I certainly think this may be a good argument for a naturalist.  The best case that can be made for the naturalist is that neurological functions of the brain are random and what we do as agents is merely random.  However, for a theist, particularly a Christian who holds to the doctrine of creatio originans, this is problematic.  That is, God acts on an existing subject to preserve its existence an maintains the existence of the things he has created.  This begs the question, to what extent does God sustain the universe?  I think an obvious answer would be everything (i.e. atoms, particles, strings).  This isn’t to say that God causes every article or moves every particle, but he acts on them in a sustaining manner so that it may continue to exist.  What it does say is that despite the randomness there is still purpose because it is controlled and sustained by an agency (God).  For the Christian [entailing this doctrine], can the argument from quantum mechanics serve as an argument for libertarianism?  I would advocate that libertarians abandon this argument, it doesn’t work.  If anything, for a Christian, this could be used as an argument against free agency by the naturalist (an argument for naturalism).  There are better arguments for free agency to use.  I’ve heard this one before and libertarians need to abandon this.