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July 6, 2016 • Part 3: Free Will and Quantum Physics • Dr. Robert Russell

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Uploaded on Jul 19, 2016

This is the third of three presentations that are part of the series “Exploring the Convergence of Science and Religion: Following in the Footsteps of Charlie Townes.” In this series, Rev. Dr. Robert Russell explores the work of renowned physicist and Nobel Prize winner Dr. Charles Townes on physics and faith. The presentations were given in 2016 at First Congregational Church of Berkeley, United Church of Christ where Dr. Townes was a member and Dr. Russell is currently a member.

The focus of the third presentation is “Free will: does quantum physics make it possible and why does it matter theologically?" The problem of free will was one of Townes’ favorite topics: how can we act freely if nature is causally closed, governed by lock-step, deterministic causes? And can God act in nature without intervening in natural processes and violating the laws of nature? Classical physics portrayed the world as closed and deterministic, raising enormous conceptual challenges to the claim that we have free will and limiting God’s action in nature to interventionism. Russell will suggest that quantum mechanics, the physics of the subatomic realm, points towards a very different picture of nature, one in which nature is open not closed, shot full with chance events and fundamental indeterminacy. Such a world is one in which humans can freely chose their paths in life and make morally responsible decisions that make a difference in the world. And such a world is open to divine action, one which shapes the way nature and history evolve while in no way over-riding, intervening in or violating natural processes.

The first presentation in the series is “Faith, Science, Intuition and Paradox” and the second is “Cosmology and Creation.”

More at fccb.org/townes-science-religion

Path of a football: www.physics4kids.com
Double-slit experiment: www.mysearch.org.uk

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