(1986). "God and the Laws of Physics," Presentation at the First World Congress on the Synthesis of Science and Religion, Bombay, 9–12 January 1986

(1986). "God and the Laws of Physics"

Presentation at the First World Congress on the Synthesis of Science and Religion, Bombay, 9–12 January 1986

Publication Info: 

Thompson, Richard. "God and the Laws of Physics." In Synthesis of Science and Religion: Critical Essays and Dialogues, edited by T.D. Singh and Ravi Gomatam, pp. 213-237. San Francisco: Bhaktivedanta Institute, 1988.  


In the twentieth century, classical physics has been supplanted by quantum mechanics, with the result that physics ceased to be strictly deterministic. This development led to a number of attempts by prominent physicists to reintroduce the idea of conscious volition into our physical world view. However, the advent of quantum mechanics did more than simply add an element of indeterminism. In its standard formulation, quantum mechanics requires us to renounce the idea of forming a coherent theoretical picture of objective reality. This tends to discourage attempts to harmonize physics with any world view that presents God, the material world and the conscious living beings as real entities standing in some kind of mutual relationship. Thus, attempts to relate quantum mechanics to metaphysical ideas have often centered on the drawing of parallels and the use of physical theories to provide metaphors illustrating transcendental philosophies.

In this presentation, I will discuss a reformulation of quantum mechanics and classical mechanics which presents both as nondeterministic theories of an objectively real material energy. Such a formulation can be of interest in the domain of physics since it suggests new ways of carrying out calculations, and it may even suggest new avenues of experimental investigation. But here my main purpose is to explore the relation between modern physical theories ad broader metaphysical and theological ideas. My thesis is that both classical and quantum physics are compatible with the idea that a transcendental super-conscious being directs the course of events within a flexible framework of non-deterministic laws. I should stress that this exercise in philosophical speculation can at best suggest tentaive possibilities. How, it is only by considering possibilities that we can decide which way to go in the search for truth.

Additional Notes: 
Also published in God & Science: Divine Causation and the Laws of Nature. Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing (2004), pp. 2–26.