Book Review: Amazing Grace of Quantum Physics
Paperback: 282 pages
Publisher: Pickwick Publications (November 7, 2017)
Reality is slippery business. … When a Muslim finds that quantum mechanics claims a system “really” exists in three resonances at once, it may shatter the trinitarian problem of one God. (See Qureshi’s book, Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.)
I was already a physics professor who had been indoctrinated and puzzled by quantum mechanics when a young woman wrote me a letter about her faith struggles upon reading a popular book relating modern physics and Eastern religions. I have not been able to shake or to solve those problems ever since. Years of this struggle have resulted in this book, a very incomplete and meager attempt. Religious questions are called out of bounds in science, and science is not often welcomed or understood in religious circles. These two areas cannot be held apart without damage to both, and they do not have only an adversarial relationship. We must keep trying to let them speak to each other.
(Preface pages xi-xii)
Over the past two decades we’ve seen some valuable advances in Christian apologetics. In the arena of science and philosophy of science a great deal has been written. Some of them deal with philosophy of science. Most of them deal with the history of science and the contributions of Christianity to the structures and dependencies of modern scientific inquiry. These are theologians and philosophers writing about science. Some of them do it better (Pearcey, McGrew) than others (Ham).
On the other side the new atheist movement attempted to separate religion, notably Christianity, from culture. They reduced science to empty materialism and empiricism. Or at least they attempted to do so. These are (sometimes) scientists writing about philosophy and theology. Once again some of them do it better (Pigliucci) than others (Coyne, Hitchens).
No matter how well they are at doing this few of them ever attempt to bridge the language and ideas gap between the two disciplines. Kevin Diller worked to bridge the gap between theology and philosophy in Theology’s Epistemological Dilemma. He did it quite well though it was certainly not a simple task.
Dr. Faries is doing that same thing here and it deserves attention. He is building a bridge between modern science (beyond the historical matters) and the language and questions raised by the theologian. And like Kevin Diller in his like-minded work he has performed the task quite nicely.
But it’s about more than shared language and concepts; it’s about compatibility. No, it’s not that silly notion that creation and evolution are or can be made compatible. Dr. Faries is a physicist. He is well beyond those silly notions. Instead he describes the compatibility at the conceptual level. His quote from Quershi’s book fits well with the structures he presents. He sees the link between culture, worldview, and the type of science being practiced today. He sees how science, culture, theology, and politics have interacted over time, with the most notable among them being the life of Planck.
For the non-scientist reading it there is language which prompts one to inquire, “Why didn’t he unpack that further?” Some of the terminology, while not a technical challenge, has a greater meaning to the physicist than to the lay person. Thus we non-physicists ought just accept that language for what it is and go from there.
One might well treat this as a theology of science. Dr. Faries gives the reader a foundation for modern scientific inquiry while retaining a strong theological stance. He has been doing it for several decades and understands what is involved. And while it would technically be an informal theology the foundation is none-the-less established.
For the Christian apologist:
This book does not contain easy answers. There is little that you can take into a debate and use as a defeater against an atheist. It is an apologetic but, in a fashion similar to Darwin and Gould, we might describe it as “one long apologetic.” The substance is there and it’s in the story.
For the student and professional:
If you are a practicing professional in this field you should find this work encouraging. He does not write like a novice in the field. That’s more than clear. He paints a rich historical picture so that you can sense a security in your efforts as a Christian both because of the past and because of what the future holds.