Saturday, 7 June 2008

Predictions of Astonishing Accuracy

John Cottingham, reviewing James Gilman's Faith, Reason and Compassion (in the TLS, May 30 2008) does not like the way Gilman compares God to quantum physics. So, Gilman says: 'the existence of God, as a kind of uniquely divine, uncaused quantum, situates itself asymmetrically in relation to the symmetry of creation as a whole.' Cottingham retorts: 'The analogy, I have to say, strikes me as unpromising, if not confused. the fact that events in the micro-world look anomalous with respect to other parts of physics, and when compared with out observations of the macro world, does not prevent the mathematics of quantum theory from yielding predictions of astonishing accuracy.'

This is interesting. Many believers would describe God as unknowable, ineffable, inconceivable and so on; but would any shade or stripe of believer describe Him as unpredictable? It would surely be a matter of simple semantics that the former implies the latter -- for we are talking about human predictions of God, not divine predictions of the future (prophecy and so on). For example: it is a central tenet of Christian belief that God not only loves us right now, but will love us tomorrow; that if we truly repent (at whatever point in the future) God will forgive us. How might Christianity function if its adherents thought: The Lord God is a loving and merciful God, but perhaps only for today ... who knows how He will be tomorrow?

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