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"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"


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Previous: 24.2 Sub-sub-degrees of the physical Up: 24. Discrete Degrees in Nature Next: 24.4 Selections: new physics?

24.3 Existing physics

The above suggestions concerning quantum mechanics and quantum field theory give reasons for the interpretive ideas first presented in Section 5.3, reasons that come via theistic science from our scientific theism. We now have some basis for the simultaneous existence of both the ordinary and field-theoretic quantum theories. It is useful to explore in a little more detail some differences between these 3.2 (ordinary) and 3.3 (field theory) levels.

There are many similarities or correspondences between structures of the 3.2 and 3.3 sub-sub-degrees. Both levels have as their effect some kind of events. In both levels these events are produced after the propagation of some field. Also, both have initiating principles that can be written as variational principles (the Schrödinger equation can be derived from a variational principle). However, the events and fields in the two levels are of rather different character. We will see that these character differences stem from their different places in the overall generative structure of the theistic universe.

The differences between levels 3.2 and 3.3 arise because they are in parts of the overall structure of discrete degrees. This is reflected in their being in different rows of Table 24.1. The bottom row is concerned with action and the middle row with forms and propagation of forms. The bottom row has discrete existences, and the middle row has continuous existences. This difference between discreteness and continuity pervades all their respective sub-sub-degrees.

The actual events in 3.33 (ordinary quantum mechanics) are therefore discrete, whereas the virtual events in 3.23 of field-theory exist in continuous collections. The actual events are the visible events in history (such as quantum measurements: see the next section), whereas virtual events are point events which are not measurements. The actual events of 3.3 have therefore finite time intervals between them, whereas virtual events occur continuously in time. Actual events definitely occur or do not occur, whereas virtual events contribute to preparing alternate futures for actuality and so cannot be definitely said to occur or not occur.

I will make two more predictions about these differences. One prediction concerns basic process philosophy. The other is from our theistic science and depends on the particular sub-sub-degrees suggested in Chapter 22 for the content of the mental sub-sub-degrees. The grounds for claiming these two predictions is weaker than much presented above, but it is arguably positive, as I will explain.

The philosophical prediction is: when events occur continuously in time, their evolution is deterministic, whereas when events occur intermittently or discretely, their evolution is indeterministic. By indeterministic, I mean that the time evolution for the future cannot be determined on the basis of what has already happened, and it perhaps may be that only probabilities can be given.24.5 I do not know how to prove this correlation between continuity and determinism in process ontologies, but it seems to exist whenever I compare theories. The most obvious comparison is between classical and quantum physics. In classical physics, objects exist continuously in time and so the actual events describing them are also continuous in time. Classical physics is deterministic. By comparison, in quantum physics objects are only determinate at intermittent times, so the actual events describing them are discrete. Quantum physics is indeterministic. If this philosophical claim is true, then theistic science provides reasons why quantum mechanics has actual events which are indeterministic and require probabilities. It gives reasons for why quantum field theory has events which are deterministic, and, conversely, why quantum fields can be predicted indefinitely far into the future once their initial conditions are known. It is only the indeterministic actual events of 3.33 which may affect them by cross-level constraints or the prior reception processes of 3.11 by influx.

The theistic science prediction is that the virtual events of level 3.23 reflect the structure of the mental processes at the corresponding place (2.23) in the mental set of sub-sub-degrees. And what is the structure of the 2.23 mental level? Looking at the cognitive levels in Table 22.6, which reflect the discussion in Section 22.5, we see that this level deals with what Piaget calls ‘operational thought’. This is the level of operations of one-to-one correspondences and reversibility. These operations are just those of mathematical groups, which are defined by laws of associativity, commutativity, identities, and inverses. The prediction, therefore, is that the virtual events of sub-sub-degree 3.23 have an internal group structure.24.6 I am not saying what the group structure is in detail. I am only saying that virtual events are in some finite-group space. Such group structures are indeed already postulated in physics for virtual processes; the standard model for elementary particles of quarks, gluons and other bosons is built on group structures for electro-weak charge, color and charm variables, along with gauge invariances. This is in contrast to the actual events of 3.33, which are purely selective events.

Previous: 24.2 Sub-sub-degrees of the physical Up: 24. Discrete Degrees in Nature Next: 24.4 Selections: new physics?

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