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"Rational Scientific Theories from Theism"


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24. Discrete Degrees in Nature

We come to the third of the major degrees, in accordance with the initial image of God within creation. This third degree is the physical or natural degree. In it the full actualization of the previous degrees comes into existence. The full effects or actions of beings are manifest. This is the basis for those beings having a life of their own. We will investigate whether this overall function agrees with the specific details of physical reality that scientists have come to know. I begin by expanding what might be said about the nature of the physical world. I use theistic science as the basis. Then I see whether this agrees with modern physics. Sometimes it will not agree, so there will be opportunities for dialectical improvements either in our theistic science (according to the methods of Chapter 21) or in our physics. Theistic science would be making predictions that could be confirmed or falsified by future experiments, and a confirmation would encourage its acceptance within science as a whole.

According to the previous chapters, the physical degree has several functions. First, it receives the influx from the prior spiritual and mental degrees in order that those degrees have actual effects. Second, it maintains the more or less stable structures in physical space (such as our bodies) in order that there be similar stable structures within our minds.24.1Thirdly, it produces the final effects, in particular it makes the ultimate selections that govern which dispositions may operate. As for the degree containing the final selections, we described it as the bottom line of the whole set of discrete degrees. It is the level where the real choices are made and hence where the character of the whole is determined. Everything prior to these final selections is in some way composed of dispositions or potentiality for change. In that sense everything prior is ‘less determinate’ than the ‘pure actualities’ which I will argue are produced in the physical degree.

In contemporary physics there are two major unsolved problems. These happen to be related to our requirements above for the physical degree. The first unsolved problem is to know how space (or space-time) is produced. This is the question introduced in subsection 5.3.3, concerning how some pregeometry could be physically responsible for producing the geometry of space. The second unsolved problem is to know how quantum physical processes produce particular measurement outcomes, when many outcomes each have non-zero probabilities of occurring. This is the question introduced in subsection 5.3.1, concerning whether or not there is a reduction of the wave packet after quantum measurements, a phenomenon whose existence is much disputed.

I normally regard theistic science as producing a general framework for scientific theories and not detailed theories themselves. There may well be fundamental constraints on possible theories if they are to fit into a theistic superstructure. We will see in this chapter that theistic science does make suggestions and proposals for the nature of physics, and especially concerning pregeometry and quantum measurements.

Table 24.1: The 3 sub-parts of the natural degree are shown in the third column. This is a further-expanded version of Table 23.1.
1: Spiritual degree
love in the spirit
2: Mental degree
thoughts in mind
3: Physical degree
actions in the body
love of good: 1.1 thoughts of loves: 2.1 effects of loves: 3.1
love of truth: 1.2 thoughts of thoughts: 2.2 effects of thoughts: 3.2
love of action: 1.3 thoughts of actions: 2.3 effects of actions: 3.3

Previous: 23.5 Heavenly states Up: IV. Theistic Science Next: 24.1 Physical sub-degrees

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