Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Craig's Quantum-Measurement Cosmological Argument

I finally got a chance to listen to the debate between Bill Craig, Alvin Plantinga and Quentin Smith, Richard Gale.  Even though each speaker was only allotted 10 minutes for remarks (and rebuttal), this turned out to be an excellent debate.  After remarks and rebuttals, there was some open discussion time among the four of them and the moderator (himself being a philosopher).

Craig and Smith went back and forth for a bit on issues related to the philosophy of time and the Kalam cosmological argument.  Alvin Plantinga also gave a pretty good summary of his evolutionary argument against naturalism, and Richard Gale raised some well-informed concerns.  It was nice (for a change) to see some capable philosophers debating issues that they are qualified to speak on.  Much can be gleaned from this debate, but one noteworthy element was Craig's use of a cosmological argument in response to the question 'Can religion help to solve metaphysical problems found in science?'  Here is what Craig says:
"        A possible example is the so called measurement problem in quantum physics.  According to quantum physics, subatomic particles do not have all of their properties intrinsically, but only in relation to a measuring apparatus.  The problem is that the measuring apparatus itself can also be described by quantum physics.  But then it too lacks certain intrinsic properties unless it is related to another measuring apparatus.  But that apparatus can also be described by quantum physics, and off we go on a vicious infinite regress.  Unless there's some way to break the chain, nothing would possess any of these properties, which is absurd.
        Now some physicists have proposed that the chain is broken when the measurement is observed by consciousness.  But, it seems outrageous to say that the whole universe depends on human consciousness for its existence.  Moreover, human consciousness is linked to a physical substratum: the brain, which can be given a quantum physical description.  So the question inevitably arises: who observes the human observers?  What is needed here is a sort of transcendent, cosmic observer who observes immediately the result of any quantum measurement situation.  But, this is exactly the being in whom the theist believes.  And thus, the person who believes in God seems to have the resoureces needed to resolve the measurement problem plaguing quantum physics." 
Related to this argument, I found a paper written by Craig in 1996 entitled, "Cosmos and Creator."


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