Top positive review
35 of 41 people found this helpful
Cogent and analytical � Good Job Mr. Sproul!
on January 26, 2000
I found this book to be very enjoyable, the prose was fast paced and it was written for the layperson to easily digest. It begins by defining chance and then showing what some of the preeminent scientists of the last few centuries had to say about it. Mr. Sproul is not trying to give a lesson in the historicity of any particular theorem he is however, trying to show that great minds have divided over these issues at hand. The books downfall, if you can call it that, was to attack quantum mechanics (QM) using logic to show that it is not a complete theory. QM adherents especially those who are philosophically attached to quantum chaos (QC) (SOAPBOX: It is a dangerous position for any `non-biased' scientist is to be philosophically or ideologically attached to any theory) have presupposed themselves to a chance (deterministic) driven cosmos.
At first I felt that this book could have benefited by showing the other scientific theories that show an indeterministic universe, but that is not Mr. Sproul's arena. He is a theologian and makes no pretense about it, his arguments are clear and cogent let me show you a couple of quotes from the books should suffice the logistician in any of us.
"Anomalies represent present mysteries. They are unsolved problems. An easy solution to mystery is to give it another name: CHANCE. Voltaire saw CHANCE as a word-substitute for the unknown, again a cover-up for ignorance. The problem is one that confuses mystery and contradiction. All contradictions are mysterious. Not all mysteries are contradictions. To say that the cause of a known effect is unknown is to say that the cause remains a mystery. To say that the cause of a known effect is chance is to say that the cause is a contradiction. It is to say that the effect has no cause, which is a contradiction of terms." Pg. 28-29
"There is no greater erroneous assumption muddying the water of contemporary science then the assumption that chance has instrumental, causal power. Here contradiction runs wild under the seemingly harmless cloak of mystery". Pg. 31
"What is basically happening here is the tacit assertion that we can have effects without causes." Pg. 48
"I do not allow for uncaused effects because uncaused effects represent a contraction in terms. The idea of an "uncaused effect" is analytically false. It is a nonsense statement, akin to speaking of square circles and married bachelors. An "effect" is by definition something produced by an antecedent cause. If it has NO CAUSE, it is not an effect. If it is an EFFECT, then it has a cause." Pg. 49
I feel that there has been some obfuscation by another reviewer about QM, specifically about the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle (HUP) and it's relation to chance. HUP does not mitigate for chance or uncertainty the antipodal is in fact true. For those of you who do not understand the HUP it is very simple. At present it is not possible to know with unlimited accuracy both the position (x) and the momentum (p) of a particle. Why can't I know? Well in order locate a certain particle exactly, an observer must be able to bounce off it a photon of radiation; this act of location itself alters the position of the particle. To locate the position accurately, photons of short wavelengths would need to be used. These photons have a high momenta and would cause a large effect upon the particles position. It's kind of like a pool-ball effect, you bounce one photon off a particle it is going to budge it a little bit. So there is uncertainty associated with each measurement that you can never get rid of you experiments.
But please note and this is the important point that many seem to misunderstand. The HUP does not say, "everything is uncertain." Rather, it tells us very exactly where the limits of uncertainty lie when we make measurements of sub-atomic events. This is not chance; this is EFFECT. Whenever I make a measurement, I MUST disturb the system, I am the CAUSE. The uncertainty then of the effect that I have caused lies in our ability or rather our inability to measure a particle without disturbing it. The logic that says because we at this time cannot measure a particles x and p accurately while also predicting how the particle will react to our measurement stimulus must therefore show that because we don't know something (mystery) is it is therefore acting in a undeterministic (chance) fashion is farcical. Since when in the scientific world has a paucity of data about a known event been shown to PROVE that the event in question didn't have precedent verifiable cause? NEVER.
One last point, anybody interested in understanding how cause is the deterministic factor in science should learn about chaos mathematics, and also look into the superstring theories. Just search them out on the web and you will probably drop the deterministic philosophies that crept into the noble field of science.
Kudos Mr. Sproul, for a non-scientist you did an excellent job.