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Quantum Theology: Spiritual Implications of the New Physics Paperback – April 1, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Postulating a new theology is, by any standard, no mean feat. Attempting to define, as O'Murchu valiantly does, a theology that embraces the latest advances in quantum physics can only be considered a task of Herculean proportions. While well-intentioned and well-researched, this book extrapolates farther and farther away from quantum mechanical insights into realms which, at times, are quite speculative in order to create a basis for a quantum theology. For example, O'Murchu begins his system with synergy, the principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, a principle that is not inherently a quantum mechanical conclusion at all. O'Murchu gives his argument sharper focus when he describes Stephen Hawking's concept of the birth of the universe, and he does a workmanlike job of creating what might best be called a cosmological theology. Unfortunately, the author's circuitous prose is difficult to follow. However, putting O'Murchu's audacious work into perspective, even Roger Penrose, in his Shadows of the Mind, admitted he was challenged to find a basis for consciousness in quantum mechanics. Finding a basis for God in quantum mechanics may be something else altogether.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: The Crossroad Publishing Company; Rev Upd edition (April 1, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082452263X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0824522636
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #111,234 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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56 of 64 people found the following review helpful By on November 13, 1998
Format: Paperback
O'Murchu does an excellent job of introducing quantum theory (and to a lesser extent chaos theory) as a potential source of theological enlightenment. But one suspects he brings a lot of prior (Marxist?) baggage to the table that in places seems to contradict his central thesis. For example he makes a valid point of the wholeness of good and evil, light and dark, etc. and deplores our traditional way of dealing with these as polar opposites or dualisms. Fine so far, but then when he describes some of the "sins" of the contemporary world, he does so in much the same polemical way of any conventional "politcially correct" attack on the forces of evil as a typcial left-wing activist defines it. He proposes engagement with our shadow side as an alternative to the traditional Christian response to evil, however defined. But when listing his pet "sins" of today, O'Murchu promptly lapses into the traditional attack mode response himself and he seems oblivious to the contradiction.
For example he is highly critical of competition throughout the book and urges cooperation in its place. I agree that is often called for, but at the same time competition and cooperation often complement each other. In fact competition often has the effect of enchancing cooperation in a wide range of arenas such as team sports, etc. O'Murchu never invokes his broader understanding that these two modes are complementary aspects rather than polar opposites. For example O'Murchu himself describes how the competitive invasion of a virus into the body soon invokes a cooperative antibody response by the immune system. Yet he ignores the fact that something similar is often at work in the social body.
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40 of 53 people found the following review helpful By David Shelley ( on August 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
O'Murchu claims to have reached a synthesis of religion and science, including the "new physics" of quantum mechanics (hence the title). This is an interesting idea, but the author of a book such as this needs to have background in both physics and theology, and O'Murchu has little to say about classical theology and no knowledge of any kind of science. The list of scientists he has consulted is impressive (including David Bohm, Stephen Hawking, and Paul Davies), but it would appear that he threw out everything they told him; the book is filled with misinformation and outright lies about quantum mechanics. Beyond this, O'Murchu constantly invokes "energy fields" and "forces" all of which are undocumented in science but factor heavily in New Age type beliefs. In short, O'Murchu has no idea what he is talking about, and his writing makes for a nonsensical book that is filled with non-sequiturs and poorly explained reasoning.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Joseph C. Kolecki on May 20, 2010
Format: Paperback
I agree with other reviewers that this book has bias issues, the least of which is not a strong Feminist bias. But beyond these biases, there are serious factual errors in its presentation of modern physics. I will list only two:

1. On page 17, the author says that we know that the earth has existed for at least 15 billion years. In fact, modern theory has it that the universe has existed for about 15 billion years while our earth has only existed for about 5 billion years, our sun being a second or third generation star. This error is in some very elementary material. Confusing the ages of the earth and the universe raises an immediate red flag to me and throws a shadow on the remaining contents of the book.

2. On page 31, the author refers to passing a beam of light through a "Stern-Gerlach device" in which the (magnetic) field seperates the initial beam into two weaker beams. The Stern-Gerlach experiment in fact involves sending a beam of (uncharged) particles (not light) through an inhomogeneous magnetic field and observing their deflections. The results show that, while the particles do, in fact, possess intrinsic angular momenta, analogous to the angular momentum of classically spinning objects, these momenta are quantized and take on only certain discreet values. Light is not involved at all in the Stern-Gerlach experiment. Confusing a beam of light with a particle beam is another serious error which (for me) throws into question everything that the book claims to teach about quantum mechanics (or about modern science in general).

There have been many books that have attempted to combine religion or mysticism with quantum mechanics. This one was recommended to me by a friend who is a Catholic nun.
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19 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Orville Schaeffer on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Having read perhaps sixty or seventy books concerning quantum phenomena, I was eager to enlarge my horizons with this one. Now that I have read it twice, I am still searching for some indication that the author has found a connection between theology (I grant him expertise in this) and quantum anything. In fact, though it is merely implicit, he makes the naive error of considering the quantum as something large, when semi-informed lay readers know that the quantum is the smallest measurable amount of energy.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Ty Kain on March 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
This book fails to set up and maintain a logical flow to advance its thesis. He should have started with the appendix as a list of axioms, then proven statements from those axioms to construct his theory. Instead, the text is rather scatter-brained and lacking in conciseness. He fails to give good definitions of many terms used (light, dark, etc), which leaves them as free parameters instead of giving them precise moral values.
To me, the objective of furthering the implementation of quantum physics within theology is admirable, though questionable in its justification. His principles are vast, unproveable generalizations of a poorly understood physical theory which itself is only an approximation to more fundamental theories (such as string/M-theory, if it turns out to really be a physical theory). So, even ignoring the free parameters, the applicability of his axioms to our universe is unclear.
Moreover, as faith is the one truly subjective human pursuit, completely lacking in objective data to ground together multiple viewpoints, any arguments involving faith fail to compel. This is because there is no reason for all beings to share the same faith, no evidence to draw or repel potential believers. Some may argue that holy scriptures are pieces of such evidence, however they are analogous to a report on a physical experiment conducted long ago which states only the results of the experiment, with no description of the setup itself. In this case, the experiment is not repeatable, since we don't know how it was conducted, and we have no way of knowing how much the authors' personal prejudices or mistakes influenced his/her report.
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