The Quantum Thomist

Musings about quantum physics, classical philosophy, and the connection between the two.
More recent articles

Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (Part 5)

Last modified on Sat Jan 12 23:08:40 2019


I look at a recent article by the physicist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing.

In this post, I discuss the fifth section of my review, where I consider why we have these laws of physics rather than something else. Carroll is right to raise this question, but unable to answer it.

Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (Part 4)

Last modified on Sat Jul 13 18:31:10 2019


I look at a recent article by the physicist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing.

In this post, I discuss the fourth section of his article, where Carroll tries to argue that the universe doesn't need an external explanation. He tries to argue from physics, chooing between a Hartle-Hawking model and an enternal universe, neither of which are satisfactory. He also discusses the ontological argument and principle of sufficient reason version of the cosmological argument. I find his discussion unconvincing.

Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (Part 3)

Last modified on Sat Dec 8 22:33:38 2018


I look at a recent article by the physicist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing.

In this post, I discuss the third section of his article, where Carroll discusses the concepts of something and nothing. And I find myself largely agreeing with him.

Is Thomism really refuted by modern science? (Further Response)

Last modified on Sat Jul 13 18:40:19 2019


I reply to a reply to my previous post. I discuss the relationship between efficient causality, final causality, and potency to modern physics. In particular, I focus on what Aristotle and Aquinas meant by these terms, and make sure that we use their definitions. I also briefly touch on the topic of essentialism.

Is Thomism really refuted by modern science?

Last modified on Thu Nov 22 22:27:14 2018


I reply to a blog post I was recently alerted to which attempts to refute the suggestion that Thomism is not refuted by modern science. While demonstrating that the author of that post neither understands Thomism nor contempoary physics.

Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (Part 2)

Last modified on Sun Oct 28 16:54:59 2018


I look at a recent article by the physicist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing.

In this post, I discuss the second section of his article, where Carroll establishes his definitions, and asks the question of what do we mean by Why and what sort of answer we might expect.

Why Is There Something, Rather Than Nothing? (Part 1)

Last modified on Fri Mar 29 21:49:28 2019


I look at a recent article by the physicist Sean Carroll on why there is something rather than nothing.

In this post, I give an introduction to the topic. I will discuss the details in future posts.

Revision, Revision, Revision.

Last modified on Tue Oct 9 14:53:58 2018


I intend to spend the next few months revising my book. Please send me any details where you think that the arguments can be improved.

Is it Hatred or Love?

Last modified on Sat Sep 22 21:55:58 2018


I discuss protests against the US evangelist Franklin Graham's forthcoming visit to the UK, and muse on the nature of hatred.

Aquinas' first way and modern physics?

Last modified on Mon Jul 23 23:35:24 2018


One of the best known, most commonly discussed, and most commonly misunderstood arguments for God's existence is the first way of Thomas Aquinas. This is a variation of the Cosmological argument, based closely on the argument in Aristotle's physics. Aquinas based his argument on his development of Aristotle's metaphysics, and illustrated it with Aristotelian physics. We know that Aristotle got his physics wrong. So what does this imply about the first way?

Those who attack the first way generally belong to one of two classes: those who understand the argument and those who don't. The vast majority of atheists and deists who attack the argument don't understand it, and thus make trivial mistakes when trying to take it down. But there are some who do understand it, and usually they focus on two premises of the argument.

  1. Is it true that everything in motion has been put into motion by another?
  2. Is it true that the series of causes is a hierarchical rather than accidental series?

I was directed towards a series of comments by a particular individual on other people's blogs, by somebody who claimed to have a proof, based on Newton's laws of motion and the conservation of energy, that these two questions were false. I was asked to comment. That spawned this particular post.

This post is going to discuss four theories of physics: basic Newtonian mechanics, general relativity, Maxwell-Faraday electromagnetism, and quantum field theory. I will in particular highlight a dissonance between Aristotle's definition of motion and how it is used in these theories. I argue that it is that confusion of definitions which causes people to have doubts about the first way. The principle that everything in motion has been put into motion by another, when the correct definition of motion is used, is firmly established in modern physics, when the definition of motion consistent with the spirit rather than the letter of Aristotle is used. But is the sequence of movers a hierarchical series?

I even throw in a discussion of efficient causality and the second way for good measure.

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