Sunday, March 26, 2017

Quantum Physics, the Meltdown of Realist Materialism and Its Significance for Christian Theology

The Discovery of the idealist basis of the universe[1]  

            In the nineteenth century, just when Christian realism and secular materialism were most influential, the very foundations of these philosophical systems were being undermined. This was not done by academic theologians or biblical scholars, but by scientists. The emerging discipline of subatomic physics (quantum physics) was at the center of this revolution. Discoveries in this field made realism and materialism obsolete as descriptions of the physical universe. In fact, what the physicists discovered was that that the foundations of the physical world were “idealist,” – mind interacted with matter.
            This astounding discovery has tremendous implications in reference to Christian Science and the various New Thought groups we have been discussing.  Although the new scientific discoveries in no way justified their claims that matter was unimportant, they were closer to the truth (“partially true”) than their orthodox Christian critics imagined.
            The quantum physics revolution began as a result of attempts to study the nature of light. Early experiments had demonstrated that light was a wave. Later, however, other experiments demonstrated that light also behaved as a particle. It soon became apparent that light could be proven to be either a wave or a particle, depending on the experiment that was structured.
            The investigation on the nature of light led to the simple but significant two-hole experiment. This demonstrated that a beam of light projected against a photographic plate would appear on the plate as a wave if passed through two holes at the same time but would show as a group of particles if passed through one hole. This concept, that something can manifest in a seemingly contradictory manner, was called “complementarity.” It became a fundamental concept of the new quantum physics.
             Through further experiments several astounding discoveries were made. If any person observed the beam during the two-hole experiment, the wave manifestation collapsed, and the light became a particle merely by being observed. The presence of the observer changed the results of the experiment! Without observation the beam of light existed in a ghost-like state, with potential for either a particle or wave but settling in neither. It would eventually manifest as a wave if it remained unobserved.[2] This all but shattered the fundamental assumptions of materialist-realist science (and Christian realism) that nature operated independently of the mind.   
     Mathematical and experimental work done by Max Planck, one of the pioneers of quantum physics, discovered that the power of the mind to influence matter by observation had a mathematical expression in the central equation of quantum physics: E = ħ f. The critical item of this equation is the ħ, the energy value of mind-observation that breaks the wave manifestation of light into a particle. The ħ is also called Planck's constant, and its value (wattage) is one of those tremendously small numbers only mathematicians understand, but real nonetheless.
            Later it was realized that the universe could not exist as we know it with much variation in ħ. If ħ were a smaller value, the wave function would not break, and this would make, among other things, vision impossible. On the other hand, if the value of ħ were slightly higher, then every thought would dramatically and dangerously alter matter. That nature is so delicately balanced for our good is now called the “anthropic principle,” or sometimes “the fine-tuned universe.” It seems that from the very instant of the Big Bang (the assumed moment of creation) many things went exactly right to allow for intelligent life on earth.[3]
            Another blow to the realist/materialist view of nature came when it was discovered that radioactive decay, the release of particles from the interior of elements such as uranium, was totally a random, unpredictable event. This was given mathematical definition in Heisenberg's principle of uncertainty and was discovered to be as fundamental an element of the universe as complementarity. This too shattered the materialist dream that the course of the natural world could be determined precisely, as Newton had determined the course of the planets.
            By the 1920s there was a great debate among informed scientists as to what the discoveries in quantum physics meant. The mathematical equations which demonstrated these findings were producing startling advances in electronics and physics. In fact, the electronics industry would not have come about without quantum theory. However, many of the scientists who were at the forefront of these discoveries were disturbed by the philosophical implications. They had been educated as materialists and realists, yet everything in quantum physics suggested that at the atomic level the universe operated by idealist principles— that mind had influence on the behavior of matter.
            Erwin Schrodinger, one of the great scientists and mathematicians of the era, explained the idealist conclusions of quantum physics with a parable which came to be known as “the paradox of Schrodinger's cat.” A cat was placed in a sealed box with a vial of poison gas, and the gas had exactly a 50 percent chance of being released and the cat killed. Schrodinger explained that before the box was opened the cat was in a ghost-like state, neither dead nor alive. The event of opening the box and observing the cat created the definite dead or live cat, just as the observer triggered the light wave to become particles in the two-hole experiment.

Image result for schrodinger's cat 

            Albert Einstein disliked the implications of quantum physics, Schrodinger's cat and all, though he participated in many of the initial experiments and discoveries of the era. He particularly disliked the principle of uncertainty. His famous rejoinder to it was “God doesn't play dice!”
            Looking at the equations developed in quantum physics, Einstein found that one of the implications was that particles generated from a single atomic source, such as two photons (light particles) coming out of the same atom, would be united in a special way regardless of their distance from each other. Any change on one particle would be instantly duplicated upon its twin. This would occur faster than the speed of light. This peculiar property of quantum physics was called “nonlocality.”
            To better understand nonlocality let us imagine a “quantum billiards table.” On it are balls of different colors, but only two are red. These red balls are from a “single source.” If I take a cue stick and hit one red ball, the other, for no apparent reason, will move in an identical manner with the first, as if an unseen force had duplicated my shot. Einstein's own theory of relativity, which was also yielding excellent results, stated that no event in the universe could take place faster than the speed of light. The prediction from quantum physics that particles could interact instantly was thus in conflict with relativity. This conflict was called the EPR paradox. With the instruments available at the time, Einstein's objections could not be tested.

Idealism and the Copenhagen Interpretation:

            The scientific debates about quantum physics reached a climax at a conference in Dr. Niels Bohr's institute in Copenhagen, Denmark.  Dr. Bohr (1885-1962) was brought up in a devote Lutheran household, and later was deeply influenced by the writings of the Danish Theologian, Soren Kiekagaard. Bohr created at his physics institute a place that reflected his Christian character. It was an institute of the greatest scientific excellence and integrity made possible by cultivating an atmosphere of openness and communication. At Bohr’s institute conflicting ideas and theories could be debated with great passion, while maintaining mutual respect and fellowship. The scientists and their graduate assistants would even take time during the yearly conferences at his institute to do witty dramatic skits to poke fun at each other and enliven the sessions.[4]

 Niels Bohr's institute

            In 1927 the chief physicists and scientists of the era met again at the Bohr’s institute and discussed the meaning of the new physics. Bohr was an enthusiastic supporter of the idealist implications, regardless of how little “sense” the discoveries made in terms of traditional Western realism. Bohr's view, called the “Copenhagen interpretation,” steadily won the arguments among scientists by virtue of its mathematical and experimental triumphs.
            Modern scientists now side with the Copenhagen interpretation and accept, to one degree or another, the idealist view of matter as interactive with the mind. Fresh experimental evidence continues to be found verifying the importance of observation as a factor that influences matter.[5]   Interestingly, the EPR paradox was finally tested, and nonlocality was proven true. This was done in the 1980s by a team of French scientists who bombarded calcium atoms with a laser, releasing twin photons from the target atoms. Measurements on the escaping photons done with extremely accurate instruments did in fact show duplication of movement for the pair of photons as nonlocality predicted. Bohr's Copenhagen interpretation won over its major objection.[6]
            However, many scientists are wary of attempts to expand the discoveries of quantum mechanics from atomic and subatomic interactions to the ordinary world. The argument from these scientists is that there is no direct evidence that ordinary matter – matter made up of billions of atoms together - can operate with the laws of subatomic particles. Similarly they claim that expanding quantum rules to the realm of psychic or spiritual events is not legitimate.[7] This line of reasoning is advocated by those scientists of the realist materialist tradition who are still disturbed by any evidence that calls into question the assumptions of a mechanical and God-empty universe.
            On the contrary, the evidence is mounting that under some circumstances ordinary matter operates with the mystical properties of quantum physics. For instance, scientists have designed certain electronic devices of up to a half-centimeter long to operate as a single atomic entity.[8]

Quantum Physics as Natural Theology:
Johnpolkinghorne.jpg            Some of the theological implications of quantum physics have been slowly making it into in mainline Christian literature.[9]  In the last decade the writing of noted physicist and Anglican priest, Fr. John Polkinghorne, on the theological implications of quantum physics, have gained wide credence and circulation (see below). This came, unfortunately, half a century after the main discoveries of quantum physics were clarified in the Copenhagen interpretation.

            Even worse, these Christian writings were published after non-Christian writers launched several popular explanations of quantum physics based on Eastern mysticism. The most important of these was Fritjof Capra's best-selling work, The Tao of Physics, published in 1976, which became a best seller.[10] This book drew explicit parallels between quantum physics and doctrines of Eastern mysticism. This book, though filled with many useful insights, gave the impression that quantum physics is a branch of Eastern occultism. Several other books in this vein have followed.[11] When the first edition of my work Quenching the Spirit was undergoing translation into Spanish (1993), its first translator resigned from the project when he saw my chapter on quantum physics, believing the book was thus necessarily occultic!     
            Even secular critics have observed that this crop of quantum-physics-as-Eastern-mysticism has been little more than speculative. What has really been accomplished in the quantum revolution has been the destruction of the traditional naive realism of science.[12]  These Eastern interpretations should be viewed as temporary hypotheses (similar to heresies “first hypothesis”) to fill in the vacuum in spiritual understanding created by Western materialism.
            The importance of the observer has produced some wildly speculative theories in these writings. Some researchers now claim that the universe is only possible because we observe it, and even its creation was due to our present observation of it![13] Another example of speculative interpretations is the “many universes” theory. In this view every time a person makes a decision, as in opening the door to Schrodinger's box, the universe splits into both possibilities, one with a dead cat, another with a live one. This happens in infinite repetition as each human being creates new universes every time he makes a decision.[14]
            The Eastern mystical interpretations given by Capra and others are plausible because the spiritual implications of quantum physics are of a general nature. They can be interpreted in terms of many religious systems and belong to a category that the Christian tradition calls “natural theology.” That is, theology that can be discerned without specific recourse to revelation, as Paul indicates in Romans 1: 19-20.[15]  By its very nature, natural theology is incomplete and subject to misguided interpretations. For example, Paul pointed out that creation points to a creator (Rom. 1:20). Yet creation gives only a natural theology of God, not the specifics of God as a loving father. This comes from revelation. Natural theology without the specific correction of scripture can drift into incorrect conclusions or dangerous models, as in the Greek father-god Zeus who lusted after, and fought with lesser gods.

Quantum Laws and Biblical Spirituality:

            Thankfully, Christian theologians are finally dealing with the theological implications of quantum physics. As a result, new areas of understanding and appreciation of the scriptures have opened. However, to claim that quantum physics proves this or that doctrine of the Bible is to err in the same way that the Eastern mystical school of quantum writers has erred.        The theories of quantum physics simply show that the philosophy of radical materialism, which has been used to support cessationist theology, is inadequate to explain reality. However, to view miracles simply in terms of quantum physics misses the point.
            What follows must be understood to be analogies based on the natural theology of quantum physics that have been extended and corrected through confidence in biblical revelation. Analogies suggest but never give proof. For instance, we can now understand that most miracles come about as God's will and power cooperate with man's mind, and its capacity to interact with matter, through faith. This could be understood to mean that faith increases Planck’s constant – the energy available of mind to move matter.[16] Some miracles however, as in the original creation, are purely the sovereign work of God.

Complementarity Nonlocality and Christian Doctrine:

            Complementarity was the first quantum principle discovered, and it serves well as another point of analogy to the spiritual life. Recall that complementarity deals with a reality that can have more than one manifestation, as light being both a wave and a particle. Because complementarity is so alien to ordinary logic, it is almost impossible for the human intellect to understand complementarities. A complementarity is not so much understood as true as it is accepted as true.[17]
            In biblical revelation there are many such fundamental complementarities, traditionally called “mysteries.” For example, Jesus is both man and God, or man is free to choose his spiritual destiny, but God has predestined those who enter into the kingdom.[18] These mysteries might be understood as complementarities.
            It is also easy to see that nonlocality has analogies in the spiritual world (when a change in one particle is duplicated in its twin from the same source). I have seen many examples in Christian literature that demonstrate this. By divine coincidence, as I was working on the first draft of this chapter, I read Charles Farah's From the Pinnacle of the Temple, which has a chapter called “Marty's Death.” There Farah recounts how his local church prayed through the cancer of their pastor's wife, Marty. In Marty's case there was no physical healing in spite of an heroic prayer campaign. However, in a dramatic manifestation of spiritual nonlocality, many of the prayer intercessors acquired the pains of the cancer victim and consequently relieved Marty of her horrible terminal pains.[19] Something very similar happened when C.S. Lewis's wife, Joy, was dying of bone cancer. Like Marty, some of Joy's agony was relieved when Lewis prayed that he could receive some of her sufferings. The materialists may still choose to disregard such accounts, but they no longer can claim that such phenomena are alien to the fundamental laws of nature.
            Paul's description of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper also demonstrates principles of nonlocality.

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread (1 Cor. 10:16-17).

            The ability of a sacrament to mediate nonlocality in the form of harmony and love among the members of the body has been noticed by the English scientist-theologian John C. Polkinghorne in his book One World: the Interaction of Science and Theology.[20] Polkinghorne (b.1930) was for many years professor of particle physics at Cambridge University. There he played a major role in the discovery of the quark, an elusive sub atomic particle.  But in 1979 he resigned to become a priest in the Anglican Church. He is now a master Christian apologist to the scientific community in Great Britain. His books on the interface of science and religion have won wide recognition and respect. He gave the prestigious Gifford lectures on science and religion (1993) which became the book, The Faith of a Physicist.[21] Fr. Polkinghorne’s works deal with quantum physics as making the spiritual world understandable and plausible, and affirming the existence of God with the evidence of the anthropic principal. They unfortunately have little to say about answered prayer and healing.[22]

God as the Prime Observer:

            While the natural theology of quantum physics suggests that observation is necessary for the world to come into being, revelation tells us who that mind is. No less than seven times in the first chapter of Genesis a conjunction is made between God creating the universe and affirming it by observation. Genesis 1:31 is clearest on this: “And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.” With this we can see that the ultimate source of stability and continuity in the universe is God, not man.[23]
            The critical question in quantum theology is this: Why does ordinary matter not manifest the mystical properties of nonlocality and responsiveness to the mind more easily? Paul addressed this problem nineteen hundred years before the scientific issue could even be defined. He saw that God masked the spiritual behavior of the ordinary world for the purposes of His overall plan. But in the fullness of time, ordinary matter will be bestowed with its true spiritual functions.
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now (Rom. 8:19-23).

            In quantum terms, this passage means that God created the universe with a low h in part for our safety. He knew that before mankind came into the full conformity of His Son a higher h would lead to the chaos and mind wars of flying chairs and tables at every disagreement. As the elect become “in Christ” and have the “mind of Christ,” such disharmony ceases to exist.

Lost Opportunities:

            The work done in the last decades by Christian scientist-theologians might well have been done in the 1930s or 1940s, as F.L. Rawson had pioneered, but it was not. The reality of the spiritual world and the miraculous might have been proclaimed with renewed force to a generation of European and American intellectuals seeking answers from fascism and Marxism.
Instead mainline Christian theology from 1920 to 1980 went through its most apostate and heretical period. The mainline seminaries in the United States followed European fashions and adopted what is called “higher criticism” of the Bible (that the miracles was myths), combined with various forms of Nietzschean or Marxian philosophy. These theologies assumed a materialist worldview and proclaimed that modern man could not believe in miracles because miracles were incompatible with modern science. When I studies at a prestigious mainline seminary in the 1980s, the chairman of the New Testament department would routinely dismiss miracles as pious myths and cite the famous theologian Rudolph Bultman, “If you use a light bulb you can’t believe in miracles.” This awful marriage of 18th Century scientific/philosophical assumptions and theology have remained normative in the seminaries for a century after they were scientifically obsolete.

The Miracles and the Hermeneutics of Christian Idealism:

            Let us turn to several Bible miracles to see how helpful the analogies of quantum physics and its idealist implications are in understanding several Biblical miracles. The first miracle is an example of faith unsustained, Peter's aborted water-walk (Matthew 14:28-31). In this incident Peter initiates the miracle by asking Jesus to call him. Jesus calls, and Peter does walk on the water, “But seeing the wind, he became afraid, and beginning to sink, he cried out....” After Jesus saved Peter, He rebuked him with the words, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”
            This incident is especially instructive because it is fatal to the “sovereignty only” theory of Christian materialism. Although God's sovereignty and power (through Jesus) were the basis of Peter's water-walk, it was Peter's mind, acting in faith, then fear, which determined the outcome. If the only important factor in the miracle was that God sovereignly decided that Peter could walk on water, it should not have mattered that Peter feared, nor would Jesus' rebuke make sense.
            Similar conclusions must be drawn from Jesus' failed ministry in His hometown of Nazareth (Matt. 13:54-58, Mark 6:1-6, Luke 4:16-30). Matthew summarized: “And He did not do many miracles there because of their unbelief.” Again the sovereignty-only theory fails. A miracle begins with a promise or covenant relationship with God, but must be completed through the mind operating in faith.

Faith and the Resuscitation of Schrodinger's Cat:

            Quantum physics suggests that observation finalizes the structure of matter. The Bible demonstrates that faith, or anticipated observation, not only finalizes but changes the course of events. Note the central New Testament definition of faith (Heb. 11:1): “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Two resuscitations, one in the Old Testament and another in the new, demonstrate this quite clearly. They also indicate that Mary Baker Eddy’s method of negation and affirmation a has biblical merit (she was “partially right”).
            The first one is the resuscitation of the Shunammite woman's son (2 Kings 4:8-37). The story began when Elisha and his servant Gehazi repeatedly passed in front of this unnamed woman's house. She discerned that Elisha was a prophet, and had a guest room built especially for him. Elisha reciprocated her kindness by praying for her to become pregnant, as she was childless and her husband old.
            Within a year she gave birth to a son. Later, the boy became feverish and died on her lap. Her immediate actions are most revealing. The woman told no one, quickly laid the dead boy on Elisha's guest cot, closed the door to the room and rushed to get the prophet. Her husband asked why she was leaving, and she replied, “It will be well.” (v. 23). Before she arrived at Elisha's residence, the prophet sensed that something was wrong and that she was in distress. He sent Gehazi to inquire. When Gehazi asked as to her family, she replied, “It is well” (v. 26). At the feet of the prophet she did not blurt out, “The boy is dead!” With circumspection she reminded the prophet that his prayers had been responsible for the lad's birth.
            Elisha understood at once, but did not speak out the problem. He sent Gehazi ahead of him to place his own staff on the boy's body and followed with the mother. Before Elisha and the woman arrived, Gehazi returned with the news that the staff had not helped yet and that “the lad has not awakened” (v. 31). When Elisha got to his guest room he closed the door behind him, prayed to the Lord and twice stretched himself out on the boy. The boy came to life and was restored to his mother.
            From the perspective of Christian realism the actions and dialogue of the incident are incomprehensible. The Shunammite woman was deluded or spoke a lie; things were not “well.” But with an idealist understanding of the spiritual power of anticipated observation (faith) to change events, both the dialogue and the actions make perfect sense. She affirmed a good, and negated the finality of the present negative situation.
            Notice that no one in the incident ever proclaimed the death of the boy. The actions of the woman certainly took it into account, but she did not say it in spite of her anguish. Similarly, neither Elisha nor Gehazi used the words death or dead. When Gehazi had to report that his master's staff had not resuscitated the boy, he used the phrase “not awakened.” He was reporting that the dunamis of God in the staff was not enough to accomplish the miracle. Elisha continued, and the miracle was completed by his prayers (the one element of the whole incident understandable in Christian materialism) and by stretching out on the boy so that even more of the dunamis of God would flow from him into the lad.[24] By revelation from the Scriptures (not by the natural theology of quantum physics) we can understand that speaking is an powerful form of completing observation.
            A similar sequence of events took place in Jesus' ministry in the resuscitation of Jairus's daughter (Matt. 9:18-26, Mark 5:21-43, Luke 8:40-56). Matthew, Mark and Luke give varying details about the incident, but the sequence is quite clear. Jairus meets Jesus and requests that He come to the bedside of his dying daughter. Jesus starts on the way, heals the woman with the issue of blood, and continues. News then comes that the girl had died. Jesus reassures Jairus: “Do not be afraid any longer; only believe, and she will be made well” (Luke 8:50).
            At Jairus's house Jesus tells the crowd, “Stop weeping, for she has not died, but is asleep” (v. 52). They howl in derision, but He puts them out and enters the girl's room with His disciples and the parents. Jesus then takes the girl's hand and commands her to arise. Luke writes: “And her spirit returned, and she rose immediately” (Luke 8:55).
            The sequence of events and statements is again unintelligible and contradictory from the perspective of Christian materialism. Jesus said the girl was sleeping. This could be interpreted to mean that with divine wisdom Jesus knew the girl was only in a coma. Also the crowd could have been mistaken because of the limited medical knowledge of the times. However, Luke makes it clear she was really dead—“her spirit returned.” Thus in the Christian realist interpretation Jesus was either mistaken or lying.
            Obviously those alternatives were not intended by the Gospel writers. The crowd and messenger were right, the girl was observed as dead. By saying she was asleep, Jesus was affirming that the initial observation of death could be overruled by the power of God mobilized by the mind acting in faith, just as the Shunammite woman trusted that the power of God would overrule the death of her boy. Jesus was not misjudging the issue or lying, nor was the crowd mistaken. Rather Jesus used His words as part and parcel of the miracle event.[25]
            One can note the vast difference between our hermeneutic (moderate Christian idealism which is buttressed with the analogies of quantum physics) and the hermeneutics of Christian materialism. Whereas the understanding of the materialist forced a radical discontinuity between spiritual activities and the material order, those discontinuities have now evaporated. The spiritual order can now be understood to operate in harmony, not in contradiction, with fundamental laws of the universe. The analogies between quantum physics and the spiritual life reveal a continuity of intention in the mind of the Creator. God intended the universe to be spiritual from subatomic particles to archangels. His laws for subatomic particles are the first level of a universe created for spiritual ends. We can reverse Bultman’s infamous quote and boldly proclaim “If you use an electronic device, you should believe in the biblical miracles!”
            It should also be made clear that we are not implying that Christian spiritual life is a mechanical execution of the laws of quantum physics. Rather, what we have done is outline an moderate idealist hermeneutic which is useful in describing biblical spirituality. At the core of the Christian's life is the covenant relationship of creature to Creator, of dependent child to loving Father, which is intensely personal, not mechanical. Being a Christian involves the directing of the human mind and spirit to worship, repentance, praise and love, all of which are activities of the will which have nothing to do with mechanical applications of laws or principles.
            In the hermeneutic we presented we used the vocabulary and imagery of modern physics, but the critical element is its Christian idealism. Here we again must affirm that Mrs. Baker had it “partially right.” Negation and affirmation is a form of miracle producing faith. Just as with the heretic Marcion, this does not mean her exaggerated doctrines that matter is unreal, etc., were valid. But she was partially right in precisely the area where traditional Christianity was disastrously wrong.
            We have also seen in how New Thought writers already began to filter the extremism out of Christian Science.  We will study the further corrections and “biblical filtrations” of Christian Science and New Thought, and that came through the pioneer Christian faith idealists such as E.W. Kenyon, Glenn Clark, Agnes Sanford and other in the following chapters.
            Now we need to return to New Thought and show the other “partially right” aspect of its theology, a recovered Hebraic perspective on success in life and prosperity.

[1] For readable introductions to the concepts discussed in this section see: John Gribbin, In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat (Toronto: Bantam Books, 1984); Fred Alan Wolf, Taking the Quantum Leap: The New Physics for Nonscientists (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1981). For an historical overview see George Gamow, Thirty Years that Shock Physics (Garden City: Doubleday & Co., 1966), and Gino Segré, Faust in Copenhagen: A struggle for the soul of physics (Viking: New York, 2007). For an excellent general discussion of how discoveries in modern science have challenged the materialist and atheistic assumptions of 18th and 19th Century science see: Steven M. Barr, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003). A most interesting article on the theological implications of the “uncertainty principal” is Elizabeth Johnson’s, “Does God Play Dice? Divine Providence and Chance,” Theological Studies, 57 31 (March 1991), 2-18.  
[2] Explained clearly in Gribben, In Search, 166f.
[3] See J. Leslie, “How to Draw Conclusions From the Fine-Tuned Universe,” in: Robert J Russell, et al., Physics, Philosophy and Theology (Vatican City: Vatican Observatory, 1988), 297-312. The primary book on the discovery that our universe if “fine-tuned” for our benefit is: The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, by John d. Barrow, Frank J. Tipler, and John A Wheeler (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988). This book is written in mathematical language with equations that only a scientist or math major could understand. For a detailed review in understandable English of this most important source for the idea of “intelligent design,” see: Fred Halberg, “Barrou and Tipler’s anthropic cosmological principal,” Zygon, 23 #2 (June 1988), 139-157.
[4]On the wonderful openness and playfulness of Bohr’s institute see: Gino Segré, Faust in Copenhagen: A struggle for the souls of physics (New York: Viking, 2007).
[5] Robert Poole, “Quantum Pot Watching,” Science 246 (17 Nov., 1989), 888.
[6] Nick Herbert, “How to Be in Two Places at the Same Time,” New Scientist, 21(August 1986), 41-44. And more recently: David Z. Albert and Rivk A Galchen, “Was Einstein Wrong? A Quantum Threat to Special Relativity,” Scientific American, (March 2009). On line at: (2009)
[7] Alastair Rae, “Extrasensory Quantum Physics,” New Scientist, 27 (Nov. 1986), 36-39.
[8] Gribben, In Search, 23ff.
[9] See the lead article, “A Dissenting View of God’s Creation: Faith in the Crucible of the New Physics,” Christianity Today (Feb.1, 1985). The presentation was sketchy and timid.
[10] Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics (Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 1975).  
[11]For example, Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters: An overview of the new physics (New York: William morrow & Co., 1978)).
[12] Dawne McCance, “Physics, Buddhism, and Postmodern Interpretations,” Zygon 21 (spring, 1986): 287-296. Zygon is the premiere Christian journal dedicated to studying the relationship between Christianity and science.
[13] Tony Rothman, “A “What You See Is What You Beget  “Theory,” Discover 8 (May 1987), 90-99.
[14] Gribbin, In Search, chapter 11.
[15] See a Jewish interpretation of quantum physics in Philip J. Bentley’s “Uncertainty and Unity, Journal of Judaism 33 (Spring 1984), 1919-201.
[16] When I teach on this topic before a live audience I tell them say to each other, “Planck’s constant is not!”
[17] Some of the complementarities of Christian doctrine have been noted in John C. Polkinghorne’s, The Way the World Is (Grand Rapids: William B. eerdmans,1984), 67ff, and note that John Honner, S.J., has drawn attention to the fact that Karl Rahner, one of the preeminent theologians of the Catholic Church, has used the concept of complementarity in his theology of Christ. See: Honner’s, “Unity-in Difference: Karl Rahner and Niels Bohr,” Theological Studies 46 (September 1885), 4890-506.
[18] Pointed out in Werner Schaafs’, Theology, Physics, and Miracles, trans. Richard L. Renfield (Washington, D.C.: Canon Press, 1974), 81-83. This is one of the best works on quantum physics and Christian theology to date.
[19]Charles Farah, Jr, From the Pinnacle of the Temple (Plainfield: Logos International, 1979), 177-178.
[20] John C. Polkinghorne, One World: The intersection of Science and Theology ((London: SPCK, 1986), especially chapter 7.
[21] John C. Polkinghorne, The Faith of a Physicist: Reflection of a bottom-up tinker (Princeton; Princeton University Press, 1994). He was also awarded the Templeton Prize in 2002 and. was knighted by Queen Elizabeth as testimony to his great contributions.
[22] This in no way diminishes the value of his work as a modern day apologist of the basic Christian faith. Polkinghorne sees his book Quarks, Chaos and Christianity (London: SPECK, 1994) as his best general introduction to his writings. See also his autobiography: From Physicists to Priest: An autobiography (London: SPECK, 2007).  A briefer source is the autobiographical articl: John C. Polkinghorne, “The Life and Work of a Bottom-Up thinker,” Zygon 35 (Dec. 2000), 947-953.
[23] On this see: Philip Yancy, “Insight on Eternity From a Scientific View of Time,” Christianity Today  (April 6, 1984), 26.
[24] We will refer to this miracle later in reference to the healing miracles facilitated by Agnes Sanford (see chapter 00).
[25] In fairness we should note a contrary example, the resuscitation of Lazarus (John 11). In this miracle Jesus begins with the Old Testament pattern of declaring that Lazarus was “asleep,” but not dead. But his disciples did not understand the point. Jesus speaks plainly that Lazarus is dead, then He goes to resuscitate Lazarus. Why did Jesus break the earlier pattern? Probably because a t this stage of His ministry the principal concern of the Father was that Jesus be glorified, and in this miracle teaching the disciples was no longer necessary. Note that Peter’s resuscitation of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-43 and Paul’s resuscitation of Eutycus in Acts 20:7-12 take a middle course between the older Biblical model and Jesus’ resuscitation of Lazarus.


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4

This is the linkto my most popular work, Quenching the Spirit, Still in print since 1992 HERE.

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Donald the Dishonorable: On the Spiritual Damage of the Trump Presidency

Image result for Trump and evangelicals

Many Christians voted for Trump with high expectations that he would be a great president and bring both economic revival and a renewed sense of Christian nationhood to America (“Make America Great Again”). Some Christians prognosticated that Trump the candidate as a new “Cyrus” who, following the biblical type, would mightily serve the interests of the Kingdom of God without personally being a believer.

Many other Christians voted for him out of fear that a Clinton administration would proceed into the continued Paganization of America. For example, the continued advance of the  LGBT agenda and ever increasing discrimination against Christians. Fear of a liberal dominated Supreme court weighed heavily on many as they poked the electronic voting machine for Trump.

In my experience (I am 76) it was the worse election choice in my lifetime. The unpalatable choice was partially ushered in by the spiritual decline of the Republican party in the last two decades via its acceptance by many party followers of an extreme form of libertarian doctrine advocated by Ayn Rand. The Tea Party, which made an idol of no compromise on taxes,was the locus of this extremism.[1]

It may well be that Trump will put a stop to America’ slide into Paganism and anti-Christian discrimination, and fulfill the “Cyrus” role.  Certainly his choice of Betsy DeVos as head of the Department of Education broods well for concerned Christian parents. She strongly affirms a pro-choice solution for public education and voucher plans. The possibility is that ultimately many Christian parents, who now cannot afford it, could move their children from the secularist and Pagan environment of the public schools to private Christian schools. Trumps first choice for a supreme court justice, Niel Gorsuch, to replace Anthony Scalea also seems prudent and constructive.

Other cabinate appointments seem to be less than constructive, especially Scott Prutt to the environmental protection agency.  That appointment has pleased only the extreme wing of the Republican Party and climate change deniers - and it will likely look foolish and even disastrous in the coming years. 

Trumps actions and pronouncement, including his dystrophic inaugural address (and his tweets) seem to have generated a pall of depression and negativity throughout the land.  As a long time Republican I was appalled at how his “America first” stand marginalized the heroic achievements of the veterans of the Cold War where over 100,000 American soldiers died to further the interest of freedom for America and other countries.[2]  

Image result for President Kennedy inaugural address

President Kennedy's inaugural address 

All in all, the first months of the Trump administration have been a spiritual calamity. Trumps boasting, exaggerations, lies and “alternate truths” have shocked most Americans.

Trump has shown himself to be a man with great pride and without a true sense of honor. Even traditionally Republican journals are now sounding the alarm that something is deeply troubling with Trump. The National Review counseled that he must stop telling lies.[3]  And a recent editorial by the Wall Street Journal warned that Trump’s continued boasting, exaggerations and lies put the nation as risk if an international crisis were to arise, as few would believe him.[4] 

The fool of Proverbs:

Rather than elect a Cyrus to rebuild American Christianity we seemed to have elected as president the “fool” of Proverbs, a person intemperate in speech and not subject to correction.

The righteous hate what is false,
    but the wicked make themselves a stench
    and bring shame on themselves. (Prov 13:5)

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
    but the mouth of the fool gushes folly. (Prov 15:2)

Fools find no pleasure in understanding
    but delight in airing their own opinions. Prov 18:2

As a business executive Trump had a strategy of never admitting to a mistake. This was passed on to him early in his business career by one of his mentors, Roy Cohn, the lawyer famous from the McCarthy hearing.[5] This may work in the rough and tumble real estate business, where law suits are omnipresent, and admitting guilt is monetary suicide, but it is a deep spiritual flaw.

Most of us had hoped that the office of the presidency would bring moderation and temperance to President Trump. But so far we have been disappointed:

Item: Trump’s claim that the crowd at his inauguration was the biggest ever, and beat that size of the Obama’s first inaugural. Photos show to the contrary, but no retraction was forthcoming.

Item: Trump claimed during the election campaign that he would release his tax returns as soon as an audit of them was complete. But now he says he will not release them because “only the press” had interest in them. Actually, many Christians are interested in knowing if he is serious about charitable contributions in view of his vast wealth (whatever that figure is). The 2005 tax returns were leaked showing that Trump indeed paid his fair share of taxes to the Government, but what of the recent returns? His negation of his pledge to do what he promised is dishonorable.

Item: Perhaps the most grievous and dishonorable of his claims is that he really won the popular vote because there were 2 or 3 million illegal votes for Clinton. Now, every election has a certain amount of fraudulent voting, but that number has greatly decreased in recent decades. I recall (I am older than you, - I bet) that Republicans claimed that J. F. Kennedy “stole” the 1959 election from Nixon because the Democratic machine in Chicago had brought out every long-dead citizen and their grandmothers to the polling stations, and thus fraudulently won the state of Illinois. Some election fraud had indeed taken place – the Chicago Dealy Democratic machine was good at that. Ultimately however, that did not change the legitimacy of the election as California shifted from the Nixon to Kennedy column when the overseas absentee votes were fully counted and put Kennedy over the required electoral count.

In my state, Georgia,  in the current election, the Republican secretary of state strongly affirmed that the voter count was true and that there was no fraud. In fact, later it was discovered that a few Hispanic votes were denied the vote due to faulty instructions to the poll personnel. That would have increased the Clinton vote by a dozen or so.

Apparently, one of Trump’s advisors told him that at his polling station many on line “did not look American.”  What? Who has not noticed the great demographic shift in the American population in the past decades? In any case, Trump’s whopper is an insult to the secretaries of state of the various states and to the great strides that have occurred in tallying the voter count. His wish/accusation was childishly self-centered, wildly exaggerated, and grossly dishonorable.

Item: Trump claimed during the election campaign that the job statics were false and that there was a much higher unemployment rate in the nation, perhaps reaching 30%. Thus the Obama economic recovery was false. But the job statistics released after his moth in office, showing a lowering of the employment rate were accurate. That is dishonorable.

Item: Trump claimed that the Obama Administration wire-taped the Trump towers during the election. There has been no retraction on that claim in spite tea lack of evidence and denials by the FBI chief.  It seems that for Trump suspicion is equivalent to fact., and can be stated as fact.

The meaning of honorable and dishonorable:

Let me unpack the meaning of a person being honorable or dishonorable because it is central to the issue of Trump’s administration. “In times of old” (when I was a boy) much business was still done on the basis of an oral agreement and a handshake. A businessman who went back on his word, and did not fulfill his business agreement was labeled as “dishonorable” and shunned by fellow businessmen as unreliable and an unacceptable risk. That is now only a faint memory, and now business is carried out with elaborate contacts and fine print that only lawyers understand.
The point being that, until recent decades, it was important to be recognized as an honorable person. That is, one who is true to his word, and that he says what he meant, and would carry out a promise (contract) even if the situation changed and it was difficult or expensive to fulfill.

Image result for hamilton-burr duelThat need of an honorable reputation was even a step-down of earlier 19th Century mores where a rigorous code of honor guided oral and written exchanges between gentlemen. Violations of this code of honor, perceived or real, would often result in a blood duel.[6] The most famous duel in American history, now illuminated by the smash hit play “Hamilton,” was the Hamilton - Burr duel in which Hamilton was mortally wounded.  The duel was precipitated by a long standing dispute between the two, and specifically at Hamilton campaign against Burr’s run to be governor of New York. During it Hamilton accused Burr of shady and immoral conduct in a letter that became public.

Now, I am not in any way affirming that honor is a virtue that must be protected by a duel, or even that it is a Christian virtue. It is too close to pride for that.  Rather, honor is a necessary civic virtue for persons in public life so that he or she is motivated to be truthful and faithful in their words and would feel shame if they did not fulfill their word to the best of their ability.

Trump’s actions and communications (tweeting and spoken) show great pride but no honor. There is no thoughtful marshaling of his word or tweets to ensure that what he says is true to the best of his ability to know. Nor is there a sincere effort to carry out a promise if it inconveniences him – as in his tax returns.

Trump as model for the youth?

This is a serious moral and spiritual fault. It is already affecting many young people. A Christian family tries to teach the biblical pattern of right and wrong, truth and falsehood to their children and yet the President of the United States blusters, exaggerates and bullshits (sorry, no other word will do).[7] Recall, for instance, his campaign assertion that he knew better than the generals on how to eliminate ISIS (a moment of bullshitting). Later he promised that after elected he would demand from the generals a new plan for rapidly defeating ISIS. The plan turns out to be a lot like the Obama plan. All of that is dishonorable.

I wonder how many thousands of times some conversation like this has occurred in America. "Johny, your teacher informed us that you lied to her yesterday, and we are grounding you this weekend as punishment. But Mom, President Trump does that all  the time."

In my youth I had all honorable presidents, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson. None were saints, and for instance, Kennedy was a womanizer - discretely kept from public view. But in regards to their public actions and  speech they were all honorable. Nixon turned out to be the only dishonorable president I recall until Trump.  

One good thing that may result from Trump’s exaggerations, bullshitting and lies may be that they highlight and place a mirror to the current sophistries common at liberal institutions of higher learning. That is, that truth is indefinite and socially formed, as in, “My truth is different from your truth.” This is a solipsism, the idea that my mind forms truth without need to reference the outer world. For instance the solipsism of “I am in a body of the wrong sex” is now universally affirmed and unchallenged by large elements of the educational and psychiatric establishments. Why solipsisms are so dangerous I have explained elsewhere.[8]

So perhaps some good will ultimately result is having a grossly dishonorable person in the White House. Two months is too short to affirm that Trump’s election to the presidency was not providential, -  the claim of many Evangelical Christians. Thus far it has been a spiritual disaster, but God sometimes works in mysterious ways. 

Image result for Elisha and ahabFor now, Christian leaders, especially those who publicly supported Trump’s election, should also publicly call him to account. It is time to stop being Trump apologists and start playing the role of Elisha to King Ahab. Most Evangelical pastors will recall how to do that if they remember their sermons during the Clinton and Obama presidency.

In all seriousness, I suggest that Christian pastors petition Trump that he repent of his careless, bullshitting and mendacious talk. He should specifically apologize to the secretaries of the states of the various states for his childish claim that he really won the popular vote, and also to ex-President Obama for his unsubstantiated wire-tap accusation. If this is not done in some manner and by a significant Evangelical group there may be a serious and overt anti-Christian movement by the next election. Many are already saying, "Those stupid Evangelical Christians voted for that man.

So how shall we pray?

Many Christians are already praying for Trump and the success of his presidency. That is certainly pleasing to God and scriptural. I suggest that added prayers petition God to bring Trump to true repentance and a sincere Christian commitment. In that change Trump would find humility of spirit and temperance of tongue. Further we should all pray that he would be given the grace to esteem honor (and not confuse it with pride), and that by God’s grace Americans and the peoples of the world would recognize a great transformation in him, and this would lead to making America spiritually great again – the very thing that really matters most.  

[1] Willim De Arteaga, “The Spiritual Decline and Fall of the Republican Party,”  Anglican Pentecostal. Posted: April 6, 2016.
[2] Compare Trumps Inaugural Address with John Kennedy’s in 1960.
[3] Ben Shapiro, “To Promise Free Things is to Lie,” National Review, Mar 22, 2017.
[4] Wall Street Journal, “The President’s Credibility,” March 21, 2017.  I am old enough to remember the Cuban missile crisis of 1962. Not even the staunchest Republicans doubted that President Kennedy was telling the truth about the placement of Russian missiles in Cuba. But who would believe Trump in a similar incident?
[5] Thrush, Glenn and Maggie Habermanmarch, “Why Letting Go, for Trump, Is No Small or Simple Task” Washington Post. Posted March 21, 2017 : 
[6]The U.S military academy at West Point provided its officer candidates with a booklet on dueling for honor.
[7]There are now academic tomes on the meaning of bullshit and how it is a variety, but distinct, from plain lying. See: Harry G. Frankfurt, On Bullshit (Princeton: Princeton University, 2005).
[8]William De Arteaga, “The Demonic Origins and Confusion of the Transgender Issue.” Anglican Pentecostal. Posted, November 1, 2015.


The noted Pentecostal scholar Dr. Jon Ruthven wrote a very positive review of my book, Agnes Sanford and Her Companions: The Assault on Cessationism and the Coming of the Charismatic Renewal. You can access it HERE.

The book may be purchased on Amazon, either print or inexpensive Kindle HERE You can purchase the print version at a discount from the publisher HERE

Just released is my first book of  plays. Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts). It includes two plays and their postscripts.

The play, “One Day at St. John’s” depicts what everyday life can be like in a church that practices the gifts of the Spirit and the healing/exorcism ministry as normal. Among the events that occur in the course of the play are the healing of a waitress who was scalded with hot coffee, an exorcism (led by a layman) and the “laying of a ghost” to rest.

Pentecostal (and Anglican) Plays (and Postscripts) can be purchased HERE at Amazon.

The second play, “Joseph ben Jacob,” explores Joseph, husband of Mary, as the dream interpreter, master carpenter, and father of Mary’s other children. It helps explain why Joseph was able to discern correctly his dream about Mary’s first-born.

The postscripts examine the controversial aspects of the plays and focus on two false early gospels which distorted the meaning of the true Gospels. The “Proto-Gospel of James” claimed that Mary was “every virgin” and never had other children, and the “Gospel of Nicodemus” cancelled the true meaning of Jesus’ “descent into Hell” and his ministry there as described in 1 Peter 3 & 4

Watching God Work: The Stuff of Miracles by [DeArteaga, Carolyn Koontz]

My wife has written a funny and inspiring story of how she transited from a cessionist and Baptist to a Spirit-filled Believer. The book has many stories of our three decades of ministry together.  It may be purchased HERE.