Rod Dreher

I’ve been at Templeton only two weeks, and all these great and fascinating things keep turning up. Yesterday after church, I spoke with a friend at coffee hour who, when I told him I’d gone to work for Templeton, spoke glowingly about Bernard d’Espagnat, the quantum physicist who won the 2009 Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion.
Here’s a short essay from The Guardian written by d’Espagnat. Excerpt:

I believe that some of our most engrained notions about space and causality should be reconsidered. Anyone who takes quantum mechanics seriously will have reached the same conclusion.
What quantum mechanics tells us, I believe, is surprising to say the least. It tells us that the basic components of objects – the particles, electrons, quarks etc. – cannot be thought of as “self-existent”. The reality that they, and hence all objects, are components of is merely “empirical reality”.
This reality is something that, while not a purely mind-made construct as radical idealism would have it, can be but the picture our mind forces us to form of … Of what ? The only answer I am able to provide is that underlying this empirical reality is a mysterious, non-conceptualisable “ultimate reality”, not embedded in space and (presumably) not in time either.

From a Times of London article on d’Espagnat:

Speaking to The Times, Dr d’Espagnat, a Roman Catholic, said his work as a physicist had convinced him of the existence of a deeper reality. “When we hear great classical music or look at very great paintings, they are not just illusions but could be a revelation of something fundamental. I would accept calling it God or divine or Godhead but with the restriction that it cannot be conceptualised for the very reason that this ultimate reality is beyond any concept that we can construct.”

Here’s the current Templeton Prize page on Dr. d’Espagnat, along with prepared remarks by the physicist upon his reception of the prize last year, setting out the elements of his views on science and spirituality.
My Orthodox friend (a convert from Buddhism) reflecting on d’Espagnat’s work, writes:

I find all this quite interesting in light of the positivism or scientism that is currently being pushed by the “New Athiests” themselves (which seem to be mostly biologists), since science, mathematics, and logic themselves, all prove them to be faith based (or we would not have fields such as the “philosophy of science” or the “philosophy of mathematics,” etc,) and worse, that positivism or scientism is unhinged by these ways of knowing themselves. The quantum world brings all of this right to the forefront and forces us all to pick a paradigm, a philosophy, which none of us can ever prove via science and reason. We’re all stuck in the same boat where we’re all trapped putting faith in our axioms. Of course, like the Hindus, our Way does not run away from contradictions or call them “antinomies” to lessen the blow, but instead embraces paradox. We see this as nothing but a confirmation that faith is a valid and indeed, essential way of knowing. All this has been know for some time in mathematics (just look at the “foundations of mathematics”) and quantum physics, but for some reason, it’s not brought up by many “New Athiests,” who will one day (if they are adherent folowers and actually study the things they claim to promote, namely reason and science) have their scientism smashed by their own tools. Hopefully then they will return to classic atheism, which is in reality, just the same old materialism or naturalism (or some variant) which has always been around (as eloquently expressed in Wisdom of Solomon 2) and stop all the evangelical proselytizing and empty slogans of “science and reason.” These are tools, ways of knowing. Not “truth.”

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