“IS GOD DEAD?”

So read the cover of Time Magazine on April 8, 1966. Time was reporting on a handful of radical theologians who claimed to have invented “Death of God Theology” (aka Theothanatology). Actually, those theologians borrowed their slogan, and perhaps even their idea, from Friedrich Nietzsche. First in The Gay Science (1882) and later and more famously in Thus Spake Zarathustra (1883), Nietzsche had written: “God is dead!”

Like a rebellious teenager taunting his parents, Nietzsche undoubtedly used the phrase at least in part to shock his Judeo-Christian readers. Nonetheless, it is consistent with his philosophy.

In the 1880s and then again in the 1960s, Christians were outraged. But why? Every year on Good Friday, Christians of almost every denomination celebrate precisely the same thing: the death of God. Of course, Nietzsche and the Death of God theologians did not have Holy Week in mind when they coined their slogan. Still, their core concept should horrify no one.

Today, we are asked to believe that the universe came to be instantly and will later cease to be, perhaps just as suddenly. While we have well developed theories of how the universe has evolved, no one claims to know much of anything about how or why it came to be in the first place.

The problem is massively compounded by the fact that we don’t even know if our universe is unique. It may be simply one ‘cycle’ in a possibly infinite series of ontologically similar cycles (Penrose); or it may be one ‘verse’ in a ‘multiverse’ (Randall); or it may be that every quantum de-coherence splits the universe into two or more independent universes (Everett).

Yet none of these theories, even if true, answers the fundamental question: “Why is there something rather than nothing?” So where do we go from here?

Let’s start by looking at the world as it is. What do we know about it? From one perspective, we see that it consists of discrete entities (objects, events) and the relationships between them. From another perspective, we see that the world consists of qualities (colors, textures, values) and the harmonies among them. Both perspectives are true. Entities differ from one other according to the various qualities they display but qualities are not displayed until they inhere in some entity. Without entities and qualities, there would be no universe…at least no universe as we know it.

So accounting for the universe means accounting for entities (and their relationships) and qualities (and their harmonies). This insight lies at the core of Alfred North Whitehead’s Process Philosophy. He called qualities “primordial” and “conceptual”, entities “consequent” and “physical”.

To explain the world as we know it, Whitehead posited the existence of a single ‘super-entity’ that includes all qualities primordially and all entities consequently. Primordially, Whitehead’s super-entity is the source of all the qualities that characterize all the entities that constitute our world. Consequently, it is also the source of every entity’s raison d’etre…its purpose, its motivation, its goal…in Whitehead’s terminology, its ‘subjective aim’.

It is this subjective aim that defines the relationship between each entity and the super-entity. Stated differently, each entity defines itself in terms of its relation to the super-entity.

Guided by its subjective aim, each entity ‘decides’ which qualities it wishes to display and how it wishes to display them. (Of course, not all entities ‘decide’ in the way a human being might decide. There is no requirement that consciousness be part of the process.)

Each entity (including the super-entity) exhibits its qualities in a unique way which Whitehead called ‘subjective form’. The subjective aim conditions the subjective form and together they constitute the entity’s unique identity.

Entities share qualities and this sharing constitutes the relationship between entities. The sharing of qualities gives universe its solidarity. Every entity, of course, shares all of its qualities with the super-entity. This ensures that solidarity is universal.

If two entities combined the exact same qualities in the exact same way, they would not be “two entities” but one. The unique combination and display of qualities that characterizes each entity is what that entity is.

Pursuant to its subjective aim, each entity combines a variety of diverse qualities. The entity “harmonizes” those qualities so that they form an integrated, holistic pattern. That pattern is the ultimate expression of the entity’s identity and constitutes the entity’s unique objective contribution to the content of the universe. Whitehead called this the entity’s ‘superject’.

Some folks will recoil at the premise of this model. The idea of super-entity goes against their grain. And they would be right if we claimed a special ontological status for the super-entity; but we do not. The super-entity is an entity among entities. All the ‘rules’ that apply to everyday entities apply equally to the super-entity. Our world is one world! The super-entity is unique only in the sense that it combines all qualities and harmonizes them in a particular way.

Note my language above. I said “the source of all the qualities that characterize all the entities that constitute our world”; I did not say “the source of all the qualities that characterize all the other entities that constitute our world”. Likewise, I said “the source of every entity’s…subjective aim”; I did not say “the source of every other entity’s subjective aim”.

Why not? Because there is no logical or ontological justification for separating the super-entity from other entities! For example, if I say that the super-entity is transcendent and other entities immanent, I have failed. If I say that the super-entity is eternal and other entities temporal, I have likewise failed.

Whatever we say about the nature of the ‘other entities’, we need to be able to say about the nature of the super-entity. Likewise, whatever we say about the nature of the super-entity, we must be able to say about the nature of the ‘other entities’. At the end of the day, they are all just entities, super or otherwise. Ontology plays no favorites.

So let’s examine the nature of the relationship that exists between the super-entity and any other entity. We know (above) that the super-entity is the source of the other entity’s qualities and subjective aim. Therefore it must be the source of its own qualities and subjective aim as well. In relation to itself, the super-entity must be both the source and the recipient. This process is called ‘recursion’.

How is this possible? As the cosmological ‘source’ of all qualities, the super-entity does not necessarily manifest any of those qualities. To manifest qualities, the super-entity must actively appropriate those qualities from the ‘source’, itself (as all entities must) and display them with a specific subjective form in accordance with a specific subjective aim. Ultimately, those qualities and that form constitute the super-entity’s superject.

As source and as superject, the super-entity is eternal. As an entity manifesting qualities with a specific subjective form according to a specific subjective aim, the super-entity is temporal…and mortal.

Why mortal? When an entity ceases to grow, ceases to undergo change, it dies. In Whitehead’s terminology, this happens when it achieves its ‘satisfaction’, which is the subjective side of the objective superject. So only a mortal entity can have a superject and only by having a superject can an entity make an enduring contribution to universe. Therefore, the super-entity must be mortal as well as eternal. But how on earth can that be possible?

Right now, scientists and philosophers all over the world are engaged in the search for a ‘TOE’, a Theory of Everything. The hope is that once we can explain all the fundamental features of universe with a single, self-consistent theory, we will be able to resolve rather quickly the remaining paradoxes of physics and cosmology.

Truth to tell, however, we already have that TOE. It’s called Christian theology. According to the Nicene Creed (325 & 381 A.D.), Christianity’s primary creedal document:

God is the “maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible”. Jesus Christ is his “only begotten Son…true God from true God…consubstantial with the Father; through him all things were made…By the Holy Spirit (he) was incarnate of the Virgin Mary…he was crucified under Pontius Pilate, he suffered death and was buried…the Holy Spirit (is) the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son.”

This, of course, is the famous Christian doctrine of Trinity: one God, three Persons. But it also happens to be just exactly what we were talking about earlier in this essay. God the Father (Creator) is God-primordial, God the Son (Christ) is God-consequent, and God the Spirit (Holy Spirit) is God-superject.

It is by the Father that we have a world (qualities), by the Son (Christ) that that world consists of entities, and by the Spirit that we have ‘life’ (process). The Trinitarian God is the super-entity we have been describing.

So is God, dead? You bet! And Jesus explains why (John 16): “If I do not go (die), the Advocate (Spirit) will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” Jesus Christ must die so that his Spirit, God’s superject, may infuse the world. It is not by way of Creation or Incarnation that God suffuses the world but by Crucifixion (the “bloody sacrifice”), Eucharist (the “unbloody sacrifice”) and Pentecost.

Jesus explains this in a parable (John 12: 24): “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit.” In ‘parable-speak’, the fruit is the superject of the seed.

Without a super-entity to source qualities and subjective aims for other entities, there can be no world. But unless that super-entity is also an ‘other entity’ with its own unique superject, there is no way for those qualities to become part of the life of that world. So God, the super-entity, must fully share the nature of ‘other entities’…and that must include mortality.

Happily though, there is a flip side to this! ‘Other entities’ must also share in the nature of the super-entity. Remember, there can be no fundamental ontological discontinuity between the nature of ‘other entities’ and the nature of the super-entity; they’re all just entities.

If God eternal is also temporal (via Incarnation) then temporal entities (objects, events) must also be eternal. We call that side of things Resurrection and Ascension. Upon achieving Whitehead’s ‘satisfaction”, each entity contributes its superject to the temporal world and thereby enters into eternal life with God.

Without an eternal dimension, the temporal world would auto-abort. Time is ‘perpetual perishing’, entropy. On the other hand, without a temporal dimension, the eternal world would be devoid of content.

The pre-Socratic Greek philosopher, Parmenides, (c. 400 B.C.), framed this dilemma in his ontological poem, On Nature. In that poem, he describes two “ways” (Are they ways of seeing or ways of being?): the Way of Truth (Aletheia) and the Way of Appearance (Doxa).

Re Aletheia, he writes:

What-is is un-generated and imperishable, whole, single-limbed, steadfast and complete…it is, now, all together, one, continuous…Nor is it divisible since it is all alike…It is completed from every direction like the bulk of a well-rounded sphere…equal to itself from every direction…Thus coming to be is extinguished and perishing not to be heard of.

But re Doxa, he writes:

It has been named all things that mortals have established, trusting them to be true: to come to be and to perish, to be and not to be, to shift place and to exchange bright color…Everywhere the same as itself but not the same as the other…Thus according to belief, these things were born and now are, and hereafter, having grown from this, they will come to an end.

For almost 2500 years philosophers (including Plato) have debated the meaning of Parmenides’ paradox. Is he outlining a nihilist philosophy a la Nietzsche or Wittgenstein? Or does his model prefigure the Christian theology of John and Paul? In either event, he clearly understood the problem. A purely eternal world is featureless while a purely temporal world is self-annihilating.

But let’s get back to our story. Primordially, all qualities exist in God in perfect harmony; no conflicts! So consequently, all entities must exist in God in perfect harmony. All conflicts must be resolved into contrasts and all contrasts must be subsumed into an over-arching harmony.

Every temporal entity is initially responsible for its own subjective aim and ultimately responsible for its own superject. Pursuant to that aim, each appropriates the combination of qualities that it wishes to exhibit and determines how it wishes to exhibit them to achieve satisfaction, its superject. That is our work and when it is done, God takes over.

It is God who harmonizes each entity’s superject, including his own, with the superjects of every other entity. This is what we mean by Grace. As a result of Grace, every entity shares in eternal life. That is what we mean by Salvation. Finally, our participation in the Consequent Nature of God is what we mean by the Kingdom of Heaven.

From our earliest musings, humans have been confronted with the task of explaining how it is that there is a world and what purpose that world has, if any. Christian theology answers those questions. It offers a comprehensive model and the model works.

But could there be other, non-Christian solutions? Aren’t there secular models that accomplish the same thing? First, as far as I know, there are not! But second, and much more importantly, any such model would have to account for the presence of qualities and entities (Creation). It would have to account for the ontological solidarity of the world (Incarnation). It would have to provide a mechanism enabling temporal entities to share in eternal life (Resurrection/Grace/Salvation/Heaven). At the end of the day, any successful model would be Christianity by another name.

#isgoddead #trinity #god #parmenides #whitehead #philosophy

OUR TWO PARTY SYSTEM

No two national political systems are ever the same, but in our era at least they all do have one thing in common: they all want to be thought of as ‘democratic’. Even North Korea is officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And many people do not know, or do not remember, that the word ‘soviet’ in ‘Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) refers to a network of ‘democratic’ political bodies.

By the same token, no one national political system is ever totally unique. We borrow liberally from one another. Most systems, for example, include some form of political ‘party’; but what we mean by ‘party’ and how parties actually function varies widely from country to country.

Speaking very generally, I think we can divide the world’s self-styled democracies into three categories:

  • One party systems
  • Two party systems
  • Multi-party systems

Marxist-Leninist political philosophy perfected the idea of single party rule (the Communist Party, of course). In such systems, the party represents the interests of the proletariat (or other rising economic class); it forms a bridge between party members and the institutions of state.

It is the party that keeps the rulers honest. It is the party that ensures that the lofty goals of the revolution will not be undermined by a welter of bureaucratic red tape. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work…until the state withers away.

Mark, at least, believed that the state was a necessary organ of class war but that it would eventually become superfluous and wither away. Like some modern cosmologists, he welcomed a Big Bang (expansion) but foresaw a Big Crunch (contraction).

Of course, nobody has ever experienced a ‘crunch’, either in cosmology or in statecraft. In fact, cosmologists no longer believe in the Big Crunch. Most now think that the universe will continue to expand until there is nothing left to expand. Perhaps that may be true of government as well.

In a single party system, the party and the state have common interests and make common cause. Accordingly, the party works to expand the scope and power of the state while the state seeks to strengthen the party in its role as vox populi.

Theoretically, it is through the party that the will of the proletariat is binding on the actions of the state. In practice, however, the state often uses the party to enforce its own will.

In a multi-party system, on the other hand, the importance of the state in the life of the nation and in the lives of all its residents is taken for granted. Politics is not so much about building the state as it is about controlling it.

Society consists of several socio-economic classes and many special interest groups. In an extreme case, each of these classes and groups may have its own political party. More often, classes and groups form coalitions so that the number of competing parties is more manageable.

In either case, the parties compete for control, sometimes absolute control, of the apparatus of government. Electoral changes can lead to substantial and enduring policy changes, each change advantaging one class at the expense of another.

The United States, on yet another hand, is a paradigmatic example of a two party political system. Federalists and Anti-Federalists, Federalists and Democratic-Republicans, Democrats and Whigs, Democrats and Republicans, we have functioned as a two party democracy for almost our entire history.

Third parties are almost invariably unsuccessful and short-lived…except when a third party is on the road to becoming the new second party (e.g. Republican Party in 1860.)

In fact, the so-called ‘two party system’ is so ingrained in our culture that we just take it for granted. It is to our political selves what water is to a fish. This is odd because nowhere in our founding documents (Constitution, Bill of Rights) are political parties even mentioned. It is also odd because two party political systems are much less common than one party and multi-party systems.

How does a two party system work? Surprisingly, it is an odd hybrid between a single party system and a multi-party system. Like a single party system, one of the two political parties is invariably dominant. It more often controls the government and it is more active in defining the national agenda. Several parties have each functioned in this way at one time or another. Today, of course, it is the Democrat Party that plays this role.

As in a one party state, the dominant party and the state share common interests. The ideology of the party promotes the power of the state and the state uses that power to bolster the popularity of the party. They work hand in glove.

In our diverse society, the dominant party represents the interests of a wide range of classes and interest groups; but invariably these are groups that stand to benefit from a growing and increasingly activist government.

Unlike single party states, however, a two party system requires a second party that functions as a more or less permanent opposition party. Today, of course, that is the role of the Republicans. As is graphically obvious this election season, there is no unified Republican ideology, no consensus Republican platform.

Like any second party, Republicans are defined by their distrust of government, by their desire to freeze or shrink the scope and power of that government, and in some cases, by their antipathy toward the groups and classes represented by the dominant party.

Of course, Republicans win elections too; but when they do, they focus more on reigning in existing programs than on initiating new ones. They do not have a ‘grand vision’ for society…but that is not a criticism. They’re not supposed to! Their ‘constitutional’ role is that of the loyal opposition even when they happen to be in power.

A one party system is about building the power of government…until it withers away in utopia. A multi-party system is about controlling the institutions of an already established, accepted, and powerful government. Only in a two party system is the scope and role of government itself perpetually in question.

In a one party system, elections play a subservient role in the political life of the nation. In a multi-party system, elections often determine policy for years at a time. But in a two party system like ours, the ball is always up for grabs. We are rugby to their football.

Because of our somewhat unique intellectual and political history, ‘government’ itself has always been the central issue in U.S. politics. Our two party system grew organically out of this soil. Borrowing from the great French philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, our system is characterized by etre (being) and neant (nothingness), affirmation and negation.

How well such a system works in an era of globalization and technocracy is a matter of debate; but it is a refreshing contrast to the single and multi-party systems that dominate most of the rest of the world.

DEUTERONOMY

Deuteronomy, the last book of the Torah, the 5th book of the Bible, consists of 34 Chapters containing on average about 35 verses each. We will focus on just one of those verses (Deut. 30:19)…not even. We will focus on just a fragment of that verse. Yet arguably all of Deuteronomy, indeed all of Scripture, hangs on this one fragment:

“…I have set before you life and death…therefore choose life…”

In logic, mathematics and science, we are accustomed to formulating problems as a choice between two alternative propositions: either “p” or “not-p”. We posit “p”; it becomes our hypothesis. Then we attempt to prove it relying on a limited set of premises (axioms, postulates) that we believe to be ‘self-evident’.

If we cannot prove “p” then we try to prove “not-p”. At the end of this process we either have proven “p” or we have proven “not-p” or we have proven neither: “p or not-p” remains undecided (and perhaps in some cases undecidable).

So what’s different in Deuteronomy? Here God presents two competing propositions, “life” and not-life, i.e. “death”, and then immediately states the conclusion, “therefore choose life”. Here there is no invoking of premises, no resort to argument. The text simply reads “therefore choose life”. How brazen! How can such a conclusion possibly be justified?

It turns out that occasionally we come across a logical problem where we may say that the solution is evident “by inspection”; it does not require argument. The conclusion is implicit in the question itself. But does that reasoning apply here?

(Note: the words “life” and “death” are not themselves propositions but they are placeholders for an expanded propositional format: “life is better than death” or “death is better than life”.)

Now you might be tempted at this point to abort this whole exercise. “Of course life is better than death!” But that is not necessarily so. Many people’s lives are so full of misery that they are heard to say, “I wish I’d never been born.” And of course, we all know people who have taken their own lives, evidently preferring death to life. There are even philosophies that claim that we are living in some version of Hell.

So there is no irrefutable empirical evidence that life is better than death and Deuteronomy doesn’t suggest otherwise. Deuteronomy does not rely on empirical evidence to justify its conclusion (“therefore choose life”); it relies instead on pure logic. How so?

The key to the Deuteronomic argument can be found a few verses earlier (Deut. 30:15):

“See, I have today set before you life and good, death and evil.”

Note that this verse does not say that life is good or death evil; however, it does put life/death and good/evil on a common logical footing.

The choices between ‘life and death’ and ‘good and evil’ are not like our normal everyday choices. This is not the same thing as steak or salmon at a wedding, Starbucks or Dunkin Donuts on the way to work, chocolate or vanilla at the local soft serve ice cream stand. In those situations, the choices are between options that share a common ontological status: both are foods or restaurants or flavors.

Not so with ‘good and evil’ or ‘life and death’. Evil is merely the absence of good and death is merely the absence of life. In spite of our efforts to personify death and evil (Hades, Devil), death exists only as the privation of life and evil exists only as the privation of good.

Returning to our two choices, we now see that their expanded, propositional forms should read:

  • ‘Good is better than not-good’ or ‘not-good is better than good’
  • ‘Life is better than not-life’ or ‘not-life is better than life’

But the proposition ‘not-good is better than good’ is nonsensical. ‘Better’ is the comparative form of good. So in essence we’d be saying ‘not-good is more good than good’. This is clearly self-contradictory and therefore devoid of any meaning. So we can choose between good and evil ‘by inspection’. Once you fully understand the question, only one answer is logically possible:

  • I set before you good and evil; therefore choose good. Q.E.D.

So how does this help us with our ‘life or death’ dilemma? First, we can substitute ‘being’ for ‘life’ in this context. Deuteronomy is not talking about the specific biological processes associated with human life; it is talking about the very being of the persons it is addressing.

If we choose ‘death’, we simply choose ‘non-being’ over ‘being’. Those who argue that life is not worth living (above) are not talking about biology; they are talking about ‘being’, period.

An absence of ‘life’ (or ‘being’) would also entail an absence of ‘good’. If there is nothing, nothing can be good. ‘Good’ is a value and therefore ‘something’ in itself. Further, as a quality, ‘good’ is only operative when it characterizes something actual (an ‘actual entity’ in the terminology of Alfred North Whitehead).

So a decision to choose good over evil entails a decision to choose being (life) over non-being (death). Just as a choice of evil over good is logically inconsistent (above), so is a choice of death over life.

Frame the problem as a matrix:

  1. Good & Life (being)
  2. Good & Death (non-being)
  3. Evil & Life
  4. Evil & Death

It is impossible to choose Evil (above) so the last two options are impossible. Option #2 also involves a logical inconsistency since it is impossible to choose Good and then choose that Good not exist since the absence of good is evil. The second choice negates the first choice.

Therefore, we can also choose between Life and Death ‘by inspection’:

  • I set before you life and death; therefore choose life. Q.E.D.

THEOLOGY OF ENTANGLEMENT

What is the relationship between God and the world, between the Kingdom of Heaven and the material universe?

Ultimately, this one question lies at the foundation of most of our great theological debates. On one end of the spectrum lies the null hypothesis, atheism. There is no relationship because there is no God.

At the other end of the spectrum is ‘divine determinism’. Everything that happens in the world happens as the result of God’s will or according to a divine master plan. In its most extreme version, Universe exists only in the mind of God and therefore events in the world are simply God’s thoughts.

Between these two poles we have a range of ‘mixed models’. Deism, for example, contends that God created the world, but then “rested”. God plays no part in actual events. Epicureanism is a version of deism: the gods have no interest in the affairs of the world because they are entirely preoccupied with the pleasures of heavenly existence.

Next comes the theology of Rabbi Harold Kushner and others: God cares deeply about the affairs of the world and suffers right alongside us…but He is powerless to change the course of events. According to one version of this school, ‘creation’ requires that the ‘creature’ be entirely independent of the ‘creator”; otherwise it’s just ‘making’ not ‘creating’.

The most traditional Christian solution to this paradox involves the doctrine of ‘free will’. In general, the world is subject to divine control, or at least divine intervention (e.g. miracles), but human beings per se stand apart. They have free will and may act in ways contrary to the will of God. Such actions in turn have consequences, often dire, often long term, in people’s lives and in the world generally.

While there may be attractive elements in all of these theories, there are also problems. Rabbi Kushner has done an excellent job of defining the issue. According to Kushner, all theologies struggle with one of two problems: the power of God or the benevolence of God. Atheists, deists and Rabbi Kushner himself effectively deny the power of God. Traditional Christian solutions struggle to demonstrate God’s benevolence.

This later difficulty is often called the Problem of Evil. Simply put, if God is good, why is there so much suffering, so much evil in the world? One proposed explanation (Leibniz et al.) denies the reality of evil: this is the best of all possible worlds. Others view suffering either as a consequence of human sin (original and/or actual) or as some sort of ‘test’ orchestrated by God (Book of Job).

None of these explanations is completely convincing. In fact, there is no explanation anywhere on the entire spectrum that really satisfies. Atheists struggle to find meaning in life and to ground that meaning in something objective. Deists struggle to show how their view, practically speaking, differs from atheism. Followers of Kushner struggle to explain how their view is operationally different from deism.

On the Christian side, believers struggle to explain how human sin could possibly be responsible for the breadth and depth of suffering in our world or how a just God could possible subject his people to such horrific trials. Job himself, for example, appeals to God just to be as just as humans are to one another – not a very high bar.

Typically, when a problem is this intractable over such a long period of time, it suggests we may be missing something really big. All of the above theories assume that we are playing a zero sum game. For atheists, God = 0, world = 1. For theological determinists, God = 1, world = 0. Intermediate views generate intermediate fractions but those fractions always add up to one.

What if the relationship between God and the world is NOT a zero sum game? What if there is another way, a way we haven’t thought of yet, or haven’t recognized yet, that things relate to one another?

In 1964, an Irish mathematician named John Bell ‘discovered’ just such a way. He proved mathematically that there is a type of relationship that is not zero sum. Since 1964, his theory (Bell’s Theorem) has been tested countless times in laboratories and elsewhere; it has never failed.

Bell was concerned with two independent quanta (e.g. photons or electrons) that either originated in a single event or strongly interacted with one another at some point in their histories. He called such interaction ‘entanglement’ and he asked whether the state of one such entangled quantum was correlated in any way with the state of the other entangled quantum.

He discovered that there was no correlation…until a measurement of a particular state (e.g. ‘spin’) was performed on one of the quanta. It turns out that there is a positive correlation between the results of a measurement performed on one entangled quantum and the results of a similar measurement performed simultaneously on the other entangled quantum.

Bell posited that the quanta were far enough apart so that no information could travel from one quantum to the other (speed of light) while the measurements were taking place. Ingeniously, he also showed that the correlations could not be traced back to the time when the quanta originally interacted (i.e. became entangled). Finally, he demonstrated that the states were positively but imperfectly ‘correlated’ and therefor not ‘determined’.

The genius of Bell’s theorem lies in this: the two quanta are independent entities but their states are highly correlated (when measured). While all previous theories of interaction assume a sum equal to one (above), entangled quanta can produce a sum as high as 1.4 (the square root of 2). Effectively, you now have three entities: the first quantum per se, the second quantum per se, and their entangled state.

Now apply this new model to theology. At some point, God and the world strongly interacted (e.g. at creation). God and the world are independent entities (see the argument re the meaning of creation, above) but there is still some correlation between God’s state (will) and the world’s state (events) resulting from that initial entanglement.

Now I am certainly not suggesting that God and the world are ‘quanta’ or that Bell’s Theorem applies to their relationship in any literal way. What I am suggesting is that Bell’s Theorem offers a model that potentially points toward a solution to a centuries old theological paradox.

God and Universe are independent entities; however, there is an imperfect but positive correlation between their states. God does not ‘determine’ events in the world but there is a non-zero correlation between God’s will and cosmic history. How cool is that!

It is also important to note that in Judeo-Christian theology strong interaction between God and the world is not limited to creation. There are God’s historical interventions (e.g. the Exodus), the prophets, miracles, apparitions, etc… Most importantly, there is the Incarnation itself, the paradigmatic example of entanglement. Indeed, it could be argued that theologians anticipated John Bell by millennia.

While Bell’s Theorem is virtually incontrovertible, the mechanism that makes his correlations real is as yet undiscovered (and perhaps undiscoverable). Consider the possibility that in our theological adaptation of Bell’s model (above), at least one of the operative mechanisms might be prayer.

Prayer seems to be a powerful force in our experience and yet not all prayers appear to be answered. This is another paradox (which I will not explore here) but Bell’s model offers a potential solution. There seems to be a positive but imperfect correlation between prayer and events. Does prayer ‘entangle’ the mind of the worshipper with the mind of God?

The 20th century is known as the century of General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics; yet it may be that history will consider Bell’s Theorem more important than either.  All the more so if the model can also help solve the fundamental paradox of theology!