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The Thomist 66 (2002): 251-66 THE METAPHYSICS OF CHAOS: A THOMISTIC VIEW OF ENTROPY AND EVOLUTION WOJCIECH P. GRYGIEL, F.S.S.P. Priesterseminar Sankt Petrus Wigratzbad, Germany EVERY BEING in the universe bears in itself the imprint of divine causality, for it is an actualization of a particular exemplar residing eternally in God's mind, brought into reality by its participation in divine existence: "Signatum est super nos lumen vultus tui, Domine."1 It is therefore quite natural to expect that the divine imprint is equally refracted in laws of nature that govern interactions among existing bodies. Because scientists today do not generally admit of immaterial principles in the universe, it is the primary task of Catholic philosophers of science to demonstrate that the sciences that investigate nature are ordered towards their ultimate cause-God, Ipsum Esse Subsistens . In this way these philosophers can reclaim the achievements of science as an integral part of the Church's heritage. In the opening questions ofhis Summa Theologiae, 2 St. Thomas Aquinas states that reason and revelation must converge because they both ultimately originate from divine causality. So it would seem that rational scientific methodologies can be used in the service of sacred theology. In a previous artide,3 I have argued that this inspiration of St. Thomas can be brought to fruition in the case of quantum 1 Psalm 4:7. Metaphysically, this presupposes the conclusion that "causa prima est universalis omnium causa ex qua sortitur quamdam universalem causalitatem in res naturales" (In De causis, prop. 3., iect. 3 [no. 77]). 2 STh I, q. 1, a. 5. 3 W. P. Grygiel, "Quantum Mechanics: A Dialectical Approach to Reality," The Thomist 65 (2001): 223-38. 251 252 WOJCIECH P. GRYGIEL, F.S.S.P. mechanics, one of the most influential physical theories of the twentieth century. This theory was effectively purged of the probabilism imposed by Heisenberg's uncertainty principle through an alternative interpretation proposed in 1953 by David J. Bohm. With causality thus restored on a micro-molecular level, quantum mechanics can be reconciled with the Aristotelian concept of causality. Despite its dialectical character, it may thus be acknowledged as a scientia media in the Thomistic sense,4 making it a valuable tool for investigating scientific demonstrations . Unfortunately, its stochastic incarnation according to the Copenhagen interpretation has supported materialistic and atheistic positions as to when and how the universe came to be and the mechanisms involved in its continuing organization.5 A more basic thoery concerned with this point is thermodynamics , particularly as it is used in the theory of dissipative systems postulated by Ilya Prigogine. This latter treats specific conditions in which the organizational potential of the universe may be derived out of chaos.6 In the probabilistic approach, thermodynamics seems to correlate well with Darwinian evolution , for it implies that natural organization originates from a combination of processes governed strictly by chance, thus apparently eliminating finality from the universe. Strictly speaking , however, this correlation is dialectical and not demonstrative, either scientifically or philosophically, since it applies only to selected and limited segments of reality. Although within the range of the principles specified this correlation may be theoretically valid, it does not apply apodictically throughout the entire complexity of the universe. This essay will argue for the compatibility of the second law of thermodynamics with Thomistic metaphysics, showing that in the extrapolated limit of its applicability the law exhibits a radical 4 In Boet de Trin., q. 5, a. 3, ad 4. 5 C. J. Isham, "Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Process," in R. J. Russell, W.R. Stoeger, G. V. Coyne, Pbysics, Philosopby andTheology: A Common Quest for Understanding (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory, 1988). 6 I. Prigogine and I. Stengers, Order out ofChaos: Man's New Dialogue with Nature (New York: Bantam Books, 1984). THE METAPHYSICS OF CHAOS 253 discontinuity and implies a resolution to a threshold of utter metaphysical simplicity. Since this accords analogically with divine simplicity, the second law proves to be consistent with the existence of God as the ultimate cause of the universe. Whether such consistency could rise to the status of a metaphysical demonstration is uncertain at the present...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 251-266
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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