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The Quantum Enigma: Finding the Hidden Key

Wolfgang Smith

Sophia Perennis, Hillsdale NY, Third revised edition, 2005

Item# B144
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The Quantum Enigma: Finding the Hidden Key is the second title added to our catalog that explores the relationship between quantum mechanics an intelligent design (See also Modern Physics and Ancient Faith). Quantum theory is the discovery that subatomic particles act very differently than particles in our observable world, which are described by Newtonian physics. Reductionism and materialism are severely challenged in the quantum world where concepts such as uncertainty, unpredictability, wave/particle duality, instantaneous communication, and the need for an observer reign.

Following the overthrow of the classical world picture by the findings of quantum mechanics, physicists have proposed a broad gamut of alternative world views. This book begins with the major recognition that each of these suffers from a certain 'residual Cartesianism' that has been smuggled in unconsciously. It turns out that the moment one discards this hidden and problematic premise, quantum theory begins to 'make sense' in a way that it never has before. As the author shows, it is now possible for the first time to integrate the findings of quantum physics into a world view that is neither forced nor ad hoc, but conforms to the permanent intuitions of mankind. This treatise can be read not only by scientists, but also by readers unacquainted with the technical conceptions of physics or the quantum-reality literature.

Of particular interest to our readers is Smith's concept of "vertical causation" which he poses as a viable historical alternative to the popular modern "self-caused" theory of the origin of the universe (which he also refers to as temporal or horizontal causation). In this updated third edition of the book, Smith ties vertical causation to intelligent design theory via William Dembski's concept of complex specified information (CSI). Smith concludes that only vertical causation is able to generate CSI.

Table of Contents
Preface to Third Edition
Preface to First Edition

  1. Rediscovering the Corporeal World
  2. What is the Physical Universe?
  3. Microworld and Indeterminacy
  4. Materia Quantitate Signata
  5. On Whether 'God Plays Dice'
  6. Vertical Causality

Appendix: Quantum Theory, A Brief Introduction
Index of Names


Wolfgang Smith (b. 1930) is a scholar and researcher in the fields of mathematics and physics, but is also a writer on theology, metaphysics, and religion. Because of his unusual qualifications in both scientific and theological disciplines, he is able to write with great authority on many topics of concern to religious and scientific scholars today. Smith graduated at age 18 from Cornell University with a B.A. in mathematics, physics, and philosophy. Two years later he took an M.S. in theoretical physics at Purdue University. Smith worked at Bell Aircraft Corporation on formulating the theoretical foundation for the solution of the re-entry problem. After receiving a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, Dr. Smith held professorial positions at M.I.T., U.C.L.A., and Oregon State University until his retirement in 1992. He has published extensively on mathematical topics relating to algebraic and differential topology. However, ever since his youth, Smith has had a deep interest in metaphysics and theology. Early on, he acquired a taste for Plato and the neoplatonists, and traveled in India to gain acquaintance with the Vedantic tradition. Later he devoted himself to the study of theology, and began his career as a Catholic metaphysical author. Besides contributing numerous articles to scholarly journals, Dr. Smith has authored four books: Cosmos and Transcendence (1984), Teilhardism and the New Religion (1988), The Quantum Enigma (1995), and The Wisdom of Ancient Cosmology (2003).


Wolfgang Smith is as important a thinker as our times boast, and this is his most seminal book.
-- Huston Smith

The Quantum Enigma is of great importance not only for the philosophy of science, but also for the whole domain of human knowledge, and should be disseminated as widely as possible.
-- Seyyed Hossein Nasr

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