Prof Mark Harris | Quantum Fundamentalism and Theological Liberty

Prof Mark Harris | Quantum Fundamentalism and Theological Liberty Andrew Wiles Building, Lecture Room 2, OX26GG Wed 29th May 2024 5:00PM

Prof Mark Harris | Quantum Fundamentalism and Theological Liberty
Andreas Idreos Chair in Science and Religion Inaugural Lecture
May 29th 2024, 5-6pm. Drinks reception 6-7pm.
Mathematical Institute, Andrew Wiles Building, University of Oxford, Lecture Room 2
Professor Mark Harris will deliver the Andreas Idreos Inaugural Lecture on ‘Quantum Fundamentalism and Theological Liberty’.
This event is free and open to the public but requires registration in advance (link here).
About the Speaker
Professor Mark Harris holds the position of the Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, which is attached to a Professorial Fellowship at Harris Manchester College. As a physicist working in a theological environment, he thinks of himself as a theologian of science, interested in the complex ways that the natural sciences and religious beliefs relate to each other. Professor Harris is the Director of the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion in the Faculty of Theology and Religion, and he serves as President of the European Society for the Study of Science and Theology (ESSSAT).


Quantum Mechanics (QM) is astonishingly successful as a theoretical framework, underpinning countless scientific areas and providing the impetus behind entire industries like telecommunications. Many scientists – not to mention most physicists – suspect that physical reality is wholly quantum at its most fundamental level, even if we perceive little of this in our everyday human experience. This is the viewpoint of ‘quantum fundamentalism’.

And yet, the conceptual implications of QM defy common sense, to such an extent that popular culture largely perceives of QM as a source of counter-intuitive weirdness. At the same time, bestselling self-help manuals portray QM as a source of hidden healing power within ourselves, while spiritual readings invoke QM as a bridge to the divine, or as a gateway to ancient wisdom. Scientists often denounce this area as ‘quantum quackery’, but I will examine its serious side. I will argue that, for quantum fundamentalism to function as a worldview it should inform a sense of human purpose, something which theological analysis is well equipped to supply.