In the post Stochastic Sempiternity, commenter Bedarz Iliaci was uncomfortable with the notion that nature proceeds stochastically, as I there suggested. He insisted that the world must evolve deterministically in order to make any sense, and especially if rational agents such as we are to make sense of it, or of our acts in relation thereto; so that the irruption therein of inputs from rational free agents such as ourselves – and, ergo, the source of our freedom – must be to us ultimately mysterious, as flowing into the rational, determined world from some supra-mundane realm. I paraphrase him, hoping he will correct me if I have got him wrong in any important way.
Mr. Iliaci suggested that, in order to see better what he was talking about, I might profitably refer to some arguments of Fr. Stanley Jaki in his Miracles and Physics. This I did, and can now say that, compelling as Fr. Jaki’s arguments are, they do not seem to me to contradict my suggestion that nature proceeds stochastically.
Jaki excoriates the notion that the Uncertainty Relation of quantum mechanics can open room in the natural world for the causal effects of free rational agents. He argues that our inability to predict quantal events with perfect certainty does not at all justify an inference to the notion that such happenings are somewhat undetermined with respect to their causal antecedents, and therefore ontologically free. Furthermore, we ought to be cautious in making such an inference, for it would lead to a conception of nature as radically disordered at the most fundamental level.
I think Jaki is right. The inference to ontology from epistemology is unwarranted, even if it is in practical terms insuperable.
But I don’t think it matters.