Post Author: Bill Pratt
I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts this morning, Unbelievable?, where the two guests were atheist physicist Roger Penrose and Christian theologian Alister McGrath. In a fascinating exchange, the host, Justin Brierley, asked Penrose if reality could be reduced to matter.
I expected Penrose to say “yes” and was shocked when he said “no.” In fact, Penrose said that he tends to divide reality up into three realms: consciousness, the material world, and mathematics. Penrose, if I understood him correctly, said that these three slices of reality are all intertwined but also distinct from each other. Penrose seemed to be saying that a reduction of all reality to matter was mistaken.
In fact, Penrose went on to explain that as a physicist, the more he discovers about matter, the more it looks like mathematics!
What is so interesting about Penrose’s comments is that he recognizes that consciousness and mathematics are not explained by the material world, which runs very much counter to the standard atheist dogma. Mathematics, according to Penrose, seems to exist as an objective reality outside the material world. He didn’t venture to offer a theory as to where mathematics has come from, but he is clearly disdainful of the materialist reduction program. How refreshing.