Thursday, December 01, 2011

Quantum Physics and God

I know as much about Quantum Physics as would fit on the head of a pin, but what little I understand is intriguing.

No Time Like the Present

Time, as Einstein explained, is relative. That is, time is not constant between people. If 2 people synchronize their watches exactly and one remains still while the other one runs around a predetermined and roped-off space, when they come back together, their watches will be quite a number of minutes apart. Time, it seems, slows down for the person in motion and speeds up (relative to the person running) for the person who is standing still.

An Atomic Experiment and Free Will
It has been shown that if an atom is split so that half of its wave function is in one box and half in another, a scientist can open both boxes at once and the respective waves will both exit their respective boxes and interact.

If you were to take the same 2 wave functions in the same 2 boxes and let them out one at a time, one box will ALWAYS be empty. Where did the other wave function go? How did the split atoms “know” whether you were going to open both boxes at once or open one at a time?

Some physicists, apparently, think that the above experiment proves that everything is predetermined in some way--that there are, perhaps, infinite numbers of universes housing infinite numbers of possibilities for each of the infinite number of choices we make every day. In some universe, somewhere, we have decided not to make our customary cup of tea, but to drink coffee instead. In another, we decide against drinking anything.

In this way, some scientists say that this then disproves free will and therefore God, (or at least traditional religion) but I disagree. If we as Christians see God as existing from all eternity and outside of time, then, in a sense, He houses all these infinite possibilities within Himself. For God, there is no “yesterday” or “tomorrow.”

God sees what is reality: The eternal now.

We humans have free will in the sense that we do not have within ourselves the outside-of-time perspective that God does. We can imagine different scenarios (in the sense that most animals probably cannot) but we do not actually experience these possible scenarios as having happened. Therefore we have to choose everything, minute-by-minute.

Another Experiment--Do You Hear What I Hear?
Somewhere along the line a scientist slowed down Beethoven’s 9th symphony so that it takes a full 24 hours to listen to. The result, to our ears, is a whale-song-like series of sounds that are imperceptible as the original symphony.

Those who listened to it commented that the musical climax never occurred--although of course, it did--they just were unable to perceive it, even after listening to the piece all the way through. To their ears, it sounded like a slow series of sounds peppered with periods of silence. But, somewhere within that recording was Beethoven’s 9th symphony.

To extend the metaphor, God can hear and perceive--in fact He has written--the symphony of the universe. Our poor ears do not understand it. We rant and rail against the happenings of our lives because to us, they contain random boredom peppered with too-short periods of joy and agonizing periods of tragedy.

To make God into a sweaty small-town Sherriff who delights in abusing His power is to dumb down Christianity and cause people to run screaming to atheism. God is awesome in the largest sense of the word--He is awe-inspiring, awe-creating and Awe Itself.

We must trust that God exists and that what seems to us as nonsensical is really a symphony in God’s ears that is imperceptible to us while on earth. He is, as the Eastern Christians say, “Everywhere present and filling all things”--He is “uncreated energy”.

Our spiritual task is to unite with Him and become (again, as the Eastern Christians say) “deified”. Then, we will no longer “see in a glass, darkly” but see things as they are, through the eyes of Love.

6 comments:

Michele said...

That is a superb post! i liked this part the best: “Everywhere present and filling all things”--He is “uncreated energy"

That last statement is 100% true!

Dymphna said...

I LOVE the perspective of the Eastern Churches.

intostillness said...

Bravo, Dymphna! Gutsy to tackle quantum physics. I love, "God can hear and perceive--in fact He has written--the symphony of the universe. Our poor ears do not understand it. We rant and rail against the happenings of our lives because to us, they contain random boredom peppered with too-short periods of joy and agonizing periods of tragedy.

Magister Christianus said...

Dymphna, this is fantastic! I love reading, writing, and thinking about the interplay between God and physics, especially quantum physics. You wrote, "If we as Christians see God as existing from all eternity and outside of time, then, in a sense, He houses all these infinite possibilities within Himself." I remember many years ago writing a piece in which I explored the notion of a massively branching reality. Every decision of ours is binary...do it, or don't...and the result of each decision produces more binary choices. God sees the entire branching scheme of reality, which preserves his omniscience without destroying our free will.

I like the way you think!

The piece about Beethoven is brilliant.

Barbara Schoeneberger said...

Quantum physics is so far beyond me...

Reading your post through the thought flashed through my mind that it's a good thing God is love because if He wasn't, our lives and existence would be unbearable. The sheriff analogy is great.

Dymphna said...

When I hear things about quantum physics, to me, it seems to do more to prove God than to disprove Him.

I really think there being a God who houses all possibilities within Himself totally allows Him to be omniscient *and* us to have free will. *We* are not omniscient, and, therefore, must make decisions.

I agree that without God, existence would be meaningless. No one to cry out to.

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"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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