Quantum Mechanics Atheist Tool or Spiritual Illuminater?
It has been said that the universe is not just stranger than you think, it is also stranger than you can imagine. One of the discoveries that has precipitated this kind of response to discussions of the nature of the creation has been the study of quantum mechanics. The problem with quantum mechanics is not so much understanding it as believing it. Even the experiments which are used to support it are considered suspect by many people just because they are hard to believe.
The story of quantum mechanics may be viewed as beginning when scientists tried to understand the nature of light. Light was known to have wave properties like sound_it diffracts, interferes, has frequency, and obeys equations the describe wave motion. In the early nineteenth century there was general agreement that light was a wave and not a series of particles. Science even invented things like a substance that could fill the vacuum between the earth and the sun that could allow light to pass to the earth (since waves cannot travel through a vacuum.) At the beginning of the twentieth century it became obvious that not only did such substance not exist, but that light had particle properties that could not be denied_perhaps the main one of these being the photoelectric effect (the ability of light to knock electrons out of certain kinds of crystals). As more and more data became available the debate about the nature of light among scientists became hotter and hotter.
Quantum mechanics tells us that light is neither a wave nor a particle, but both. In fact according to quantum mechanics all physical objects can display both properties_even basketballs and airplanes. Another strange aspect of quantum mechanics is called the uncertainty principle. This principle says that if we try to say exactly where an object is, we cannot say exactly how fast or in what direction it is going. A third aspect of quantum mechanics is the principle of nonlocality. Before quantum mechanics scientists thought that if you wanted to study the behavior of an object, you only needed to consider the conditions where you found the object. What happens on Mars has no effect upon what happens on Earth in this view. Quantum mechanics denies this seemingly obvious observation. Particles located hundreds of thousands of miles apart are entangled in this view, so that if you know a property of one particle you know the property of another hundreds of thousands of miles away.
It is not the purpose of this article to explain how all this is possible, but numerous experiments on a microscopic scale have confirmed all three of the principles we have discussed. Our point in this article is that quantum mechanics is a support not a denial of the existence of God. Many notions of science and reality have to be rethought and redirected, but no biblical perspective is violated or denied. Let us look at some reasons why this is true:
1) Complete determinism and materialism is impossible. It is obvious that changes on an atomic scale can have profound large scale affect on things in a totally different location in the world of quantum mechanics. Explaining all phenomena on a cause and affect basis is no longer possible. Science is forced to admit that instantaneous interactions do occur over distances that are beyond the relativistic laws of our universe. These things require us to question our standard notions of space and time and our conception of reality itself.
2) The interrelatedness of everything (the holism) in the cosmos verifies the structure espoused by the Bible writers. "In Him we live and move and have our being" fits well with the picture of reality we get from the nonlocal view of the cosmos. The concept of the Holy Ghost does not have any problem with the nature of the cosmos described by quantum mechanics. The atheist view of matter being self existing does not fare well with these new concepts.
3) The concept of creation is not denied but supported by this view. The concept of something from nothing in our three-dimensional universe is not influenced by what we have discussed. The biblical concept of God has always been that He exist outside of time and space as we know them. The idea of interconnectedness projected by quantum mechanics gives us a holistic universe, but God is seen as an entity that exceeds the effects of nonlocality. The degree to which we comprehend quantum mechanics is an indicator of the extent to which we understand the process of creation.
Modern spiritual thinkers view these ideas as a chance for expanded understandings and new discoveries in spirituality. Like all discoveries in science, there is nothing that poses a threat to faith_only an opportunity to grow.
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