Monday, January 31, 2011

Quantum Physics and God

I've been doing some reading/research for my dissertation on near-death experiences. The book I was reading yesterday is not a Christian book--far from it. (In fact, the book routinely blames "religion" for many of the world's "wrong" ideas.)

BUT--in a section on physics and consciousness, the author came to a conclusion that pointed directly to God, and I practically whooped in delight.

Let me see if I can explain all this in a manner simple enough for ME to understand it (not being a physicist at ALL):

Quantum mechanics was developed early in the twentieth century to explain the seemingly random behavior of atoms. The rules of classical physics didn't apply to atoms, so scientists set out to understand why atoms were so unpredictable. Quote: "Trying to understand what quantum mechanics means, however, brings us face-to-face with some of the most baffling mysteries ever confronted, and must profoundly change our world view." (Chris Carter, Science and the Near-Death Experience, p. 39).

Probability reigns supreme in quantum mechanics. And subatomic particles do not have definite properties for certain attributes such as position, momentum, or direction of spin until they are measured. It's not that those qualities are unknown, it's that they do not exist in any definite state until they are measured. They behave as waves when not observed, but as particles in a definite location when observed. The position of the atom is thus an "observer-created reality. Its position will also be the same for all subsequent observers, so it is a reality that depends on an initial observation only."

Until observation, the atom is in a "superposition state." If you'd fired the atom toward two boxes, A and B, the box would simultaneously be in both box A and B until you looked to see where it was. Until you looked, you could not say it was IN either box, you could only speak of probabilities that it would be found in one location or the other. But the electron does not have a definite location until it is observed.

Still with me? Okay, now it really gets wild. The observer can be human (conscious being) or a machine (like a Geiger counter). But the machine is a physical instrument and subject to the rules of quantum mechanics, so it, too enters into a superposition state along with the atom. In other words, the results are suspended, too . . . as it awaits being observed by a conscious being.

Physicist Von Neumann "argued that the entire physical world is quantum mechanical, so the process that collapses the wave functions into actual facts cannot be a physical process; instead, the intervention of something from outside of physics is required. Something nonphysical, not subject to the laws of quantum mechanics, must account for the collapse of the wave function: the only nonphysical entity in the observation process that von Neumann could think of was the consciousness of the observer. He reluctantly concluded that this outside entity had to be consciousness and that prior to observation, even measuring instruments interacting with a quantum system must exist in an indefinite state."

Whoa. Do you grasp what he's saying? In the creation of this material world, something other than physical processes had to exist.

I then read of experiments where scientists tried to get observers to use the power of their minds to put the fired electrons into one box or the other. He recorded two signals (zeros and ones) from a binary random event generator simultaneously on two cassette tapes, without anyone listening to (observing) the signals or knowing the output of the REG. One tape was kept in a secure location; the other was given to a human subject with the instruction to produce more zeros than ones. A 50 percent hit rate would have been expected by chance; the subject scored 51, but the odds of him scoring that were beyond a trillion to one. Furthermore, when they looked at the locked-away tape, they found it identical . . . unless someone else had examined it first.

Which leads physicists to this question: how could atoms form themselves into rivers and lakes and trees if no one was around to observe them?

"The assumption we are considering appears even more weird when we realize that throughout much of the universe, and indeed throughout all of it in early times, there were presumably no conscious observers . . . even worse are the problems we meet if we accept the modern ideas on the early universe in which quantum decays . . . were necessary in order to obtain the conditions in which conscious observers could exist. Who, or what, did the observations necessary to create the observers?"

I have an answer: "And God SAW . . . that it was good."

And I love this: the so-called quantum Zeno effect--physicists have found that if they continuously observe an unstable particle in its original state, it will never decay. That is, physicists can 'freeze' the decay of the unstable system by measuring it frequently enough in its initial state." (Carter, p. 59).

In other words, simply by "observing" us, God sustains us. And what does this say about eternity? A lot!

Brings something to my mind: "In him we live and move and have our being."

God sees us . . . and our world . . . and He is the sustainer of everything.

I know practically nothing about physics, but have delighted in seeing how God has underwritten the universe, and how all truth is his truth, and all mystery is his plan.



Accidental Poet said...

I think my head just exploded.

Brad Huebert said...


This is great. I love how you're stretching your mind, but also how you're stretching ours. Your observation that "God saw that it was good," is awesome.

I do confess, though, that I wonder how they can even figure this out. Kinda like the fridge light. Apparently it only comes on when you open the door, but how can you know?

How can they know what something is like when it's not observed, since the very act of paying attention counts as observation?

Ah, it hurts the brain. Are you at Mount Hermon this year?

Kelley Pounds said...

I've always been fascinated by near-death experiences, especially since my grandmother, who suffered from congestive heart failure, had one and wouldn't speak to one of my aunts for weeks because my aunt took her to the hospital, where they resuscitated her. She had seen Jesus and wanted to stay with Him, thank you very much! LOL I just finished Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy's Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, by Todd Burpo. This was the first book I'd ever read on this subject written from a Christian perspective, and I was impressed that there was only one accidental incident of "leading of the witness," so to speak. After realizing their mistake, they seemed to take great pains not to ask leading questions from that point on. It was very interesting.

A good book on quantum physics and creation is The Creator and the Cosmos, by Hugh Ross, Ph.D. He's an astrophysicist as well as being a Christian. It's a pretty deep read, but IMO he does a good job of making the science understandable for the layperson. If you haven't read it, you can read a sample on

Angela said...

It does tend to make the brain ache, doesn't it? But I love it!

Obviously, my summation above is exactly that--a summation of pages and pages of explanations and quotes and illustrated experiments, so you'll have to take my word for it. I do have a friend who's a physicist, though, so I've asked him to check my reasoning, and I'm sure he will. :-)

And no, I won't be at Mt. Hermon this year--I'm on the every-other-year rotation. :-)


M Sasscer said...

Angie, I would be interested to know the observations your physicist friend makes. --Marian

joanieponytail said...

Wow! Thank you for doing all the reading and then sharing this with us. Your conclusions are wonderful. Isn't it funny how scientists will work so hard to avoid the God-conclusion?
The part about the quantum Zeno effect reminds me that "He holds all things together by the power of His will."

Ruthie said...

And then there's the intricacies of the human body.... When I was in nursing school (eons ago!), I was a new Christian, eager to discover all that God had for me. To my amazement and delight, I learned more about God by studying anatomy and physiology than I did by studying the Bible! I still am astounded at times by how the human body...and

Katherine Sophia said...

That is incredible...
I was trying to find out who published your book The True Princess and found your blog instead. :D
Would it be all right if I copied part of this post and put it on my blog, linking back to you? It's fascinating :)

Mark Kroger said...

Hi Angela, Thanks for this Post. I have a paper I am working on titled The Science of Context. It deals with the context driven inter dependencies that make the natural realm work- intelligent design. Physiology can be understood in context driven computational physics. Context=And God said...
At the fundamental level of quarks, we are pure energy, context driven integrated physics that make our dynamic hardware possible for our house that is only 'alive' while we are home.
But I know there is more and I think you just touched on it. Thanks.