Quantum Mechanics / Physics?


(Sandy Estabrook) #1

God and DNA / Biology seem to work well. Physics and most importantly Quantum Mechanics / entanglement does seem to connect us with God instantly and explain infinity to some degree, but still it has me struggling. Can someone point me to a video or a blog on the subject.


(Sandy Estabrook) #2

I should add that quantum entanglement frightens me for all that implies. At its, when understood full potential, I suspect God would bring us home.


(Phil) #3

Welcome to the forum, Sandy. I would think that Polkinghorne would have something on the subject but that subject is outside my experience so will defer to others. Biologos does have a more biographical series on Polkingham: https://biologos.org/blogs/archive/quantum-leap-part-1-which-side-are-you-on


(Phil) #4

In addition, I was reading one of my Christmas books this afternoon, and you might find Andy Walsh’s Faith Across the Multiverse helpful. It is a delightful book. @Andy_Walsh contributes here at times also.


(Chris Falter) #5

Polkinghorne?

I love John Polkinghorne’s work, btw.


(Phil) #6

Yep that guy! Not enough coffee.


(Steve Schaffner) #7

What does it imply that you find frightening?


(Cindy) #8

I was told by a physicist a long time ago that Quantum Physics effects the micro world, not the macro world. I’m a little confused though about how multiverses work. I mean, if one is made from every probability; isn’t that an infinity comparison to God? That actually is sort of scary.

Aren’t there theories that do not include a multiverse? I think I remember some back from when I was talking about this a bit more often.


(Mitchell W McKain) #9

I too cannot imagine what can possibly be frightening about this. But then too it probably doesn’t imply what you think. Many people have been taking this phenomenon into all kinds of flights of fancy. So to clarify many of these, one thing quantum entanglement does not imply is any kind of communication or causality faster than light. Bad news for the Star Trek enthusiasts and those dreaming of empires among the stars, but good news really for mankind in general because it means we are quite safe from things happening really far away in the universe. Star travel is still possible, but for the most part as a one way trip only.

After the discovery that the universe has a beginning contrary to all the expectations of scientists, quantum physics has been the best news from science for religion. It brought scientists to the inescapable conclusion, much to their own consternation, that causality in science is not a closed system. It meant that the picture painted by science in the 19th century with Laplace’s demon, where all you needed was the starting conditions and every event which followed could calculated, was simply wrong. Religion no longer had to look for the gaps that science simply hadn’t reached yet, for science itself had discovered a gap which was built into the very structure of the science worldview. To be sure this has been very hard for many of them to accept and they have busily looked for excuses and rhetoric to avoid or hide this result.


(Mitchell W McKain) #10

Must have been a long time ago indeed! This idea was annihilated by the advent of chaotic dynamics. In fact, there was a famous book by Schodinger called “What is Life,” making that same argument. But then we found out that all of science had been overlooking something fundamental. Our routine replacement of non-linear equations with linear approximations was misleading us. Now we know that in order to calculate what happens in many situations requires knowing the initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision and that means quantum effects cannot be ignored after all. While linear systems average out small fluctuations and make them irrelevant, non-linear systems (which describes most of reality frankly) have the capability of selecting a single fluctuation and amplifying it to alter the course of events in the whole system on a large scale. This is the so called “butterfly effect.”

The “multiverse” is not demonstrable science. It is speculation only and therefore of no greater validity than the ideas of theists about God. At the most it can only mean that there are perfectly rational alternatives to the theistic worldview, but no more. The only people this should be scary to, are those who feel compelled to push their religion onto others.


(Steve Schaffner) #11

Well, no, that’s not an inescapable conclusion. If the many-worlds interpretation of QM is correct, then causality is kind of strange but it’s not an open system.


(Mitchell W McKain) #12

No. That amounts to no more than empty semantics. Closed with respect to a non-observable extension of reality doesn’t change the fact in the slightest that it is an open system with respect to what is actually observable and measurable. I like the Everett interpretation, but there is no reason whatsoever to view these so called many-worlds as anything more than a visualization of unrealized possibilities.

By inescapable, I obviously didn’t mean that people cannot dodge, hide, or otherwise argue with the fact. After all, people have shown to be quite capable of arguing with the most solid of facts (with overwhelming evidence supporting them), like evolution and the shape of the earth.


(Steve Schaffner) #13

If you are restricting yourself to what is actually observable and predictable, rather than with the models of physics, then causality without any QM effects is already open, since chaotic systems are inherently unpredictable. It’s only the model that we call classical physics that is actually deterministic. You have no more reason to accept the unobservable determinism of classical physics than you do to accept the unobservable many worlds of Everett.


(Mitchell W McKain) #14

But I am not. I am saying that IF you restrict yourself to what is actually observable and measurable then the system of causality in modern science is not a closed system. But once you choose to go beyond what is observable and measurable, you cannot have the superior epistemology of scientific demonstrability behind it, and thus God and a multiverse of many worlds are on equal terms.

Unpredictable yes, but causally open no. A chaotic system is not unpredictable in a computer simulation because the initial conditions are known exactly. The most this would do in the real world is make the result impossible to calculate because the variables are simply hidden (to that degree of precision). What quantum physics tells us is that the hidden variables do not even exist. Thus instead of an appearance of being causally open, the quantum reality is causally open in actuality. Now this doesn’t mean that there are no causes, only that any causes must be outside the premises of the scientific worldview, such as local causality. So you can insist on a deterministic universe if you are willing to go beyond the premises of the scientific worldview in some way. But then you open the door to everything else as well.

Chaotic dynamic is still in the realm of classical physics, and it is actually deterministic. All the mathematics of non-linear equations is totally classical. We just didn’t realize what our approximate solutions to those equations were blinding us to. The relevance of chaotic dynamics here is simply that it makes it impossible to separate the quantum world from the macroscopic world as was first thought by those such as Schrodinger in his little book.

Not quite. The determinism of classical physics is quite observable. It simply isn’t as universal as was originally presumed.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #15

But the requirement to determine a chaotic system (even within a classical understanding of it) is that infinite precision would be needed in the initial conditions. Which is the same as saying “we can’t have it” - though we already knew that of course. “Can God have it” is a remaining interesting question.


(Mitchell W McKain) #16

But the point is that unlike quantum physics the variables do exist and thus it is possible in principle, like in computer simulation to know what they are. Laplace’s demon argument applies. Therefore, no matter how unpredictable it may be in practice, chaotic dynamics is still deterministic even within the scientific worldview, while quantum physics is not. With quantum physics you have to go outside the premises of the scientific worldview or the observable universe in order to make determinism work and that means scientific causality is open because of quantum physics. And chaotic dynamics means you cannot restrict this lack of determinism to the quantum scale.


(Mervin Bitikofer) #17

That matches my understanding too. Basically, qm has ruled out (in ways that I can’t understand) even the possibility that there could still be hidden variables running things in QM - the true bane of determinism, even in principle [at least from human perspective]. Is any of this still inaccurate, @glipsnort?


(Steve Schaffner) #18

You seem to have completely missed my point. The mathematical model of classical physics is deterministic, but we do not observe the model. We observe events, not the model, and we cannot empirically observe a system with enough precision to actually predict outcomes for many systems, even where QM is irrelevant. It is only if you assume the model is an accurate description of reality that determinism becomes an issue; if you simply treated it as a handy device for calculating likely outcomes you’re not committed to any view of causality.

The same applies to QM. You can treat it as a handy device for calculating probabilities of various outcomes, in which case you’re not saying anything about causality. Or you can consider it as an accurate description of what’s really going on. If you do, then what’s really going on is the time development of a wave function. In that context, a perfectly natural interpretation of QM is that the wave function is real, that its development is fully deterministic, and that it is our observations of non-determinism that are illusory (or rather, that they represent one set of many simultaneously occurring outcomes). Many physicists feel, in fact, that this is the most natural way of understanding QM, and not because they’re trying to evade non-determinism or theism, but because it’s really the most straightforward way of understanding the equations. You’re trying to rule out their view by fiat and denigration, but that just won’t fly.


(Steve Schaffner) #19

QM rules out local hidden variable theories, i.e. any hidden variable theory would have to involve faster-than-light interactions, which most physicists find dubious. In the many-worlds interpretation of QM, on the other hand, there are no hidden variables. The wave function that describes the universe is deterministic. Where QM describes a distribution of possible outcomes of an observation, all of them occur, with matching versions of the observer to go with them.


(Sandy Estabrook) #20

Quantum entanglement implies INSTANTANEOUS bypassing our understanding of the speed of light.

It could also be our connection with God (one way for now)