Quantum properties, God, and determinism

So you think the image of God is humanoid with two arms, two legs, and one head? Does that image also include a skin color, eye color, or hair color?

I do not think so. Such things of shape and color seem like trivialities to me.

Furthermore I see no reason why God should guarantee anything, any more than a parent should guarantee that his child will be a doctor. What has guarantees have to do with love and parenting?

But they do not conceive of sovereignty and free will in quite the same way. Certainly not all of them insist on asserting both in a way that turns a blind eye to contradictions between them.

  1. Compatibilism - free will is just an illusion because our choices are determined by pre-existing conditions which God controls. Only God makes any decisions that make any difference to what happens in the future. We still make our choices for our own reasons regardless of whether they have ultimately been determined by God so we are still responsible for them. The future is a story already written by God, but the characters in the story are still responsible because that is part of the story just like in any book that is written.
  2. Incompatibilism - the future is not written and our choices decide what future comes to pass. It requires a type of causality beyond the time-ordered sort. Our free will is neither universal nor absolute but rare and fragile, for we are mostly creatures of habit and some habits are destructive of our free will. And even though our destiny is a product of our own choices, we do not alter God’s providence. God makes his plans with contingencies to cover all the possibilities.

Hello Jon,

I am not an expert in chemistry or Quantum Mechanics, but I would still like to share my opinions.

Personally, I completely agree with you. I see quantum systems as deterministic rather than truly random as well, though I think “hidden variables theories” is a poor term for them. Proponents of so called “hidden variables theories” are usually not trying to prove Santa Claus exists, but are instead trying to explain our observations with a logically consistant theory rather than simply taking “just believe that God plays dice with the universe” as gospel. To any true physicist, in my opinion, “accept it and do not question it” is not a very compelling argument. Sabine Hossenfelder, a Quantum Gravity researcher, shares this view. She has been very vocal that the mathematical models used in physics must reflect reality rather than vise versa. I think purists who take the Copenhagen Interpretation to the extreme are creating a cult out of Quantum Mechanics, since they make no effort to explain in a satisfying way what mechanism create the emergent illusion of randomness in the universe and instead ask us to “just have faith”. This has allowed many charlatans to try to use Quantum Mechanics as a proof for new age spiritual beliefs and other instances of the “God of the gaps” fallacy. If you know of any teams working on any Super Deterministic models or of any papers on the subject, please pass them along. I would like to stay current with ongoing developments in this area.

Deterministic or not, while emergent quantum properties (such as spin, Van Der Wals forces, magnetic diapoles, etc.) have a huge affect on chemistry, these seem to very, very consistent properties which are not subject to observable random changes that would make their chemistry inconsistent in any way that would alter the integrity of base pairs in the genetics. There are, however, nuclear materials in the body. We injest and inhale plenty of unstable atoms. Most Quantum Physicists see nuclear decay as a completely stochastic process (I, however, am closeminded enough to believe that the physical mechanism needs to be looked at in finer detail because the existance of a truly random process is unlikely). As these radioactive materials decay according to quantum processes, the ionizing radiation released could in theory cause point mutations. Over a very large timescale, these probabilities add up. This most likely has a lesser effect on evolution than ionizing radiation from the sun, however, but still cannot be ruled out as a valid mechanism for point mutations. If you believe that Quantum Mechanics (and thus nuclear decay) is truly stochastic, then at least a few notable point mutations would also likely have to be random. But personally, since I view the universe as a completely deterministic and causal “mechanism” which God created, I think randomness is (to misquote Einstein) a “stubbornly persistent illusion”.

Welcome to the forum, Eli. You bring up an interesting view, and perhaps consistent with the Proverbs 16:33 that we roll the dice but God controls the outcome. However, this thread is 4 years old, but just recently commented on, and many of the original posters have moved on and may not respond.
My personal feeling is that while God is in control, he has not created a completely deterministic universe. I tended to think that way at one time, but my understanding of God is that he delights in a degree of randomness. Perhaps I am reading to much into it, but when he responds to Job describing Leviathan and in Psalms 104 speaking of Leviathan frolicking, it seems a degree of chaos may be part of creation.

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Any scientist accepts the experimental results or they are imposing their willful preferences for the way they would like things to be rather than the way they are – pseudoscience like creationism. The fact of the matter is that we devised a way to test Einstein’s proposal of hidden variables and the result was that they do not exist.

Schrodinger wrote a book “What is life” arguing that quantum fluctuations have no effect on macroscopic events because they all cancel out, but this was before the revolution of chaotic dynamics showed that such an assumption was based on approximating the non-linear equations governing reality with linear equations. We now know that these non-linear equations can select and amplify one fluctuation above all the rest to alter the course of macroscopic events in the so called “butterfly effect.” No it does not alter the chemistry but it certainly can alter the course of events in many different ways.

Quantum physics predicts all kind of measurements with a very very high degree of accuracy by giving the correct random distribution from which those measurements can be calculated. And fact is that the proposal that these are not truly random but can be calculated by some unknown variable can be tested and the result of those tests is that no such variables exist.

Einstein has been proven wrong… personal philosophy is a poor guide for science as shown by a millenia of following the the ideas of such as Aristotle on the subject of gravity…

“The fact of the matter is that we devised a way to test Einstein’s proposal of hidden variables and the result was that they do exist.”

Did you mean to say “do not exist”? Can I have a link to the paper which outlines this experiment? I think it’s rather strange that you can conclusively prove that it’s impossible to have something more fundamental than quantum mechanics at play. I would very much like to read this.

“Schrodinger wrote a book “What is life” arguing that quantum fluctuations have no effect on macroscopic events because they all cancel out, but this was before the revolution of chaotic dynamics showed that such an assumption was based on approximating the non-linear equations governing reality with linear equations. We now know that these non-linear equations can select and amplify one fluctuation above all the rest to alter the course of macroscopic events in the so called “butterfly effect.” No it does not alter the chemistry but it certainly can alter the course of events in many different ways.”

Yes, I know this very well personally. I think many elements of turbulent fluid dynamics, while not caused by quantum properties, is a pretty good analogy for this.

“Quantum physics predicts all kind of measurements with a very very high degree of accuracy by giving the correct random distribution from which those measurements can be calculated. And fact is that the proposal that these are not truly random but can be calculated by some unknown variable can be tested and the result of those tests is that no such variables exist.”

I would like to read more about such experiments. If you could provide me with some good references on this, that would be appreciated. It is quite a strong assertion to make that there can be no underlying physical phenomena that is giving rise to this situation. Specifically, since I assume this is a field you are probably an expert in, do you know of the existance of an experiment where they perform something analogous to a double slit experiment with matter that has been cooled down to nearly absolute zero? I have been curious about this for a really long time, but I can’t find anything remotely resembling it. Since I’m not an expert in quantum systems, I would very much appreciate your help if you could point me in the right direction.

“Einstein has been proven wrong… personal philosophy is a poor guide for science as shown by a millenia of following the the ideas of such as Aristotle on the subject of gravity…”

The Copenhagen Interpretation is very philosophical as well. I’m not arguing the validity of Quantum Machanics. It’s as solid as solid can be because it’s predictions are excellent. I’m arguing my most likely incorrect opinion that the belief that the randomness of the universe is likely caused by an underlying mechanism. If such a mechanism cannot exist, and there is an experiment that can prove that (which brings to mind the Haulting Problem, for some reason), I’d like to become more familiar with it.

I would genuinely like to learn more about this, as I am not an expert. I know it’s not your job to point out specific papers to me, but I would really appreciate it. But please realise that I simply can’t just take your word for it and move on. Unscientific or not, I think people need to be pretty weary before declaring something unknowable, so it shouldn’t be unreasonable for me to ask for a more technical explanation.

correct. typo fixed.

Just look up “Bell’s inequality.” This isn’t so recent. The tests have been made and repeated since 1972.

The point is that this indeterminacy cannot be restricted to the quantum regime. Ilya Prigogine demonstrated that determining the results of these non-linear equations require initial conditions to an infinite degree of precision. That means quantum fluctuation will effect the course of macroscopic events.

The probability distributions have NOTHING to do with the interpretations. The interpretations do not change the mathematics or the experimental results – that would invalidate them.

I think I was using the term “Hidden Variable Theory” improperly, then. I’m aware of Bell’s Theorem. I was referring to theories that include Super Determinism or nonlocal theories. I’m also aware of Prigogine’s paper. I should point out that his book “The End of Certainty” is pure philosophy. I have no issue at all with the validity of probabalistic wave functions or anything arising from derivatives of statistical mechanics. They are very handy tools that are indispensible. The Copenhagen Interpretation is very philosophical. That is a fact. That’s why there are quite mainstream ensemble interpretations and nonlocal theories that have emerged. I highly recommend Sabine Hossenfelder’s work regarding this topic. As a leading researcher in the field of Quantum Gravity, she’s uniquely positioned to comment on this, as the effects of the inconsistencies between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity cause huge issues in that field. Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity are mathematically different formulations that can produce results that contradict one another, but both produce very acturate predictions at their respective scales. To me, this suggests that both are inadequate, incomplete descriptions of the universe.

Does God know if it’s going to rain tomorrow?

If God grounds being, He does so without a trace; He creates nature, from eternity of course, as if He didn’t. @bilbo’s OP goes unanswered and I’ll build up my ramblings here from the top down.

I’ll posit God for a dollar, again that He grounds infinite being, from eternity of course (never, EVER forget eternity), and that therefore His sovereignty and our free will are meaningless. He - Love - is sovereign in that He grounds being and incarnates in solidarity with and apology to it. Nature does the rest, as it must by His instantiation of prevenient law which obviously includes self tuning. Prevenient of Him. Like truth, beauty, kindness; Love. Oh and there is the sublime of course. Heaven. Eternal, infinite heaven. How that could possibly work no one has the faintest idea.

Screeds of debate over ontological deterministic randomness and claims of God healing as if He didn’t, obliterating all His traces in creation, leaving a perfectly smooth statistical surface with no anomalies can be ignored. But don’t worry, I’ll continue rambling down from the top to the impossibility of squaring, relativizing QM circles which invalidates neither, in my tottering mediocrity.

Later.

Oooh what a rich seam!

Never quite sure where @gbrooks9 is coming from. Ultimately like @Jon_Garvey he seems to be on the line of false dichotomy and/or being very allegorical.

Human volition is on the false dichotomy, even polyotomy, but God certainly doesn’t touch evolution in any way unless He does and pretends not to: Lies.

They’re wrong unless God lies.

Allegorically. He doesn’t do any of those things, which He grounds. Sorry if that’s what you meant.

He is so right. His will is in instantiating the prevenient laws of nature (Gk. physis), incarnating in it and doing heaven. His will is also that we be nice, with no coercion either way.

I like it.

But what follows is the false dichotomy involving only God and/or chance, sovereignty and/or free will. Squaring those illusory circles. So it seems to me in my dotage.

I’m probably misreading @gbrooks9 and @Jon_Garvey and they completely agree with me.

Free will is meaningless and chance, indeterminacy, contingency is absolute, God is utterly subservient to that as He is to all the prevenient laws of nature. All. Which includes the laws that fix ‘fine tuning’. Just as He has no choice in being Love.

THIS! Is perfect. Hence my opening question. Because indeterminacy is absolute. God has no need to predict or plan anything at all, not that He could, never has, in all infinite past eternity of creation, natural and supernatural, never will, in all infinite future eternity. When He incarnates, it’s because the opportunity exists, as it always has somewhere. Always. And it will always end badly for Him, His incarnate will will ensure that. Intentional beings will always miss the impossible mark, will always abuse power. And He always has to confront that powerlessly.

But here, we’re back on the false dichotomy line. I’m not misreading. No ‘proper’ explanation is needed beyond indeterminacy. Unless I’m just soooooooo, old and dim I’m missing something. Apart from what’s been written for four years here and lacking for @Jon_Garvey for eight before. Which astounds me. That nobody has said what I am saying. In 12 years. Not since Kierkegaard. Well not round here.

Unplanned things happening to creatures randomly is in [any way related to] God’s wisdom, love or providence. That’s how they’re related. I mean really, this isn’t even sophomoric is it?

Later.

Where were we? Decorating. At my age I ask you. Nearly tea-time.

This intrigues me:

As it demonstrates two fallacies, from a brilliant physician I believe, a man who I infer so far heals by means of nuclear physics. I mean I’m a third rate old duffer, but I know that the statistically exact behaviour of the QM model of reality is because it is truly fully random, probabilistic and truly fully deterministic; it has rules like the Pauli exclusion principle which explains supernovas, not that there is any such nonsense as many worlds. The next fallacy, the poncey Latin ‘modus’ phrase for which eludes me, is built on that ignorance of determinism - laws - and that something is necessary to explain organisation beyond nature. I.e. the supernatural, the non-natural, the unnatural. What? What could it be? What need it be?

Tea time.

Roast root vegetable tagine. Gimme an FEB any time.

At this point the thread died and was resurrected.

@Bilbo asked '[i] Did God plan on Pharaoh freely choosing to refuse Moses’ request to free the Israelites? Or did God force Pharaoh to refuse?

[ii] I’ve been told that mutations happen at such a small level of reality that quantum events can play a significant role in their occurrence. Am I mistaken?’

[i] Oooh look, another false dichotomy.

[ii] Makes sense to me, I wonder what minds immeasurably superior to ours say?

Dear me, we’re only at the 8th of 96 comments on the dead thread. Tell you what, I’ll sign off on this one and pick up more as we go.

 
Earlier:

 
It’s sophomoric to even have a concept of God if he is helpless to intevene providentially in his children’s lives.

So don’t have such a concept. The helplessness of God is one of His most [endearing] features.

No it is not a fact. In this you are going too far.

The FACT is that SOME versions of the Copenhagen interpretation are very philosophical. But when the majority of quantum physicists say they prefer the Copenhagen interpretation they are not talking about such philosophical rhetoric. They pretty much mean they just go with the most straightforward understanding and acceptance of the mathematics as it is without adding a lot of philosophical dodging.

It is like the difference between the full blown philosophical and excessive claims of logical positivism and the simple recognition of the fact that physics consists of conclusions about the way things can be mathematically modeled without necessarily making any metaphysical claims. It is not to say that metaphysics is meaningless as the logical positivists say, but only that metaphysics really isn’t the business and work of physics when all is said and done. That is something the physics consensus is happy to leave to the philosophers.

Yes of course. The failed forays into string theory, inventions of dark matter, dark energy, and other inconsistencies do indeed strongly suggest that we are still missing some rather big pieces to the puzzle.

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I think that would be called a faith-based statement, a badly mistaken faith based on false presuppositions, presuppositions rooted in inexperience with the living God.

Alright. Thank you for clarifying that. Your comments were very helpful for me. I appreciate you taking the time to clear up some of my misconceptions.

So how unhelpless was God on the cross?

He was in complete control.
 

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters.
 
1 John 3:16

Note the verbs. What voice are they? (Hint: they are not passive.)

That scene of extreme Divine vulnerability is still scandalous for us all today. And we work hard to try to turn it into pat answers with lots of "yeah, but"s thrown in to make our brains feel better about it. E.g. … “Jesus got killed as a criminal” … Yeah, but he could have called down legions of angels if he’d wanted to! (and we immediately feel better about the whole thing by insisting that our apparently “weak” hero really is the winner here, but he just chose to walk away from the fight. And furthermore, we throw on - as our power-admiring selves start getting their steam back again - furthermore: He’s coming back, and this next time he’s gonna get the job done right! …meaning: how we wanted him to do it the first time. We tolerate all this talk about “the lamb”, but we make sure to bury all that stuff under what we’re really enthused about: the Lion! Which shows that the offense and significance of the cross is catching most of us by surprise even today still, after a couple thousand years of thinking about it.

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I am reminded of this quote,

To the extent that he or she takes risks, those risks should be on behalf of others.

 
Jesus knew what he was doing. By choice.

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Absolutely. In faith and faithfulness.

Being fully human he had none whatsoever. He controlled the situation to that point. By faith.

His Father was in complete control. To think otherwise is, to quote someone recently, sophomoric. The cross was voluntary, not helpless, and inordinately strong, not unlike a first responder going into danger, sacrificially. He willed himself to be submissive.

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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