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Friday, May 30, 2014

Quantum Mechanics and Christianity

Quantum Mechanics and Christianity
By Jim J. McCrea
Quantum Mechanics has what is known as the "uncertainty principle."

With that, at subatomic scales, the position and the momentum of a particle cannot both be known precisely at the same time. The more precise the knowledge of one, the less precise the knowledge of the other.

An analogy may to help understand this if the uncertainty principle worked on macroscopic scales. If you were playing soccer you could know exactly where the ball is, but you would not know how fast it is going - or - you could know how fast it is going, but you would have no idea where it is.

Now this principle works on subatomic scales.

As an example, consider an electron around the nucleus of an atom. In its normal state we know the energy of the electron, but rather than circling in a neat orbit around the nucleus (as we were taught as school children), the position of the electron is uncertain. Rather than being at a given location, as a planet is around the sun, it exists at an unknown location somewhere within a probability cloud around the nucleus. If the atom is probed with another particle, the energy of the electron becomes uncertain, but it appears at a definite random location somewhere within the probability cloud.

Now the position that it appears is completely random in that there is no way that the laws of nature can predict it. It has been demonstrated mathematically that there are no hidden variables - that there is nothing happening in a deterministic manner, at a deeper level, that explains where the electron would appear.

For the electron to appear out of a probability cloud like that is what is known as the "collapse of the wave function." But even though nothing in nature causes it, there must be something determining that the wave function collapses in one way rather than another.

This something must be outside of space and time, which we call God, since it has been demonstrated that the cause cannot be within the finite laws of nature.

God causes the wave function to collapse the way it does.

This is one manner in which He governs the universe.

Something known as "chaos theory" holds that a very small change in initial conditions can produce a huge effect later on. For example, a butterfly flapping its wings can determine whether or not a hurricane develops two weeks later.

God's omnipotence and omniscience, in controlling the collapse of every wave function (as quantum mechanics governs the physical world at subatomic scales), provides the initial impetus' for the resultant macroscopic physical events that He foresees and wishes to bring about. 

Also see The Metaphysics of Chance