Quantum Mechanics

Discussion in 'Natural Revelation and God's Creation' started by knight4christ8, Apr 7, 2005.

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  1. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    I know that Quantum Mechanics is wrong simply b/c it refutes determinsm which is implied the belief that all events have causes.
    However, I am having a hard time forming my thoughts. Has anyone here ran into this. We cannot accept quantum mechanics and be Calvinists, so I figured this was a good place to ask for help in thinking through these issues.

    I am also going to post this in the Creation thread.
  2. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    I don't believe that Scott whatshisname cannot make those "quantum leaps". Nor do I believe in Al.
  3. lwadkins

    lwadkins Puritan Board Junior

    :lol::lol: Bakula, his name is Bakula..:lol::lol:
  4. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Bakula? Or did he quantum leap into that? If he did, he came so close to leaping into a Baluka, or a Baluga.

    Anyways, I don't believe that quantum mechanics are of any use unless you have a quantum machine for them to work on. And then the question is whether or not they need a hoist, or whether they can levitate.
  5. cultureshock

    cultureshock Puritan Board Freshman


    Quantum mechanics itself is not necessarily anti-Christian or un-Christian. Rather, the various interpretations of it are those which give rise to different philosophical theories of knowledge. In my view, the Christian worldview must take a realist position with regards to epistemology, because God is the creator and he has communicated to us. Is there a way to interpret quantum mechanics in a realist sense? The answer is 'yes'. Therefore, we need not throw out quantum mechanics.

  6. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Moderator

    How do quantum mechanics contradict Calvinism?
  7. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Moderator

    Threads merged. Please don't start duplicate threads. :judge:
  8. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    John you are a riot. LOL.

    Sorry about the threads Patrick.


    How and who determines QM in a realist sense? Bohm? I haven't read him yet.


    Most interpretations of QM maintain that a particle has a superposition (spinning both up and down), but then when measured takes on either a totally up or a down spin (actually dif. polarizations, but spin helps the visualization). This is said to be an uncaused event. Nothing determines whether this particle will go one way or the other. Hence, determinism falls when there can be uncaused events. Not only that but reason also, and thus all meaning is lost. With nothing determining the outcome - man cannot know what will happen - nor can God except by foreknowledge :deadhorse:. LOL. God must roll dice.

    Einstein rejected all this by saying that "God doesn't roll dice" and maintains that QM is not complete. QM however, through Bell's Experiment, supposedly proves that QM is correct in saying that there is no hidden variable which can contribute to the Completely Random outcome of these particles. No hidden variable, QM is complete. If QM is complete and right in the interpretations that I know of - Calvinism is threatened through determinism being threatened.

    Somehow our science went wrong somewhere. Maybe it was in assuming the constancy of light. I don't know. I welcome all to help me deal with this in any way they can. Brian, I had forgotten your expertise, but I really need you.
  9. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    I fail to see how scienctific theory (in this case) is opposed to Christianity. We need to be careful. Here are some classic church blunders:

    The earth is the center of the universe, since Christ died for man...
    The earth is flat, since the Bible talks about its four corners...
    God would never let radio (later television) exist, since Satan is the Prince of the Power of the Air...
    God woud never let man fly in space, since (see above)...
    God would never let man land on the moon, since (see above)...

    I'll admit, my knowledge of quantum theory is pretty shallow. All I know about it is what I've read in Hocking's Brief History of Time...oh yeah and Michael Chriton. Hehehe

    With regards the threatening of determinism, we need to remember that science only deals with the observable. God cannot be observed, therefore issues of divine control of the universe cannot factor into scienctific theory and remain science. That is the realm of theology. Theology must guide and interpret our observations. So we might reject Chaos Theory, for instance, but we also need hold in tension the idea that God has created natural laws the govern the universe, too...at the risk of sounding deistic.'

    So, when I trip and fall, it is gravity that brought me to the ground and not God's hand hurling me down. Same holds true with quantum theory. Quarks and whatchamacallits are operating in accordance with the way God created them too, we just can't explain it, so it looks chaotic.
  10. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    However, if a quantum particle was tested and lept out with an up spin, this particle influences all that God has instituted through ordinary means. Yet, GOd could not have known what its outcome would be except by foreknowledge b/c nothing that He created in it determined what it would do. Thus, our science is not even consistent with what msut be true of natural revealtion . . . there are no uncaused events.

  11. Saiph

    Saiph Puritan Board Junior

    Having recently seen the movie "What the $*#@% do we know ?" I have been recently questioning the nature of reality.

    The exciting aspect of their discovery is that they say science has found the existence of the soul, or "the observer". Determinism is in question. The sad part is that there conclusion is to acquiesce to pantheism or some Kantian idea of transcendence that is beyond the limits of our epistemological ability.

    The systems of QM are not yet defined well enough to be complete nor consistent. They are observing new aspects daily. God is revealing His majesty through it all, and they are left confounded.
  12. VirginiaHuguenot

    VirginiaHuguenot Puritanboard Librarian

    QM is way over my head. I suspect that there are theological problems with this approach to understanding reality. But as a Star Trek and Michael Crichton science fiction fan (Timeline, yeah!) I do enjoy a good quantum yarn.
  13. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Me too, Andrew. I've tried to understand Hawking's books, but I can't. I've made quite a gain in his diagramatic of the curving of space, but it still is either far too simplistic or far too advanced for me. I wouldn't throw out quantum mechanics, because, after all, they were trained for their job; its not our fault they don't have quantum cars to work on. :D

    I think we need to use the word "deterministism" in a very closed sense. Calvinism is not deterministic in the generally used sense. It is not fatalistic. We do make real choices, and our lives and actions are significant. God is sovereign, and He has forordained all things. But the future is not to Him what it is to us, nor the past. And it is not so much that all is in the present with Him as it is that all is before Him, Who is not subject to time, to govern according to His will.

    I agree that quantum physiscs is still largely theoretical, and perhaps still only partially practical. If it were more known to us we would not have science-fictions based on hoped-for ends and applications; we would know better what the limitations are.

    That's as far as my limited knowledge takes me. Now, "Beam me up, Scottie."
  14. cultureshock

    cultureshock Puritan Board Freshman

    It has been a while since I've thought about this subject. I will re-examine it in light of my Calvinism and get back to you with my thoughts.

  15. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    I really do appreciate the humor guys. We can take confidence that our God will lead us in to all truth and the fool will be made silent.

    Thanks Brian. I would really appreciate that. We just dealt with Bell's Proof to give you an idea of where we are at.
  16. cultureshock

    cultureshock Puritan Board Freshman

    Hi Greg,

    I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I see part of the issue in terms of the failure to make two appropriate distinctions:

    1. The physicist/philosopher distinction
    2. The creator/creature distinction

    1. First, one problem is that physicists need to content themselves with being physicists. Too many physicists wrongly think it within their expertise to draw metaphysical conclusions about their work. The problem with this is that people are prone to believe them. Everyone seems to think that physicists are smart, so they often fall prey to the expert fallacy. In my opinion, physicists ought to leave issues of ontology and epistemology to the philosophers and theologians. Physics is still changing; even physicists don't have all the pieces of the puzzle. You don't have to take any of their conclusions about quantum realism too seriously.

    2. Second, I think the whole debate over realism/instrumentalism in the quantum realm, especially with regards to the indeterminacy issue, would be much easier to resolve if we recognize that quantum physics, and all of science generally, is conducted from the creature's perspective, not the creator's. Does God know where the particle is located in the box? Yes. It is within God's power to know and uphold his creation; it is within our power to attempt to discover truths about his creation. We are bound to fall short of God's knowledge about his creation due both to our sinfulness and finiteness. Thus, we must never take our scientific conclusions too far.

    Also, I think the Westminster Confession gives sufficient detail to the topic of causes in the physical world in order to explain quantum physics in relation to God's providence:

    III.I God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby neither is God the author of sin; nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures, nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.

    Whatever the right explanation for quantum phenomena is, we can be certain that it is a secondary cause, behind which stands God's providence in upholding the cause, as well as causality itself.


    V.III God, in his ordinary providence, maketh use of means, yet is free to work without, above, and against them, at his pleasure.

    The laws that govern quantum mechanics are not merely inherent in the nature of reality, except insofar as God has instituted them in creation and continues to uphold them. They are the ordained means through which God works out the details of the physical universe.

    Remember, the God of the Bible is not Ben Franklin's watchmaker who wound up the universe to let it run on its own, but rather, he is intimately present and involved in upholding every detail of his creation. I know that some Arminians can imagine the God of the Bible as one who is subject to the forces of a brute reality, or a sort of chance force. They might even speak of the "risks" God took in making man. But insofar as they do, they are worshipping an idol, not the God of the Bible.

    Now, the application of these doctrines is this: If the indeterminacy in the location of a quantum particle is true, and not only apparent, then it is this way because God designed it that way and continues to uphold it in that way. We need not fear that the indeterminacy principle might overthrow the concept of God as the Sovereign Determiner. Rather, because God works through and in the physical world, we may safely investigate the world as it is, and however we find it to be, we can be confident that it is the way God decreed that it should be. When we go to measure the location of the quantum particle, the outcome was already determined by God long ago. Not only did he know what value we would measure, but he determined the measurement by his providence.

    Let me know if I answered your question or not. If you have any more specific issues related to this subject, I would be happy to talk to you more about it.


    [Edited on 4-9-2005 by cultureshock]
  17. Puritan Sailor

    Puritan Sailor Moderator

    If scientists come to the conclusions that contradict sriptur, then they need to reassess their data. I have a feeling, their idea of randomness here is more semantic. Just because we don't know how it happens or can't predict it, doesn't make it "random."
  18. kevin.carroll

    kevin.carroll Puritan Board Junior

    Precisely my point. What we call "random" movement of particles is actually particles moving the way God ordained them too. We just call it "random" because we do not yet discern the pattern. Another possiblity is that God decreed them to move at random...which is not a problem since the creation is still subservient to the Almighty Creator.

  19. ChristianasJourney

    ChristianasJourney Puritan Board Sophomore

    This is way over my head, so I shouldn't even be replying, but I just want to point out, that simply because it doesn't make sense to us doesn't mean it "isn't." For example, think about those lights in the deepest darkest part of the ocean that are there for no other known purpose except to glorify God by their existence, mammels that swim, birds that don't fly, fish that walk, and the marvelous work of the platypus. The universe is built upon laws and rules, yet God seems to take pleasure in creating objects that violate His "laws", as if to say "I am the Creator, and I can do what I will with my creation."
  20. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    Very well said all.

    Thank you Brian.

    Just for some of your reference, QM claims that there are no patterns. THey claim that according to QM the probability of a particle is estimated with precision as 1/4, but when we try to find patterns, or think that there are hidden variables which we don't know about we com up with x>1/3. Thus, QM claims that their work is done, and that their claim to uncaused events is justified.
  21. JohnV

    JohnV Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Are you talking about the Heisenberg Law of Uncertainty instead? Or is quantum theory derived from it? I am not sure of the distinction myself. I think it is pretty clear that we're all talking about something we don't really understand. And I suppose that would assume physicists who study quantum physics the right to stand in judgment of their less informed philosopher contemporaries in making universaly philosophical assertions.

    Janice spoke of lights without reason, fish that walk, mammals that swim, and birds that don't fly. We could also talk, at least I do, of quantum mechanics without a quantum car to work on, in jest of course. But we also talk about the limitations of our Confessional standards, knowing that we have formulated them in our own weaknesses, even though we know they derive from an infallible source. We are more certain of these latter than we are of the former, as Patrick rightly observed I think. We who are scientifically inclined were at one time quite convinced of Newtonian law, and that is now passe, it seems. One question that still remains in my mind is that, if all things are relative to the speed of light, according to the Theory of General Relativity, then would it be correct to assume that the Theory of General Relativity is also relative to the speed of light? (I'm speaking not specifically, but generally. )

    None of this undermines my own certainty of my Lord's love for me and for each of us who confess Him. If quantum mechanics means to undermine or subjectivise my own certainty, then I must regard it as wrong. But in turn, I must study seriously whether it is the scientists who are wrong, or whether the notion itself is wrongly assumed. The Bible grants us certainty, of that I am sure; and this in turn legitimizes scientific endeavours.
  22. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    I agree.

    I will have to return after I am well to be sure that I got all of that.
  23. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    Quantum mechanics is a major problem for naturalistic determinism, but since Calvinism does not assume that all events have naturalistic causes, QM is not a problem at all for Calvinism. (If we assume that God's sovereignty of the universe means always using secondary natural causes, we have to exclude the resurrection and the regeneration of our own hearts.)

    Nor can God know except by foreknowledge? But God does have foreknowledge. Why is this a problem?

    Would you claim that your thoughts are naturalistically determined with a physical cause? Surely not. Yet God knows them before they happen. He needn't roll dice. He knows and ordains what will happen through the sovereign working of his will. It is as if you are saying that God must act in patterns we can discern and through causes we understand. He needn't. He can act directly within his world or he can use causes that make no sense to use. I don't know which this is, frankly.

    My physics prof has a web site where he discusses this. You might not agree with everything he says (though I believe he is a Calvinist), but it's an interesting read:

  24. Ex Nihilo

    Ex Nihilo Puritan Board Senior

    I realized that what I was saying what slightly unclear:

    Scientists claim on the basis of QM that there is no (known) cause for whether a given photon goes one way or another. That is, we have no naturalistic explanation for the photon's "choice."

    The lack of natural cause doesn't mean there is no cause.

    What if God himself ordains the direction of the photon's path? This isn't inconsistent with our view of a supersovereign God. (And if you click the link, that's also my prof's position.)

    [Edited on 4-10-2005 by Ex Nihilo]
  25. C. Matthew McMahon

    C. Matthew McMahon Christian Preacher

    Science is funny this way - they are making uneducated guesses all around and believe they are "posing" good ideas. Now some ideas are good, but theorizing is dangerous (just look at the theory of evolution) without some ultimate reality that remains logically consistent. Science, at its best, is simply guessing at what they think is true based on a limited amount of information. They are, then, forced to make assumption that they think are right, and people, often just take them at face value as being correct.

    In other words, the path of photons seem obscure and undetermined to pagan scientists who have no standard of ultimate reality other than their own brain, but Christians know better.
  26. BayouHuguenot

    BayouHuguenot Puritan Board Doctor

    I find quantum mechanics intersting but my knowledge is too limited of it. Whether it is true (and I believe it it) I must at the end of the day say, "Such knowledge is too wonderful for me." Also, what kind of determinism are you holding to?
  27. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman

    Sorry for such a delay in my reply. Hopefully you notice it.

    I hold to soft determinism, just as any Calvinist does. All things are determined by our sovereign Father, but all agents act with their individual willingness at the forefront of their minds.

    Also, theoretical physicists will not let you speak if you do not believe them. Thye believe that it is apart from empirical knowledge that QM has been founded. Rather its basis for absolute truth is on its supposed interpretation of unmistakable "superpostitions" that localized experiments show to be present in nature. These "superpositioned" particles become understandable ONLY after measurement, but before are completely paradoxical and blurry in nature. The outcome of measurement is ALWAYS unpredictable and therefore even God, according to them, could not know what a particle is going to do when measured.
  28. biblelighthouse

    biblelighthouse Puritan Board Junior

    Thank you for reminding me of the popular "scientific" view of subatomic uncertainty.

    I remember being ticked off when I read Stephen Hawkings saying that very thing. It is sad how such a smart physicist can miss something so basic to logic.

    Even on a super-simplistic level, using nothing more than a mere Arminian (gasp!) understanding of God's Sovereignty, Hawkings' logic falls apart. If God exists outside of time, then it is no harder for God to see a future event that will be measured than it is for Him to see a past event that has been measured. (So they shouldn't even have to be Calvinists to see that they are wrong.)

    The physicists may then retort that it's nonsense to assume God could be outside of time. But they forget that *they* are the ones who started speaking about time as a "4th dimension" in the first place! They recognize time as integrally intwined with the fabric of space itself, thus the term, "space-time continuum". Now, if time is actually a "thing" that is intertwined with space, then it is just as much a part of creation as space is. And if we postulate a deity that created space, we necessarily postulate a deity that created time. And if He created time, then He is necessarily outside of it, and should be able to see the end just as clearly as the beginning.

    Even postulating a no-name deity, and even allowing a mere Arminian view of such a god's sovereignty, the physicists are still proved incorrect in a very simple and basic way. Their logic stinks. God most certainly DOES know what every subatomic particle will do, long before it ever happens.

    [Edited on 6-13-2005 by biblelighthouse]
  29. knight4christ8

    knight4christ8 Puritan Board Freshman


    :amen: Where have you been all of my life? I love it. Great reply. It is so basic. It shows the "wise" men of this world to be fools, yet those who rely on the Word to be most priveleged in grace and understanding. :scholar:
  30. InSixDays

    InSixDays Inactive User

    ICR has this to say about QM.

    Not sure I agree. Gary North's Is the World Running Down?: Crisis in the Christian Worldview has a good discussion of QM too.
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