Faith and Physics: Part Two

Quantum Physics(Before you read this, review Faith and Physics Part 1)

We have discovered that in quantum physics a human observer plays an active role in determining what is real. Reality isn’t a “given” waiting for us to discover it. Rather, it is potential waiting for us to give it life. Albert Einstein, who did not like quantum physics at all, complained: “Do you mean to tell me that the moon only exists when I look at it?” He eventually had to accept that was the case when presented with the data. Now we need to go a step further.

In the quantum universe every time we make an observation we birth a reality. But it is clear that we could have made any number of observations but only made the one. For example, we looked left when we could have looked right. What happened to all the things we could have observed into existence but did not? Those potentialities continue to exist because, while they have no mass, they do possess energy and the Second Law of Thermodynamics insists that energy can neither be created or destroyed. So where did they go?

Many quantum scientists believe that every possibility comes to actual expression somewhere or sometime. To account for this they theorize that there must be as many universes as there are possibilities that could be observed. I can be sure, for example, that somewhere out there my UNM Lobos are winning the NCAA tournament every season. But it goes deeper than that. As physicist Hugh Everett has theorized, each of these “Many Worlds,” as physicists call them, likely corresponds to a different Me. In other words, my observations don’t directly generate worlds, they generate different versions of Me. Each Me then produces its own World.

It’s a different way of looking at things for sure! But what does it mean? Materialist science makes everything (including me) the product of physical processes that can be studied and explained. Quantum science reverses that by making physical processes the product of something non-material, namely, observations and reflections, a process in which I participate.

Looking at the world that way things get interesting (and a little crazy). If everything is a product of observation (a process physicist John Wheeler called “Genesis by Observership”), I too must be the product of an observation someone else is making. To use the image I introduce in Kali, A Novel, we may all be characters in someone’s book or video game just as we ourselves are creating the reality being lived by an infinite number of creatures including the people around us.

At this point, you might well say, “That isn’t how life feels! It feels like everything has its own existence separate from me, an existence I must constantly adapt to because it does not obey or serve me!” But quantum science invites us to ask, are you sure that is true? Are you strictly bound to a given reality that sets your limits and determines your fate or are you less limited and more powerful than you think? It turns out that there is someone who has offered an answer to those questions and even provided stunning examples that illustrate how the world really works, a man named Jesus.


Faith and Physics: Part 1

Quantum PhysicsI love quantum physics! And I’m not the only one. A surprising number of Christian preachers and theologians share my passion which, like theirs, is Biblically based. I’m so excited about this new science that I’ve written a book of fiction titled Kali: A Novel in which I make it easy for readers to understand, and more importantly, to directly experience quantum reality. And I can say this for sure: it’s quite a ride!

Why do I love quantum physics? Let me lay out some background. The still predominate way of doing science is based on a philosophy called Materialism. That philosophy holds that physical objects are everything that ever was, is or will be. This powerful paradigm holds sway in almost every field of science from particle physics to biology and medicine and on into historical studies and theories of education. Materialism is the conceptual framework on which the world we live in has been constructed. Of course, by its very nature, this paradigm excludes any active role for the faith which is shoved aside into a realm of Sunday school pageants and private sentiment.

The problem with any paradigm is that paradigms are embraced but never tested. The core assumption of Materialism that physical reality is the only reality can never be subjected to falsification tests because it provides the bases on which all falsification tests rest. No paradigm can disprove itself because the paradigm defines in advance what is true.

But what if a paradigm is wrong? It’s happened and it can really mess things up. That’s where quantum physics comes into the picture. It’s an entirely different paradigm. Quantum science began with the study of reality at a subatomic level. At that level, as you look closer and closer,  physical reality eventually vanishes into a realm inhabited only by mathematics expressed in the form of statistical probabilities. Those probabilities have no physical existence whatsoever. However, they can become physical objects but only when they are observed by a human being. What this means is that a scientist who is seeing something in a microscope or particle accelerator that seems to have an existence of its own “out there” has actually, by her process of observation, created something that was never there before. She didn’t find reality she invented it. In other words, at the deepest level, the world that Materialism declares to be everything doesn’t even exist.

The quantum perspective (which included a wide array of new concepts) shocked the scientific establishment when it emerged around 1920. Critics hoped that its principles only applied to the subatomic world and nowhere else. But as falsification tests repeatedly sustained quantum predictions it turned out that the important factor was not the size of what was being measured but the precision of the measurements. The quantum nature of reality had been discovered because the kind of research engaged in by its founders required more precise measurements made by more exacting instruments than ever used before. Scientists began to realize that if you look carefully enough, the whole universe from galaxy clusters to quarks operates more deeply on quantum principles than those that are based on philosophical Materialism. It’s like looking at a mosaic set on a wall. From a distance, the mosaic offers a beautiful image. That’s the world of Materialism. But look closer and you see that the image is really a collection of colored tiles. That’s the quantum processes that create and sustain the images that form the Materialist world.