Quantum Mechanics and the “Upholding” Power of God

The central unifying, overarching factor or cause is God himself.

(photo: ParentRap / Pixabay)

Recently, I watched a fascinating NOVA episode entitled “Einstein’s Quantum Riddle.” It was about advances in the area of quantum mechanics — specifically, what is called “quantum entanglement.” Wikipedia has a long, complicated article about it. But the gist of it (which the TV special summarized for the layperson) is as follows:

Quantum entanglement is a physical phenomenon that occurs when a pair or group of particles are generated, interact, or share spatial proximity in a way such that the quantum state of each particle of the pair or group cannot be described independently of the state of the others, including when the particles are separated by a large distance. ...
Einstein and others considered such behavior to be impossible, as it violated the local realism view of causality (Einstein referring to it as “spooky action at a distance”)…
Quantum entanglement has been demonstrated experimentally with photons, neutrinos, electrons…

Bottom line (beyond all the technical mumbo-jumbo of modern physics), is that — even assuming that this phenomenon is true and a fact — scientists have no explanation for how it could happen as it does. It’s one of those things where the knowledge of science comes to an end: like the origin of life, the causes of the origins of the Big Bang, DNA and higher intelligence, and dark matter.

Einstein, as is well-known, had serious problems with quantum mechanics, with regard to its seemingly random and irrational nature, in relation to traditional notions of cause-and-effect. He famously stated, “God doesn’t play dice.” Einstein’s “god” was a pantheist one at best, but he was no atheist, and recognized that the universe had an unexplainable higher order and beauty of design that any thinking person couldn’t deny. I have argued that this was a broad, bare-bones version of the classic theistic teleological (design) argument.

Science often gets to a place where it is completely baffled, but because it methodologically excludes God (which has essentially been the case since Darwin), and so often doesn’t recognize its own inherent philosophical limitations (empiricism being only one form of knowledge among many), it rules out what is as plausible an explanation as anything else: God.

The most obvious example of this is Big Bang cosmology. This theory was formulated by a Catholic priest-scientist, Father Georges Lemaître. It expressed in scientific detail what had already long since been present in the Bible: creatio ex nihilo (“creation from nothing”).

The theory of evolution runs into the same insuperable difficulties when it comes to describing exact sequences and causes for evolutionary change: especially across large gaps, such as the origins of life and DNA and of large classification groups to other ones. It’s entirely possible as a method that God used to create (theistic evolution), but without the inclusion of God, science cannot explain many key aspects of it.

Intelligent design advocate and scientist Dr. Michael Behe believes that intelligent design doesn’t necessarily require additional “intervention” by God after His initial act of creation. 

All Christians, it seems to me, have to believe that (1) God created (Genesis, etc.), and (2) he in some sense “sustains” or “upholds” his creation. 

It’s a belief in a non-material or immaterial force or power or spirit, that profoundly influences the material universe and its creative processes, and which itself seems ultimately beyond purely scientific or empirical analysis.

In this view, of  intelligent design and/or theistic evolution, God designed or foreordained that complex structures would evolve, and life and consciousness, etc., by some unknown non-material, overarching, guiding principle that transcends science, or concerning which science (presently) can give us no clues or answers. 

He not only created scientific laws that work essentially on their own (hence can be observed and studied scientifically), but also “supervises” or ordains the entire “project” — though not in an interventionist or supernatural/miraculous way. The processes and potentialities were there from the beginning, as a manifestation of his omnipotence and omniscience. It’s just that some of them are supra-scientific.

I submit that the same explanation that suggests itself with regard to the Big Bang and the unexplained mysteries of evolutionary process: the creative and “upholding”/omnipotent power of God, is applicable and plausible also as the explanation of how quantum entanglement is possible at all. Here are biblical passages along these lines:

  • Job 38:33 (RSV) Do you know the ordinances of the heavens? Can you establish their rule on the earth?
  • Nehemiah 9:6 “...Thou art the LORD, thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them; and thou preservest all of them; ...”
  • Wisdom 11:25 How would anything have endured if thou hadst not willed it? Or how would anything not called forth by thee have been preserved?
  • Acts 17:28 “...In him we live and move and have our being”
  • Colossians 1:17 ...in him all things hold together.
  • Hebrews 1:3 …upholding the universe by his word of power…

This is inspired revelation from God. God either does these things: establishes, preserves, holds together, allows to endure, and upholds all of his creation (which he brought into being from nothing) or he does not. Christians — if they are consistent — cannot disbelieve this. And God’s power is as plausible an explanation of quantum entanglement as anything else: if only “methodologically atheist” science will allow him to be discussed at all.

If scientists seek the vaunted “unified theory” in physics, it’s right in front of them: the central unifying, overarching factor or cause is God himself. The Bible has taught it these past 2000 or more years. Modern science keeps indirectly verifying it, in effect, by its inability to explain origins or (as in our present example) the basis and ultimate causes of experimentally verified quantum mechanics.

Bela Lugosi portrays the famous vampire in this screenshot from the trailer for ‘Dracula’ (1931)

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Culture is key in forming hearts and minds. And Catholics well formed in both their profession and their faith certainly can impact culture for the good. We can all agree we need more of that today. One writer who is always keen on highlighting the intersection of faith and culture is the National Catholic Register’s UK correspondent, K.V. Turley, and he has just released his first novel. He joins us here on Register Radio. And then, we talk with Joan Desmond about the so-called “woke revolution” taking place even in some Catholics schools, in modern medicine, and again in culture.