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Part I: Introduction

Gerardus D. Bouw, P.D.

Jesus said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Existentialists ask three questions: “Who am I?” “What do I?” and “How be I?” Their questions, and Jesus's answers, characterize concerns which are uniquely human; for no animal cares or thinks of life, or of truth, or of righteousness. Indeed, mankind is divided into two camps on these issues. One camp is directed towards God, and the other away. One camp relies on words (John 1:1) and reason (Isaiah 1:18; Acts 17:2; I Peter 3:15); while the other relies on feelings (Genesis 27:12, 21; Acts 17:27) and images (Genesis 6:5; Acts 17:29-30). One camp is reasonable, the other is emotional. Time after time history has shown that when the emotional, feelings camp heeds the reasonable camp, that there is peace and prosperity; but when the emotional camp prevails, there is unrighteousness and chaos.

Did God speak the creation into being or did he feel it into being? Is the universe reasonable or does it consist purely of emotions, of images and feelings? Those questions echo the very foundational question of epistemology: how do we know that we know? Let us examine the current state of the foundations of knowledge in science: a theory about theories.

History of the quest

The systematic quest for truths is uniquely Western. To other cultures truth is merely relative, not absolute. Yet, though interpretations of the known facts may be relative, there is no way that truth itself can only be relative. For example, consider the tallest man in the world at this moment. It is an absolute truth that he is the tallest man right now. Certainly, someone may grow taller than him at some later time, but for this time he is absolutely the tallest man in the world. There is no way to make that truth relative. Indeed, if there is no absolute truth, then the absence of absolute truth is itself an absolute truth. We have here a contradiction: a paradox of self-reference. So it follows most certainly that the belief that there is absolutely no absolute truth cannot be true in any way shape or form.

Such self-contradictory statements are characteristic of the Twentieth Century's intelligentsia. For example, if one argues abortion or salvation with an American liberal, he will claim that “Your view is not the view, just a view.” One thing's for sure about that statement: the view that says there is no the view, cannot itself be the view. In other words, that liberal's statement is absolutely, positively, no-doubt-about-it, guaranteed to be wrong. There is no way that it can be correct.1

But it was not always that way in Western society. There was a time when American civilization was based on the Holy Bible.2 Indeed, the founding fathers of the American Constitution stated that the constitution would only work for a nation founded upon the Holy Bible, and that it is totally inadequate for a nation founded on something else, such as humanism. So it is, too, with science.

Science is a quest for truths (not truth, just truths) based on reason. Science could only develop in a Judeo-Christian society because only there is the universe seen as reasonable. The basis for that “reasonable” view is found in Isaiah 1:18, where God says: “Come now, and let us reason together.” By contrast, the other gods of the world are capricious and inconsistent in behavior. Such doesn't lead one to suspect a reasonable universe.

On the frontier

The frontier of science — the real, rugged, frontier — resides in the area of quantum mechanics. That area deals not only with the behavior of fundamental particles, but with the essence of the creation, with linguistics, and with math; even with theology. Now quantum mechanics has come under fire in Christian and creationist circles in recent years, so before we can proceed we need to examine the reasons for that conflagration. Is that fire justified, or is it the result of an incomplete understanding of quantum mechanics? It is my claim that the latter is the case.
The heart of the objection to quantum mechanics is characterized by Einstein's statement that “God does not play dice.” Einstein made that statement as a critique of quantum mechanics, a theory to which he never subscribed. Christian scientists object to quantum mechanics on the same grounds. They reason that if chance governs the universe then there can be no room for the sovereignty of God. On the surface, the charge seems justified, but if we turn to the Bible instead of our own understanding, it turns out that the objection is grossly overrated. God himself admits the existence of chance in Deuteronomy 22:6. Jesus (who is God incarnate) does the same in Luke 10:31. Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, uses the word in 1 Corinthians 15:37, albeit in a questionable context. Ecclesiastes 9:11 states that “time and chance happeneth to all.” If we are to take the Holy Bible at its word, we are forced to conclude that chance is real.

Yet there persists a certain type of intellectual who insists that there must be a conflict between chance and the sovereignty of God. Apparently his intelligence (or maybe his faith?) is not enough to see that God's sovereignty also extends to chance: that God also rules chance.

But what of chance in quantum mechanics? Is quantum mechanics really founded on blind Godless chance? Actually, opinion on that question is divided in the quantum camp. The problem is not difficult to see. Experiments show that the fundamental building blocks of matter, the elementary particles, move in waves. It was this experimental observation which led to the formulation of quantum mechanics in the first place. Since particles are waves, they are larger than a point. Traditional, classical mechanics is based on the notion that a mass or particle can be represented as a point of zero size yet having mass or energy. This works fine for the sun, moon and planets, but it does not work for fundamental particles or even for molecules.

This is not to suggest that classical physics cannot be modified to account for extended particles; it can. Philosophically, classical mechanics shows a universe with a “point to it,” quantum mechanics appears to provide a “pointless” universe. The resolution lies in that the point, the reason for the creation of the universe, is not physical but spiritual, as is recorded in Romans 9:22 vf. So one should not be surprised that from a physical perspective, the universe is “pointless.”

Since fundamental particles behave as waves, they have a size, an extent. Their presence is spread throughout the wave. In other words, if the particle is a wave, then where is that wave? Unlike in classical mechanics, one cannot pick an infinitesimally small point and say “Here is the wave.” The wave's presence is spread from trough to trough. This forces one to use statistics or probability to determine the position of the wave and so, to explain the behavior of the particle. This is where chance enters the quantum mechanical picture. But does the use of chance or probability really preclude determinism and control: the sovereignty of God?

The Schroedinger cat paradox

To explore the role of chance in quantum mechanics, consider the Schroedinger cat paradox. The statement of the cat paradox is contrived for effect (one could just as well use the toss of a coin) but here goes. Imagine a cat enclosed in a box with a bottle of prussic acid (World War I nerve gas). The bottle is stoppered, but there is a hammer suspended over the bottle. The hammer is latched to a device which is triggered by a geiger counter. A radioactive substance is placed in the box. If the geiger counter goes off, the hammer falls and breaks the bottle, killing the cat. Now the box is left alone for one hour. At the end of the hour there is an even chance that the geiger counter will have triggered the release of the hammer. The task at hand is to derive the equation of state of the system, to derive the formula which will allow (maybe even predict) whether or not the cat will live or die in any particular hour. It turns out that when the equation is derived, there is no solution unless both cases happen. That is, the equation can only be solved if the cat both lives and dies. Of course, this result is paradoxical, it cannot happen and so the problem is called the Schroedinger cat paradox.

Now there are two schools of thought on resolving the paradox. The most esoteric of the two is known as the Copenhagen school. Its advocates assume that the universe splits in two and that in one universe the cat lives, and in the other it dies. According to them, with every chance event the universe splits into several parts, each part for one of the possible outcomes. If, for example, the chance of the cat dying was one in three, then the universe would split into three parts: one with a dead cat and two with a living cat. Here, too, there are two schools of thought. The one believes that all the universes exist independent of one another for ever while the other believes that eventually, in a short time, all but one (ours) of the universes fade out of existence.
The alternative to the Copenhagen school, insofar as the solution to the cat paradox is concerned, is that something or someone “decides” which outcome will happen. Here, too, opinion is divided. Some believe that it is the observer decides the outcome simply by looking at the box. Others speculate that the cat decides. A few (such as this author) hold that God decides. What is significant for our discussion is that in none of these quantum mechanical schools of thought is the decision attributed to chance.

Deterministic quantum mechanics

Now we consider a different aspect of chance in quantum mechanics. We noted that chance is a biblical thing. And from the Schroedinger cat paradox it seems that on the one hand, chance is a quantum mechanical thing, too, while on the other hand, quantum mechanics demands that chance or randomness be somehow removed from chance events. Apparently the Schroedinger cat paradox is not totally resolved.

But there is another type of quantum mechanics, one which is deterministic. This view started in 1952 when David Bohm derived his ”hidden variable” version of quantum mechanics. Bohm's model is experimentally indistinguishable from the conventional model.3 According to Bohm, there is in addition to the usual concept of force, a “quantum potential” which may cause particles to veer off course and produce interference patterns and the like. The quantum potential is described as a deus ex machina, a “god from a machine.” Reading between the lines, the quantum potential is part and parcel of the fabric of space and as such is a controlled form of chance. Biblically, time and chance may happen to all, but to those that love God, all things work together for good.4 In other words, what chance there is is controlled for good. Likewise, the believer in Christ is predestinated to be conformed to his image.5
There is a “problem” with Bohm's theory. It violates the Lorentz invariance (read relativity) when considering individual particle events. However, since all quantum mechanical models share this concept of non-locality; if non-locality exists, then it is necessary that relativity be violated at the local (sub-microscopic) level. Apparently the problems of quantum mechanics, namely their infinities, may actually be the result of insisting that relativity apply to local particle events. In other words, the theory of relativity is null and void at the scale of atoms and smaller.

Next: What is a theory?


Bible Puzzle

Adam, God made out of dust, but thought it best to make me first; so I was made before man to answer God's most holy plan. A living being I became and Adam gave to me my name. I, from his presence then withdrew, and more of Adam never knew. I did my maker's law obey nor ever went from it astray. Thousands of miles I go in fear, but seldom on earth appear. For purpose wise which God did see, he put a living soul in me. A soul from me God did claim and took from me the soul again. So when from me the soul had fled, I was the same as when first made. And without hands or feet or soul I travel from pole to pole. O labor hard by day, by night to follow men I give great light. Thousands of people, young and old, will by my death great light behold.

No right or wrong can I conceive, the Scriptures I cannot believe. Although my name therein is found, they are to me an empty sound. No fear of death doth trouble me, real happiness I'll never see. To heaven I shall never go, or to hell below. Who am I?

A free 1997 subscription went to the first person to solve the riddle.


1 For a biblical perspective on modern liberalism see Isaiah 32:5.
2 For evidence, I suggest the video tape: America's Godly Heritage, produced by Wall Builders, Inc., Box 397, Aledo, TX 76008.
3 D. Bohm and B. J. Hiley, 1993. The Undivided Universe, (Routledge: NY).
4 Romans 8:28.
5 Romans 8:29.

Translated from WS2000 on 14 February 2005 by ws2html.