“Discoveries throughout the 20th century have shown us that electrons know when they are being watched by us and change their behaviour accordingly. They can also time travel. They can teleport’ And they can communicate instantly across the universe.”
If you want to know more then that’s what this essay is all about…
Recently I read with great interest a fascinating book called Quantum Glory: The Science of Heaven Invading Earth, by Phil Mason. Phil is a Christian theologian from Australia who has had a thirty year fascination with quantum physics. The book explores the truly weird discoveries in the world of quantum physics that have revolutionised science in the last two generations. These insights have changed forever the way we view the universe and our place in it.
In Quantum Glory Phil explains the discoveries of quantum physics and their implications for our understanding of a non-material, extra-dimensional realm. He also deals with the New Age Movements attempt to take ownership of these discoveries, and he does all this from a thoroughly Biblical worldview, having come out of the New Age movement himself 30 years ago. Phil demonstrates admirably how quantum physics more naturally leads toward an understanding of how a sovereign theistic creator formed the universe. He also persuasively argues that quantum physics could be the zone that God uses to access the physical world from the spiritual realm.
Below is my own summary of those elements of the book that I believe best articulate his arguments and which helped me appreciate a whole new dimension of the greatness of our creator.
Part One. Entering the Sub-Atomic World
As you read the descriptions below please keep in mind that science has been brilliant at describing ever-increasing layers of complexity in the natural world, but is singularly silent on the fundamental question of why. Scientists will say they know why something happens, but, with all due respect, they are only describing how things happen. This is all science can ever do, it is only ever descriptive. Please keep this truth front and centre as you read on.
Quantum physics is the study of the very smallest units of the sub-atomic world. These units are called “quanta”, because it was discovered that sub-atomic particles always come with mathematically precise quantities of energy. Max Planck was the German scientist who first discovered this astounding reality and who coined the term “Quantum Mechanics”. To help us understand this world and the incredibly small scale it occupies let us begin this essay by journeying from the world you and I inhabit daily, down into a proverbial rabbit hole to this amazing sub-atomic realm.
To make it personal, let’s zero in from your body. You are single and amazing functioning unit called a human being, with a mind, will and body. On a physical level you are made of organs and these organs are made of millions of cells. There are somewhere between 30 and 50 trillion cells in the average human body. A healthy liver for example has around 240 billion cells. Your brain has about 100 billion cells and quadrillion neural connections. It is the most complex piece of matter in the universe by far.
Just for the record a cell, with its energy supply, waste removal, reproductive capacity, library of information, computer software, transportation systems, internal and external communications systems and production centres, is far more complex than the largest human cities on earth. Sadly, the prevailing belief is that it arose by accident, while human mega-cities are considered marvels of intelligent design. But I digress, so let’s keep going. On a purely physical level cells are made of proteins, fats, water, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, and inorganic ions which include sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphate, chloride, and bicarbonate. All of these components are made of molecules, which are held together by electromagnetism, and molecules are made of different combinations of atoms. For an in-depth look at the workings of the cell please take this link to my fascinating essay on that topic.
Atoms are the smallest unit of ordinary matter and are the smallest building blocks of all chemistry and physics, which is basically everything that happens in the universe. Large collections of identical atoms are called elements. An element is simply trillions of atoms of exactly the same type that clump together, like gold or hydrogen. To help you understand their size, if you lined atoms up side by side, there would be about 100 million atoms to a centimetre. Atoms themselves are made of three parts: protons, neutrons and electrons, but these sub-atomic building blocks cannot be combined into new elements, molecules or compounds. It all stops at the atomic level; atoms are the bridge between the macro-world and the quantum world.
The nucleus inside the atom consists of protons and neutrons that are bound together in a single unit by nuclear forces, while electrons circle the nucleus in a crazy whirl of activity at almost the speed of light. It is because all three were found to have very specific quantities of energy that quantum physics was born. The nucleus of the atom is physically tiny, even inside the space of a tiny atom. If we enlarged the atom to the size of an auditorium, the nucleus would be a speck of dust in the centre, with the electron’s swirling around the edges of the auditorium at light speed, so even then you still would not be able to see the atom! Nevertheless, nearly all the mass of the atom is in that speck of “dust”, the nucleus.
The nucleus weighs about two thousand times as much as all its electrons combined. Oddly, most of this mass of the nucleus is in the proton not the neutron. They are 75 times heavier than a neutron. Most of the nucleus’s mass is due to kinetic energy holding it together. Yes, energy has mass! The energy binding the protons and neutrons together, the strong nuclear force, is the strongest force known to science, seven times stronger than that holding the electrons to the nucleus, and ten million times stronger than chemical bonds. This is why releasing the neutron from the proton creates so much nuclear energy. The deadly radiation coming from splitting the atom is actually created by freed neutrons, which are inherently unstable when released from a proton. Neutrons then decay over time, hence radio-active decay.
Because protons are heavy and stable, the number of protons determines both an atom’s and element’s mass and chemical composition, and therefore its place in the periodic table of elements. Hydrogen, the lightest element, has one proton and therefore an atomic weight of one. Ununoctium, the heaviest element, has 118 protons. For reference, gold has 79 protons. All but one of the 118 elements occur naturally on earth. Strangely, the number of electrons in an atom will exactly equal the number of protons. Which begs another of those “And why is it just perfectly so?” questions I mentioned above.
Electrons spin crazily around the nucleus in a wild crazy frenzy of activity at almost the speed of light. It is also very important to note that electrons do not rotate, or spin, as they circle around a nucleus in the ordinary sense of these terms as they possess so much magnetism that they would have to be rotating faster than light. In addition, their exact location cannot be measured at any time. And just to mess things up a bit more, they can exhibit the properties of both a tangible physical particle and at other times they can be a wave of energy with zero physical properties. But more on that later.
Electrons are very important to our understanding of electricity, magnetism, heat and gravity.
Each electron has a very specific electrical charge and it is the exchange of electrons between atoms that forms the basis of all chemistry. Unlike the nucleus, electrons have no known components or substructure. Electrons can gain energy by absorbing any form of light and this is the basis of all plant life on earth. Without it you would not be reading this essay. Electrons can also lose energy by emitting light and this is why your humble torch helps you at night. The amount of energy an electron gains or loses is measured in photons. Photons are the most elementary wave unit of the electromagnetic spectrum, which includes visible light, gamma rays, infra-red light, x-rays, ultra-violet light etc.
The vast distance between the nucleus and the electrons is empty. This means if you look up from this electronic device right now, the solid reality you think you see as is not solid at all. For example if you measure the volume of iron it is only one part in every thousand trillion solid. It is actually more force-field than matter. But don’t try to walk through it or you will be painfully repelled!
Quarks are the substructure of protons and neutrons. There are six types, or flavours, of quarks that combine into composites called hadrons, which is a fancy name for either a proton or a neutron. Protons are made of three quarks; two up-quarks and one down-quark. Neutrons are also made of three quarks; two down-quarks and one up-quark, so six flavours all up. It almost goes without saying that the strong nuclear force holds them together. Quarks are the only particles in physics to experience all four fundamental forces: electromagnetism, gravitation, and the strong and weak nuclear forces.
Electrons are a form of lepton. The electron is by far the most common form of lepton. There are six types of leptons. Three are electrically charged and two of these three rapidly decay into electrons. The three leptons that are not electrically charged do not therefore combine and are extremely rare. They are called neutrinos. Scientists will spend years looking for a single one.
A significant difference between leptons and quarks is that leptons are not subject to the strong nuclear force, but rather electric charge, magnetism, gravity and the weak nuclear force. Don’t ask why, but each of the six types of leptons can have a corresponding anti-lepton, a lepton with the same mass but opposite charge. This is where the concept of anti-matter comes from. According to the Big Bang theory of origins, there should be equal amounts of matter and anti-matter in the universe, but there isn’t. The lepton’s anti-lepton is called a “positron” and is produced naturally in some forms of radioactive decay.
Quarks and leptons are what scientists describe as a type of elementary particle called fermions. These are particles beyond which we cannot go at present so their substructure is unknown or may not exist. Other elementary particles that are not fermions include the anti-matter particles with their opposite charges. There are also the two “force particles”. The most common of these two are photons, which are a type of gauge boson and have zero mass. The other force particle is the Higgs boson, which scientists only confirmed the existence of in 2013. Higgs bosons give mass to other elementary particles.
According to string theory (which is still in development), quarks, higgs bosons, leptons, positrons, gauge bosons, fermions and all other elementary particles that we cannot go beyond, are themselves made of tiny one dimensional vibrating “strings” of energy. They do have an internal structure, but are made of one dimensional strings of energy rather than matter. In string theory the nuclear forces of gravity, electromagnetism, mass are all determined by the different vibrational “tuning” of the string. The scale of these “strings” is astounding: if an atom was the size of the solar system, a single string would be the size of a tree on earth. This is so small it is measured in “Planck lengths”.
The “Why” Question
If you understood what you just read you now have a very good grasp of the structure of the sub-atomic world. While writing and researching I was struck over and over again with the question and I am sure you have too…why? Why is the structure of the physical world as it is and not different? Why are there only 183 elements? Why do atoms exist at all? Why do different types of energy exist? Why can every physical object and process in the entire universe be converted to a precise mathematical formula? Why is anything there at all instead of nothing? Where did it come from?
There is actually no intrinsic reason why any of the above should exist, or exist in the almost limitless complexity and sublime structure described above. Yet it is a perfect goldilocks world in miniature! It is our reality, our world, and there is no logic or rule saying it should be there. But it does, so why is it? The answer is a riddle, since the law of the conservation of energy shows that matter cannot be either created or destroyed. The answer must therefore lie outside the physical realm. So unless you are a theist you cannot even start to answer the “why” question for atoms, quarks, leptons, electromagnetism, nuclear forces, charge, structure, spin, force and the many other concepts outlined above. Atheism is hopelessly lost on all of them. However as a theist all I can do is agree with the Psalmist; “The heavens declare the glory of God.” (Psalm 19:1). God is the supreme physicist as he was the mathematical designer, builder and sustainer of all matter and energy.
In the next section we are going to describe and explore the positively weird world of quantum physics in more detail. Discoveries throughout the 20th century have shown us that electrons know when they are being watched by us and change their behaviour accordingly! They can also time travel! They can teleport! And they can communicate instantly across the universe!
Now let’s become Alice and go down another, even larger rabbit hole!
Part Two: Quantum Weirdness!
In a now famous quote, Neils Bohr, winner of the 1922 Nobel Prize in physics, once said that “Those who are not shocked when they first come across quantum theory cannot possibly have understood it.” (Heisenberg, 1971, p. 206). Theoretical physicist Richard Feynman is also on record as having said “I think it is safe to say that no one understands quantum mechanics. In fact it is often stated that of all the theories proposed in this century, the silliest is quantum theory.” (Feynman, 1892, p. 471). So why do some of our best scientists say such things about quantum physics? It is because, as bizarre and counter-intuitive as the mathematical predictions of quantum physics are, they have all been proven beyond correct any doubt through experiment! Why the experiments work is still a profound mystery and a number of Nobel Prizes lie waiting for those who can solve them. In no particular order I have summarised six of these proven facts from quantum physics below.
1. Wave-Particle Duality
Let’s start with E=MC2, Einstein’s famous equation developed as part of his Special Theory of Relativity in 1905. It literally means “Energy = mass x the speed of light (C) squared”. Einstein proposed this equation during an era of great discovery relating to Quantum Physics:
In 1899 Max Planck had discovered that photons of light had specific amounts of energy, which were always multiples of a constant. He called them “quanta”. Quantum physics was born. He received the Nobel Prize in 1918 for this discovery.
In 1906 Joseph Thompson won his Nobel Prize in physics for discovering that electrons were particles.
In 1924 Louis de Broglie suggested that electrons could be the sources of Einstein’s convergence of matter and energy.
Ironically Joseph Thompson’s son, Gorge Paget Thompson won a Nobel Prize in 1937 for discovering that electrons were also waves, thus both father and son proved Einstein’s theory right…with opposite discoveries! It turns out that matter is simply condensed energy, just as a liquid is a condensed gas.
These discoveries opened up a disturbing world for researchers. Over time it was found that an electron is very hard to pin down as either a wave or a particle in experiments. In the now famous double slit experiment, a single physical electron was fired toward a barrier with two tiny slits on it. When the electron hit the slits it had fanned out to become a wave because it left wave like interference marks on the recording pad behind the slits. The electron literally de-materialised. How bizarre!
Because of this strange behaviour, where an electron can move between being matter and energy, electrons are said to exist in a “superposition” of two states and “non-local”. In simple terms this also implies that any of the sub-atomic elementary particles can also be in two states (or places) materialising and de-materialising, swapping from matter to energy. By extension it can also now be said that all matter in the universe is subject to the same principle, potentially materialising or de-materialising given the right circumstances. Paul Davies summed up the dilemma well when he wrote “It is fitting that physics – the science that gave rise to materialism – should also signal the demise of materialism.” (Gribbon, 2007, p. 14). From this strange truth many others were to follow…
2.The Observer Effect
Digging deeper, Superposition tells us that an electron is in an unknowable state at any given time and could therefore be in all possible states of matter or energy simultaneously. It is only when it is observed by an outside agent that it becomes a physical electron. This is because in all experiments so far, we humans have determined the electron’s physical state by the very act of observation!
Here’s how it worked at an experimental level: The double slit experiment was modified so that we had an observational instrument just in front of the two slits to “watch” what passed by. The electrons were fired at the slits an, instead of fanning out like a wave, those that got through the slit actually flew through like a bullet, leaving a distinct pock mark on the pad at the back. For some reason they had remained a particle where they previously fanned out like a wave!
And this is where it got really freaky…when the observational instrument was turned off, the electrons reverted to being a wave! They passed through both slits simultaneously and left the now familiar wave-like interference pattern on the recording pad. Apparently the very act of observing the electron seemed to collapse the superposition into matter! Was this a freak? No. This experiment has been repeated many times with 100% consistency every time, regardless of how the recording is organised.
This “observer effect” raises many thorny scientific and philosophical questions: How does the electron know when it is being watched? How does it know when an observational instrument is there? How does it know when it is switched on or off? Are electrons “aware” of their environment? Is the universe awake and conscious, as New Age adherents want us to believe? Or is there another, more plausible explanation? The world’s best minds are still stumped by this fact. To them it is still like magic and they are working furiously to find an explanation.
Head spinning? Here’s more weird stuff.
3. Delayed Choice
Let’s now explore the concept of time a little before getting back to quantum physics. Our everyday understanding of time is linear. We think of time as a kind of tunnel through which we travel day by day. However this concept, which works fine for society and individuals, is wrong when it comes to both the cosmic and quantum levels. When Einstein developed his two theories of relativity, one of his findings was that speed and gravity both effect time. For example if someone was travelling at the speed of light, time would stand still. Alternatively, if someone was near a large gravitational force such as a black hole, then time would speed up dramatically.
While Einstein’s theories were proven to work experimentally at the atomic and localised level, it took Moshe Carmeli, an Israeli physicist, to apply Einstein’s theories to the entire cosmos. After examining redshift data, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and other data, Carmeli ditched Edwin Hubble’s cosmological principle and assumed the universe has a centre. The result was an improved model of the universe that predicted increasing cosmic expansion. Two years later in 1998, this prediction was proved correct through observation, so the model works. His improved model, called Cosmological Special Relativity (CSR), also explained why a spiral galaxy’s extremities spin faster than its core. It also did away with the need for dark matter and dark energy, which is constantly invoked as a fudge factor by Big Bang theorists as their mathematical models do not add up correctly. It also solved the dilemma of Hubble’s law giving inconsistent measurements, and it improved Einstein’s field equations.
Most importantly for this discussion, it also predicted that the passage of time in those parts of the universe that are closer to the original big bang event will be shorter than those parts subject to extreme acceleration, extreme gravity and the extreme acceleration of time. This is to say that the edges of the universe appear old, but this is only due to the effects of acceleration and gravity on time making it look old. To use an analogy, the outside of the universe has aged like a good wine, while the centre has just been pressed, yet both were made at the same time, the beginning. You can read more about CSR in my essay called Starlight and Time.
So, time is just NOT what you thought it was.
Quantum physics also messes with the very concept of time, and in fact, may have destroyed it forever. In 1978 one of the Twentieth Century’s great physicists, John Archibald Wheeler, who coined the term “worm hole” and “black hole”, proposed a variation of the double slit experiment to test an electron’s response to a different type of measurement system. When it was eventually tested in the lab in 2007 the results agreed with his proposal. These results have profound implications.
In simple terms the experiment involved setting up the normal double slit equipment but this time placed the special observation device between the slit and the pad at the rear. Importantly, this device could be switched on after a photon had passed through the slits. This observing device could therefore “see” what happened in that moment of time after the photon had gone through the slit, but before it hit the pad at the rear. What happened was very strange indeed? Put simply, when a photon was fired at the slit with the measuring device switched off it acted as a wave leaving a normal interference pattern on the pad at the back. So far, so good. However, when the measuring device was switched on, even after the photon had passed through the slit and should have been a wave, the photon passed through the slit as a particle! This should not have happened at all. It seemed the photon knew ahead of time whether it was going to be watched after going through the slit! It could read the future and change its behaviour accordingly in the past. To put it another way, the act of switching on the measuring device changed the past, but did it in the future! Confused? So is the entire scientific community.
This means that the observer became a participant in the construction of the past, present and future. Time became the product of the observer, rather than an objective reality. It seems we not only create matter from energy through the act of observing electrons, as in the standard double slit experiment, but we also created time by observing photons in this variation of the double slit experiment. This has profound implications for our understanding of reality, space, time and matter. As Einstein himself once said “The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
4. Quantum Entanglement
If the delayed choice experiment just mentioned does your head in then hang on to your hat because quantum entanglement just makes things worse. However, first some understanding thanks again to a discovery by Einstein, who by the way, was the last great scientist to doubt quantum physics. Photons are the elementary unit (quanta) of light and all other electromagnetic energy. They have no mass, and like everything else in the quantum world, they exhibit wave/particle duality. They are being absorbed and released by electrons all the time all over the universe, thereby increasing and decreasing the energy of the substance they are interacting with. It is via photons that the sun affects nearly everything that happens on the surface of the earth. The important point in this discussion is that they always come in pairs and they always spin.
Now, the truly weird thing is that it doesn’t matter how far away the two photons are from each other, the reversal of spin in one is always instant in the other. This was first experimentally confirmed by Alain Aspect in 1982 and further confirmed by Nicolas Gisin in 1997 (Staune, 2010). Gisin demonstrated that two photons could reverse spin instantly across vast distances, which should be impossible as it violates Einstein’s theory of special relativity which says no signal can travel faster than the speed of light. Einstein didn’t like what he saw and called this “spooky” action at a distance.
We now know that his mistake was to assume distance equalled separation. It turns out this ability of photons to communicate instantly turns out to have no relationship to distance or the speed of light at all. Scientists have concluded that we are dealing with a new dimension where both photons are part of a single object. In quantum physics particles can be non-local, in two places at once, so why not across the entire universe!
The mathematics of quantum physics predicts that if we had the instruments to measure two photons on each side of the universe, and we reversed the spin of one, then the spin of the other would instantly be reversed. We have no way of testing this prediction, but on a smaller scale we have already proven it to be true. Perhaps quantum entanglement is the fabric that stitches together the elements of time and space, it certainly makes a mockery of the concept of space being separated from time.
Once again quantum physics challenges our very concept of what is real. It has demolished the one constant left in traditional physics, the speed of light, at least at the micro level. In fact the speed of light is totally irrelevant. It was this fact, more than any other that unsettled Einstein, who believed the speed of light was irrevocable and the one constant in the entire universe.
5. Quantum Tunnelling
Another of the quirky predictions that fell out of the mathematical modelling of quantum physics was the concept of quantum tunnelling. The theory suggested that, although a sub-atomic particle does not usually have enough energy to get through an impenetrable barrier, sometimes one or two may be able to do so instantly. They may just be able to tunnel through the barrier as if it was not there. The logic behind this is once again the concept that of particle/wave duality mentioned above.
The first to test this prediction experimentally was Raymond Chiao. He used two beams of photons being projected at the speed of light equal distances, one with a thick barrier in front of it, the other without. Most of those that met the barrier were stopped of course, but some made it through. But here is where it gets interesting. Those that made it through the barrier did not arrive after the free-flowing electrons as expected, or even at the same time. No, they arrived slightly before them! They had actually tunnelled through the barrier with absolute zero time lapse. Somehow they had de-materialised when the hit the barrier, teleported themselves to the other side and instantly re-materialised ahead of the free-flowing electrons!
Quantum physics once again demonstrated that the concept of time and the speed of light were being broken in the micro world. To draw an analogy, it was like throwing balls at a two glass windows, one open one closed. The one that hit the closed window was sucked through it and hit the wall behind just before the ball in direct flight. This would once have been called a miracle. Now it is scientific reality.
6. Quantum Teleportation
These experiments in quantum tunnelling paved the way for further experiments in quantum teleportation. National Geographic reported in 2004 that Austrian researchers had done just that by teleporting a photon across the Danube River at Vienna. In 2010 Chinese researchers extended the teleportation distance to 16km with zero loss of time. The photon left the dimension of time and re-appeared in it on the other side. This is the stuff of science fiction, but it is now reality at the sub-atomic level. Not only can a photon be teleported through a barrier with zero time lapse, they can now be teleported across whole cities. The crew from Star Trek would be very impressed.
Its All Mathematics!
Everything I have described to you above; atoms, sub-atomic particles, string theory, quantum tunnelling, entanglement, the observer effect and wave/particle duality are described and recorded, not with words, but with mathematical formulas. Mathematics is pure information. The universe, from quantum physics to inter-galactic space, is an almost unlimited series of complex mathematical equations. The universe is a mathematical miracle. It is literally a mathematical library of infinite information that awaits our investigation in every conceivable corner of the cosmos. The findings of Pythagoras formed the theory of music. Newton’s findings showed us how to calculate planetary motion. Thanks to Max Planck, we know that all energy is mathematically quantified. The theory of colour and optics is likewise mathematically based. All shape, sound, movement, beauty and structure can be described mathematically…and I could go on.
In 2015 I met an Australian Rhodes Scholar who was a theoretical mathematician. He was researching ways to improve recoveries from lung surgery. When quizzed on this odd combination of skill base and research project, he said to us that all biology is chemistry, all chemistry is physics, and all physics is mathematics. So, all life, you and I included, when boiled down from sentient beings to molecules to sub-atomic particles to quantum physics, is just marvellous mathematics.
In fact it is only possible to access the quantum world through the lens of mathematics. The most famous quantum formula is E=MC2. But there are literally hundreds of thousands of others being used by scientists every day to describe the quantum world. In 1623 Galileo said the universe is written in the language of mathematics. MIT professor Seth Lloyd, the first to design a quantum computer, boldly asserts that the whole universe is a quantum computer, continually processing mathematical computations. If he is correct then it gives a whole new twist to reality. It opens up a proverbial can of philosophical worms and begs more questions than it answers.
Are We Dealing With A New Dimension?
Six of the many strange aspects of the Quantum world have now been presented to you. I think you’ll agree they are all equally fascinating and difficult to understand from a rational perspective. But all have been experimentally proven and are now reality. At a sub-atomic level substances can be a both a wave or a particle, matter or energy. We now know that energy only materialises into matter when it is being observed by humans and their machines. It has also been proven that a particle can “know” in advance if it is going to be observed. Sub-atomic particles can also communicate across the entire universe instantly. Sub-atomic particles can also de-materialise and re-materialise as they pass through barriers faster than the speed of light, and be teleported vast distances with no loss of time.
The best explanation so far for all these science-fiction like facts is the concept of “quantum nonlocality”, briefly mentioned above. This concept suggests we are dealing with a new dimension to reality, a non-material realm that we had never discovered before and thought impossible until now. Quantum nonlocality is a property of the universe that is independent of our description of nature and anything physical. We have discovered that, having climbed the highest mountains of classical physics over hundreds of years, we’ve come across a beach and a suspended ocean at the top of that mountain that just should not be there. We are presently like little children sitting on the edge, glancing down at a mountain top behind us, while glancing out in pure ignorance at an ocean in front of us. Paul Davies sums this dilemma up best: “you must imagine all possible geometries – all possible space-times, space-warps and time-warps mixed together in a sort of cocktail or foam” (Davies, 1996, p. 181).
How do we make sense of this new dimension, this parallel state, with its mathematical sub-structure? That is where we have to apply some philosophy and examine our assumptions about the nature of reality and the universe. If we make the wrong assumption in our worldview, we will draw the wrong conclusions about the nature of this new reality. This is where our discussion will now venture.
Part Three: Philosophical Implications
It is almost an understatement to say that the enigma of quantum physics has become the fountainhead of much scientific, philosophical and religious speculation. Our cultural imagination has been in overdrive, trying to make sense of all this quantum weirdness and the concept of a non-material realm. The discovery and implications of a dimension of reality that lies outside time, space, energy and matter, yet still has a causal effect on our material world, is profound. In the debate for causality we have a three cornered contest between the atheistic/evolutionary worldview, the New Age Movement and the Judao-Christian worldview. Let’s now investigate the three claims and conclusions to see which best fits the data.
Anyone for a Multiverse?
On the one hand we have the secular atheists, such as Stephen Hawking, Hugh Everett and Richard Dawkins telling us that quantum physics is the doorway to a multitude of new universes. Evolutionary materialists believe that atheism is the only source of truth. Therefore there must be a purely materialistic explanation for quantum non-locality. Having a prior commitment to atheism, this group has committed to the idea that there is more than one universe out there. The other two choices are unacceptable. Hence the scientific literature is filled with faddish articles, books and research papers on parallel universes or the multi-verse.
Hugh Everett, for example, argues that quantum measurement causes a splitting of two parallel universes, one consisting of matter, the other of non-locality. Non-locality becomes a second universe that intersects with ours. Quantum physics actually postulates some 29 possible dimensions, so perhaps these too are actual universes. Stephen Hawking goes further and uses M Theory to argue that we have stumbled across possibly 10500 parallel universes, which is vastly more than the 1083 atoms in this universe! These other universes lie outside our own and could also have dimensions that we cannot conceive of. Hawking suggests that that quantum physics allows us to peek into the boundary of these universes.
Another significant reason for belief in a multiverse is the dilemma of the discrepancy between the measurements of visible light and the gravitational effects observed in deep space. They are 10120 orders of magnitude different from what they should be according to big bang theory of origins. This discrepancy has given rise to belief in dark matter and dark energy, which by definition can never be seen or measured by humans. In other words they are an article of faith. Belief in an unlimited number of universes somehow overcomes this problem. However, parallel universes are also an article of faith, as they too will never be seen, measured or visited by humans. They only exist in mathematical equations which rely on philosophical assumptions, such as the Copernican principle or cosmological principle, as well as dark matter and energy. Like traditional religious concepts of heaven and hell, these new beliefs in realms beyond ours are gathering momentum, even in secular circles. Metaphysics is replacing material physics.
For an alternative solution to this problem refer to my essay called Starlight and Time, that was alluded to in point three above. Moshe Carmeli has solved the problem of dark matter and dark energy convincingly by adding the dimension of acceleration to Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity and by assuming the universe is centric and that we are near its centre. Carmeli’s description of the expanding vacuum as a dimension with influence on matter does away completely with the need for dark matter/energy. This is an amazing breakthrough for the whole world of cosmology, but completely at odds with the current multiverse fad. A few non-atheistic changes to the assumptions has led to a superior model of the universe, with no fudge factors needed.
The advantage of the multiverse to the atheistic scientist is that they believe it allows enough evolutionary accidental combinations to spit out at least one universe with the exact combination of physics and chemistry to create life all by itself without the need for a creator. If we accept this premise then it still begs the big question: Who made the original multiverse that got everything going and how did it arise from nothing? It seems that atheists have just kicked the can down the road, or rather, up a hill.
To solve this problem, atheistic materialism has given causal/creative powers to gravity, as we see from this comment by Stephen Hawking “Because of the law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” (Mlodinow, 2011, p. 180). But as we know from elementary physics, nothing material can be its own cause. Checkmate Stephen! For a complete refutation of the concept of the multiverse please refer to my essay called Stephen Hawking’s Grand Deception.
The bottom line is that the discovery of the quantum world has done irreparable damage to the materialistic/Newtonian view of the cosmos. Non-locality now rules the universe; it cuts through the idea of the separateness of matter, energy, time and space, and yet somehow lives outside matter, energy, time and space. This is a very unsettling conclusion for the atheists. Their worldview has no answers or understanding of the non-material realm, let alone the genius-level mathematics that just happens to sit behind it all.
A Conscious Universe?
For reference, the New Age Movement is simply a watered-down and sanitised variant of Hinduism. It teaches the belief in a universal consciousness lying behind the material world. It is a form of pantheism as it sees the universe itself as the ultimate living reality. It is the philosophy behind movies such as Star Wars and Avatar. It has jumped on the quantum physics bandwagon with great excitement, This is because it offers lay people, and increasing numbers of physicists, answers to the quantum riddles that are more plausible than the materialistic view. There has been a small but steady drift of quantum physicists into this movement in recent years; Fritjof Capra, Nick Herbert, David Bohm and John Hagelin, to name a few. They have come to this pantheistic conclusion probably because it is the flavour of choice for Western spirituality at present and also leaves them morally unaccountable to a higher power.
The New Age movement is powerfully attracted to quantum physics because it aligns with its concept of universal consciousness and the oneness of all things. It sees the extra dimension of “Spirit” manifesting itself in the “awareness” that electrons and photons display when observed by human instruments. It believes that atheistic materialism has become the science fiction, while cosmic consciousness has become the science. This belief has been strengthened by John Bell’s development in 1964 of a mathematical proof that fundamentally demonstrates there is an extra, non-material dimension to reality and this extra dimension is the source of the material world. Could it just be that the universe is alive and aware of our presence?
Not so fast. As with Atheistic materialism, the New Age movement has a big problem with the origin of the universe. It all boils down to the quantum observer effect and causality. On a local, experimental level, such as in the double slit experiment, the observer is usually identified as human consciousness. This causes the electron to collapse out of a wave and into matter. When scaled up to an intergalactic level this unsettling reality begs the question: Who was watching the universe at its beginning so that it collapsed into matter, and who is watching it now so that the material universe continues to exist?
John Wheeler, one of the 20th Century’s greatest physicists, has accepted the logic and suggested to a secular audience that the entire universe only exists because someone is watching it (Gribbins, 2012). If this is true and the entire physical universe can only exist if it is being observed by an outside agent, then how can the world of matter have come into existence originally when there were no humans present? The New Age movement cannot invoke an observant creator as it does not believe in one. They believe the universe is divine and its own creator.
The New Age answer to this is limp in the extreme. Their conclusion, via quantum physicist Amit Goswami, suggests the following: “The universe remained in possibility until there was a self-referential quantum measurement. An observer looking is essential in order to manifest possibility into actuality.” (Smetham, 2011) In other words the entire history of the big bang only came into existence when the first conscious humans walked the earth! In essence, until that moment nothing had happened and in that moment the universe happened, complete with a history! How convenient. New Age physicists and followers have come to this conclusion simply because their philosophy categorically denies the existence of a creator abiding outside of the physical universe. They have reduced “God” to the status of impersonal energy, quantum energy. This is also their definition of “spirit” and why they insist the universe is spiritually aware.
Sadly, these New Age answers to the riddle of quantum weirdness actually appeal to millions of gullible people today who see it as a way to conveniently weld together modern science and eastern mysticism. Atheism’s influence on Western thought probably peaked around the turn of the21st Century and quasi spiritualism is slowly taking its place. The New Age invasion of quantum physics is a manifestation of that change. Blockbuster films such as Avatar and Star Wars reflect this growing belief in pantheism. Avatar’s planetary consciousness and “the force” in Star Wars are both simply fictional expressions of the New Age understanding of universal consciousness. It is no surprise then that science is being corralled to serve this growing movement.
An Observant Creator?
The third possible explanation for the origin of the quantum world is to consider the existence of a creator who sits outside of creation. After all, quantum physics has allowed us, for the first time in history to use non-theological means to observe and authenticate the existence of a non-material world! The quantum world exists outside matter, time, space and energy. It has shown us, through Bells Theorem, that the non-material even comes before the material world, that timelessness comes before time, and that space has no distance.
Could it be that the quantum world isn’t the spiritual world in itself, as claimed by the New Age movement, but the buffer zone in between the spiritual and material realms? After all Jesus himself said that “you are of this world; I am not of this world.” (John 8:23) and “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). The writer of Hebrews also said “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things that are seen were made of things which are invisible.” (Hebrews 11:3). Clearly then Christianity teaches that there are two worlds, the spiritual and the material. The quantum world appears the exhibit some of the qualities of both of these worlds.
It must be noted, however, that this newly discovered “world” doesn’t actually prove the existence of a spiritual realm. In fact science never will. This is because, like the multiverse and dark matter, the spiritual realm lies outside empirical science. However, quantum physics has pushed the world of science, kicking and screaming, a lot closer to accepting the existence of a creator outside our material realm.
The theistic position neatly solves the problem of the observer effect. John Wheeler’s assertion that the whole universe exists only because it is being observed is simply an acknowledgement that our creator, who exists outside of time and space, used the highest level of mathematics to design a universe. He then created our universe with the fine tuning of a genius, and has been watching over it ever since. There is no need to do mental gymnastics with concepts of New Age consciousness, or kick the can of ultimate causality down the road as with Atheism. “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind, from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth.” (Psalm 33:13-14, Hebrews 4:13)
Neither does the Biblical position confuse the non-material with the quasi “spirit” realm of the New Age movement. To do so would trap God inside his creation, as are the Hindu gods. The quantum world is not divine in itself. Rather it is simply the non-material foundation on which the creator built the physical universe. It is still part of his creation. Standing behind the material world there is a non-material layer called the quantum world. Behind this is the spiritual realm where God upholds all things. The first two parts of this statement now fit with robust scientific observation. The third provides the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient First Cause needed for it all to begin.
As with all other aspects of creation, the quantum world also reflects the attributes and character of its creator. It is non-material, it is non-spatial, it exists outside time, it is knowledgeable, it is eternal…and it can teleport! These are all attributes of the Biblical understanding of our benevolent creator. This is not to Say that these attributes are “god” or “spirit”. They are simply reflections of his character so that we can more clearly see him via his creation (Romans 1:20). For God to be creator he must be more than mere spirit, essence, quanta, electron, photon or force. He must be conscious, he must be intelligent, he must be transcendent, and exist outside of creation. This is exactly how the Judeo-Christian God is described in scripture.
Then there is the evidence from mathematics. Whenever the quantum wave function is observed and collapsed into matter, it does so with precise mathematical properties. This is an enigma to most researchers and speaks beautifully of the existence of a master mathematician standing behind his creation waiting for us, the pinnacle of his creation, to find his mathematical fingerprints all over his handiwork.
There are five ways mathematics leads us toward the conclusion the universe is designed by a mathematician of infinite genius. First there is genetic and biological complexity. Then there is the universal language of mathematical formulas found in every aspect of the cosmos. This is complimented by the fine tuning of ratios and constants such that the universe looks like someone “monkeyed” with the physics. This is joined by the mathematical wonder of geometry as the basis of all chemical structures. Finally and most amazingly there is the implanting of the golden ratio in every conceivable location and structure in the universe, from the quantum world to galaxies. Now let’s examine these in detail.
Explosions + four billion years can never turn 150 billion random atoms into a stunningly complex strand of human DNA with its 6.91 gigabytes of pure information. If you had to write out these 6.91 gigabytes of information from just one cell from your body in the sized print I am writing in, the print-out would be 75,000km long, or three billion letters. However, the DNA that this information is stored on is a mere 1 metre long and stored in a space too small for the human eye to see. In fact four grams of pure DNA would contain more information that humans have ever accumulated. And that’s just the constructional information inside a cell. The operational information is far more complex again! How complex? Well, the amount of information being processed by you and your body today alone day is 1024 bits. This is one million times greater than all the information stored in every book in the world! All of this is mathematics. It is embedded in everything that you consciously and unconsciously do.
The fine tuning of ratios and the existence of physical constants also speaks eloquently about the graciousness of our creator. The ratio between the electromagnetic and gravity constants is fine tuned to 1040. The space/mass density is fine tuned to better than 1060. The space/energy density is fine tuned to one part in 10120. There are over 36 of these baffling finely tuned constants in the universe. Mathematical physicist Robert Griffiths once said “If we want an atheist for a debate I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.” (Ross, 1993, p. 183). Fred Hoyle once said “It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature’s numbers to make the universe. The impression is overwhelming.” (Hoyle, 1983, p.16). Every one of these ratios and constants is expressed in mathematical formulas of the highest order. It is God who breathed fire into these equations at the beginning of creation. If you deny this you are left with a lot of explaining to do. Occam’s Razor is with the theists on this one.
No one can answer the question of why atoms bother to hang together in groups either. However, science can answer the question of how atoms hang together to create matter. The answer is perfect three-dimensional geometry. Molecular geometry is created when atoms share electrons at perfect angles. This precise angular bonding determines the reactivity, polarity, density, colour, magnetism, and biological activity of any substance. Molecular geometry comes in perfect shapes and perfect angles, every time. Without this one design feature there would be nothing in the universe bigger than an atom. A universe built in the isolation of pure chance can never do this.
The golden ratio is formed from the sequence 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8… and eventually becomes 1.618. Intriguingly, it features throughout all creation, a fact incomprehensible and impossible unless it was planted there as a type of signature. From the time of the Greeks it was known as the most pleasing ratio to the human eye. This ratio is found throughout the biological world; in sea shells, sunflowers and any spiral you choose to name, in DNA and the shape of the human body and face, human brainwaves, and in most plants and animals. The list is almost endless. Significantly for our current discussion, it has also now been found in galaxies, the length of sub-atomic particles, the geometry of molecular bonds, sound waves, hurricanes and anything made of fractals. The list is once again, almost endless. Our creator has left clues everywhere of his intellectual input on our physical universe.
Mathematics is pure information, and information NEVER comes from either a force or by chance. Atheism believes that mathematics is the product of the human mind. However, if numbers, formulas, specific ratios, integers, beautiful equations, constants and perfect geometry a purely a product of human thought, then why do they wait for us in every conceivable corner of the cosmos? The universe is indeed a message written in a mathematical code. However, the universe itself is not the encoding computer spitting out formulas, as claimed by Seth Lloyd in his 2006 book Programming the Universe. Rather, it came from the mind of God. Sadly, both atheism and the New Age movement cannot accept this obvious but demanding conclusion.
I believe it is appropriate that the last word on the true meaning of the discovery of the quantum world should come from Max Planck himself who, at a conference in Florence in 1944 said “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can say this much as a result of my research about atoms: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind.” (Planck, 1944).
Part Four: Conclusion
So, having discovered that the world of quantum physics is a gateway to the non-material realm from which our physical realm comes, and is probably also the doorway into the spiritual realm on the other side, we must conclude by asking why God designed and built our universe with this quantum substructure.
The spiritual world existed before the physical. To create the physical realm our loving creator simply spoke, such is his unlimited power. In those few words the unlimited, timeless, transcendent glory of the spiritual realm, that unapproachable and fathomless “light” in which the omniscient creator exists, was transferred into a physical dimension for the first time. Spiritual power from the throne of God created a quantum field from absolute nothingness, then energy as we know it, then matter. All this on the first day of creation!
So, we had the initial creation event spoken into being, and we now had a physical creation. As we now know from Professor Archibald Wheeler, this creation is being sustained by the power of this same divine being watching over it today. However, God did not just set this whole universe up and walk away from it. Creation has a divine purpose, and it is us. It is a very small step from there to see our creator stepping in to his creation to re-arrange it according to his desire for relationship with humanity. There are records of global flooding, dispersal of peoples, oceans being held back, people teleported into the spiritual realm, healings, miracles and some being raised from the dead. All of these are impossible acts for us, but just childsplay if you are able to manipulate the quantum realm at will.
The greatest of these divine interventions into our realm via this quantum “tunnel” was when God visited us personally and stamped his authority over creation at multiple levels through the person of Jesus. Time and again Jesus used his relationship with the Father to manipulate the material world through healings, miracles and super-natural events via his command. He oversaw hundreds of these miniature creation events during his three years in ministry. In all of these events the quantum world formed the conduit for our Jesus to crack open the physical realm and re-design it for his benevolent purposes (John 10:38, 14:11).
This ability to manipulate the quantum realm is still happening today through the supernatural ministry of believers all over the world. Quantum physics is the twilight zone where God continues to invade our space to demonstrate his love and power. The power that Jesus used to illustrate his divinity now resides in his followers and this is why we continue to see increasing levels of divine intervention, miracles and healing today globally. These divine events are simply the power tools we have been given to prove Gods love for the world’s people, to rescue them from the curse of decay. Quantum physics is the receiving end of that limitless spiritual power.
Thanks for reading.