There is an enormous corpus of talks, articles, commentaries, and YouTube presentations that focus on one of the strangest discoveries of the 20th century: quantum mechanics and its startling attendant features, the principles of uncertainty and superposition. When you consult the resources identified in this post by Mr. George Farahat, be prepared to increase your understanding of how quantum mechanics has changed our understanding of reality, and how it relates to theology.
Two phenomenal lectures by two outstanding professors in two countries have enlightened research about the vast cosmos we live in and its quantum fields that penetrate every creature on earth.
The first is a lecture given by Professor Leo Kowenhoven at Delft University in the Netherlands, 2015 (below):
In his talk, Professor Kowenhoven shows how nature itself works through quantum processes. He uses the example of a plant leaf which takes the light of the Sun. Through quantum superposition, electrons find a way to efficiently bind to the oxygen molecule, a process essential for human life. He goes on to explain how “qbits” are necessary in building quantum computers, and reveals that he and his team have already made these “quantum bits” in the lab.
Some of the most interesting ideas come near the end of the talk (starting around the 11th minute) when Kowenhoven lists the big challenges that super quantum computers can help solve, such as: more efficient energy use and storage, better airplane design, optimization for robotics, machine learning, and the use of nanotechnology in healthcare.
The second lecture (below), “The Real Building Blocks of the Universe” was given by Professor David Tong at Cambridge University in 2017. In a brilliant summary of quantum theory, Tong reveals that there are 16 “fields” that interact in a “harmonious dance.”
Along the way, he also discusses Einstein's Theory of General Relativity (space-time flow), J. J. Thomson's discovery of the electron, Ernest Rutherford's model of the atom (a nucleus made of protons and neutrons with the lighter electrons moving around it), Faraday's discovery of electromagnetism, James Clerk Maxwell's work, Schrodinger's Wave-Particle Equation, Heisenberg's Principle of Uncertainty, and the thought-experiments of Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky, and Nathan Rosen.
Black holes and quantum theory
A great explanation of black holes, by a panel of experts in this 2015 World Science Festival presentation, was delivered in the presence of the late British physicist and black hole expert, Professor Stephen Hawking. The presentation also explains the relationship between black holes and quantum theory. View the full presentation here:
Astonishment at quantum behaviour
In 1982, Alain Aspect and his team were able to experimentally prove that two photons emitted from the same atom will still be in contact tens of miles away. The reader may wish to listen to his lecture below, animated by his love for and “astonishment at” quantum behaviour.
Quantum theory and its relationship to a Trinitarian God
In the printed word, much of the material written by Sir John Polkinghorne, retired professor of mathematical physics at Cambridge University, is very informative and insightful. In one of his latest books, “Quantum Physics and Theology” (2008), he comments on how “relationship” is being discovered even at the subnuclear level:
“Quantum theory brought to light a remarkable form of entanglement between subatomic particles that have once interacted with each other (the so-called EPR effect), which implies that they remain effectively a single system however far they may subsequently separate spatially—a counterintuitive togetherness-in-separation that has been abundantly confirmed experimentally as a property of nature. The physical world looks more and more like a universe that would be the fitting creation of the trinitarian God, the One whose deepest reality is relational.” -Sir John Polkinghorne
What can we conclude?
The above resources reveal and help explain the 2 most important observations in quantum physics:
- The probabilistic nature of particles which yields the Uncertainty Principle
- The communication between particles at long distances (quantum entanglement)
From 2 above, we can say that everything must be in a relationship. In Christianity, the concept that God is relatedness or relational is found not only in Holy Scriptures (see for example 1 John 4:8; John 10:30; Col 1:15-19; Phil 2: 6-11; John 15), but also in doctors of the Church like St. Thomas Aquinas and, in our days, Bishop of Rome Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.
If this is true, then we can say that the cosmos is signed by the stamp of the Triune God of Christians.
George Farahat holds a Masters degree in Information Systems and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He is a retired systems analyst who now uses his time to pursue numerous interests which include Biblical theology, anthropology, history of civilizations, and information technology. He regularly shares his insights on his blog, Today’s Questions. The original post can be found here.