Maybe Quantum Mechanics is On to Something

Stop right here. I’m no scientist. I don’t have a scientific mind or bent. I’ve never had one course in physics. You are free to go no further or to proceed to see if I make a fool of myself. If you read no further, I’m like Schrodinger’s cat. I’m a fool and not a fool at one and the same time. Kind of like Paul vis a vis the Galatians. You’ve been warned.

Recently I auidiobooked Einstein: His Life and Universe. Well it blew  away the universe I had Einstein in. I thought his Theory of Relativity was the launching point of Situation Ethics, “Everything is relative”, and the grandfather of postmodernism. It turns out he initially had considered calling his theory “’invariance’” “because the physical laws of combined spacetime, according to his theory, were invariant rather than relative” (278).

Did you know that? I didn’t, and I pretty sure other poorly educated, science-wise, don’t either.

Far from being anti-Christian pure science guy who if he couldn’t measure it, it didn’t exist, Einstein knew there was a reality beyond which our five senses could perceive.  He believed his whole life there was an objective reality behind all things which science could not see or measure but was nevertheless real (334).

You know that joke where the spy says, “I could tell you, but I would have to kill you”? One of the sons of our congregation now in the ministry started in the heady realms of engineering, computers, math and more. He showed up after a quantum physics or mechanics class, and I asked him about it. He said, “I could tell you, but your head would explode.” Actually, what he said, “I could tell you, but you wouldn’t understand.”

Having read this book, I now understand that neither Einstein nor Schrodinger were fans of a relative way of looking at things. Schrodinger’s famous cat was proposed to show the silliness of that theory.

Einstein believed that quantum mechanics could exclude bad ideas but could not mesh with the real world. In his thought experiment that predates Schrodinger’s famous cat, he shows how unstable gunpowder could only exist in an exploded and unexploded state in reality. However, in quantum mechanics it could be “in a sort of blend of not-yet and already-exploded systems’” (456).

Now that’s worth the price of forging on through this. There are things that cannot be a reality in the physical world but are in the spiritual one. In theology, the already but not-yet describes the Christian. He lives is the realm of the now and not yet at one and the same time. He is now the ruler and possessor of all things in Christ through faith in His person and work, but not-yet. This is how St. John says it. “Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” But not yet.

In reality, there can be no intermediary between exploded and unexploded. In quantum theory, there can be, and in the realm of grace there is. Wouldn’t it be just like the God who hides Himself (Is. 45:15), to be hiding an illustration of a spiritual truth in a theory that turned the world upside down?


About Rev. Paul R. Harris

Ordained pastor of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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