Thursday, August 29, 2013

Images and Correspondences of God in Quantum Physics

Let us find what connections we can see between God and Quantum Nature. If we find some relation or correspondence between them, that should help us to understand both a little better.

We know there must be some connection, since the God is Life Itself, and hence the source of all the power and activity that we have. All spiritual, mental and physical things must depend on God for their sustained existence and capacities for action. That dependence is what theism asserts.

Let us now focus on the beginning and the end of the chain of being: God as the source and the physical world as the final effect. Let us omit the middle stages for now.

God, we should know from our religious background, is all of
  1. a God of Love, 
  2. a God of Wisdom, and 
  3. a God of outreaching activity.  
The love of a being is its substance, so Love is the substance of God. There should be no surprise there.

Wisdom is concerns all true thoughts. Now thoughts are about the forms of things. To think of something is to consider by abstraction its structure and properties, and not to interact with it directly. God's wisdom is the source of all true thoughts, so we can think of divine wisdom as the complete set of true forms. But forms of what? Forms of some substance, of course. So, with God, wisdom is the form of divine love. 

Outreaching activity is the proceeding divine that created, sustains and enlivens the world. It is therefore somethings specific for each part of the world, and it enables us to make our own actions.

Quantum reality, we should know from our physics education or from our reading, concerns collections of things that have the following features:
  1. some energy, comprised of kinetic and potential energy,
  2. a wave function that spreads out with some form, following Shroedinger's equation, and 
  3. some specific outcomes that result from measurements produced with some probability.
The energy of a quantum particle is represented mathematically by an operator called the Hamiltonian operator H(t) for that particle. The Hamiltonian usually has two terms: the kinetic energy term and the potential energy term. We assume (for simplicity now) that these are given.

The Shroedinger equation, namely
describes how the wave function  varies with time and space. Wave functions are mathematical objects, and are therefore forms. Forms of something, necessarily (since the physical world cannot be made just out of abstract forms), but forms of what?

The outcomes that result from measurements depend on probabilities calculated by the square-modulus of the wave function ||2.    Wave functions therefore describe (by means of their square modulus) the propensities for specific outcomes.  The substance of whatever the wavefunctions describe is therefore that propensity. (Here the introduction to this kind of inference.) 

The measurements in quantum mechanics are not yet properly described in quantum mechanics.  That is why there are so many interpretations of quantum physics. Their common thread (in all except the many-worlds interpretation) is that measurement is some kind of selection between distinct outcomes. Measurement, then is the final act of the quantum world in the transition from a partially-determined future to a fully-determined past. I wrote a whole book about this process. 

Comparing God and Quantum Reality, we see some similarities:
  1. Love is like the energy of a particle.
  2. Wisdom is like the form of the propensity of the particle.
  3. Measurements are the outreaching activity that are the final effects.
I am certainly not saying these are identities. Love is not energy, but like energy. Wisdom is not a spatiotemporal form, but like a form. The divine outreaching acts are not measurements, but are like measurements. All these 'likes' are because the divine elements and the physical elements function in similar ways. These functional similarities are called correspondences by Swedenborg, who has described them in more detail than I have found elsewhere. According to him, they arise because all things of creation, not just humans, are kinds of images of God.

You may have considered the deep conflict in quantum mechanics to be between 'waves' and 'particles'. Lee Woofenden recently, then, tried to find the divine correspondences of waves and particles. 

However, 'particles' never appeared in by description above.  Let me quote from my book:
One feature of the present account of substance is that [quantum] objects need not be located in small fixed volumes of space as, for example, the corpuscles or particles of classical physics would be. The propensity fields that have been defined do not need to have any special ‘center’ distinguishable from all the other places in the field. They may have no center at all that could be regarded as the ‘true substance’ whereby the surrounding field could be regarded as just the ‘sphere of influence’ of the central substance.
It is commonly believed by many physicists, that high energy scattering experiments allow us to conclude that fundamental particles like electrons, quarks, etc. are point particles, like real objects of zero size. However, this inference is incorrect. What the experiments show is that there is no lower limit to the size that the wave packet of an electron (for example) may be compressed. They never show that there is actually a point particle, as this would contradict the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle by requiring infinite energy to be used in producing it. Some other objects (e.g. atoms or nuclei) do have a lower limit of compression, and this is interpreted as arising from a composite internal structure. No matter how small we then compress the wave packet for an atom’s centre of mass motion, the atom as a whole cannot be made arbitrarily small. At all times, both fundamental particles and composite objects have some varying finite size that depends on time and circumstances and may be legitimately said to occupy the volume of this size in space. Whether they also fill that volume depends on the probabilities of interaction with instruments, which may be small or large and so are a matter of degree in a similar manner to the way that air ‘fills’ a room according to its pressure. 
A substance-field of propensities may have a variable spatial size. Sometimes it behaves more like a spread-out wave, and when at other times it interacts, it behaves like a localized particle. (Starting Science From God, pp. 47-48)

Monday, August 26, 2013

Science and Theism discussion group starting September in Livermore, CA

Starting from Sept 8 at the First Presbyterian Church in central Livermore, CA, I will be leading a 'reading and discussion group' on Sunday evenings. This will focus on the ideas in my recent book Starting Science From God.

For more details, and to register, go to the FPCL registration page.