God, Quantum and a Tree

Updated: August 18, 2006

Ah, Quantum again! Well, apparently, this bugger can also help us answer one of the most difficult questions a human can ask: Does God exist? Faith has several problems. Apart from the purely religious aspects of belief in divine beings and deeds, apart from the complex political, social and economical influence religions have had throughout the ages, the problems exist, inherently, in the definition of faith.

Problem 1:

Faith is a belief in something that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. This means that people that believe in God (read God as a collective noun for all and any supernatural, omnipotent or divine beings and powers) in fact believe in something that has not been proven to exist. Some may argue that there have been proofs to God's existence. In that case, since proofs exist, there is no need to believe in God anymore. The faith becomes superfluous in the face of existential evidence. Thus, people who claim proof disclaim faith. The two are mutually exclusive.

In fact, proof and faith cannot coexist - they are the metaphysical equivalents of the Principle of Uncertainty. Here, we already have the Quantum kicking in.

Problem 2:

Assuming God exists (based on faith), we must ask ourselves about the image of God. Almost every culture has a different portrayal of their God. Greeks placed them in Olympus. Norse placed them in Asgard beyond the Rainbow. The Hawaiians had (or have) thousands of Gods and Goddesses. Today, most monotheistic religions claim God is everywhere. Roman Gods were a surly, bickering lot. Odin and his friends would have felt better if Prozac was available back then. And then, there's the matter of Satan, Heaven, Hell, angels, messengers, prophets. Gods have manifested themselves as humans, animals, mighty sounds or light or as hidden voices inside people's heads.

So the question is, why are all these shapes, images and relevant events so different from one another? Is it because people are so different? Is it because our imagination is so wild - and yet so cultural? Or is because God has truly chosen to show himself (gender is a tricky one, let's assume male) to humans in so many ways? If so, disputing claims of other religions is heresy, because it disputes God himself. On the other hand, if all these manifestations are parallel and independent of one another, that is, several deities might exist (and co-exist), this raises the issue of plausibility. The world, if created divinely, could have been created only in ONE way. Turtles, elephants and 6 days of creation do not sit well together.

This raises an interesting possibility: Do we, through our imagination, give shape, meaning and, most importantly, creation to the manifestation of godly and divine? This is sort of a Matrix movie problem. A paradox really. How can you tell you're inside a box - not that you're inside of it, but what you're inside of is indeed a box? In other words, do we invent the world up as we go or do we live in one and catch glimpses of what it has to offer (divinely speaking).

Is there a way to tell the difference?

There is. But soon.

And then, there's the question of physical improbabilities, a clear violation of rules that bind our little atoms together, the question of time table (when exactly did all these divine things happen?) and many more.

But all of these can be debated at leisure over a cup of tea among friends. None of these will make anyone smarter or less of a believer. Yet, there's one little bugger that can really cause a stir. It's Mr. Quantum.

We live in a world that can be described as ... differential. It is a very large collection of differential equations. Numbers give meanings to the cause and effect of things that happen all around us and even within us. Physics strives to give face to the invisible mechanisms that bind everything together and make it tick so wonderfully.

One of the most ruthless principles that orchestrates the world is Quantum Mechanics.

Quantum Mechanics states that anything, in order to exist, must be observed - measured.

Let's take an innocent electron as an example. An electron is best described as a waveform. It has an equation with lots of little numbers in it, which tells us what this little thingie is. By itself, the waveform has no meaning. It is infinite. In its primal state, the electron is anywhere and everywhere.

We want to know more about our electron. We suspect it's there. And so we send a signal, another waveform, in order to measure it. This waveform interacts with that of the electron. And then, the little numbers jump into action. These little numbers are probabilities. These probabilities tell us the likelihood of discovering our electron there and then. Although the electron's waveform is infinite, it is most likely to be found in the vicinity of its atom, spinning in one of the orbitals. This is a measurement.

In 99.999999999999999999999999999999% of cases (maybe more), we will find our electron where it belongs. But there is nothing physical preventing it from being anywhere else, at the very edge of the Universe. It's very unlikely, but not impossible.

So, can we measure God?

We may assume that we can. And that somehow, each of the manifestations mentioned above are different measurements. If so, God has shape, size and maybe even electric charge. But most definitely, if He can be measured, He obeys the rules of Physics - and thus some of the manifestations mentioned are a contradiction of themselves. Since as various religious scriptures state - God is everywhere - to manifest Himself (so we can observe Him), he must be somewhere, which denies the omnipresence of God. And this also goes against the Principle of Uncertainty again, the one that deals with energy and time (as opposed to location and momentum). Knowing an energy state of a particle will be accurate only to within a certain fraction, depending on the elapsed time for measurement. If God is immortal and infinite (time wise), then its energy state is absolutely precise. Energy means mass. In other words, an immortal being would be a very definite and measurable presence. Which God is not.

Furthermore, our measurements only have a meaning when coupled with human reason. Without coherent self-aware thinking of the human mind, colors, things, ideas, just about everything, has no meaning. Without a human to observe and give (ir)rational shape to its measurements, the world is simply ... not.

One day, the sun will bloat up like a mushroom and eat planet Earth away. Everything alive on our little globe of rock will perish, including ourselves. And then, there will be no one left to believe in God. And this is the ultimate proof to why He does not exist - not as portrayed by religion. Without humans to measure Him and give logic to their observation, God will be just another waveform - if that.

And thus, everything falls in place. God did not create us. We created Him. We conceived him in our thoughts. And so, just like our thoughts, He is immeasurable. But He is what we create. And so, for Norse, their Gods were gloomy and apocalyptic, like the harsh icy world around them. African Gods were mainly about hunting, fishing, harvest, and fertility. Polynesian Gods were all about the sea.

God is a collective social reflection of ourselves - our hopes, fears, loves, passions, greeds, and doubts. Throughout the ages, different cultures tried to solve problems to which they did not have apparent answers. So, they compensated using their imagination, the most powerful and sur-physical tool that we possess, the mother of all solutions.

I wrote this, more or less, in ArmyOps Tracker forum. Then, a smart guy (a believer) countered my explanations and presented me with some difficult questions:

Answer 1:

Thinking of a tree in quantum terms is difficult, because a tree is a macroscopic thing. Quantum Mechanics applies to microscopic things. This means that a tree, as a whole, will not obey the rules of Quantum Mechanics, but each of its particles will. A falling tree (including the sound effect) will have a waveform - combined of millions of trillions of waveforms of each individual particle. Theoretically, the tree will be anywhere and everywhere, standing, falling, fallen already, vanished ... all of these will be true until a measurement is taken. Once we measure the tree - observe it with our logic - we will get a result. The chance for a tree to remain standing will be very, very slim. And therefore, most likely, no one will ever see a fallen tree up on its feet. But physically, it will be it, and it will have happened, probabilistically, all of it.

The same applies to sound. The sound of the fall will originate and propagate. But without something to register the noise, there is no meaning to the sound. As a matter of fact, if the tree fell in a vacuum space, there would be no air particles to transfer the disturbance to our ear drums. The fall would have occurred, without sound. Which brings us back to the logic of events, without which observation / measurement has no meaning. Knowing that vacuum does one thing and air does another is what makes us understand the sound (or the lack thereof) of the falling tree. Without it, we would be stumped in our analysis of reality.

Our forefathers lacked much of the knowledge we have today. And so they compensated for the lack of logic with imagination, creating super solutions to problems they did not have physicals answers to. Such was the creation of God.

Answer 2:

Human thought is a tricky one. It does not necessarily obey physical rules and cannot be measured - explaining why capturing the invention of God is so difficult. Therefore, the human thought does not need to be measured in order to exist. Which means that whatever a man says will always be wrong, even if a woman is not there to correct him. Thanks to the guys at ArmyOps forum for the inspiration for this article.