[Originally published as a portion of Quantum Mechanics’ Wave-Particle Duality is a Triality]
For decades, renowned physicists, many Christians, and others have interpreted quantum mechanics as providing evidence against the materialist worldview. And even more, the observer himself appears to have a special status. Either an observer, that is, a mind and perception, or a measurement, or some kind of record of a measurement, seems to affect the behavior of matter.
Might there be then a specifically Christian insight into quantum mechanics and matter’s wave-particle duality?
Physics, like biology, is increasingly seen as information based. Some physicists speak of an “information wave” and even a primordial information wave. Quantum mechanics obeys some rules that seem almost grammatical. Subject and verb, for example, must agree in number. In organisms, it’s not the acids that encode it but the functional information that is the more fundamental substance.
Human beings are body, soul, and spirit and the soul survives even if all atoms of our body are replaced over time and both soul and spirit survive even cremation, so our non-physical selves are of greater substance than our physical bodies.
God exists in three persons from eternity past and created a form for the Son to indwell in which he walked in the garden, and in Nazareth, and in which he will continue to walk eternally including on the new earth. God is spirit through eternity past yet the Son has become flesh and taken humanity upon himself and the Bible describes him now as inhabiting a glorified body.
The Father, the Holy Spirit, and now inhabiting a glorified body, the Son, these three are reflected in human beings as body, soul, and spirit. As God stamped the creation with his own triune image, might elementary particles themselves bear that triunity?
Rather than a wave-particle duality perhaps matter is a wave-particle-word triality. If so, then like with biology and even humanity, it is the non-physical information-based component behind matter that is the deeper substance, the more solid phenomenon, the harder reality.
The Bewildering Sameness of Matter
The exactness of fundamental particles is a bewildering phenomenon, so much so that asking why these are exact is a question either ignored or sufficient to drive the most brilliant men nearly insane. As Richard Feynman said in his Nobel lecture:
I received a telephone call one day at the graduate college at Princeton from Professor Wheeler, in which he said, “Feynman, I know why all electrons have the same charge and the same mass” “Why?” “Because, they are all the same electron!”
That’s similar to saying that the reason all threes are exactly the same is because they’re all the same three! Consider though that the exactness of particles is itself a quantum effect.
Perhaps an electron is a mathematical expression.
Likewise, perhaps a proton is a mathematical expression, or even a grammatical one, conditionally expressed as a particle or wave depending upon context and the grammatical rules of physics.
Long realizing that atoms, and therefore, steel and diamonds, are mostly empty space, brings us to consider that perhaps the baryons and leptons of the atom are, in a way, less than empty space, that is, that they are non-physical. Information, being non-physical, would have no problem passing through either one or two slits, depending upon context.
Regardless of how far it may extend through space a sentence requires agreement between subject and verb, just as entangled particles affect each other even over vast distances, seemingly violating the laws of classical physics but not the immaterial laws of math, information theory, and grammar.
Quantum tunneling may seem impossible but what physical barrier can impede a probability, a sentence, or an equation?
The Verbal Creation
Of the 77 creation passages in Scripture, the two greatest parallel passages from the Old and New Testaments, Genesis 1 and John 1, both stress a literary, verbal creation. And interestingly, the great creation psalm, number 19, does the same.
(Note first though, that while “the” Word refers to God the Son who “became flesh and dwelt among us”, I am not impling that matter is divine. We, therefore, use an uppercase “W” to refer to God as the Word and a lowercase “w” to refer to the wave-particle-word as information.)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… All things were made through Him, and without [the Word] nothing was made that was made.
Nothing. In Genesis, to perform a creative act, he spoke, including when God “said,” Let there be light. The Holy Spirit could have inspired Moses to simply write that God made light or God created light, and so on for the next seven instances. But instead, God “said.”
The nineteenth psalm C.S. Lewis famously described as, “one of the greatest lyrics in the world.” The “higher critics”, such as those of the Documentary Hypothesis, opining otherwise, describe the chapter as a disjointed concatenation of two unrelated poems (1904, Cheyne, The Book of Psalms, 2nd Ed., Vol. 1, p. 75). However, they miss the structure whereby the first half describes the physical heavens in literary terms and the second half describes the written or literary Word of God in astronomical terms.
Physical Heavens in Literary Terms:
The heavens declare the glory of God
And the firmament shows [Hb. tells] His handiwork
Day unto day utters speech
And night unto night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech nor language
Where their voice is not heard.
Their line [Sept., Rom. 10:18, voice] has gone out through all the earth,
And their words to the end of the world.
The second part of Psalm 19 describes the Scriptures in terms not as evidently astronomical as the first half is literary, yet we can see it there. “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul… The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes…”
Then, “Who can understand his errors” (from Hb. shagah) wanderings, as with the wandering planets which the ancients did not understand. Then, of those errors, “Let them not have dominion over me”, using the same Hebrew word as Genesis 1 where the “lights in the firmament of the heavens… rule over the day and over the night.”
Other expressions may suggest the same parallel. For God’s Word is as “perfect” as is the sun’s annual “circuit” (v. 6) through the stars, which can “convert the soul”, which is an especially unusual Hebrew expression, translated literally as, returning the soul, with this verb reminding us of the sun which returns “from one end of heaven… to the other” (v. 6).
So nothing was created apart from the Word. Logos, there referring to God the Son (Jn. 1:14), with that Greek word also meaning idea, reason. The creation week is characterized by God’s “saying,” and the creation psalm describes the heavens in terms of speech and knowledge.
As with all creation, God is the “Author of life” (Acts 3:15). Likewise, with redemption, he is the “Author” of salvation and of faith (Heb. 2:10; 5:9; 12:2). Even then regarding the ongoing operation of the universe, we see the same literary perspective with God, “upholding all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3).