Continued from Part 1:
For this we will turn to physics. Physics and theology? Of course. Physics describes God’s creation. To learn about physics is to peer into the mind of God.
The world we live in is the world of classical physics. Classical physics works by laws which are constant. There is a formula which describes how gravity works. Another for magnetism. Others for electricity and its properties. There is one and only one answer once you plug a value into the formula. In practical terms, if you drop a ball in the classical physics world, then it will fall to the earth. Yup, gravity. Laws rule in the classical physics world. The outcome is certain. God is a God of order.
The world we cannot see is the quantum physics world. This is the sub-atomic world. It underlies the classical physics world. Something like the crust on a lemon meringue pie. The quantum world is a very different place. That world is not ruled by laws. It is ruled by probabilities. In the quantum physics world, if you drop a ball, there is a possibility that it will fall down. However, there is a possibility that it will fall up. Or go sideways. Or stand still. Which will occur? All the possibilities exist. All of them are possible. Some are simply more probable than others. God is the God of possibilities and all things are possible with God.
A physicist by the name of Schroedinger explained this by way of a famous thought exercise called Schroedinger’s Cat. All I can say is I hope Schroedinger never actually had a cat. His example was to put a cat in a sealed box with a flask of poison gas. The flask had a trigger of radioactive material that decayed and whose decay would release the poison gas. But, and the but is important, there was no way to know exactly when or if the trigger had released the poison gas. The question is whether the cat is alive or dead.
In the world of classical physics the cat is either dead or alive. It cannot be both. Kind of like being a little bit pregnant. Not possible. So, dead or alive, not both.
But in the quantum world, the rules are different. There are two possibilities. Possibility one: the cat is alive. Possibility two: the cat is dead. Because the quantum world operates differently from the classical physics world, both possibilities exist. Yes, the cat is dead AND the cat is alive. Both are probable and therefore both exist. Both. At the same time. And the cat will continue to exist in both possibilities until the box is opened and one possibility eliminates the other possibility. Once the box is opened, only one possibility can exist. We will either observe that the cat is dead or the cat is alive. At that point and that point only, one possibility will become reality. The other possibility is not reality.
Do not think that this is hard to wrap your head around. It’s not. When I told you the cat was in the box with the poison flask, you already started wondering if the cat was dead or alive. Your mind was able to conceive of the cat as dead and the cat as alive. Both concepts were reasonable to you. You simply thought of both as being exclusive. The cat either had to be alive or dead but not both. It is a simple thing to remove the either/or. Allow yourself to think of the cat as dead and the cat as alive and entertain the uncertainty of which state exists. You are now holding in your mind the cat as dead and the cat as alive. And that is how the quantum world works. Not either/or. Either/and.
So we open the box and the cat is dead. Some of us are sad. Some of us are not. The other possibility, that the cat is alive, is gone. Evaporated into the ether. Or has it? Some scientists objected to the idea that a possible reality is simply – whoosh – gone. If it is a possible reality, then it must still be a reality. They came up with the many worlds view. The popular name for this is parallel universes. In other words, when we open the box and find the cat dead, another universe comes into existence in which the cat is alive.
Let’s follow that logic to its inevitable end. A parallel universe would not only come into existence for a cat. There would have to be a new universe created for every decision ever made, for every time the wind blew in a slightly different angle or a speck of cosmic dust was or was not included in the formation of a star. The logical end to all this is a limitless (in our terms) number of universes. And in each universe, there would be different choices made, different accidents of fate until each universe which split off from the other created yet another infinite number of universes. It is beyond human comprehension. And this is how we will solve the seeming contradiction between free will, predestination and election.