According to some Christian outlooks we were made for another world. Perhaps, rather, we were made for this world to recreate, reclaim, redeem, and renew unto God's future aspiration by the power of His Spirit. - R.E. Slater
Secularization theory has been massively falsified. We don't live in an age of secularity. We live in an age of explosive, pervasive religiosity... an age of religious pluralism. - Peter L. Berger
Exploring the edge of life and faith in a post-everything world. - Todd Littleton
I don't need another reason to believe, your love is all around for me to see. – anon
Thou art our need; and in giving us more of thyself thou givest us all. - Khalil Gibran, Prayer XXIII
Be careful what you pretend to be. You become what you pretend to be. - Kurt Vonnegut
Religious beliefs, far from being primary, are often shaped and adjusted by our social goals. - Jim Forest
People, even more than things, need to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed, and redeemed; never throw out anyone. – anon
Certainly God's love has made fools of us all. - R.E. Slater
An apocalyptic Christian faith doesn't wait for Jesus to come, but for Jesus to become in our midst. - R.E. Slater
Christian belief in God begins with the cross and resurrection of Jesus, not with rational apologetics. - Eberhard Jüngel, Jürgen Moltmann
Our knowledge of God is through the 'I-Thou' encounter, not in finding God at the end of a syllogism or argument. There is a grave danger in any Christian treatment of God as an object. The God of Jesus Christ and Scripture is irreducibly subject and never made as an object, a force, a power, or a principle that can be manipulated. - Emil Brunner
Ehyeh Asher Ehyeh means "I will be that who I have yet to become." - God (Ex 3.14)
Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. - Thomas Merton
The church is God's world-changing social experiment of bringing unlikes and differents to the Eucharist/Communion table to share life with one another as a new kind of family. When this happens we show to the world what love, justice, peace, reconciliation, and life together is designed by God to be. The church is God's show-and-tell for the world to see how God wants us to live as a blended, global, polypluralistic family united with one will, by one Lord, and baptized by one Spirit. – anon
The cross that is planted at the heart of the history of the world cannot be uprooted. - Jacques Ellul
The Unity in whose loving presence the universe unfolds is inside each person as a call to welcome the stranger, protect animals and the earth, respect the dignity of each person, think new thoughts, and help bring about ecological civilizations. - John Cobb & Farhan A. Shah
If you board the wrong train it is of no use running along the corridors of the train in the other direction. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer
God's justice is restorative rather than punitive; His discipline is merciful rather than punishing; His power is made perfect in weakness; and His grace is sufficient for all. – anon
Our little [biblical] systems have their day; they have their day and cease to be. They are but broken lights of Thee, and Thou, O God art more than they. - Alfred Lord Tennyson

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Stephen Hawking: The Strangeness of Quantum Physics and Cosmic Indeterminacy

How Multiverses Form: A supplement to the original Big Bang Theory of the Universe.
(click to enlarge for a clearer picture)

The Strangeness of Quantum Physics,
Cosmic Indeterminacy and Multiverses

R.E. Slater
June 27, 2012

The most incomprehensible thing about the universe
is that it is comprehensible.

                                                  - Albert Einstein

Through several past articles (listed at the end) I have been reviewing the mathematical and scientific observations made by Stephen Hawking in his book, The Grand Design (2010), as a way to explain the evolution of our cosmos through the eyes of quantum physics. As a Christian I have found this fascinating but one which was excluded from conversation in my branch of evangelicalism and Christian theology (though not from mine own self-made studies and review). Recently I have decided to describe evolution - both organically and cosmologically - in theological terms and through mine own Christian observations. And as I read and wrote I soon found other literately-disposed Christian writers and theologians likewise working towards updating their evangelic Christian understanding of the Bible, of man's origins, and of God as Creator, through the discoveries of evolution. Which has encouraged me in my determination to rediscover this amazing world that we live in, its holiness and goodness, and its projected teleology ecologically as the future expectation of the believer, while writing of a more holistic environment between theology and science.

Obviously this cannot be done in so simple a posting as here but through the body of this blog's indices and postings the inquisitive reader will find many directional pieces and thoughts that can be stitched together into a composite whole. Obviously blogs are not meant for this. But this form of digital media is what we have to work with (even as I am familiar with it) and consequently I intend to create a compendium of updated Christian thought from the diligent observations and prayerful training of my past as best I can until other religious institutions, Christian colleges, and theological church bodies take over this task in a more formidable fashion (as I suspect is happening even now in a variety of efforts and expended energies regardless of the political / religious push-back by sincere-minded Christians).

For me, postmodernism seems to best fit with this newer form of Christianity. One I think of as Emergent to the times at hand and to the present opportunities of sharing Jesus' gospel message with the many global cultures and heritages of our technological age. A message that has been unreflective of the Church at large with its many regional messages flaring some aspect or another of particulate dogma and doctrinal teaching by denominational preference or traditional historic familiarity. Again, these themes have been mentioned and discussed here before but in this post I wish to continue our research into understanding what quantum physics means for the Christian interested in exploring both science and some form of evolutionary understanding of her/his world and origin. So let us begin....

"Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics."

- Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design, pg 5

(*and by inference, neither has Theology - R.E. Slater)

"The universe itself has no single history, nor even an independent existence."

- Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design, pg 6

Click to enlarge for a clearer picture

The Universe In Which We Live

There are key features of quantum physics that can only be explained as fantastic and fascinating. Weird, unexplainable features that serve as the bedrock to science’s most profound discoveries of a universe we deem ours without even beginning to understand its infinite vastness and incomprehensibilities. Discoveries that take us to the heart of our own sun’s hot fusion furnaces immense in the heats of its boiling turmoils. To the oscillating radio emissions of fast spinning stars held in eccentric orbits within the immense spiral galaxy in which we live. To even the very center of our own galaxy which we call the Milky Way because of its milky white appearance set across the black skies of the heavens on crystal clear nights brilliantly darkened for our wonder and amazement. A galactic home set infinitesimally within a much larger universe flowing in infinite arrays of innumerable galaxies locked in web-like lattices of gravitational interplay and exchange with one another. Each set within a goo of dark matter and dark energy that we cannot explain filling the dark voids of space with powerful quantum forces bearing up the essence of the universe itself, stretching and pulling, crushing and propelling, the cosmological essence of the universe throughout its immense, cosmic history.

A history that science tries to describe by hypothetically standing at the center of our Milky Way and there peer into its very core described as a black hole to postulate elaborate theories of origins of the primordial universe under titles of "Big Bang, Big Crunch, Big Freeze, Big Rip" and such like. Each describing some aspect of the universe through theories of "No Boundary Conditions," "Eternal Inflation," "p-brane Cosmology," "String Theory," and "Multiverses." And while there - hypothetically standing and peering over its cosmic edge - seeing only an impenetrable blackness set within this very dangerous precipice that scientists call the event horizon, from whose edge we can see nothing but a black emptiness. An emptiness that hungrily draws into itself, and swallowing whole, the cosmic debris of what once were suns and moons, galactic gas and dust, and even very light itself, into its black gaping maw refusing sight or trace of what happens next so strong the force of gravity that overcomes all known quantum forces to man’s quantum sciences. And so we must ask, what then does science mean by the several terms of quantum sciencequantum physics, or even, quantum mechanics? For we know it is a journey that must begin below the atomic level. Even below the sub-atomic level! A level so microscopic that it can only be described in powers of nth degrees.

Aspects of Quantum Physics

In the world of the small, specifically the world of sub-atomic particles we must note at once that these particles either have mass or do not have mass, which is described as subatomic weight measured in terms of an object's (i) resistance to acceleration or, (ii) measured as a gravitational force acting upon it ( Particles with mass are associated with matter and are further given the description as "fermions" - such as an electron (negatively charged), a quark, or a lepton. They may also consist in a composite particulate arrangement such as a proton (positively charged), a neutron (neutral charge), a meson, or a baryon (the latter two are formed of either two or three quarks respectively). These are matter particles. Or fermions.

Fermions are different from force particles that have no mass, and are not associated with matter such as light (photons), electro-magnetic forces (of which light is a type of e.m. force ), the weak, and strong, nuclear forces. We call these force particles photons (from which we get various forms of radiation), gluons and bosons. Each carries a "force" as a result of interactions made between matter particles (fermions) as they collide and repel from one another in combinations of strange, and strongly reactive, astringencies. (And if you have not  already noticed, we've slipped beyond the normalcies of language... for how can one describe a particle as a force? And a force as a particle? And yet science has proved both descriptors as true!).

All of which seems a tidy description until realizing that some massless force particles have "rest mass" when in a state of rest (or inertia). So, to help overcome this descriptive problem quantum mechanics will further describe matter and force particles in accordance with their "integer spin." Particles with positive integer spin are known as bosons (e.g., force particles) and those with half-integer spin are known as fermions (e.g., matter particles). Unlike bosons which may share the same quantum space with each other (if they have the same energy level), fermions cannot unless they each have a different spin from one another. From the study of these interactions has been developed the Standard Model of Quantum Interactions which   describes the known associations between fermions and force carriers:

The Standard Model of elementary particles
with the fermions in the first three columns.

Each particle has its anti-matter counterpart

Click for a clearer picture

Something that we've mentioned, but haven't explained - and is a large part of quantum physics discussions - is the strange notion that a particle may exhibit the dual combined properties of a light wave as well as that of a bit of matter. Like a beam of light that refracts across a solid surface, or as a series of expanding waves refracting across the surface of water in light and dark patterns, a particle will leave wave-like trails of quantum energy in its wake. Which seems more "force-like" than "matter-like" and confused early rudimentary physical sciences for many decades when examining electro-magnetic forces and thinking of quantum particles as having "wave-like" properties (rather than dualistically as also being granular bits of microscopic matter). Much later, when this was discovered, the dualism of matter particles (we'll call these fermions) was made all the more curious when discovering that these singular bits of particulate matter/energy "balls" could interfere with themselves as shown by their propogated wave-like trails of "light and dark".

Moreover, in later observations, it was found that a particle did not take one singular path from a point A to a point B but every possible path between two points and, amazingly, at the same time! Truly the quantum world of physics is strange indeed.... More so because it was at the point of human observation that a particle would not do exhibit these properties but would then settle down into a consistent wave-like pattern of interference as a form of energy. And yet, when separated from our "observation" this same particle was discovered to search out all probable paths and investigate all possibilities before finalizing its end-path. Even more, it can double back on itself, go here and there (to Jupiter and Mars, or the other side of the universe, and back) before finally completing its journey! Consequently, fermions are described as having the dual nature of a wave and as matter.

Thus when speaking of quantum interference a physicist will speak to a particle's "sum over histories" which can cancel itself out in wave patterns of light and dark as previously described. This can occur even if it were its own solitary particle, incredulous as it seems. However, it was also found that minute, quantum "packages" of particles could not be isolated alone by themselves. They always exist in motion with other like quantum particles - they can be slowed down (thus making it a naturally occurring phenomena) - but not isolated. And secondly, even the slightest human observation can, and will, affect its motion or its "phenomenatic" character.

Quantum Indeterminism

According to the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle ( the position, or the velocity, of a particle cannot both be known at the same time. You may know either its position, or its velocity, but you cannot predict with certainty each in relation to the other because they are not determined with certainty. That is, nature determines its future state through a process that is fundamentally uncertain and so, reflects a fundamental randomness in its quantum state. Therefore the outcome cannot be known even in the simplest situations. Rather, nature allows for a number of infinite eventualities at the quantum level each with a certain likelihood of being realized. To paraphrase Einstein, it was as if God threw the dice before deciding the result of every physical process. We now know this principle as the principle of indeterminacy. In summary then, and in accordance with the quantum model, a particle is said to have no definite position, that it takes every possible path (however ridiculous this path could be), and that it will take them all simultaneously. This is the incredible world of the small that God has created.

Thus, we are led to a new form of determinism: "Given the state of a system at some time, the "laws of nature" determine the probabilities of various futures and pasts, rather than to determine them with certainty." This is known as outcome probabilities (or, indeterminacy). Consequently, we live in a non-deterministic creation. Which isn't the same thing as saying that creation has a "free will" of a kind. Just that its indetermined (rather than un-determined or uncertain). To speak of indeterminacy is to speak of the quantum laws of physics. But for the Christian to speak of un-determinacy, not only is it not a word, but it does not portray what we know of God from the Bible as One who directs all things - even the quantum things of creation. Even if by that direction He has given creation its own "free will" which we should more probably call indeterminacy. This aspect of divine sovereignty is no different than God's direction in our own lives, though they be lived as free-willed beings. Still God is sovereign. How? Verily, it is a mystery. But this is how the Bible describes God. To creation He has given a fundamental randomness. To humanity (as to all living things) He has given free will. Over both God still rules. We cannot explain it. It just is.

But somehow, in the mystery of God's sovereignty, comes the parallel mystery of God's partnership with the worlds of both matter and flesh. To rule God has determined (or decreed) to "not rule" by allowing both creation and man their own course and objectives. I sometimes wonder what this world would be like without sin when someday sin and death are removed.... In what way will that affect, or not affect, the indeterminacy of nature and the free will of mankind (and that of all living things)? No less because I think both these concepts and realities will still exist and remain unchanged in scope and nature, though now placed within the newer paradigms of redemption and perfect submission to the Creator-Redeemer's divine will. A will that still will exist in harmony with a creation that may continue even as it now still doesIt is an interesting question to ask because I think when we begin exploring the claims of process theology we will see that very little may differ between this world and the next - except in what way, and how, sin's absence may leave things. And if that be the case, than we already live in a world God wanted for us sans our corruption, pollution, disharmonious lifestyles, combative monopolies, aggressions, prideful lusts and greed, and such like. How often have we heard the expression that God's divinity may be found in this world? That His essence is ever present around us? Of course it does little to help us when considering earthquakes, volcanoes, floods, and storms. But should we be unaffected by such terrible ecological disasters (natural acts of randomness and indeterminacies) in the new world, we might then ask ourselves how many times have we looked upon the raging sea and felt its powerful winds and have found them beautiful? Awesome? Divinely inspiring? To picture a new earth and a new heaven without such turbulence, and destruction, I cannot imagine (nor even want to imagine). Even so, however my conjectures, for now we must be content and patiently await the outcome posited by our intuitive understanding of nature, helped along by relational-process theology's unique vision of the universe, when we begin studying it as a theological perspective. For now, let us return to the subject at hand....

Summary of the Characteristics of a Particle
  • It exists as a wave/particle duality
  • Its speed and position cannot be known for certainty (the Pauli Exclusionary Principle)
  • Observing its system will alter its behavior (Feynman's Sum of Histories)
  • Its (unobserved) past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities, such that there can be no single history. (By extrapolation we may also say this of the universe and its origins with which we wish to speculate upon).

Click to Enlarge

Of Probabilities, Histories and MultiUniverses

So then, by extrapolation, to accept the fact that any observations made on a system in its present state will affect its past states seems a little bizarre to say the least. But in quantum physics this is a true finding confirmed and verified by scientific methods many times over. Thus, to observe a system is to affect its choice even when its already been chosen - as found in delayed-choice experiments. Consequently, a photon emitted from a dying quasar located at the furthest reaches of space and having travelled billions of light years before our Earth, Sun, Solar System, or even our galaxy were formed can, with observation, alter its original path of departure merely because it has been affected by our choice of observation. Even after billions of years of passage! Strange indeed. However, it is not through o-u-r observation that that particle's trajectory path is thus affected. No. But because this particle has travelled e-v-e-r-y possible path to reach us at this point and time.

Then what does this mean? It means that our universe doesn't have any one single history but every possible history each with its own probabilities and possibilities. This is the conceptual framework that quantum physics means when speaking of a "multi-universe." Furthermore, through observation we cannot affect the universe's future but can only isolate an instance of any one of an infinite number  of paths that the universe travelled as a rapidly expanding, massive singularity, consisting of both quantum waves and particles. So that, in this case, we our observing our own cosmic history and not that of another. Why? Because it would be physically impossible to observe those other universes since we are confined to only observe this present universe that we are bounded within (temporally, dimensionally, physically, etc). Simply said, we cannot leave the universe of our own experience for another universe. And if we could, that theoretical universe may have a completely different set of natural and physical laws; or, consist of a different cosmic structure, construction, and duration; and as such, would be inhospitable to our chances of surviving as we presently exist.

Thus, the collapse of time backwards towards its Big Bang origin would result in a cosmic state of not just one cosmos being birthed, but an infinite and never-ending birthing array of singular cosmological infinities (much like soap bubbles creating more soap bubbles each from the other to the other, when blown upon, should they have an infinite source of soapy water and breath). Which then leads us into the quantum world of multi-universes (more properly known as multiverses) existing in a never-ending array of infinite amplitudes (cosmic inflations and deflations) and experiences. At least this is what the mathematics tell us on the other end of our quantum observations. That we may perhaps be living in a phenomenal universe that we once thought bore only one history of primordial birth and development when, at the last, it bore every possible primordial birth through a chance sequence of indeterminate interactions. Till at last was bourne a planet like Earth bearing the remarkable evolutionary progress of carbon-based life forms and systems resulting in human kind, as sentient, spiritual beings, made in the image of God by the breath of God using the processes on hand of cosmic and organic evolution. However, this birthing process never stopped. It continues even unto this day. And will continue forever. Consequently, it can be correctly said mathematically, that our present universe is only one of an infinite set of universes either dying or living, expanding or contracting. And not one of those universes inhabits the physical space or dimensionality of the other. That this event goes on-and-on-and-on at the hands of God. This is the mathematics of it... and so incredible is the statement that we would doubt the practicality, or the reality of it, but for mathematical formulae and speculation. But we'll never know. This is matter that seemingly cannot be fathomed. At least in our present state of knowledge and learning.

The Conclusion of the Matter -
The Need to Update the Church's Theology

And so, here again is yet another mystery. Unfathomable. Inexpressible. Incredible. Known only to God. However, we do know that we exist at the hands of a Creator and are told so through God's provision of divine revelation collected at the hands of godly men and women of the Old and New Testaments by whose experiences we now have as a canonized collection of redemptive stories. We call it God's Word. The Holy Scriptures. Which we even now continue to explore and scrutinize in feeble attempts to plumb the depths of God's inspired revelations  given to an ancient Hebrew civilization well before today's more advanced scientific and archaeological discoveries, and theoretical propositions. Even amidst humanity's many refined and sophisticated cultural groupings and experiences reactive to human wars and disasters,  and its expanding banks of knowledge within societal industry. And because of these most recent quantum discoveries by particle physics, we are necessarily forced to go back to the theologies that we thought we knew, and to revisit those foundational truths once thought so certain, in the newer revelatory light of science and philosophical phenomenolgy. Thus has arisen a whole new set of theologies unthought until now. Going by the names of evolutionary creationism, relational process thought, narrative theology, postmodern  Emergent Christianity, philosophical deconstruction set within uncertain opening borders of existential epistemology, inspired and re-incarnating hermeneutics of interpretation. Each building upon yesteryear's earlier historical-grammatical approaches as each segment interacts and informs the other of its chaotic discoveries, formulations, certainties and incertainties. And for the contemporary, modern day church to ignore these discoveries is but only to confuse their worshippers with contradictory half-truths and false inferences leading to simplistic naivety and popular arguments of who (or what theology) is faithful to the truths of Scripture. And in many instances, simply not connecting today's theologically illiterate masses to the wonderful truths of Christ's present-day cruciform ministries. Who, both from within, and from without, the transparent, living walls of today's postmodern church need to know of the relevancy of God's incredulous redemptive revelation to their lives, works, habits, interests, pursuits, thoughts, beliefs, and assurances.

Incredibly then, this is the kind of God who is revealing Himself to man. Who desires that we seek Him, and know Him, as our Redeemer-Creator. Whom we attempt to explain and cannot. Who simply "IS". Just as He said He is. "I Am Who I Am" (Exodus 3.14). Even as "He will be, what He will be." (Exodus 3.14) - the holy One whom we cannot explain. Nor grasp. Nor begin to understand. The incomprehensible One. The One who lives in the deep voids of the living and non-living. Who speaks from the whirlwind and perturbs our hearts. Who soothes the troubled waters of our soul and speaks peace be still to the calamitous waves around us. Our Sovereign Creator. The Lover of our souls. Our Savior Redeemer. No, we do not stand at the edge of a cosmic precipice like that of a Black Hole and look in and find only despair and nothingness. No, we stand at that same edge and look up from its twin side as a White Hole to discover rebirthed dimensions of another space-time from another parallel universe unknown to us. A universe unknown to us except for our heart that would believe.

That if God be for us than who can stand against us? Can sin? Can death? Can hell? Nay, it is not for naught that through this immense divine effort, struggle, and care, that God still will be who He will be - not only in our lives but in that of His created world. We are but to submit to His will and learn to better hear him in the tempests of our hearts. A fleshly sanctuary where He would most desire to dwell both now and forevermore. A templed living Lifeforce whatever our past. Whatever our future. It is Christ Jesus alone who is our God. Our King. Our Ruler. Our Creator. Our Priest and Lamb. Our Redeemer and Saviour. Who is described in the Scriptures as the ever guiding Star of David to all men everywhere. Or liken to the Morning Star set within the heavens of our hearts. To that Star may our paths be lit and found illuminated as we struggle forward to comprehend this amazing God of the universe who wishes to share His love, grace, mercy and peace with us. As the divine works of His holy hands. And as the templed treasures of His divine heart. Amen.

R.E. Slater
June 27, 2012
rev. September 24, 2012

Job 38

English Standard Version (ESV)

The Lord Answers Job

38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said:

2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?
3 Dress for action[a] like a man;

    I will question you, and you make it known to me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell me, if you have understanding.
5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
Or who stretched the line upon it?
6 On what were its bases sunk,
or who laid its cornerstone,
7 when the morning stars sang together
and all the sons of God shouted for joy?

8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors
when it burst out from the womb,
9 when I made clouds its garment
and thick darkness its swaddling band,
10 and prescribed limits for it
and set bars and doors,
11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther,
and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?

12 “Have you commanded the morning since your days began,
and caused the dawn to know its place,
13 that it might take hold of the skirts of the earth,
and the wicked be shaken out of it?
14 It is changed like clay under the seal,
and its features stand out like a garment.
15 From the wicked their light is withheld,
and their uplifted arm is broken....

continue to -

Relevancy22 Index: Particle Physics
"Science and the Universe"

Stephen Hawking, Indeterminacy, God & Quantum Physics, 5/30/12

Stephen Hawking, Multi-Universes, and God's Grander Design, 5/24/12

Allowing Indeterminacy and Randomness in God's Creation, 5/24/12

Process Theology - "Divine Action, Indeterminacy, and Dipolarism", 5/19/12

John Polkinghorne: How Do We Explain the Incredible Uniqueness of Our Form of Multiverse?, 6/14/12

Alan Guth on Inflationary Cosmology, 12/14/11

Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design of God and the Cosmos, 4/26/12

Biologos: Particle Physics of the Universe & Multiverse, Part 5, 5/1/12

Biologos: Particle Physics of the Universe & Multiverse, Parts 1-4, 4/11/12

Columbia University - Panel Discussion on the Higgs Particle Research at CERN, 4/19/12

CERN physicists find hint of Higgs boson, 12/13/11

The Higgs-Boson God Particle Found, 12/13/11

Brian Greene Hosts "The Fabric of the Universe" on NOVA, 11/24/11


  1. Thanks Tom. I wanted to try to "simplify" this branch of physics and to show its corrollaries with theology. Hopefully that has been done. I thought Stephen Hawking's observations to be the best venue for this effort and am grateful to his diligence in speaking so clearly on a very difficult subject.