Tag Archives: science vs religion

“If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move.” Is it true?

FaithThese words were Jesus’ words, taken from the Bible in Matthew, passage 17:20. But no this is not a religious post. If you remove all the dogmas and biases of our time, Jesus was a philosopher, and one with many interesting points of note. One of these points was that we have power over nature.

Today we know that we have power over nature. We collectively employ industrial level technologies to reshape our environment. Indeed where once upon a time humans looked upon nature with fear and awe, today we look upon it as much with a sense of caution, reservation and a fear not that it might hurt us, but that we might hurt it too much. However this wasn’t Jesus’ point. This power referred to above is indirect; for it involves usage of tools. Jesus argued that we have direct, mental power over nature. My question to you is whether or not this is true.

The scientific method of experimentation and empirical support is still relatively modern in human history. Despite early examples of the experimental method in works such as those of Alhazen (an Arab scientist of the 10th and 11th centuries AD), it was not until Francis Bacon, and later others such as Galileo and John Locke, that the experimental method of modern science came to the fore. It was a huge change in human thought, shifting our thought from hypothesis, meditation and deduction towards empirical evidence evaluated with sensory experience. But more recent shifts have taken place.

The study of physics today is divided between the observed and unobserved, and for this very reason more and more of quantum science cannot be judged by sensory experience. What makes this so is that the very act of observation changes what happens at the quantum level. This was evidenced by the Quantum Slit Experiment, which showed that individual electrons could follow multiple different avenues of potential at the same time. So for example if you fired a single electron at a board with two slits in it, it would actually go through both. Of course this baffled scientists, because it defies the rules of classical physics. double_slit_experimentSo they put a camera next to the board to see what happened. And lo and behold, the electron started behaving exactly as the scientists would have expected. It stopped behaving like a wave of potential, and started behaving like a single piece of matter, going through only one slit.

Quantum physics therefore seems to suggest that everything exists in potential, and it’s only when something is observed that one single thing can be perceived, which accords with our view of the world. Furthermore, many experiments performed with simple random selections of binary data (0s and 1s) from the 60s to today have found that our hopes seem to affect the probabilities in a real way i.e. if we hope for more 1s then there is a higher probability that more 1s will show up. Of course this seems like nonsense to us, because once again it defies the rules of classical physics. If it were true that we had such mental power over reality then why wouldn’t we see more signs of it? If a crazy person, or someone on drugs, believes they can fly, why can’t they actually fly?

The only explanation I can find or think of for the division between quantum and classical realities is that the very act of observation requires interaction with the experiment. To measure the position of an electron for instance, you must somehow change the electron. And if we heard of anyone doing anything that defied the rules of classical physics then we would have heard about the act i.e. observed it, and therefore influenced it with our own doubts.

How observation changes reality is unknown. It’s not as simple as saying that said observation requires us what-ifbouncing a photon off of the electron, since in theory this would have happened anyway. Indeed it seems as though there is an exchange of information at play, and that both we and the electron are somehow entangled and communicating information between one another instantaneously. In other words we are literally telling the electron how to behave. Since at the big bang all things, even space and time, were part of a singularity, we can suppose that all aspects of the universe are still entangled today. So therefore, if all observers believed a certain thing, would that thing happen? If everyone woke tomorrow believing that gravity didn’t exist, would we all float off into space?