Ian Barbour, and later John Haught, suggested four models of relationship between science and religion: Conflict, Independent (contrast), Dialogue (contact) and Integration (confirmation). This paper presents the integration model between science and religion based on the metaphysical implications of quantum physics. Metaphysics, called the “first philosophy” by Aristotle, deals with the nature of existence, being and reality. Quantum physics offers astonishing suggestions about reality and is therefore closely allied to metaphysics.
Thomas Aquinas suggested that the real world is intelligible. Newtonian science treated it as deterministic. But, at the dawn of 20th century, the deterministic view melted into the abstract mathematical world of quantum physics, with sets of probability waves in Hilbert space, entangled particles and multi-dimensional, curved space-time. As the universe came to be seen as a strange, counterintuitive realm of imprecision and unpredictability in which paradoxes became the norm, intelligibility was questioned, pointing to the need for metaphysics. For quantum physicists like Neils Bohr, the physical world is mysterious–reality is veiled and all we can know is how things appear when we observe them. Immanuel Kant calls this “transcendental idealism”. The famed Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that probabilities are ineradicable from Physics, leading Einstein to respond, “God does not play dice.”
Two metaphysical implications of quantum physics are presented here to build a bridge between religion and science.
1: The Role of the Observer
Quantum superposition says that an atom or photon can exist in multiple locations at the same time–in indeterminate superposition until observed. An electron can pass through two holes at the same time. Shrödinger’s cat is both dead and alive, and its state becomes defined only when we open the box. This is quantum indeterminacy or the observer’s paradox, where the observation affects the outcome. In Everett’s “many worlds” interpretation, the world has somehow split into two non-interacting parts, with different outcomes, and we are only aware of one part – the world we now inhabit. In these theories, the physical world contains both the wavefunction and additional (hidden) variables. Scientists like David Bohm have tried, unsuccessfully, to use hidden variables to eliminate the need for probabilities.
The phenomenon of quantum entanglement involves nonlocality. Once two particles becomes entangled, what happens to one of them instantaneously affects the other, no matter how far apart they have separated. Such instantaneous correlations are called nonlocal, provoking Einstein’s expression “no-spooky-action-at-a-distance”. Recently, this was proved not to be spooky, but real by the Loophole-free Bell test.
Religion says God created the universe. Modern cosmology has confirmed that there is something outside space-time, from which space-time originates, which has a rich mathematical structure which could be interpreted as a supernatural reality. Further, the laws and the initial conditions of the universe are finely-tuned and there are numerous mysterious coincidences, pointing to a supernatural intelligent ultimate reality. Science comes to its limit, or to the edge of physical reality, at Planck time and religion reveals that God is on the other side of this boundary.
‘Substance Dualism’ argues that persons are pure spiritual substances, whose soul can continue to exist after the death of the body. Though many suggest that ultimately there is only one material entity, the brain, substance dualism receives support from the metaphysical aspect of quantum physics, which proves that there can be dimensions beyond observable reality.