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Wheeler's Delayed Choice & Implications for God

Question for the smart folks here: Does Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment (WDC), as confirmed in 2007, preclude the existence of a God as an independent entity?

If you can follow my logic here (and please, tell me where I'm wrong), as I understand the implications, WDC indicates that there is no single, objective state of the universe, but instead, the state of the universe depends on the choices of the observers within the universe (over simplification admitted and noted below).

(Note that here I am using "objective" as defined in the dictionary: relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.)

If this is true, then it follows that there cannot be a single "guiding hand." If there was, then such an entity's decisions (will of God if you like) would determine the state of the universe, and there would be a single objective state of the universe that would be completely unaffected by the observers.

WDC shows that there isn't a single objective state; instead the state of the universe depends on the arbitrary decisions of the observers within the universe, ergo there is no single "hand on the tiller" as the poet put it.

Taking this argument further, since WDC shows that time is irrelevant, does it not follow that the universe exists as it is because the sentient beings within it require these conditions? In other words, in a seemingly paradoxical application of the anthropic principle, the universe exists as we see it because we know these are the conditions we require, and therefore "change" the initial conditions of the big-bang retroactively, as it were?

It seems to fit with what Sagan said, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

Now, 3 major objections to this line of reasoning occur to me (presented here with my counter arguments): 1) WDC was demonstrated to be true on the infinitely small scale of single photons, and may not be applicable to the grand-scale of the universe. However, I would point out that we do not yet understand the full connection between the quantum level and the macro-universe. Further more, given the concept of entanglement and that our brains contain millions upon millions of micro-tubules, tiny structures that have been described as "quantum computers", Can we estimate the cumulative effect of all of these structures in all of the brains that ever were or ever will be through out the entire universe(since time is not a factor)?

2) As I said, there is no single state of the universe. True, I'm using a over-simplification, and that what we see is part of an ever-unfolding probability function. However, it seems to me that my over-simplification does not invalidate the logic. There still is no single God-decided state of the universe.

3)A Theist could turn this around and say that God's will influences which state we see. However, the fact that we, as human beings, can change the state of the universe, even on the smallest of scales, shows that God is not omnipotent, nor omnipresent, therefore God vanishes with part of the Epicurean argument "if God is not omnipotent..then why call him God?"

Hello,

I'm not familiar enough with the experiment to give much help, but I think you have a misconception or two. At the quantum level, "observing" really is synonymous with "participating". You can't measure anything about a subatomic particle without hitting it with something and seeing what happens. So at that level, there isn't really a notion of sitting back and observing (like a movie) some sort of objective reality.

Also, at the quantum level, the notion of discrete states is suspect. Modeling particles as probabilistic wave functions makes more sense. (These wave functions collapse into our discrete, state-ful understanding of the universe at macro scales.) The experiment deals with these wave functions, which are inherently probabilistic.

It seems that you're making an argument that the universe is not deterministic, as many theologies would claim. I think you can find your proof in more pedestrian quantum phenomena, like radioactive decay and quantum tunneling.

You might take a look at Quantum Gods, by Victor Stenger. In the book, he explores the fact that quantum mechanics pretty much destroys theologies that have a notion of some God controlling a deterministic universe.

--Don

3minuteEggThiest "Does Wheeler's Delayed Choice experiment (WDC), as confirmed in 2007, preclude the existence of a God as an independent entity?"

According to the Wheeler delayed choice experiment, observing a particle now can change what happened to another particle in the past. According to quantum mechanics, a physical system (such as a nucleus of a radioactive atom) can be in a superposition (mixture) of states (such as "decayed" and "not decayed"). Although relativistic quantum mechanics includes wave functions that propagate backward and forward in time, this does not mean that earlier events are determined by later events. The DCE also states that when a measurement is performed by an observer, the system "collapses" into one of the states, which is the state seen by the observer. In the double-slit experiment instruments can measure the "self-collapse" systems, there is no need for an observer, and the interaction of the photon with an electron in the double slit experiment will take place whether anyone is observing it or not.

Roger Penrose wants to combine Einstein's relativity theory (any object that has mass causes a warp in the structure of space and time around it) with quantum physics. This warping produces the effect we experience as gravity. Penrose's view is that tiny objects like dust, atoms and electron produce space-time warps as well. Penrose believes these warps cannot be ignored (as it is in present theories.) If a dust speck is in two locations at the same time, each one should create its own distortions in space-time, yielding two superposed gravitational fields. According to Penrose's theory, it takes energy to sustain these dual fields. The stability of a system depends on the amount of energy involved, and the higher the energy required sustaining a system, the less stable it would be. Over time, an unstable system tends to settle back to its simplest, lowest-energy state and in this case one object in one location producing one gravitational field. If Penrose is right, gravity yanks objects back into a single location, without any need to invoke observers or parallel universes.

3minuteEggThiest "If you can follow my logic here (and please, tell me where I'm wrong), as I understand the implications, WDC indicates that there is no single, objective state of the universe, but instead, the state of the universe depends on the choices of the observers within the universe (over simplification admitted and noted below)."

Well, I think I will just follow my own logic. Quantum physics finds that every object in the universe has both particle-like and wave-like properties. Particles are waves, and waves are particles. Every object in the universe is a quantum particle that has some characteristics of both particles and waves, but isn't really either. Some advocates of design try to use quantum mechanics to prove that consciousness (the mind) is not independent from reality (consciousness is required first then you have reality). What they are saying is consciousness (the mind) is not a product of real matter, but the creator of the illusion of material reality. They believe quantum mechanics proves that the universe is mental not material and there is nothing that is in reality material (actually this idea is not new the Gnostics thought the world was imaginary).

3minuteEggThiest "(Note that here I am using "objective" as defined in the dictionary: relating to, or being an object, phenomenon, or condition in the realm of sensible experience independent of individual thought and perceptible by all observers.)"

What some design advocates are doing is trying to use the subatomic world to prove (design) by saying that there is no absolute reality because the object could never be completely separated from the observer (consciousness.) Some claim that what we know in actuality is not separate from what we observe (they are the same thing.) The idea is that through (consciousness) observing something (like the universe) makes it exist but if we don't observe it doesn't exist. There is not one interpretation of quantum mechanics that claims that the observer makes the object exist. We know that things can exist without us ever observing them and the two things are separate. That is because it is impossible to create something by seeing it, and we also know it is ridiculous as hell. Dependency of the object on the act of observing has nothing to do with the fact that it exists.

3minuteEggThiest "If this is true, then it follows that there cannot be a single "guiding hand." If there was, then such an entity's decisions (will of God if you like) would determine the state of the universe, and there would be a single objective state of the universe that would be completely unaffected by the observers."

Yes, well that is like the observer that changes the outcome in the double-slit experiment, but Schroedinger also invoked mysterious quantum mechanics that he hypothesized caused inherited traits in organisms. But we know today that inherited traits in organisms are passed on in the DNA code. Quantum mechanics should be based on some degree of logical circumspection. Life came from natural physical forces. Design or creation claims that "consciousness" was before anything was created would transcend the three-dimensional to a higher multidimensional of reality. If there are any higher dimensions of consciousness they would be occurring in space-time, and how consciousness gets to this multidimensional reality is never explained. It is also not clear that design advocates understand time dimensions what so ever.

3minuteEggThiest "WDC shows that there isn't a single objective state; instead the state of the universe depends on the arbitrary decisions of the observers within the universe, ergo there is no single "hand on the tiller" as the poet put it."

The observer does not determine the state of anything including the universe. The Quantum Zeno Effect is another example of the effects of quantum measurement: making repeated measurements of a quantum system can prevent it from changing its state. Between measurements, the system exists in a superposition of two possible states, with the probability of one increasing and the other decreasing. Each measurement puts the system back into a single definite state, and the evolution has to start over. Consciousness is not the universe and quantum mechanics do not confirm creationism or intelligent design.

3minuteEggThiest, "Taking this argument further, since WDC shows that time is irrelevant, does it not follow that the universe exists as it is because the sentient beings within it require these conditions? In other words, in a seemingly paradoxical application of the anthropic principle, the universe exists as we see it because we know these are the conditions we require, and therefore "change" the initial conditions of the big-bang retroactively, as it were?"

If time does not exist it is therefore a human illusion. Does this mean that there is a time and space illusion? Albert Einstein's greatest insight was realizing that time is relative. It speeds up or slows down depending on how fast one thing is moving relative to something else. For perception of motion to exist at all, it must be what it is, in its entirety, over a non-zero period of time. Time began with the cosmic origin. There was no time before time. The big bang was the beginning of time itself; any discussion about before the big bang is meaningless.

3minuteEggThiest, "It seems to fit with what Sagan said, "we are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

What Carl Sagan meant by that was "You have to know the past to understand the present."

3minuteEggThiest, "Now, 3 major objections to this line of reasoning occur to me (presented here with my counter arguments): 1) WDC was demonstrated to be true on the infinitely small scale of single photons, and may not be applicable to the grand-scale of the universe. However, I would point out that we do not yet understand the full connection between the quantum level and the macro-universe. Further more, given the concept of entanglement and that our brains contain millions upon millions of micro-tubules, tiny structures that have been described as "quantum computers", Can we estimate the cumulative effect of all of these structures in all of the brains that ever were or ever will be through out the entire universe(since time is not a factor)?"

Well, only if you think time is not a factor but consciousness is. Quantum physics deals with events that occur at the atomic level; we don't experience them in daily life. On the scale of atoms and molecules, the usual commonsense rules of cause and effect are suspended. The rule of law is replaced by a sort of anarchy or chaos, and things happen spontaneously-for no particular reason. Particles of matter may simply pop into existence without warning, and then equally abruptly disappear again. Or a particle in one place may suddenly materialize in another place, or reverse its direction of motion. Again, these are real effects occurring on an atomic scale, and they can be demonstrated experimentally, and this does not actually violate the laws of physics. The abrupt and uncaused appearance of something can occur within the scope of scientific law, once quantum laws have been taken into account. Nature apparently has the capacity for genuine spontaneity. The spontaneous appearance of the singularity (universe) from nothing need not break scientific laws or be unnatural or unscientific, and it was not a supernatural event that required "consciousness."

3minuteEggThiest, "2) As I said, there is no single state of the universe. True, I'm using a over-simplification, and that what we see is part of an ever-unfolding probability function. However, it seems to me that my over-simplification does not invalidate the logic. There still is no single God-decided state of the universe."

Einstein found that space and times are part of the physical universe, and they are linked. In fact, space as one thing and time as another, is not a suitably valid concept. Einstein's theory of space and time unified them in a space-time continuum. Einstein's theory is that space has three dimensions, and time has one, so space-time is a four-dimensional continuum. The big bang was a sudden, explosive origin of space, time, and matter. Time did not always exist. Time emerged out of space in a continuous process. Continuous meaning time-like quality of a dimension, as opposed to space-like quality, it is not all space or all time; there are shades in between. This can be made as a precise mathematical statement.

The design idea is to use quantum mechanics in their theory that the universe is consciousness (not material) but this could present a problem because quantum mechanics can also confirm disunity, because it shows how the whole breaks down. The process is called quantum de-coherence, and it is the central issue in the modern discussion of quantum computing. We do not create reality (even though the Gnostics thought we did thousand of years ago.) If we did we would not all understand things in the same way, but we do. We do not make reality we observe it as something that is separate from it. All religions want us to believe that we don't know what "real" is (don't believe what you see with your own two eyes) believe what I'm telling you. The concept is that you can't reach the level of knowing about these (elusive) things. The role of the scientists is to provide indisputable proof before calling something a scientific theory, and that's not the same as a conceptual theory that has no evidence.

3minuteEggThiest, "3)A Theist could turn this around and say that God's will influences which state we see. However, the fact that we, as human beings, can change the state of the universe, even on the smallest of scales, shows that God is not omnipotent, nor omnipresent, therefore God vanishes with part of the Epicurean argument "if God is not omnipotent..then why call him God?"

To explain myths or any other preconceived ideology with quantum physics is a multi-faceted problem. For instance the use of the duality of particles used to prove the supernatural. Our lack of knowledge about the definite existence or non-existence of a particle before it has been actualized does not imply that it manifests some kind of strange reality between existence and nonexistence. We know it does in fact exist but we may have to predict where it exists. It's not supernatural. Various claims are made about quantum mechanics to make it supports the ideas of religious philosophies that do try to use new scientific theories to support their specific ideologies that they promote. The most usual way they have gotten their ideologies to conform to new scientific discoveries is through twisting scientific theories (quantum mechanics) in order to prove what they already believe. They have written books that are not explaining quantum mechanics but only giving non-technical concepts of the new physics. When they try to unite magic with the new physics they run into problems. They say that we can not say that an atomic particle exists at a certain place and we can't say it does not exist. The particle has a strange probability pattern to exist and not exist. We can't describe the state of the particle in terms of fixed opposite concepts, because the particle is not present at a definite place but it is not omitted. The particle does not change position or rest. What changes is the probability pattern. This is not the same as saying something exists with no proof of its existence. Science does not transcend the concept of existence and non-existence as is done in religion. It is no longer a probability explanation of a quantum event. Now it is a reality that transcends the concepts, it is now about how creationists think of reality and that is supposed to have some kind of applicability to quantum mechanics.

Re: 3minuteEggThiest "Further more, given the concept of entanglement and that our brains contain millions upon millions of micro-tubules, tiny structures that have been described as "quantum computers", Can we estimate the cumulative effect of all of these structures in all of the brains that ever were or ever will be through out the entire universe(since time is not a factor)?"

I remembered a book I read a long time ago by K. Eric Drexler "Engines of Creation" about nanotechnology, and I think it has bearing on all the research being done one the brain - consciousness. I will explain this. (Microtubules) Fascinating subject - I don't doubt that they are working on a way to down load the brain right now, but all that ever was - I don't think so. When we die they will probably download our brain and then decide who goes to virtual reality heaven or hell.

Microtubules are inside all living cells and those in the brain. Microtubules are why living things without a brain can function. Microtubules are filamentous proteins that act as a substrate for the translocation of motor proteins. They are like tiny little computers. The interest in neurobiology, and theories of consciousness (of scientists) is not about finding god it is about making super-fast computers that work like our brains, and our brains do not work like a computer. Nanocomputers and assemblers memetic evolution will bring life-like machines that create from the molecular level. Genetic evolution is limited to a system based on DNA and RNA, and ribosomes, but assembler-built molecular machines will differ from the ribosome-built machinery of life. Assemblers will be able to build all that ribosomes can, and assembler-based replicators will be able to do all that life can, and more. This could lead to a new form of artificial life that (could?)replace us. Tiny robots, each no bigger than bacteria, will be able to make anything.

K. Eric Drexler a pioneer of nanotechnology invented the word nanotechnology, in his book "Engines of Creation" he says it is possible to make nanobots because life itself is made of them all the tiny machines in our cells and in the cells of all living things are working examples of natural nanotechnology. So if we could make artificial versions of these nanomachines we would have nanotechnology. But we would make the machines stronger. So we'd be making something like life but stronger and more durable. That's why we would have to worry that this new artificial type of life could replace us. We know that it is possible to make nanomachines there is plenty of research going on all over the world that proves this fact. This research is why we need the super-fast quantum computers. With this technology we can copy nature and even surpass it. Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology by K. Eric Drexler describes a man-made molecular machines technical developing general-purpose systems for directing molecular assembly that consume little to no natural resources and will use very little energy. It would require super-fast computers like we have in our brains. That is the real reason they want to know how the brain works. The brain works on a quantum level.

I Robot by Isaac Asimov was along the same line of thinking. He did write science fiction but it was based on real science. Engines of Creation (Chapter 11) Engines of Destruction "What will we do when AI systems can think faster than humans? (And before they jump to the conclusion that people will despair of doing or creating anything, the authors may consider how runners regard cars, or how painters regard cameras.)"

I did mentioned decoherence; when Quantum Commuters are constructed the quantum processing takes place in a near zero temperature to suspend decoherence.

The biggest challenge is proving that a quantum process could take place in the human brain, which is generally believed to be too warm and wet for a state of quantum superposition to occur. I think that they are very close to proving that a quantum process can take place in the brain, and that would take too long to go into, but it can be found in most science magazines. I wouldn't look for it in apologetics. I don't think the research on consciousness will wind up with someone finding God, but it might wind up with someone playing God.

Thanks for the replies. Victor Stenger's book Quantum God's was excellent and answered all my questions.

I withdraw about 90% of my orignal post. I maintain that:

The experiment does support the non-existence of God, but not in the way I posited: the universe may be deterministic, and the free-will we see may be an illusion. Or may be it is not. Either way, there is no need for a god.

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