Quantum Entanglement

Cosmology: Part One

Quantum Entanglement
Friday, August 30, 2019

Just as different ways of interpreting scripture and various types of truth (e.g., literal vs. mythic) are valuable for different purposes, so scientific theories have different applications while seeming to be paradoxical and irreconcilable. For example, we have the Newtonian theory of gravity, Einstein’s theory of relativity, and quantum theory. Physicists know that each of them is true, yet they don’t fit together and each is limited and partial. Newtonian mechanics can’t model or predict the behavior of massive or quickly moving objects. Relativity does this well, but doesn’t apply to very, very small things. Quantum mechanics succeeds on the micro level. But we don’t yet have an adequate theory for understanding very energetic, very massive phenomenon, such as black holes. Scientists are still in search of a unified theory of the universe.

Perhaps the term “quantum entanglement” names something that we have long intuited, but science has only recently observed. Here is the principle in everyday language: in the world of quantum physics, it appears that one particle of any entangled pair “knows” what is happening to another paired particle—even though there is no known means for such information to be communicated between the particles, which are separated by sometimes very large distances.

Scientists don’t know how far this phenomenon applies beyond very rare particles, but quantum entanglement hints at a universe where everything is in relationship, in communion, and also where that communion can be resisted (“sin”). Both negative and positive entanglement in the universe matter, maybe even ultimately matter. Prayer, intercession, healing, love and hate, heaven and hell, all make sense on a whole new level. Religion has long pointed to this entanglement. In Paul’s letter to the Romans he says quite clearly “the life and death of each of us has its influence on others” (14:7). The Apostles’ Creed states that we believe in “the communion of saints.” There is apparently a positive inner connectedness that we can draw upon if we wish.

Judy Cannato (1949-2011), a visionary of a “new cosmology,” wrote:

Emergent theories seem to confirm what mystics have been telling us all along—that we are one, not just all human beings, but all creation, the entire universe. As much as we may imagine and act to the contrary, human beings are not the center of the universe—even though we are a vital part of it. Nor are we completely separate from others, but live only in and through a complex set of relationships we hardly notice. Interdependent and mutual connections are integral to all life. . . .

My heart tells me that the new physics is not new at all, but simply expresses in yet another way the fundamental truth that underpins creation. . . . What science is saying is not contradictory to but actually resonates with Christian faith and my own experience of the Holy. As I continue to reflect, the new physics gives a fresh framework from which to consider the action of God’s grace at work in human life. [1]

References:
[1] Judy Cannato, Quantum Grace: Lenten Reflections on Creation and Connectedness (Ave Maria Press: 2003), 13-14.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, “Quantum Entanglement,” The Mendicant, vol. 4, no. 6 (Center for Action and Contemplation: 2014), 1.

Image credit: Starry Night Over the Rhône (detail), Vincent van Gogh, 1888, Musée d’Orsay, Paris, France.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of God’s hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. —Psalm 19:1-4

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