Saturday, January 5, 2019

Freedom of the Will and Quantum Physics

An article in the Kyeongyang magazine on freedom and willpower by a teacher and researcher in quantum physics gives us some thoughts to reflect on. He recalls as a child that the parents at the start of a new school year would tell the homeroom teacher if the children don't listen, punish them so that they will be good persons.  There were teachers that would do just that. Our writer did not go along with this and thought much on what was rightful punishment.

Children grow up in the manner that the adults teach the children, when a child does something wrong it's the adults who are responsible. Should they not be the ones who are punished?

He remembers while a student in philosophy class hearing about the predestination teaching of John Calvin the Protestant reformer. God knows from the moment of the creation of the world all is decided whether I will go to heaven or hell. When he heard this as a child he got angry for God made him a puppet. He was even thinking of giving up on religion and went to see his parish priest.

The priest told him this was wrong thinking. Catholic believe that God gave us freedom of the will. He was relieved to hear this from the priest. Later he heard about the 'Uncertainty Principle' of Werner Heisenberg 1901-1976 and from that time wanted to be a physicist.

He mentions the thinking of some at the time of the industrial revolution who thought all that was to be discovered was discovered. J.C.Maxwell the English physicist made known electromagnetic waves and Tesla and  Marconi discovered wireless communication. Edison discovered the light bulb and Bell the telephone.

Newton with his law of gravitation and motion they were  able to not  only explain but to forsee what would happen. The French Astronomer and matematicism Pierre -Simon Laplace said if he knew the position and velocity of every single particle in the universe he could predict the future. 

Max Planck a German theoretical physicist is considered to be one of the founders of quantum theory. From one of his teachers he heard that little is left to be discovered in physics, we need now to go deeper and in more detail but in  1920 Heisenberg came out with his uncertainty principle which brought great change to physics.

With Newton, the law of motion determined what would happen  and now we hear about the uncertainity principle which makes us realize the limit of knowing. Einstein had problems with this and that is why he is quoted as saying:"God does not play dice with the world."

The problem of free will can't be solved by science and athough quantum physics does not give an answer neither does it take away the possibility  of free will but rather gives room for it.

In the Scriptures  we have the choice of good and evil which requires  freedom of the will. In Ecclesiasticus 15:14-16: "He himself  made man in the beginning, and then left him free to make his own decisions. If you wish you can keep the commandments to behave faithfully is within your power.  He has set fire and water before you; put out your hand to whichever youy prefer. Man has life and death before him; whichever a man likes better will be given him."

In Steven Covey's  Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, we have those who have deduced from  these habits a  theory of decision according to  the following categories: biological, phycological and environmental. In the biological, the genes are blamed—the ancestors. In the psychological, the way they were brought up— parent's fault. With the enviroment the faults are with others. 

We are to develop this freedom of the will; take responsiblity for our own lives and develop habits that will foster the strengthening of our willpower. The future is not decided but will depend on us, God is calling us to that future.