“Is Quantum Physics Legitimate or Spiritually Dangerous?”

Michael, thank you so very much for your insightful articles about Reiki. My father was an excellent medical doctor and surgeon and after retiring, he was led into Reiki and he is always trying to push this on us. His three adult Christian children all have known from the start that this was not of the Lord and have rejected it. Now he is advocating Quantum Physics as the answer to life even though he claims to be a Christian. Have you written anything about Quantum Physics or can you give me just a couple of scriptural reasons why it is off-base? I imagine that they are the same as the reason for Reiki.

Thanks for your kind and encouraging letter. I’m glad to hear that the article on Reiki was helpful to you. Concerning quantum physics, this is a legitimate and highly-developed branch of contemporary physics. Any difficulties with quantum physics would not be due to the legitimate scientific work being done. However, difficulties with quantum physics do arise, and these can usually be traced back to two sources of origin.

In the first place, the vast majority of people who mention quantum physics have very little idea of what it is they’re actually talking about. They may have read a popular-level book or two on the subject (or they may not have even done that). With this bit of new knowledge they may then make all kinds of far-fetched and dubious claims. The problem is, they usually don’t know what they are talking about and it is difficult for anyone to challenge them (because not many people have a deep enough knowledge of this important field of physics to do so). In particular, quantum physics has been embraced by many non-Christian Eastern religious movements (or religious movements influenced by such philosophies) as a means of showing that physical reality is paradoxical, or illogical, etc. This often fits in with their religious claims, but many of these views are based on misunderstandings, misappropriations, and misinterpretations of quantum physics—and hence are not to be accepted uncritically.

Secondly (and this is very important), there are MANY DIFFERENT interpretations of what the mathematics and experimental science behind quantum physics is actually telling us about the nature of physical reality. This is terribly important to understand, but sadly, most people are not aware of this. Many of the “wild and crazy” ideas which people propound with an appeal to quantum physics are based on a particular interpretation of the mathematical and physical evidence. But the problem with this is that there are numerous competing interpretations, each one of which adequately accounts for the data, but many of which would NOT result in the same strange views of the physical world. And here’s the kicker: we do NOT know which interpretation is the right one! Hence, as you can easily imagine, many of the strange ideas which are based on a particular interpretation of quantum physics may be incorrect, simply because the interpretation upon which these ideas are based is incorrect!

For more on quantum physics from an informed Christian perspective, please check out some of William Lane Craig’s materials on his website here. These are the search results from “quantum physics” on his website. Craig is a world class Christian philosopher and theologian, who is intimately acquainted with the issues in contemporary physics. You might also want to refer your father to Craig’s work. His website has scholarly and popular-level articles, podcasts, debates with leading atheists, etc. I would highly recommend Craig’s work.

I hope this is helpful. May the Lord richly bless you in your service for Him!

Shalom in Christ,

Michael Gleghorn

Posted Nov. 28, 2012