New Agers’ Misuse of Quantum Entanglement

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Consider the following argument:

Premise 1: Quantum entanglement states that two entangled particles, once separated, can communicate with one another simultaneously, even if they are on opposite sides of the universe.

Premise 2: Since all particles were entangled at the Big Bang, everything in the universe is interconnected.

Conclusion: All people on earth are interconnected with each other and with all of nature.

That conclusion becomes a premise in another argument:

Premise: All people on earth are interconnected with each other and with all of nature.

Conclusion: Therefore nation states should disappear and there should be a world government that guarantees peace and cooperation among all people.

The sad thing is that a New Ager can examine the arguments and believe that the conclusion of a world government follows from the premisses. But higher level structures can have attributes that are not found in lower level structures. At the level of the most basic subatomic particles, there is very little individuality; they are interchangeable and may indeed interact with one another via quantum entanglement. But the more complex and organized the structure, the more individuated it becomes. This is not to deny interconnectedness in nature and among people–human beings evolved from simpler forms of life (I believe under the guidance of a Creator who constantly sustains everything in existence), and human beings share a common human nature, Sartre notwithstanding. However, human beings are far more individuated that other objects in nature, including other animals, because of their rational nature, their moral sense, and their freedom to make their own decisions. A bee has very little individuality–the most important thing is the hive. A dog or cat is more individuated; dogs and cats have unique personalities. But human beings are the most “selved,” to use the British poet Gerard Manley Hopkins‘ term, of any animal in our experience. This does not imply that human beings are isolated individuals pursuing their own individual happiness, as classical liberalism believes. Human beings naturally come together into communities–as Aristotle said, “Man is by nature a political [or social] animal.” But human communities are individuated by a common history and a commonality of place–by nature they are organic unities–another thing both classical liberalism and social democracy have forgot. It is difficult enough to govern the United States with its vast diversity of communities. I would not be surprised, once the American empire inevitably falls, to the country divide into autonomous regional states. To think that human diversity can be unified under a world government in some kind of utopia is naive. It ignores place, it ignores history, it ignores human weakness. The only way a world government could be established is by force, whether through economic pressure toward centralization or by military force. Even if a world government were established, it would not last, for it violates human nature. Human beings have a hierarchy of obligations–to the family, to friends, to strangers in the community, and to the world at large–in that order. Ultimately social responsibility and government should be as local as possible. Bureaucracy is bad enough in the United States where bureaucrats do not know the communities they regulate, sometimes with near dictatorial power. Imagine what a bureaucracy in a world government would be.

Quantum entanglement has nothing to do with world government–to argue such is to argue to a non sequitur. New Agers need to begin balancing their emotions with good reasoning. It is poor reasoning to argue from entanglement to world government (New Agers also argue from entanglement to pantheism, another non sequitur, but that would have to be the subject of another essay.

Multiple Universes, God, and Faith

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Since Hugh Everett proposed his “many worlds” interpretation of quantum mechanics, physicists and cosmologists have speculated about the existence of multiple universes. In Everett’s theory, whenever there was an event of quantum uncertainty, the universe splits. Thus, in the famous story of Schoedenger’s Cat, in which a subatomic particle is fired at a batch of poison, there is a period of uncertainty in which is seems the cat is neither alive nor dead. This is the view according to the standard Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics. But Everett said that what actually happens is that the universe splits into one universe in which the cat stay alive, and into another universe in which the bottle of poison breaks, the cat drinks it, and the cat dies. Since such events occur a near-infinity of times, there are an uncountable number of different universes.

Since then various theories of multiple universes have been proposed. In some theories all possible states of affairs take place, so that there is no contingency in nature–the “multiverse” is a metaphysically necessary being, and there is no need for the existence of God as a necessary being. In fact, multiverse theories seem to be a convenient way to avoid the existence of God.

Empirically, since other universes are said to be causally closed to one another, we could not detect another universe. Thus, what we really have in these theories are mathematical constructs that may explain some of the data. How to decide between the various multiverse theories or between them and m-theory or supergravity or some other global cosmological theory is the rub.

Theists, those who believe in a transcendent God, are often mocked by scientists because of the role of faith in theism. Yet what takes the stronger faith: to believe that the universe is created and sustained by an infinite mind or to believe that there are an infinite number of universes in which all possible states of affairs take place? Both views take faith. It seems to me that rather than believing an a near replica of me living in some other universe or on many universes, it makes more sense to affirm that this universe is the only one that exists, that it is by nature contingent–it does not have to exist–and thus it requires a necessary being to create and sustain it. If scientists wish to say otherwise through their multiverse theories, they have a right to do so, but they are not within their intellectual rights to deceive and claim that their positions require no faith.