I have often heard it argued by skeptics that miracles violate the laws of science and are thus impossible. Some point out that the supernatural supercedes the natural, and thus that this is not a problem. In response, the skeptics will point to the interaction problem with substance dualism, that it is logically impossible for two fundamentally different sorts of substances, material and immaterial, to interact.
In fact as I have argued in a previous blog I believe this criticism of dualism to be valid. However as an idealist I have a different idea of the distinction between natural and supernatural than that defined by dualists. Rather I will take a somewhat unconventional approach altogether, and simply argue that miracles are quite possible given the laws of physics.
This will require a little terminology that the reader may be unfamiliar with, so here is a short glossary of terms:
Bell’s Inequalities: Mathematical conditions used to test for locality in quantum mechanics. Locality is the property that says that objects need to be nearby to influence each other.
Entanglement: When two or more particles are linked via a single wavefunction such that a measurement of one instantaneously affects the other, even at vast distances.
Quantum Computation: Computation occurring in a state of superposition in the wave-function prior to measurement.
Quantum Gravity: The attempt to merge quantum mechanics, the physical theory that describes the microworld, with Einstein’s theory of general relativity that describes gravity as curved spacetime.
Wavefunction: The probability wave physicists use to calculate where a particle is most likely to end up.
As an idealist I identify the physical world as everything contained within space and time. However I also believe that what we call physical reality is emergent from the supernatural world, the world beyond space and time. The fact that spacetime is emergent is corroborated by quantum gravity research as I have explained in a previous blog.
So a miracle would then be defined as a way to alter some physical state of affairs from outside physical reality, that is from outside of spacetime. So what lies outside of spacetime? As I have pointed out in previous blogs, the science tells us that information is more fundamental than spacetime. So one might think of a miracle as a “reprogramming” of the information that generates physical reality.
So let’s suppose that hypothetically, we were to reprogram this information to produce a miracle. How would we proceed? Firstly we would need to determine “where” this “non-local” out-of-spacetime information is in terms of our physics.
Of course it is not “located” within space, but we know of the existence of non-local information processing through research into quantum mechanics. Tests of Bell’s inequalities show that two particles can be linked at vast distances via a phenomenon known as entanglement.
Despite the fact that no physical link exists between them, a measurement of one entangled particle will instantly change the state of the other, even if it is light years apart. This effect is due to quantum information processing going on behind spacetime. A good analogy would be much like how a chat bar allows players to communicate with each other in opposite ends of a video game world even though they are not communicating across the space of the video game.
However in physical space, this mysterious link corresponds with two or more particles sharing the same wavefunction. But as it turns out, the fabric of space is actually comprised of these entanglement links. (1) Furthermore, much research is leading to the conclusion that physical matter emerges from vibrations within these entanglement patterns as well. (2)
Spacetime derives from string-net liquids -vast patterns of entanglement underlying physical reality. (Note: This is a rather old video and I realized it is not technically a Bohmian model, which based on experiments is in fact wrong. However the Bohmian model is still a good approximation given universal entanglement in Loop Quantum Gravity, LQG, which is what this video shows.)
Thus everything in physical reality can be seen as one giant holographic interference pattern comprised of quantum waves. Based on how these waves stack up or superpose with each other, different quantum computations go on behind spacetime.
Thus we have not only a way to describe reality, but also a means to reprogram it: a way to “hack the hologram” as it were. Manipulate the frequencies of the wave-functions in the interference pattern, and you alter the underlying programming. Once this new wavefunction is measured, a new physical state appears out of no where, and voila you’ve got a miracle! Given that holographic patterns can reproduce anything, no physical state would in principle be impossible to produce like this.
Video a friend made showing how miracles are possible given modern physics.
Given that the universe is contained within the mind of God, as Acts 17:28 and Colossians 1:17 point out, this quantum information would in reality be in God’s thoughts. This of course also makes sense given that spacetime is emergent, but consciousness is irreducible. Thus this would be a window by which God could simply change physical reality by merely thinking it.
Video by Christian chemist Dr. Neil Shenvi on quantum mechanics and miracles.
Of course a Christian should not attempt to reproduce a miracle apart from God. If one thinks of the world as analogous to a computer game, then such an attempt would be similar to stealing the admin controls of the Admin -a usurpation of authority and thus “as the sin of rebellion.”
However in this little exercise it is interesting to note that miracles, rather than contradicting science, are in fact quite consistent with the laws of nature. Thus the thinking Christian should have no qualms at all accepting things that would seem impossible from within the confines of physical reality!
Contrary to materialist dogma, miracles do not contradict science.