Interdisciplinary: Physics and Theology

I have been having an ongoing conversation with several friends lately that sounds very high brow, but really isn’t. The conversation is about the doctrine of Predestination and how it relates to Quantum Physics–or Quantum Mechanics, science terminology isn’t my strong suite. Predestination comes up fairly often when you work for a Christian company with a variety of theological backgrounds (and you can’t keep your mouth shut…). What does not come up often is quantum physics. That is, unless you spend time with those curious people who enjoy science fiction or, more strangely, mathematics.

So in this discussion we started by asking this question: How does God relate to time? We determined from various passages in Scripture that it is safe to say that He sees all of time, that He is outside of time, and that He does not experience time as we do. Because of this, the way we relate to God, while put in terms of time, is not experienced that way by God. Instead, God is the prime observer of the universe and so He stands over the whole of time–this means His experience of it is not linear but absolute.

Why is this significant? Consider the idea of Schrodinger’s Cat. I could try to explain, but here is a funny and simple video instead:

So you see, the primary objection to predestination is that precludes free will, but if God is the prime observer who collapses our reality into one finite reality by opening the bunker, as it were, then free will cannot exist in the way we think of it. So how does it exist? How can we affirm that God observes all of time, that His observation of time is absolute, that He cannot have incorrectly observed what will come to pass, and yet affirm free will? This is an excellent question. I think it comes to this–we observe time in a linear fashion and thus our wills are experientially free in that as we experience life it happens in such a way that our will is meaningful and our decisions have consequences.

Because God is outside of time and observes our experiences, our decisions have, in essence, already happened–we simply have not experienced them. But this raises a further question. If we are making decisions and God foreknows the decisions we will make before He even creates the world, then isn’t predestination a necessary component of creation? After all, He has chosen to create a world in which everything happens exactly the way it happens in our world when he could have chosen to create a different world. In other words, while He had other options, God chose to create our world instead. By doing so He predestined all of human history to the minutest detail. We know this because we know that He has observed the minutest detail–even to the point of numbering the hairs on our heads.

Taking this further, there is some sense in which, as God creates the world, He is creating all of human history at once. This means that we are on a continual basis being created by God. But this is not really a new thought–Paul says on Mars Hill that in Him “we live and move and have our being.” He is called the creator and sustainer for a reason. It does give me pause as I consider that daily I am being created by God as, were He not daily holding all things together, I would most assuredly fall apart at the most basic atomic level.

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