Schrödinger’s cat and the proximity of the
kingdom of heaven. / Book Frank J. Tipler 00, pp 214 ff
Does Stephen Hawking endorse the Many-worlds
Interpretation? / Commentary anonymous 00, 2001-11-23
Can quantum mechanics be applied to human
beings? / Reply Nick Reichstein 00, 2002-12-20
Does free will not exist for human beings? /
Reply Nick Reichstein 01,2003-01-06
The human will is not completely causally determined.
/ Lecture, Werner Heisenberg 00, Munich, 1962-07-14
Glossary in brief
Since quantum physics has been making inroads into more and more areas of classical
physics, scientists have been confronted with all kinds of problems. As the physicist Frank J.
Tipler writes in his book "The Physics of Immortality", one of these problems is the
importance attaching to chance in quantum mechanics. To a great extent this depends on the way in
which the theory is interpreted. According to the Copenhagen Interpretation, there is an actual
random factor in Nature at the quantum level; whereas in the Many-worlds Interpretation this is only
the product of the limited way in which we view the physical world.
And Tipler continues:
Let me give a working definition of the Copenhagen and Many-worlds
Interpretations by availing myself of both in the analysis of one of the most famous "thought
experiments" in physics, Schrödinger’s cat. We are to imagine – with Erwin Schrödinger,
one of the discoverers of quantum mechanics – that we have a cat shut in a steel chamber along
with a "devilish device". A tiny quantity of radioactive matter is placed in a Geiger
counter, the quantity being so slight that the probability of radioactive disintegration comes
to no more than 50 percent; the probability that no radioactive disintegration will take place
comes to 50 percent likewise. The Geiger counter is connected to a relay: if it registers atomic
disintegration, a hammer will break a bottle containing lethal cyanide gas. If no atomic
disintegration is registered, the bottle remains intact. If an atom disintegrates, then, the
poor cat can "say its prayers". Otherwise the cat survives. We know perfectly well what we
would see in an hour, if we were so cruel as actually to carry out this fiendish experiment.
Either the cat would be alive or it would be dead.
According to the mathematics of quantum mechanics, however, the cat is neither the one nor the other! After an hour has elapsed, the wave function of the cat is neither the wave function of a dead cat, nor is it the wave function of a living cat. Rather, the wave function is both that of a dead and also that of a living cat: the true wave function is the sum of the dead cat wave function and the living cat wave function. Quantum mechanics says, without any possibility of misunderstanding, that the cat is simultaneously dead and alive, which constitutes a crass contradiction both with healthy common sense and with what we would actually see. Among physicists there is unanimous agreement that the sum reproduces exactly what is predicted by classical quantum mechanics. There is disagreement only on the way in which this sum is to be interpreted.
According to the Copenhagen Interpretation there is a process known as the "collapse of the wave functions", through which the sum of the wave functions of the dead cat and the living cat will be reduced either to the wave function of the dead, or that of the living cat (but not both); this reduction is a random one. That means that Schrödinger’s cat spends half the time alive, the other half dead. (...)
According to the Many-worlds Interpretation there is no collapse of the wave function at all. That means that after spending an hour in the steel chamber the cat really turns out to be in the quantum state of "dead cat plus living cat". The Many-worlds Interpretation resolves the patent contradiction of the observed facts, in that it tells us that the radioactive disintegration of the atom has compelled the cat, as well as the other components of the experimental system, to split themselves into two different worlds: in one of these worlds the cat is alive, in the other it is dead. If we now try to determine whether the cat is alive or dead, then we split as well. In the one world we see a dead cat, in the other a living one. The remarkable thing about this Many-worlds Interpretation is that, if we assume that quantum mechanics applies to all objects, human beings included, the mathematics of quantum mechanics forces us to adopt the Many-worlds Interpretation.
* This extract is taken from the book "The Physics of Immortality" by Frank J. Tipler, Verlag R. Piper [R. Piper Publishers], Munich.
(Frank J. Tipler, The Physics of Immortality, Doubleday Publishers, New York)
The Many-worlds Interpretation – which really should be known as the Everett
Interpretation, after Hugh Everett, who as a graduate student at Princeton first used this
term in 1957 – tells us, then, that according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics we reach a
point at which we must decide whether we want to observe that "world" in which the cat is dead,
or the other "world" in which it is alive.
(See also "Glossary in brief" at the end of this document)
Now, we could dismiss this whole story into the realm of science fiction, if it were not for the judgment of internationally reputed physicists such as Steven Weinberg, Murray Gell-Mann and Richard Feynman, all of whom take the Many-worlds Interpretation to be true.
But any remaining skepticism will be removed by the testimony of one of the greatest scientific geniuses of our time, the physicist Stephen Hawking. He thinks, certainly, that "Many-worlds" is a bad name for it, and that the label "Many-history Interpretation" would be a more accurate representation of the essential facts. All the same, this theory in his view is per se quite simply true.
To bring Schrödinger’s thought experiment, as described above, back to the level of reality, we can say with Tipler: "The past history of the earth is really a multiplicity of different histories. (...) Just as there are an infinite number of objective pasts which have led to the present state of things, so there are an infinite number of objectively existing futures which will develop out of the present state of things. Consequently, each contradiction-free future is not just a possibility, but actually comes about."
Now we have, strange as it may seem, a quite similar situation in a specific area of New Testament interpretation. It has to do with the announcement that the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
For the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mt 3,1 Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, 3,2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mt 3, 1- 2;
The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mt 4,17 From that time Jesus began to preach and say, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Mt 4,17;
The kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Mt 10,5 These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them: "Do
not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; 10,6 but rather go
to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 10,7 And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of
heaven is at hand.’." Mt 10, 5- 7;
We can see in the three texts just quoted that the promise of the kingdom of God
(literally "kingly dominion", i.e. the kingly dominion of the Messiah, or the thousand years’
rule of God’s peace on earth, the Millennium), which is said to be at hand, is preached first of
all by John the Baptist, then by Jesus himself and finally by the twelve apostles as well, who are
commissioned to this task by the Lord. This prophecy goes back to Dan 2.44, and we find it in a
number of other New Testament passages as well (Mk 1,14-15; Lk 10, 8-9).
(See also Chapter 10: "The Millennium.")
Now seeing that this prophecy, though promulgated repeatedly by "competent" authorities, has to
this day not been fulfilled, these texts have come to be a favorite point of departure for critics
– and for physicists too – who want to demonstrate that the Scriptures are at fault here, and
that other biblical statements as well may therefore be called in question.
If we consider this situation in the light of the "Many-Story Theory" described above, however, we may be able to surmise the following connection:
The kingdom prophesied in Dan 2,44 is that kingly dominion of the Messiah which will be set up on his coming, and in which he as King of Israel, with Israel as the chief among the nations, is to reign on earth for a thousand years.
The God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed.
Dan 2,44 In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a
kingdom which will never (in world-time / Buber) be destroyed, and that kingdom will not
be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself
endure forever. Dan 2,44
Now it is plain from many statements in the New Testament that Jesus of Nazareth was this Messiah, the King of Israel foretold by prophecy. And as we can see in the following scriptural passages, the Lord’s own statements too, where he gives himself out as the Messiah and Son of God, are not among the least important.
You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.
Jn 1,49 Nathanael answered Him, "Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel." 1,50 Jesus answered and said to him, "Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these." Jn 1,49-50;
I who speak to you am He.
Jn 4,25 The woman said to Him, "I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us." 4,26 Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am He." Jn 4,25-26;
You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Mt 16,15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16,16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 16,And Jesus said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven." Mt 16,15-17;
That You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.
Mt 26,63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God." 26,64 Jesus said to him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven." Mt 26,63-64;
Are You the Son of God, then? And He said to them, Yes, I am.
Lk 22,69 But from now on the Son of Man will be seated at the right
hand of the power of God. 22,70 And they all said, "Are You the Son of God, then?" And He
said to them, "Yes, I am." Lk 22,69-70;
And with that the conditions of the prophecy of Dan 2,44 and other Old Testament
passages had clearly been fulfilled. The Messiah was come, the kingdom of God could be established
on earth. But as we know today, this did not happen at the time. So was the prophecy wrong?
The other alternative, namely that Jesus was not the Messiah, will play an important part in future. The Antichrist, when he proclaims himself as the Messiah, will also in all consistency deny that Jesus was the Messiah, and will, alas, be very successful.
(See also Chapter 01: "The 70th week of
From our point of view, though, we can clearly leave this possibility out of
account; so we have to ask ourselves the question what here actually "went wrong"?
If we take another look at the biblical texts on the kingdom of heaven cited
earlier, we see that it is said both of John the Baptist, and of Jesus and his apostles likewise,
that they "preached" this promise. This means that they invited humanity to believe
in this promise (although it patently had not yet been realized).
This is confirmed, too, in another statement made by the Lord:
For behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst.
Lk 17,20 Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the
kingdom of God was coming, He answered them and said, "The kingdom of God is not coming with
signs to be observed; 17,21 nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For
behold, the kingdom of God is in your midst." Lk 17,20-21;
Here the Lord is asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God will come – for
they heard that he and his disciples kept on preaching it, but nothing of it was to be seen. His
answer – "The kingdom of God is in your midst" – must therefore likewise have proved
somewhat astonishing to those scribes. This kingdom does not come, then, in visible form. As stated
in Lk 17,20 cited above: "The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed". And this
kingdom does not even have to come, but it is already there, "in your midst".
Now, this "in your midst" could only refer to the Lord, the Messiah, who had come in order to fulfill this prophecy. He was the catalyst, so to speak, and the fullfiling of this promise as the statement made by the Lord in Mt 12,28 confirms:
But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
Mt 12,28 "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then
the kingdom of God has come upon you.
What was lacking was that this offer on God’s part should be accepted – that the
Jews should believe that he was the expected Messiah. Only if they were to acknowledge him as the
promised King of Israel would the invisible kingdom become a visible one.
Another passage testifies to this power of faith:
All things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.
Mk 11,22 And Jesus answered saying to them, "Have faith in God. 11,23
Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and
does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted
him. 11,24 Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you
have received them, and they will be granted you. 11,25 Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if
you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your
transgressions." Mk 11,22-25;
(See also Discourse 24 "The divinity of Jesus
Christ and the power of faith.")
And we now have no difficulty in perceiving the parallel this has with the
Many-worlds theory. As with Schrödinger’s cat, here too a choice had to be made as to which of
two possible "worlds" would be entered: either that of the Messiah’s rule of peace, or that of
the prince of this world. As we know, the Jews decided against the Messiah, and for a world without
As Tipler tries to show in his book, it can be proved, through the application of
the Many-worlds Interpretation to the ontology of quantum cosmology, that human beings have free
will; and vice versa, that a Many-worlds ontology is the logical condition of such freedom of the
will. "If these many worlds did not exist, from a purely logical point of view it would be
impossible for us to have free will."
That the decision of the Jews at that time was made on the basis of free will, so that the alternative of the kingdom of peace would have been a possibility two thousand years ago, can be seen from many New Testament texts, but especially from the statement made by the Lord in Mt 11,2-19.
And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come.
Mt 11,2 Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ,
he sent word by his disciples 11,3 and said to Him, "Are You the Expected One, or shall we look
for someone else?" 11,4 Jesus answered and said to them, "Go and report to John what you hear
and see: 11,5 the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear,
the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. 11,6 And blessed is he who
does not take offense at Me."
11,7 As these men were going away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, "What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? 11,8 But what did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ palaces! 11,9 But what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and one who is more than a prophet.
11,10 This is the one about whom it is written, ‘behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ 11,11 Truly I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist! Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 11,12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force. 11,13 For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 11,14 And if you are willing to accept it, John himself is Elijah who was to come. 11,15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear. 11,16 But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, 11,17 and say, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn.’ 11,18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon!’
11,19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Behold, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Yet wisdom is vindicated by her deeds." Mt 11, 2-19;
In this passage in Mt 11,10, when the Lord says "This is the one about whom it is written, ‘Behold, I send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you’", he refers to another prophecy, one intended to portray the establishment of the kingdom of God on earth.
Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me.
Mal 3,1 "Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will
clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the
messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming," says the LORD of hosts. Mal
So a messenger was to come on the scene, before the appearance of the Messiah, who was to turn the Jews to their God and lead them to repentance. This promise was fulfilled in John the Baptist, as had been announced to his father Zacharias by an angel:
It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah.
Lk 1,13 But the angel said to him, Do not be afraid, Zacharias, for
your petition has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will give him
the name John. 1,14 You will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth. 1,15 For
he will be great in the sight of the Lord; and he will drink no wine or liquor, and he will be
filled with the Holy Spirit while yet in his mother’s womb. 1,16 And he will turn many of the
sons of Israel back to the Lord their God. 1,17 It is he who will go as a forerunner before
Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children,
and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the
Lord. Lk 1,13-17;
And this is just what the Lord said to the Jews as well in the earlier quoted passage in Mt 11,10 – that John the Baptist was this promised messenger. Likewise in answer to the question of His disciples, in Mt 17,10 below, whether Elijah must come first, the Lord replied quite plainly: "But I say to you that Elijah already came." This must necessarily compel the conclusion that the promised time has dawned, and that Jesus is the Messiah. But the Jews were not willing to accept either the one or the other.
But I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him.
Mt 17,10 And His disciples asked Him, "Why then do the scribes say
that Elijah must come first?" 17,11 And He answered and said, "Elijah is coming and will restore
17,12 but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands." 17,13 Then the disciples understood that He had spoken to them about John the Baptist. Mt 17,10-13;
And the Lord tells them then, as well, that Elijah will indeed come – another
time. But on this occasion the Jews did not recognize either Elijah or the Messiah, and did to them
whatever they wished.
We see then – independently of whether we wish to make use of the Many-worlds theory in this connection or not – that through the decision taken by the Jews at that time, the whole world, and their own people in particular, entered not upon an epoch of peace and justice but upon thousands of years of persecution, war and hatred.
And this people will plunge the world into chaos a second time as well. At the time, that is, when the Antichrist shall come and proclaim himself falsely as the Messiah. He too will act as a catalyst, though a catalyst of evil in this case. They will believe him. And the faith and worship that they refused to Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, will then be paid by them, in full measure, to this devilish abortion. He will take his place in their Temple in Jerusalem to receive worship, and proceed from there to tyrannize over the whole world.
But as the Lord says, in Mt 17,11 above, Elijah will finally come and will restore
all things. And with him will come our Lord Jesus Christ. And so human beings will be given a second
chance. And this time the decision will not be taken by just one people. Christians and Israelites
the world over will see their Lord and Messiah coming. And there will no longer be any among them
who will be able to have any doubts at all.
Happened to be on your web page by chance, and read your views on quantum
mechanics. What I find strange here is that you and Tippler (whose book I cannot take at all
seriously) advance the Many-worlds Interpretation (if it is true at all) as a proof for the
existence of free will. What is actually free about a decision which is taken in all its
variations – since there is only the possibility of shall we say, getting away, in one of the
many worlds, while in the others the opposite occurs. It would also interest me to learn where
you found the information that Stephen Hawkins endorses the Many-worlds Interpretation.
"What I find strange here is that you and Tipler (whose book I cannot
take at all seriously) advance the Many-worlds Interpretation (if it is true at all) as a proof for
the existence of free will."
My comments on this are as follows:
(1) If you cannot take Tipler’s book seriously, then you shouldn’t read it.
(2) I can reassure you: the Many-worlds Interpretation is not true at all, seeing
that it is – as is shown by the name alone – an interpretation, a theory. And it is a thing
about theories that they have not (yet) been proved, and so one cannot seriously say of them that
they are true (in the sense of "proved").
You go on to say:
"What is actually free about a decision which is taken in all its
variations – since there is only the possibility of shall we say, getting away, in one of the many
worlds while in the others the opposite occurs."
Here I am quite unable to follow you. The principle of decision-making on the basis
of free will postulates, after all, precisely the availability of numerous possibilities
(variations). That these decisions will then be taken in all variations – as you write – can only be
(1) if one assesses the situation as an external observer, without being directly
(2) if there is indeed a decision for every variation.
As individuals, however, we have the possibility of choosing, on the basis of free
will, only one of the variations. When we have done this, we have no further awareness of what
happens on the levels of the other variations, and so are not able to judge, either, whether a
different decision might have turned out better or not. In any case the conditions for a decision on
the basis of free will are everywhere the same. Only after the decision has been made will it be
revealed what consequences we have let ourselves in for.
And here we find the point of connection to the Christian faith. You have the
freedom to decide for or against God. That this is indeed a decision on the basis of free will is
proved by billions of individuals who, since the beginning of human history, have spoken out either
for or against God. But whereas the ungodly do not believe that they will ever be compelled to face
the consequences of their decision, the Christians’ view of the matter is the exact opposite.
In relation to your question whence I derive the information that Stephen Hawking holds the Many-worlds Interpretation to be true, here is an account:
The political scientist L. David Raub asked 72 leading quantum
cosmologists and other quantum field theorists whether they believe the Many-worlds Interpretation
to be true. The possible answers were:
(1) "Yes, I believe it is right",
(2) "No, I do not accept this theory",
(3) "It may be correct, but I am not yet convinced", and
(4) "I do not have any opinion on the matter".
The results of the survey: 58 percent said Yes, 18 percent No, 13 percent thought ‘perhaps’ and 11 percent had no opinion. Among those who gave the question an affirmative answer were Stephen Hawking, Richard Feynman and Murray Gell-Mann, while Penrose was among those who answered in the negative. In his letter to Raub, Hawking said "‘Many-worlds’ is a bad name for it, but gets it essentially right." (In private conversation Hawking expresses himself with less caution, declaring to me one day "The Many-worlds Interpretation is quite simply true!")
(The extract is taken from the book "The Physics of Immortality" by Frank J.
Tipler, page 218.)
I have read your article about the Many-worlds-theory. You write that among
other renowned physicists also Stephen Hawking believes it to be true. In this respect I don’t
want to contradict. Nonetheless the question remains open whether quantum mechanics at all can
be applied to objects – human beings included. It seems to me that this matter has been
disputed right up to the present time. As I understand it, most modern advocates of this theory
say that it only has validity in the microscopic sphere but not in the macroscopic one. Your
story – according to which we split constantly and live at the same time in different worlds -
can only be possible if on the one hand the Many-worlds theory indeed is true and on the other
hand quantum mechanics can be applied unconditionally to human beings as well. Do you know if
Stephen Hawking at any time asserted that quantum mechanics is applicable to human beings?
In addition, I discovered a second disagreement. Frank Tipler writes:
"The Many-worlds Interpretation resolves the patent contradiction
of the observed facts, in that it tells us that the radioactive disintegration of the atom has
compelled the cat, as well as the other components of the experimental system, to split
themselves into two different worlds: in one of these worlds the cat is alive, in the other it
is dead. If we now try to determine whether the cat is alive or dead, then we split as well. In
one world we see a dead cat, in the other a living cat."
You, though, comment on this as follows: "The Many-worlds Interpretation –
which really should be known as the Everett Interpretation, after Hugh Everett, who as a
graduate student at Princeton first used this term in 1957 – tells us, then, that according to
the mathematics of quantum mechanics we reach a point at which we must decide whether we want to
observe that ‘world’ in which the cat is dead, or the other ‘world’ in which it is
According to the above description, the Many-worlds theory does not say that we have to decide ourselves but that we have to split ourselves and live in both possible worlds. (Applied to human beings this seems rather out of the question to me). Consequently your parallel does not quite suit: "And we now have no difficulty in perceiving the parallel this has with the Many-worlds theory. As with Schrödinger’s cat, here too a choice had to be made as to which of two possible ‘worlds’ would be entered: either that of the Messiah’s kingdom of peace, or that of the prince of this world. As we know, the Jews decided against the Messiah, and for a world without peace." According to the Many-worlds theory one would walk in both worlds and needed not to decide in which one. What do you think?
(Nick Reichstein, mail: email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>)
You are quite right with your argument. The assumptions you quoted from my
contribution to the discussion were taken under the premise that quantum mechanics describes all
objects – human beings included. This is an assumption which as far as I know Hawking has not
confirmed. There are also a great many physicists who are of the opinion that the Many-worlds
Interpretation is altogether wrong. And all physicists – even those who believe in the Many-worlds
theory, like Hawking, Weinberg and others – probably agree that it is only a theoretical approach,
designed to explain the results of mathematics and not to describe some real situations. Your
question about a validity of this theory in the macroscopic field thus supplies its own answer. In
my opinion it certainly has to be taken into account that the universe of today with its galaxies,
stars and planets – and, of course, human beings – evolved in its original beginning at the
first bang from quantum mechanics conditions. Obviously an influence of quantum mechanics on the
macroscopic field can be inferred from this.
Regarding my conclusion that when at that time the Jews rejected the Messiah they were making a decision similar to that with Schrödinger’s cat, two things are to be mentioned. According to the Many-worlds Interpretation, on the one hand, the possibility clearly can not be excluded that there exists another world in another universe where the entire human population from that time until today, have been living in this alternative reality and so fulfill the condition of splitting (though without its being possible for the inhabitants of either reality to realize this.)
On the other hand I have to admit that it was not at all this scientific aspect I wanted to show, but rather the alternative confirmed by the scriptural statements I quoted earlier, which was offered at that time by the Almighty to the (believing) Jews:
- Either the acceptance of God’s persecuted and despised Son as their
Messiah and resulting from this the Lord’s worldwide kingdom of peace with Israel being head of
- Or his rejection, and following from this their dispersion into a world
of war and destruction for millennia.
In this connection I would still have a further question. Advocates of advaitism
claim that man and the whole world are thought (dreamed) by a higher spirit, and that the whole
of life is completely determined. They argue furthermore, pointing to the findings of brain
research, that free will does not exist, so guilt and atonement are in any case impossible. (One
does not breathe but is being breathed, one does not live but is being lived and so forth).
Ramana Maharshi, one of the main advocates of this theory, having had an intuitive experience
states that there is neither a creation nor a destruction, and that there neither exists a way
nor a goal. What do you think about this view of the world?
(Nick Reichstein, mail: email@example.com
The claim of advaitism (this means "Non-Dualism"), quoted above, that "man and
the whole world is thought (dreamed) by a higher spirit" cannot, if it is to make any sense, be
limited to our planet. The whole universe, the whole of creation has to be included. And exactly
this is the view which the Bible too seeks to establish. The attribute "dreamed", as inserted in
parentheses, seems to me rather speculative. Who of us could tell if and when God – or a higher
spirit as you say – dreams or is awake, any more than we could converse about whether God eats or
The entire creation was invented and, of course, realized by God – otherwise we would not exist.
The next possible question, as to whether we exist at all, I would like to rebut with the famous phrase: "Cogito ergo sum". There is also a famous saying: "Everybody who doubts my existence gets an uppercut from me. Then he won’t do it anymore".
But now to your question about the free will of man. When I come to consider the matter in depth, then the advocates of advaitism quoted above are disseminating their teaching in hope of convincing people of their view of things. In the last resort, of course, this is what all adherents of all theories, philosophies and religions actually do. But in so doing, they take it as read that the people with whom they offer to share their knowledge are able to decide whether they are willing to accept it or to refute it. And so they themselves acknowledge the fact that a person can come to a decision and thus has free will.
The scientific confirmation of free will is provided by that very quantum theory
that forms the theme of this Discourse. Immanuel Kant had already raised this question, and Werner
Heisenberg, the well-known German quantum physicist, commented on it as well in a lecture on ‘Die
Verknüpfung von Physik und Philosophie’ [‘The Linking of Physics and Philosophy’]:
... On the other hand Kant also says at once that we get into a dilemma if we so
much as think of the question of free will. This is because we do surely have the feeling that
we can decide freely what we want to do, go either here or there or whatever, and that our
actions just are not causally predetermined, since I can after all change them. And Kant, now,
could not see an immediate way out of this dilemma, and so made the dilemma one of his
antinomies. And he did not reckon with the possibility that an empirical natural science, in
this case quantum theory, would one day be able to state: "No, we do have a definitive answer
here: the processes are not completely causally determined."
Extract from Werner Heisenberg’s lecture, 14 July 1962 in Munich, www.suppose.de
(See also Discourse 83: "Is the omniscience of God
a contradiction of human free will")?)
Just from the fact that I felt free to answer your e-mail or not it is apparent that
free will does exist. It was entirely my personal and private decision. Here we have to do with the
law of causation. There is a cause for everything. In the sphere of nature the cause of floods can
be heavy rainfall, or it may be the breach of a dike. Various incidental, but also non-incidental
facts could have an influence on the chain of causality. When the dike holds there are no floods in
It is different in the sphere of human decision. Here nothing happens incidentally since man always has the free will to decide, whether or not he is aware of it. One who thinks that any kind of external "circumstances" force him to make this or that decision is wrong. When he absolutely does not want to make a certain decision, he can always commit suicide and so accomplish a final exit. One who says that he does not want to kill himself is declaring that it is his free will not to commit suicide.
Your last comment:
"Ramana Maharshi, one of the main advocates of this theory, having had
an intuitive experience states that there is neither creation nor destruction, and that there
neither exists a way nor a goal",
could be refuted with the somewhat cynical statement that according to this
principle Ramana Maharshi himself does not exist, which makes his whole statement superfluous. If
the universe does not exist, neither he nor his statement can exist either.
In almost 30 years of interpretation and exegesis of biblical texts, I have found with a number of commentators that when they could not explain the one or the other prophecy they invariably turned to symbolism. The reason for this kind of cop-out is frequently incompetence or simply laziness – a reluctance to analyze and come to terms with difficult passages, a process that might take months or even years. One who lacks intelligence, or is unwilling to take the time for this, happily resorts to some kind of symbolic interpretation of the text, because then he can explain it as he chooses and according to his lights.
Increasingly, I find the same principle applies to the advocates of many different doctrines. Rather as with some purveyors of so called "modern art", who claim that a picture consisting of a random spillage of paint represents a sunrise and nonetheless find plenty of fools who believe them and are prepared to spend a good deal of money to purchase it, there are also charlatans in the field of philosophy and oriental teaching who simply set up propositions sounding as paradoxical as possible, which nobody is in a position to scrutinize anyway, and are happy to put them down to their "intuitions". That they sometimes put a spoke in their own wheel – as in the case of Ramana Maharshi, as quoted above – with the result that their theory denies their own existence and so also denies the reality of their own statements, is just a logical consequence of their self-contradictory position.
But a great many other wise sayings emanating from the Orient turn out, on closer inspection, to be self-contradictory – to be statements, that is, that carry their own refutation. Take as an example the following saying:
"Just as all rivers flow in different courses, and nonetheless all end
by joining the mighty ocean, so the path of man to God is different in each case, but all in the end
merge in the divine Unity."
The reason why all rivers flow in different courses is to be sought in the different
sources from which they flow, and if they all end in the "mighty ocean", this is to be
attributed to the force of gravity as it acts on this planet. But just as the rivers, as a result of
the earth’s attraction, follow the inclinations of the surface of the earth and as a result attain
to the lowest point on reaching the ocean, so too the human individual who follows his own
inclinations will end up reaching the lowest point in his life.
The rivers are subject to the law of gravity, which, if we extend the image to the human sphere, corresponds to man’s tendency to do evil. And seeing that man is inherently evil, and can only do good by striving upwards to reach sanctity and love, when left to his own devices he would give way to the tendency to do evil, just as the rivers are compelled by the law of gravity to follow their downward course.
There is none who does good, there is not even one.
Rom 3,12 "All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there
is none who does good, there is not even one. Rom 3,12;
So what a person "merges" with, in the last resort, after having followed these
various paths, is not the divine Unity but rather devilish wickedness. The so-called wisdom of such
oriental sayings thus breaks down into rather platitudinous slogans, or else – which is worse still
- represents a fully deliberate intent to lead people astray. I would not want to deny that this
school of thought has given rise to some thoroughly intelligent sayings. All the same, we must have
recourse to our own faculty of judgment, and look closely into the what and the why and the
wherefore of such formulations, rather than taking them on board and passing them on without any
kind of critical scrutiny .
o The quantum theory is the best verified physical theory
that there is. Its power of prediction is unsurpassed.
o Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle describes the
phenomenon that the place and the impulse (or speed) of a particle (electron) cannot be determined
simultaneously. The more precisely the momentary position of an electron is defined, the less its
impulse can be measured and vice versa (the paradox of overlapping quantum situations). This can be
convincingly proved by the double split experiment (interference pattern).
o Schrödinger’s Cat is a thought experiment which
illustrates that according to the mathematics of quantum mechanics the wave function of a particle
cannot be measured directly (the cat is both dead and alive). Only place, speed and other
characteristics of the particle can be measured. In the wave function these qualities are defined by
o According to the Copenhagen Interpretation of wave function
(developed by Max Born in Göttingen, named after the Copenhagen School around Niels Bohr),
the particle is not at a certain place but at all places at the same time at which the wave function
is not zero. The cat at the experiment is therefore all the time simultaneously dead and alive. Only
at the moment when the position is registered does the wave function collapse, and a particle arises
at a certain place (reduction of the wave function). At the moment we observe (measure) the cat, it
is either dead or alive, so the latter result is purely incidental.
o According to the Many-worlds Interpretation (also named the
Everett Interpretation after Hugh Everett, who first used this term in 1957 in Princeton), the
patent contradiction with the observed facts can be resolved by the unchanged retention of the wave
function (without any reduction) but with the different quantum states being "discharged" into
different worlds. At the time of the radioactive disintegration of the atom in the test container,
all parts of it – and also the cat – are compelled to split themselves into two different worlds: in
one of these worlds the cat is alive, in the other it is dead. If we now try to determine whether
the cat is alive or dead, then we split as well. In one world we see a dead cat, in the other a