Quantum Physics and Mystical Science

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Author: 
Dennis McCallum
Quantum Physics Finding Mystical Conclusions Drawn Traditional Scientific Rejoinder
Complementarity- light or electrons behave paradoxically; under some experimental conditions. At times, they behave as if they were particles, but under other conditions they behave as if they were waves. Particles are located at discrete points in space. Waves are not localized. Therefore, we see a contradiction. One thing behaves like two different things. Mystics say this proves that language and reason are inadequate to describe reality and that reality is a fusion of polar opposites. Just as good and evil are part of the same unity in mysticism, so the distinction between particles and waves disappears, even though it would be contradictory for something to be a particle and a wave at the same time. The mystics confuse paradox with contradiction. Wave and particle descriptions are analogies, not realities. We could say a motorcycle is like a bicycle and like an automobile. Each comparison explains one aspect of a motorcycle. 'Bicycle' and 'automobile' are non-contradictory analogies, even though we could view them as contradictory if we adopted a two-dimensional view. So, too, the paradox of particles and waves need not imply a logical contradiction. Since we do not know exactly what reality is like, particularly at the subatomic level, we have no way to know whether this paradox is actually a contradiction. the notion of Complementarity refers to different ways of analyzing a single entity like light or an electron. It doesn't refer to different, contradictory world views being true at the same time. Mystical scientists' conclusions extend well beyond the data in this regard.
Indeterminacy- Heisenberg's uncertainty principle holds that one cannot predict when an atomic decay event will occur. Similarly, the more accurately one locates a particle in space, the less accurate is his knowledge of its momentum. If the physicist conducts an experiment to find its position, the velocity information is unobtainable and vice versa. Certain qualities of subatomic particles are related to each other in such a manner that finding the value of one feature obscures the other. This means some physical features, such as position and momentum, can only be ascertained statistically. Mystics claim that such uncertainty shows that the universe is a unified whole (monism). They think this suggests that the observer and the observed are not separable from each other, because the very act of observation is what causes uncertainty. "All is one and one is all." At least eight different schools of thought have been developed to explain indeterminacy. Their metaphysical views range wildly from monistic to modernistic and none is powerful enough to create consensus because the data does not favor any position. Neither the data nor the theory that the data are hung upon are complete. So we see, not proof for eastern mysticism, but a "god of the gaps" approach: An area of scientific uncertainty has been rolled out as proof for a world view, when all it really shows is that science doesn't have all the answers.
Action at a distance - if a pair of particles are created and separated and if the spin of one of the particles is changed, the spin in its mate instantaneously changes too. This again proves all things are interconnected in a way predicted by monism, according to mystics. Also, human consciousnesscreates modifies reality in this case, because the changes only occur during human observation.1 The mystic's conclusion reflects their tendency to confuse the effects of instruments on measurement with the effects of consciousness. The physical preparation or measurement of subatomic particles affects their status, not the mind of the observer. I cannot make a sandwich by the exercise of some mental energy apart from using my body to accomplish the task. It would be foolish for me to claim that I had the ability to think a sandwich into existence as if it happened apart from physical intervention.

1. Capra puts it this way, "Subatomic particles do not exist with certainty at definite places, but rather show 'tendencies to exist', and atomic events do not occur with certainty at definite times and in definite ways, but rather show 'tendencies to occur.'" Fritjof Capra, The Tao of Physics p. 133. Also see, Stapp, Henry P. S-matrix interpretation of quantum theory, Physical Review, Vol. D3 (Mar.15, 1971), pp. 1303-20.