Quantum Mechanics, Creation, and Scientific Paradigms


20th century developments in physical theory have created another scientific paradigm. Not since the first scientific revolution has the rationality of the concept of creation been so defensible. Thermodynamics presents telling evidence against the eternality of matter (cf. order to disorder in a finite amount of time; but the universe is ordered-rational, thus has not eternally existed). And Quantum Mechanics affirms that energy (mass) level is finite, thus the universe is finite.  If the universe is finite, it is rationally necessary that it have an origin (see my God, Man and Nature in Carl Sagan's Universe for critique of evolutionary model of physical reality. The laws of physics know nothing of evolutionary development, since all known physical processes in the universe operate according to these laws.


Changing Concepts of Scientific Paradigms;  (see my essay "The Christian Faith and changing concepts of Science" in A Journal For Christian Studies (Chi Lambda Fellowship) - March, 1982; and my "Carl Sagan's Cosmic Connection" in August, 1982).


Perhaps a brief exposition of major models of the nature of science will enable the general reader to locate the origins and contextualization of Quantum Mechanics better.  (For extensive exposition see my Christian Faith and The Development of The Physical Sciences and my forthcoming, God, Creation, Rationality and Development of Science with Special attention to T. Kuhn's Theory of Scientific Progress.)


Our concern will be limited to the following theories of science:


1.  Classical Greek - Aristotle; 2. Bacon's Novum Organum; 3. Descartes' Physics; 4. Newton's Principia (Hypothese non fingo). and Derivative World-Machine Model (cf. Hume/Kant contra causality/teleology and ultimate justification of scientific knowledge claims and impact on the whole of western thought); 5. Whewell's Theory of Scientific Method/Herschal on Scientific Method; 6. Mill's 'Inductive Generalization' and Incremental View of Scientific Knowledge; 7. Mach's Positivistic Theory of Mechanics; 8.  Einstein's Relativity Thesis; 9. Demise of The Received View, i.e., Positivism (cf. the very decade Positivism was rejected in physical theory it was extended into Skinner's psychological theory, i.e., Behaviorism) ; 10. Contemporary Theories of Science and Scientific Progress: a. AIlya Priogogine; b. Karl Pribrain, David Bohm; c. George Land; d. Thomas Kuhn (cf. Toulmin, Popper, Feyerabend, Suppe et. al. will be discussed in my forthcoming book); 11. Quantum Mechanics; 12. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory: Planck, Bohr, Heisenberg, Schrodinger, de Broglie, et al.


1.   Aristotle’s’ Physics and Galileo dominated western science up to the first scientific revolution.  Aristotle's cosmos was ordered but uncreated (cf. Augustine's and Aquinas' critique of Greek cosmology). His cosmos moved only cyclically ie. it had no ultimate goal/teleology.


2.  Cartesian Physics - neither corrected Aristotle's theories nor advanced science.


3.   Bacon's Novum Organum is the historic origin of a positivistic theory of science.  In his classic work he sets forth neutrality and objectivity as essential for scientific methodology.  (cf. Which has priority to the others and how is this to be obtained - is the essential question). As a matter of fact, Bacon's theory radically influenced American thought, but it was not the foundation of actual progress in the sciences. (cf. his reference to Daniel 9 and eschatological significance of science for the kingdom of God).


4.   Newton's Principia is fundamental for the first scientific revolution. The developments between Galileo and Newton are the basis for the first paradigmatic revolution in the history of science, Galileo's "Freely Falling Body theory" and Newton's "Universal Law of Gravity" constitutes the essence of the modern theory of the nature of scientific claims. Hume and Kant made devastating impact on western thought attempting to interpret the Newtonian theory of science and its significance for knowledge claims. Newton affirmed four crucial postulates in his Principia :


a.  Absolute space exists as an entity in its own right, not merely as a system of relations of bodies-.

b. There is absolute motion.

c. Absolute motion is motion with respect to absolute space.

d.  Distance is a two-place real-valued function of bodies or points, and is not to be identified by definition with the results of any particular sort of measuring process.


5.  Both. Herschal and Whewell played major parts in articulating the dominant 19th century view of science - as being Empirical, Incremental and based in inductively generalized laws of nature. As did Newton, these Christian philosophers of science refused to accept or realize the implications of their positivistic theory of science for their Christian faith.


6.   Mill's Logic and Theory of Science became the authoritative statement of the 'received view' of science in the 19th century.  According to Mill, laws of nature were 'inductive generalizations' and that scientific knowledge was self-corrective and 'incremental,' i.e., scientific knowledge developed in an evolutionary manner - necessarily and always progressively.


7.   Mach's Positivistic Theory of Mechanics was the "received view" during the transitions from his physical theories to Einstein's.  In 1883 Mach espoused the following relational theory:


a. Absolute space does not exist.

b. Absolute motion does not exist: all motion is relative to some other body or bodies.

c. The fixed stars, not absolute space, define the class of inertial frames.


8.  Einstein's Relativity Theory: Einstein vs. Mach:


Despite Einstein's hopes, numerous objections have been raised to the proposition that his general theory of relativity embodies Machian ideas. Some of the most important are the following:


A. In Goe'del's solution to the field equation, the entire mass of the universe is in absolute rotation, which is nonsensical according to Mach's thesis of the relativity of all motion. Moreover, if as Mach believed, inertial frames are those unaccelerated with respect to the main bulk of the universe, G6'del's universe should be at rest in an inertial frame.  But it is not (Earman 1970a).


B. To obtain a particular solution to the field equation, it is often necessary to use not only the distribution of matter embodied in the stress-energy tensor, but also boundary conditions at spatial infinity.  In such cases it is not matter alone (or more generally T alone) that determines the spatiotemporal geometry and thus the class of locally Lorentz frames.


C. The existence of solutions of the field equation for empty spacetime—e.g. the solution g = the Minkowski metric of special relativity—shows that according to general relativity spacetime may have a structure not due to matter.


D. It makes no sense to speak of the distribution of matter determining geometry, since the geometry is required in order to specify the distribution (Wheeler 1964, p. 3Q6J.  For example, the metric tensor appears explicitly in the stress-energy tensor of a perfect fluid.


E. The four-dimensional character of the field equation makes it ill suited to describe the sort of causal influence asserted by Mach's principle.  One solves the equation by specifying T and perhaps boundary conditions throughout spacetime.  Thus it is unclear how one could use the equation in the usual method of studying causal influences: specifying initial conditions at one time and using laws of evolution to determine the resulting conditions at a later time (Graves 1971, pp. 235-7).


9.   Demise of The Received View:  Developments in physical theory during the decades between the 1920's and the 1940's brought the downfall to the House of Positivism.  One of the major consequences of this demise was the initiation of international debate concerning the very nature of the scientific enterprise.  This heated international debate only intensifies with the passing of time and 'congresses' called to discuss the more urgent matters.  (See Exposition/critique of Michael Polanyi in T. Spoor's M.A. Thesis, Lincoln Christian Seminary, Spring, 1983). Feyerabend's Against Method, Polanyi's theory of 'Tacit Knowledge' and Suppe's brilliant critique of the ‘received view’ are signals of a very complex and significant problem, or set of problems.


10.  Contemporary Theories of Scientific Progress:


a.  Ilya Prigogine's theory says that everything alive is surprisingly alive— and on a twitchy, searching, self-aware, self-organizing, upward journey. Such living systems periodically break into severe twitchiness and appear to fall apart.  They do not.  It is actually at such vibrating times that living systems (humans, chemical solutions, whole societies) are shaking themselves to higher ground.  Transition to a higher order is universally accompanied by turbulence or "perturbation." He says that the disorder and disharmony in any chemical solution is a necessary activation of growth to a higher level.  The greater the turbulence and the more complex the solution (or society), the more often it will go into apparent disharmony in order to re-jiggle itself to an even higher level.

b.  Pribram and Bohm began at opposite ends of reality—Pribram with the structure of the brain and the workings of the mind, and Bohm with the underlying structure of the universe and reality itself—and they met each other in the middle.  Their theory is surprisingly relevant to Prigogine-type thoughts for both the brain and the universe exhibit several of Prigogine's requirements for an evolving, self-organizing system: The brain is complex—nature's most complex organ; the brain, an endlessly fluctuating medium, seems capable of "perturbating" itself into higher-order realms; and the brain meets all of Prigogine's requirements for triggering its own evolution!


Pribram developed the insight that the brain is like a hologram. Bohm came to the conclusion that the universe is like a hologram. A hologram is a form of lensless photography that uses laser beams which interprets apparently meaningless swirls and reconstructs them as a three-dimensional picture, and constructs the whole picture from any fragment of the apparently meaningless swirls. Bohm says that the universe is made up of those swirls; Pribram says that the brain can reconstruct them the way a holographic instrument does.


c,  George Land asks large questions: If Darwin identified survival as the key to the Origin of the Species, what is the role of advanced societies whose mere survival is no longer enough of a challenge to provide the main fuel for species development? He answers: The main purpose of all life—but particularly in the advanced industrialized nations—is toward growth, toward higher and more complex levels of individuality and organization.


Throughout nature, from the beginning, there has everywhere been the urge to grow to higher levels: it is a three-state progression. The first stage is self-oriented and accretive - defensively gathers everything to itself; second stage is replicative and tries to endlessly duplicate those things that seem to work for it; the third stage is the most mature and the most mutual—problems and rewards are shared.  Except for one thing— the pattern repeats and repeats, always at higher levels.


d.  Thomas Kuhn wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 20 years ago. Kuhn's main finding was that the scientific community, at any point in time, shares a common world-view, a reality concept, a paradigm. He found that a dominant paradigm Cfor instance Newton's Law), provides the basic structure within which all scientific thinking and experimenting are done. Thus, all experiments tend to support and entrench the dominant paradigm of the moment.  Kuhn's theory, applied to society at large, strikingly confirms Toynbee's observation that all 26 civilizations which have existed throughout history perished for exactly the same reason—they guarded the paradigm which once made them famous far longer than they should have, and eventually cracked from the rigidity which accompanied their refusal to yield to new concepts.


11.  Quantum Mechanics:


During the summer of 1900 Max Planck told his son that he was going to introduce a concept about physics that would be as revolutionary and important as that of Issac Newton was with his classical mechanics,  (.S, L, Jaki, The Relevance of Physics (University of Chicago Press, 1970, p. 89}. On December 15, 1900 Planck presented his paper to the Deutsche Physicalische Gesellschaft [The Road of Science and the Ways to God (1978), p. 72], He showed that there was a relationship between energy and the frequency of a radiation source. (See Wien for standard equations.  Note the symbol system—U (Vi; TT(3.14) H (constant) and T (temperature).  See Christianity Today, Feb. 1, 1985, "A Disorienting View of God's Creation—Faith in the Crucible of the New Physics", pp. 19ff.


Where U (V) is the energy per unit volume, "fi is the symbol for the number 3.14, h is Planck's- constant, - v ±s the frequency of the radiation source, C is the speed of light which is 3,OQQ,QQO kilometers per second, exp means that everything inside the brackets is the power of the natural log, which is the number 2.72, K is Boltzmann's constant - and T is the temperature of the system. (JR. M. Eisberg, Fundamentals of Modern Physics (J. Wiley, 1961)

The reason for Planck to research and give his paper was the laws of Rayleigh-Jeans and Wien. Planck's paper gave an explanation of why these two laws were not true. He went on to determine the value of the Planck constant using his equation on the values from the experiment done by Otto Hummer and Ernest Pringsheim.  These two men did an experiment on the shifting of radiation toward higher frequency with the increasing of the temperature of the radiation source. Existing theories such as those of Rayleigh-Jeans and Wien could not give calculated values that agreed with the experiment data. When Planck applied a value from the experiment with his equation to give him the value of Planck constant and then compared his calculated values with the experiment data, they agreed, which proved that Planck's equation did work.

Planck's radical thesis gave an explanation of energy expressed in discrete packets.  (Walter Michels, Physics, Principles and Applications (NY: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1977, p. 665) This means that energy is quantized, that is, energy does not come at infinite or constant numbers of levels. Instead it comes at only certain levels. A good analogy is the working of the gears on a ten speed bike. The Bike has ten levels at which power can be exchanged from the peddler to the back wheel.  Nothing happens between the shifting of the gears to one of the ten speeds,  And so is the case of radiation energy emission. No energy exists between the discrete energy values of radiation.


Radiation is just a term used to denote entities known as photons. Photons are massless particles that carry energy and make up what we call radiation. We then have the denotation of anew model of looking at our universe.  It is called Quantum Mechanics. Most of the credit for the foundation of this new model of the universe belongs to six men—Bohr, Broglie, Einstein, Heisenberg, Planck, and Schrodinger (see my forthcoming God, Creation, Rationality of the Development of the Sciences). They gave us the quantum theory. We therefore have a paradigm shift in the study of physics. No longer is Newtonian classical mechanics an adequate understanding of nature, i.e., that is the nature of matter and energy.  This shift speeds the doom of the universality of Newtonian mechanics.  Einstein gave us the equation:  E - hv Where E is the energy of the photons being emitted, H is Planck's constant and V is the frequency of the photons. Therefore he reinforced the concept of energy being quantized.  Since the energy of the photons was found to be discrete values.


Bohr gave us a model of the atom.  The atom has different states of energy. These states of energy for the atom have only certain values. Therefore once more we use the quantum theory to explain nature.

Broglie was the first to suggest the wave-particle duality concept. This is the concept that small particles and radiation waves (.that is the transmission of photons) share some properties of behavior.


Heisenberg uncertainty principle was a stepping stone for wave mechanics. Heisenberg’s equation is given as:


4 X                            2AP


Where 4X is the uncertainty of the position of a body at some instant and A P is the uncertainty of its momentum at the same instant. These two quantities product will equal or be larger than Planck constant divided by two times 3. Heisenberg believes that we can only measure these quantities to this amount of precision because of the intrinsic properties of these quantities.

Schro'dinger took the concept of Heisenberg and applied the study of waves to it. His studies of waves is based on probability, He then made an assumption using the principle of duality and his studies of light waves. His position is that the square of the amplitude of debroglie wave would be portional to the probability of finding that particle in a given region, See diagram #1:


Given Region; See Diagram Below


Schrodinger's Probability Function













de Broglie's Wave


Both Planck and Einstein were followers of Ernst Mach. Mach was an anti-metaphysical positivist. (Mach, The Science of Mechanics (LaSalle, IL: The Open Court Pub. Co., 1974, p. vii). This work was the bible of Positivism.( See my syllabus, Models of Scientific Knowledge; also my Christian Faith and the Development of the Physical Sciences). He perceived phenomena as unit elements. Which, although he would not agree with this, is an atomic viewpoint. He rejected the use of theoretical mechanical models to explain natural process. Likewise we see that theoretical physicists use mathematical models to explain nature. Therefore we can conclude that Mach was an early pioneer of the philosophy that would give us the quantum theory.


The universe of scientists can be shown by this diagram:






Instrumental effects









James Jeans, The New Background of Science (Ann Arbor:  University of Michigan Press, 1959), p. 177-178.


Definitions of the terms in the above diagram:


Thought:  is the final result of the other four steps, which is our own concept of the universe.


Sense-Data:  sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings.


Instrumental effects: light, photographic action, electric currents, etc,


Observables:  events at hand (impact of photons), individual space and individual time.


Unobservables: distant events, objects, ether, absolute space and absolute time.


We can conclude from this second diagram that the thought level is a consummation of everything that precedes it.  This is the level where the concepts and equations of quantum mechanics are given to us. Therefore, not only are scientists collectors of phenomena, but they also have philosophies that play their role in trying to understand these phenomena.


Einstein's view of the universe is clear from the following quotations:


"At this point an enigma presents itself which in all ages has agitated inquiring minds. How can it be that mathematics, being after all a product of human thought which is independent of experience is so admirably appropriate to the objects of reality?  Is human reason, then, without experience, merely by taking thought, able to fathom the properties of real things?" (Albert W. Levi, Philosophy and the Modern World (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977, pp. 262-263).


This indicates that Einstein is questioning how the logical thinking of the human mind can give us an understanding of the physical world, if and only if, the world is in a logical order.  Can Einstein justify the human mind as being capable of understanding the physical world?


The following quotation reveals the differences between Einstein and Born. Born was a strong proponent of the quantum mechanics school of physical interpretation. He believed that only with probability are we able to understand phenomena.   Einstein believed that phenomena obeys perfect laws and these perfect laws can and will be totally explained by mathematics, without using probability in any of the mathematical equations.


"In our scientific expectations we have grown as far apart as the poles. You believe in God playing dice and I in perfect laws in the world of things existing as real objects, which I try to grasp. . ."


12. The Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics Scientific Paradigms and Theory-Laden Observations


The historical and conceptual context of Quantum Mechanics will require investigation of the works of Grimaldi's undulatory theory, developed by Huygens, Traite de la lumtere (Leiden, 1690), and" confirmed by Young, Lectures on Natural Philosophy (London, 1807)], Fizeau, Annual de Chim. et Phys v29 (1849), and Foucault, Rec. trav. sci. (Paris, 1878); and the opposition of corpus cularious like Newton, Principia Mathematics: Optiks (London, 1687; 1704) respectively; Biot j, Traite de physique experimental et mathematique (Paris, 1816), Boscovich, Philosophiae Naturalis Theoria (Venice 1763), and La Place Oenvres Paris 1878-1912. The ultimate outcome of these perimeters of research is that light is both 'wave-light' and 'corpuscular' and reduces to energy. (see N. R. Hanson's, "Copenhagen Interpretation of Quantum Theory" American Journal of Physics, vol. 27, no. 1, 1-15, Jan 1959, pp 1-15).


Schro'dinger and de Broglie's interpretation was punctured by Born (Zeitscrift Physik, 38, 11 (1926).  Born dispelled the previous ambiguity with the ingenious suggestion that the waves be taken as a measure of the probability of locating particles within a given volume element (Zeitscrift Physik 37, 863 (1926). His view was corroborated by every known experiment and was quickly generalized for multi-particle distributions by Bohr, Gordon, Jordan, Heisenberg, Klein, Pauli, and most significantly, by Dirac (Proc. Phys. Soc. (London 112, 661, (1926); 113, 621 (1926); 114, 710 (19271; 117, 610 (19281; 118, 351, (1928).


In 1928 there appeared the greatest contribution to physical theory of our time. Just as Newton's Principia forged together the five independent laws of Galileo and Kepler, hydrodynamics and every known fact of astronomy, optics and ballistics, so also did Dirac's theory of the electron unite in one formally beautiful, and experimentally powerful theory every idea of the particle physics of the 1920's. His theory enabled scientists to make advancements in microscopic physics, which had earlier been seen as a 'blemish' on Dirac's theory, i.e., description of the new anti-electrons that had been observed in 1932. The discovery of the meson extended the power of Dirac's theory.  Most of the critics of the Copenhagen theory proposed what is described as ‘observationally irrelevant superstructures’.  There is yet no working alternative to the Copenhagen interpretation.  Experimental situations in which quantum physicists work makes clear that the only way of learning about particles is to interact with them at our macrophysical level. This is not merely a comment on experimental technique.  Such statements as "nothing can move faster than light," or "a super-carnot engine is nonconstructible," or "a temperature-registration of less than -273° c is impossible" — do not represent mere matters of fact.  Each involves the conceptual principles of entire physical theories.  Data in microphysics can never be less than a compound of the raicroevent and some macrophysical system.  (cf. discussion of realism, objectivism, and subjectivism in philosophy of science, e.g. Oxford undergraduate once staggered his tutor:  “What is the external world external to?")


The theoretical and experimental context within which the 'Copenhagen Interpretation' of quantum theory was generated is underemphasized by recent critics of the Bohr-Heisenberg philosophy.  When an interpretation of a theory has been as successful as this one has been, there is little practical warrant for the 'alternative interpretations' that have, since Bohm, been receiving prominence.  Indeed, these are not even genuine alternatives; although rich in provocative prose, they provide not a scrap of algebra with which to organize the practical physicist's thinking.  Several objections to the Bohr interpretation are critically examined, as is also a particular use of the correspondence principle which has seemed to cast doubt on the Copenhagen ideas. (Norwood Russell Hanson, Department of Philosophy, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN June, 1958) Reprinted American Journal of Physics Vol. 27, No. 1, 1-15, January, 1959.


The Copenhagen Interpretation will not be abandoned until it is completely replaced. The present prospects of such occurring is remote. To quote the Bohm of 1950:


". . .no experiment has yet shown the slightest trace of such hidden variables . . .and there are strong theoretical arguments which make it unlikely that such hidden variable exist. . ."


. . .the general conceptual framework of the quantum theory cannot be made consistent with the assumption of hidden variables. . .no completely deterministic mechanism that could explain correctly the observed wave-particle duality of the properties of matter is even conceivable. Before we could justify the assumption of such a completely deterministic underlying theory, we would have to prove first that the quantum theory is not in complete accord with experiments. . .in no case has it ever been found to contradict experiment. . . . Until we find some real evidence for a breakdown of the general type of quantum description now in use, it seems, therefore, almost certainly of no use to search for hidden variables.  Instead, the laws of probability should be regarded as fundamentally rooted in the very structure of matter. . ."


"Unfortunately, such an experiment (.one which would violate the Uncertainty Relations) is still far beyond present techniques, but it is quite possible that it could some day be carried out. Until and unless some such disagreement between quantum theory and experiment is found, however, it seems wisest to assume that quantum theory is substantially correct, because it is a self-consistent theory yielding agreement with such a wide range of experiments not correctly treated by any other known theory."


The basic conclusion of this brief survey is that there is no such thing as an ‘uninterpreted fact’ (death of positivism); and that all observation is theory-dependent; i.e., paradigm determined (see my Kuhn paper).


Crucial Bibliography


Bohm and Feyerabend, Observation and Interpretation (Butterworths Scientific publications, London, 1957); Bohm, Causality and Change in Modern Physics (Rout-ledge/Kegan Paul, LTD, London, 1957); esp. The Physical Review (vol 85, 166, 180 (1952); British Journal for Philosophy of Science (1956); Niels Bohr and the Development of Physics (Pergamon Press, London, 1955); Dirac's The Principles of Quantum Mechanics (Oxford University Press, 1930).


See especially - Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a World View (Eerdmans, 1983 pb). Marinus D. Stafleu, Time and Again (Publishing Foundation, Toronto, Canada, 1980). Max Jammer, The Philosophy of Quantum Mechanics (NY; J. Wiley & Sons, 1974).



James D. Strauss


Lincoln Christian Seminary