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Quantum God

David Cowles

May 28, 2024

“What would it mean for the Proposition “God exists” to be both T and F…or neither T nor F?” 

A 6th century CE Irish poet (St. Dallan) is credited with “Naught is all else to me save that thou art.” The author framed the intellectual history of Europe in terms of a single question: Does God exist? 

On one side, there are those who argue that the concept of God is non-phenomenal, illogical, or even monstrous. Atheism is their ‘theology’.

On the other side, folks believe that God is evident in Nature (biology, cosmology, etc.), or deducible via a chain of logical reasoning, or the subject of irrefutable personal experience. Theists!

Most of us are neither pure atheists nor pure theists. We believe that the ‘God Hypothesis’ either does or does not adequately account for the details of our experience. But we admit we might be wrong, or if we don’t admit it, we credit our conviction to Faith, and Faith this is only possible via the gift of God’s Grace. Therefore, Faith is God believing in God!

Both Sartre and Camus (‘The Ex-Men’), fierce rivals but affirmed atheists, admitted that it is possible that God does exist. However, they agreed that it would make no difference either way. They turned our Irish poet on his head. Were they inclined to ‘hymn’, they might have intoned something like, “That thou may be is naught to me.”

It makes no difference one way or the other. Now I like to think of myself as a would-be existentialist, but I must part company with my idols on this point. Anything that is makes a difference; if something doesn’t make a difference, then it isn’t. It does not exist! (Whitehead)

In other words, you cannot both exist and make no difference; to say so is to misuse the vocabulary. Clever lads, this might have been exactly their point! “Sure, you can have your God if you insist, as long as you understand that your ‘God’ can’t make any difference.” 

Of course, ‘a god who makes no difference’ is not God; in fact, that’s the very definition of an idol. Anything that makes no difference is nothing at all. Mistaking what is not for what is (and vice versa) is what Whitehead called, The Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness

May I explain? I dreamt I spilled a glass of scotch (quelle domage). Next morning, I found that there were no wet surfaces in my apartment and that my supply of scotch was not abnormally low. My dream was real, but the scotch I spilled was not…because it didn’t make any difference (left no trace). 

Others, however, have refined the middle position into a more coherent theological stance known as agnosticism. Broadly speaking, agnostics come in two flavors. Strawberry Spice believes that the existence of God is merely unknown; Pistachio Spice believes that the existence of God is fundamentally unknowable. 

So would you agree that we’ve pretty much covered the field? There can be lots of nuances but, fundamentally, these are our three options: atheism, theism, agnosticism. There are no other possibilities, right?

Wrong! There would seem to be at least two other possibilities: (1) God neither is nor is not; (2) God both is and is not. Ok, these are solutions, but they make no sense…do they? And anyway, they violate the Law of the Excluded Middle: Every well-formed proposition (P) must be either True (T) or False (F). In these cases, P is (1) neither T nor F or (2) both T and F. 

The Excluded Middle – says who? I can’t find it anywhere in the Torah and, oh yeah, it’s flat out wrong! In Quantum Field Theory, a bit can be both ‘1’ and ‘0’ at the same time; it’s called superposition and it’s what makes quantum computing possible…and what keeps Schrödinger’s superannuated cat alive, at least potentially. 

So do we say that P = both 1 and 0 or do we say that P = neither 1 nor 0? When you put it like that, it’s clear that our ‘two’ new solutions are really the same solution expressed in different terms. There is only one non-binary solution…but it’s a doozie.

How might this apply to the matter of God? What would it mean for the Proposition “God exists” to be both T and F…or neither T nor F? 

If P is both T and F, it might imply that there is a higher order Value, call it X, that subsumes both T and F. If so, then there is a something more general than Being (ⱻ or ~ ⱻ) itself: (ⱻ and ~ ⱻ). This is the realm of the mystic: Nirvana, Keter, Ein Sof.  

If P is neither T nor F, it implies the existence of meaningful propositions to which the categories True and False do not apply. Like quiet Wittgenstein! 20th century British philosopher, Alfred North Whitehead, defined Propositions as ‘lures for feeling’. True and False are subjective forms that apply to just a small subset of these Propositions. 

In effect then, all language is poetry. As such, it is only occasionally concerned with propositional truth. More often, propositions take the form, “Look dere! See dat!” 

See what? Something that relates, metaphorically, to everything that is. The job of the artist-philosopher is to find local patterns that resonate with the pattern that is universe. i.e. “to see a world in a grain of sand…” (William Blake)

Fortunately for Bach, Joyce, Kandinsky, et al., the World has just such a fractal structure. Patterns repeat at all scales. The challenge is to identify those local patterns that scale-up to the whole. Each of us is challenged to be William Blake: ‘to hold infinity in the palms of our hands’. 

At the end of the day, theology is about something much bigger than ‘being/not-being’, it’s about ‘harmonics’, about finding the pattern(s) that connect the infinitesimal with the infinite. Once you’ve found those patterns, it matters not whether you call the result ‘God’…or not. You have found ‘what is’ (Ex. 3: 14). You have found, “I am” (John XX). You have found the Being that animates every being, the one thing that all things share. God is not a ‘thing’; God is not a ‘being’. God is Being: “It is, God is.” God is not in all things; God is the common essence of every thing.


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