Tue. Mar 9th, 2021

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The Quantum Universe: A Master Design – T.O. Shanavas

7 min read

The following excerpt is taken from “Islamic Theory of Evolution: The Missing Link Between Darwin and the Origin of Species” by T.O. Shanavas Chapter 11 pg. 175:

Materialists say that the universe is not intelligently designed. Herein, however, we explore the structure of the universe as a product of an intelligent master design to serve the purpose and intent of God in the presence of free will in His creatures. Without understanding the structure of the universe, we cannot understand the creation intelligibly. We begin, therefore, with a review of the basic structure of the universe.

As mentioned earlier, materialistic science claims that the future is totally predetermined by earlier causes and is predictable through accurate knowledge of the past because physical and chemical laws are invariant. Consequently, any event in nature that departs from an anticipated outcome of a known cause is considered coincidental.

Materialists, especially some molecular biologists, arrogantly state that ultimately all aspects of life will be explained in mechanical terms by the knowledge of past events as recorded in geology, paleobiology, vestigial organs, and so on. They conveniently forget a particular past event that shocked materialistic, mechanical science—the quantum theory of Max Planck and its modification by Niels Bohr. Even Bohr was overwhelmed and said, “Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.”1 In the hands of Niels Bohr, the theory melted solid matter—the basic building block of the universe and its contents (including human)—into nonsolid energy. Twentieth-century relativity and quantum mechanics overturned and swept aside the concept of a predetermined universe and replaced it with an indeterminate universe.

According to the quantum theory, the behavior of matter is unpredictable. No one can say, for example, that a particle was in a definite position in the past, or that it will occupy a definite place at some time in the future.

“A particle such as an electron does not appear to follow a meaningful, well-defined trajectory at all. One moment it is found here, the next there. Not only electrons, but also all known subatomic particles—even whole atoms—cannot be pinned down to a specific motion”2

The more accurately we measure the momentum, the less we can calculate the position of a particle. The more we know about the particle’s position, the less we can say about its momentum. Our partial information about the position of a particle only yields the probability that it is within a certain distance of a particular point. The probability factor of quantum mechanics presents itself in other ways. For example, when an atom collides with a photon of light, we cannot precisely predict what will happen, but can only speak of the probability that the energy of the photon will or will not be absorbed by the atom. Similarly, it is not possible to predict when a radioactive atom will decay. In a uranium (238U) sample, the sudden decay of a specific atom into Thorium (234Th) by emitting alpha particles can only be computed as a probable occurrence. We are unable to explain why a particular uranium sample decayed, while the uranium next it with absolutely identical atoms did not. We may calculate a certain chance that the decay will take place within the next ten seconds. The probability exists that the remaining atoms may decay over a period of ten thousand years. But no one can give a definite answer regarding the sequence and time of decay.3

Thus we see that the physical sciences cannot tell us when an event will take place, and sometimes it cannot even predict what will happen. If science cannot tell us what is occurring with matter, the basic building block of the universe and living organisms, how can it precisely predict the future of human beings or anything else in the universe? This scientific paradox bothered even Einstein, who nonetheless concluded, “God does not play dice.”4

The quantum theory gave birth to new chemistry that explained how atoms are bonded together to form molecules. When two atoms initially separated are brought together in a chemical reaction, the electrons in their outermost shell (electrons the farthest from the nucleus) share one orbit. Such sharing in a chemical reaction is called a covalent bond.

In covalent bonding, atoms share electrons to form all molecules, including ordinary substances such as water, methane, and so forth. In some cases covalent bonding can lead to the formation of huge, extended macromolecules such as polymers. One example of such a polymer is deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), the basic building block of life.

The formation and maintenance of the structure of compounds such as DNA is ultimately the result of quantum mechanics, where the behavior of atoms is predictable only as a statistical average. Every thought and every motion of all life forms is inseparably connected to electricity and chemistry, and ultimately with unpredictable quantum events. If the behavior of matter and the formation of compounds are not absolutely predictable, can the future of any creature be precisely predictable? The reply of quantum physics is a resounding “No” because every DNA-based creature is only a mosaic made of atoms and chemicals. The most that science can calculate are the probabilities of thousands of quantum events as an average. In the quantum world, science loses its confidence in the law of causality. Hence, materialists’ extremism against God is exposed as unscientific at the quantum level.5

Unlike materialist scientists, who proclaim that there is no purpose for the universe, the world’s major religions assert that God created the universe by design and for a purpose. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) explains it as follows: “Allah said: I was a hidden treasure. I wanted to be known, so I created the world.”6

Allah did not want to place all of His creations in the same spiritual reality. Therefore, He created a separate universe. Allah made the larger components of the universe comprehensible to the human mind, the best of His creations, with the installation of stubborn, immutable chemical and physical laws to function in a uniform and repetitive fashion at the level of those larger components. God did not intend the same immutable laws of classical physics and chemistry to work like a programmed machine all the way down to the atomic and subatomic levels. If the atomic world were functioning in uniform and predictable fashion, then we would be able to foresee the future accurately through our knowledge of past causes. If this were the case, humankind would lose their freedom to make moral choices. Allah would then be restricted to the role of a passive spectator unable to act without suspending the laws of the universe in a way that is visibly obvious to humans. Therefore God created matter as the building block of the universe and had it governed by an immutable system of physical and chemical laws within which it functions in unpredictable ways. By doing so, He granted human beings the freedom to make moral choices about their future.7 Due to the unpredictability of the structure of matter, absolute knowledge of the nature and future of our universe will never be known to us until the Day of Judgment.

Materialist scientists are unable to understand that God is active participant in the world. Chemists have discovered that all components of the physical universe, including genes, are made of atoms arranged in different fashions. Genes are made out of DNA. DNA is a collection of nucleotides. Phosphate, sugar, and four amino acids (thymine, cytosine, adenine, and guanine) are chemically connected with covalent chemical bonds to form nucleotides. A gene mutation can produce a major effect on the outward physical features of an organism. Mutation depends on the changes in individual molecules as a result of breaking specific atomic covalent bonds that involve quantum mechanical processes. Physicist-theologian Robert J. Russell points out that “this is ultimately a quantum process at the atomic level initiated by the breaking of a single hydrogen bond.”8

When God prompts a small quantum fluctuation (jump of a quantum of energy) in the atomic or subatomic world and makes or breaks a covalent chemical bond or bonds of a gene, materialists see a mutation or an accidental birth of a species. They interpret it as a random or accidental event with no cause. They do not realize that God built life around chemistry that provides “the amplifying mechanism for quantum events.”9 Physicist William Pollard feels that if chemistry is the physical appearance of an organism (phenotype), the quantum fluctuation is the cause (genotype).

This construction of the understandable chemistry coupled with the unpredictable quantum physics is an ingenious intelligent design of the All Knowing and All Powerful Allah. Within this master design of the universe, Allah, by voluntarily limiting His omnipotence and omniscience, gave His creatures a genuine freedom and an open future, while at the same time, humans can derive sensible meanings out of the complex universe. In such a material universe, Allah can, in response to His creatures’ prayers, intervene in the universe by causing small quantum events without suspending the understandable laws of classical chemistry and physics. Similarly, in such a design of the universe, God has freedom to create any being or substance, living or nonliving, without disturbing any laws of classical physics and chemistry, by making a quantum event in the atomic world. In this material universe, therefore, God does play dice between the Big Bang and the Big Crunch by sending messenger moments of the future containing His proposals to His creatures with limited free will.

References:

Shanavas, T.O.. Creation And/Or Evolution: an Islamic Perspective: An Islamic View of Creation . Xlibris US. Kindle Edition.

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