Tim Ikeda wrote:
> About the "collapsing of wave functions" and "quantum tweaking" notions
> of extra-natural guidance in biological evolution...
> How is this any different from moving a rock from point-A to point-B
> or dropping that rock on a couple slugs as part of an effort at cosmic
> animal husbandry? If one can tweak wave functions such that one nucleotide
> base can be substituted, why couldn't one tweak a few more and have
> all the air surrounding a slug jump one centimeter away until it expires?
> That's got to beat Maxwell's demon anytime. Star Trek-style transporters
> would be a snap.
> Counselor Troi: "Captain! A giant space slug is about to engulf the ensign!"
> Captain Picard: "LaForge, get a transporter lock on that and set coordinates
> to beam it into a wall!"
> LaForge: "Oh no! The quantum molecular overthruster unbalanced the
> pattern buffers and tunnelled a new set of chromosomes into the
> slug in an energy-less information transfer event. It's evolving
> into a telemarketer!
> Expendable crew member: "Iyeeee!"
> The mechanism is irrelevant, possibly even in the case of natural,
> extra-terrestrial designers because we'd probably never know the details.
> The question isn't about which back door a "designer" would use to futz
> with a system, but whether a particular system can make the transformation
> from state-X to state-Y without help from outside the immediate system.
> If the system can't make the transition to where you want it to go without
> your tweaking, then I wouldn't say that it had "all requisite formational
> capabilities" or that such action wouldn't be "violating or overpowering
> the natural capabilities of any creaturely system." If you change
> probabilities to determine which slugs will live and serve your ultimate
> goals by evolving into the perfect, live-animal prop for a particular
> Star Trek episode (perhaps evolving photogenic beauty was at one time
> outside the formational capabilities of "pre-intervention" slugs),
> you're messing with natural capabilities big time.
> So what we're talking about here sounds like a classic variant of
> progressive creationism. Let's just call it that.
The idea that God influences the direction of evolution at the quantum
level does differ from the idea of intervention at the classical level. Somehow
wave functions do get collapsed in measurement processes & conventional QM
doesn't describe how that happens other than to say that the measurement process
accomplishes it. (Of course there have been a lot of speculations about this.)
E.g., consider the bases along one strand of a particular DNA molecule
as detectors for an energetic electron directed toward the molecule. The wave
function of the electron is spread out as it approaches the DNA, but when it is
"detected" by one base, the wave function has collapsed. In the process, the
base has been changed or removed in some way that results in a mutation.
The model could use a lot of refinement & the whole idea of wave
function collapse can be debated but that's at least one standard QM way of
describing things. & the critical question is, what determines that the
electron is detected at that particular site rather than another? Standard QM
has no answer to that but only gives a statistical prediction of the likelihood
of various outcomes. The claim that God operates at the quantum level is that
God wanted that mutation to take place & collapsed the wave function in the
appropriate way. This goes beyond standard QM but doesn't require any violation
If I were formulating this claim I would insist that God is also active
in a continuous way in the world, so that such collapsing of the wave function
would not be the only thing God did. I.e., God also concurs with the time
evolution of the wave function described by the Schroedinger equation between
Concerning your statement that this is simply a variant of PC: I've
pointed out before that PC and TE (to use a crude term) become indistinguishable
(as far as observation is concerned) if the interventions required by PC are
small enough & frequent enough. The appeal to QM amounts to saying that the
interventions need not be vanishingly small to make the two indistinguishable,
but that they just have to be reduced below the limit set by the uncertainty
I have my own concerns about the idea that God intervenes at the
quantum level, but I don't think your criticism here holds up.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Mon Oct 29 2001 - 07:40:38 EST