> Howard commented
> [...see my last post for background...]
> >Here is where the Ruest approach (similar to the approaches of Wm.
> >Pollard and Bob Russell) technically avoids the idea of "violating and
> >overpowering" by proposing that God surreptitiously chooses from among
> >several possible outcomes the particular one that advances things in
> >the desired direction. What the system in question does is within its
> Yours and George's comments lead me to ask: What's "outside" a system's
> capabilities in QM?
> With QM, it is within the "capabilities" of a slug to tunnel from Earth to
> Mars. Certainly a slug's wave function extends beyond the Martian orbit.
> It's no different for having a rock tunnel into the air above an unfortunate
> slug. These things don't happen terribly often (read: never) but it is a
> finite possibility. I don't see how tweaking the improbable timing of say,
> the decay of an unstable potassium isotope near a chromosome to induce a
> desired mutation is qualitatively different from tunneling an invertebrate
> to Phobos: It's all just a matter of choosing between possible outcomes.
> The only difference is quantitative: i.e. variation in relative
> probabilities or masses of the objects involved.
> Whether a change is effected by altering the likelihood of particular
> event or momentarily replacing the "standard laws" of physics, we're
> still talking about rewriting the rules in midstream and altering the
> "natural" timeline. We may say that these examples do not violate standard
> QM but they do fly in the face of what is generally observed. For example,
> if something can direct the choice of possible outcomes for tunnelling
> events, couldn't it power an engine by directing the tunnelling of gas
> molecules to the inside of a sealed air tank?
It's not quite that bad. 1st, standard QM does make some definite predictions: The values measured for an observable have to be one of its
eigenvalues, so not just anything is possible. 2d, while there is the phenomenon of quantum tunnelling, that's not exactly wnat your slug example
corresponds to: Getting through a potential barrier and being raised to a higher energy state to get out of a potential well aren't the same. (But
no energy would be required to tunnel to the surface of a planet with surface gravitational potential equal to earth's.)
But youre arguments do bring out an important point about the limitations of an appeal to God's action at the quantum level. If such action
isn't to be just old-fashioned divine intervention then there can't be any indication of fiddling with the statistical laws of QM.
If you flip a coin 10 times, there's a probability of 1/1024 of getting all heads. That could happen, but by that point you'll be getting
pretty suspicious, & a few more heads will convince you that something or someone has "intervened" somehow. Similarly, one slug getting to Venus by
quantum tunelling might be accepted as a once-in-the history-of-the-universe occurrence, but when the 3d or 4th slug appears on Venus, we know that
something else is going on.
When gamma rays are incident on DNA molecules, the probabilities for the different bases to get hit should be proportional to their
abundances. If only adenine gets hit 10 times in a row, you'll again suspect that something you don't understand is going on. Avoiding such
statistical anomalies means that there must be significant restrictions on the way God acts at the quantum level to bring about mutations &c.
George L. Murphy
"The Science-Theology Interface"
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