Quantum Physics and the New Spirituality
FROM COSMOS, TO CHAOS, TO CONSCIOUSNESS: Part 1
By Pastor Larry DeBruyn
Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
(Emphasis Mine, Colossians 2:8, KJV)
[When Pastor Larry DeBruyn released his new book Unshackled: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality in October 2009 we planned to eventually publish this particular chapter on Herescope. With the rapid rise of the "quantum spirituality" movement in various sectors of neoevangelicalism, the time now seems ripe for putting out this important information. This isn't just about the popular bestseller, The Shack. This chapter is about an emerging spiritual "science" that is rapidly gaining influence and prominence.]
About the supposed “garden” which represents the state of his life, Mack complains to the Holy Spirit, “Looks like a mess to me.” (The Shack, 129) But from Sarayu (i.e., the “Spirit”) we learn that Mack’s self-evaluation is only a matter of his perspective. She informs him that his “messed up” life is really a fractal.
“Mack! Thank you! What a wonderful compliment! . . . That is exactly what this is—a mess. But,” she looked back at Mack and beamed, “it’s still a fractal, too.” (The Shack, 129)
The reader is left with the impression that God makes messes out of the lives of Christians which can, depending upon one’s perspective, be fractal too.
But just what are fractals? Sarayu informs Mack:
A fractal . . . is something considered simple and orderly that is actually composed of repeated patterns no matter how magnified. A fractal is almost infinitely complex. I love fractals, so I put them everywhere. (The Shack, 129)
Thus, The Shack incorporates aspects of quantum physics—chaos (your garden is a mess), and fractal theory (your garden is a pattern)—into its allegory. We will look at chaos and fractals, but before doing so, we ought to note how the New Age Spirituality has incorporated “chaos and fractals” into its worldview.
As evidenced in the movie The Seeker, quantum science has given rise to quantum spirituality. Based on the book The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper, the movie The Seeker portrays the story of a adolescent boy, Will Stanton, the youngest of seven sons, who was chosen by the wise and experienced “Old Ones” to seek for six ancient signs that, if found, would enable the light to magically save the world from encroaching disaster and darkness, from chaos. An ancient and mysterious book, which only Will the seeker possessed the ability to read, contained clues for discovering “the saving signs” that were hidden in past eras of world history. In one scene, which took place in the castle of light, Will read from the ancient book, after which both he and Merriman (one of the wise and experienced “Old Ones”) commented.
Will Reading the Book: “Six signs were created to contain the power of the light—from stone, bronze, iron, wood, and water. But the sixth was to be carried in the essence of a human soul? The signs were hidden and scattered throughout time. The seeker will find them.”
Will Commenting: “Okay. Look at this. This pattern is a fractal. Its physics—my dad teaches this stuff. Like . . . like a hiding place that goes on and on forever.”
Merriman Commenting: “Like a clue hidden in plain sight that declares the presence of a sign.” (Emphasis Mine, The Seeker, Scene 11, The Book)
Will then asked for a hammer to shatter the object with the fractal design on it. After breaking it, he found a luminous stone on the inside—the first sign. Subsequently in the movie, fractal patterns indicated the presence of the other five signs that were vital to save the world from the chaos of darkness. Endowed with supernatural powers, and transcending time, matter, space, Will traveled into past eras of history to discover the other saving signs.
Because this book has been targeted for sale to a Christian market, some have accused The Shack of promoting New Age spirituality. On the face of it, when comparing the appearance of “fractal” in both The Seeker and The Shack, Paul Young does give the impression that, amidst the amalgam of other spiritualities woven into the fabric of his allegory, he is comfortable with the “science” of the New Spirituality. After all, the chapter in which the word “fractal” appears is titled, “A Long Time Ago, In a Garden Far, Far Away.” (The Shack, 128) This provides the impression that, like Will in The Seeker, Mack in The Shack becomes something of a time traveler too!
To understand the relationship of the quantum aspects of chaos and fractal theory the New Spirituality, questions—like what is chaos and what are fractals?—need to be addressed. As derivatives of quantum physics, how are New Age religionists incorporating chaos and fractal theory to explain their vision of reality? Can this scientific-spiritual synthesis be squared to fit the biblical worldview? To deal with these questions, and to become aware of how some are deriving quantum spirituality from quantum science, a layman’s knowledge of the quantum worldview and its disparate aspects of chaos and fractal theory will, I believe, prove helpful. After attending to these matters, we will biblically and theologically evaluate the way in which Aquarian spirituality is taking its quantum leap from physics to metaphysics and from science to spirituality. In order, we will look at the science, the spirituality, and the Scriptures. First, the science . . .
The universe (Greek, cosmos) includes everything that exists, everything that’s just “there,” including human consciousness and understanding—though finite—of it all. The word “cosmetic” derives from “cosmos” which means “the world or universe regarded as an orderly, harmonious system.” We note the definition refers to everything—“the all”—as an orderly system. Just as with the rotating and tilting of the earth as it predictably revolves around the sun, “the system,” on the face of it, appears to work orderly and methodically. But are things really that neat?
Well, it all depends . . . Who’s observing, and how they are observing it? Physicists agree that when looked at above, from the macro-perspective, the system appears orderly and predictably (like a fractal). But when looked at below, from the micro-perspective, the universe appears to behave disorderly and unpredictably (chaos). We turn to the two views.
The Old Theory of Physics (a clock)
Derived primarily from the British mathematician and physicist Sir Isaac Newton (1642-1727), the older view looked at the big picture of things, at how large bodies of material and gravity interact. Newton observed there to be a predictable cause and effect relationship in the universe—that “everything happened according to fixed physical laws.” According to Newtonian science, reality was determined and ordered. Apples fall and, to use an earthbound expression, the sun dependably rose and set during a calendar year. By viewing the greater parts of the whole, the old physics appeared to confirm that God (the Clockmaker) originally designed, constructed, and wound-up the system (the clock).
When taken to an extreme, this view of reality leads to Deism, a belief that though a transcendent God created the universe, He abandoned it to let life work itself out on its own. Built and energized in the past, the cosmos runs down in the present, and will, as determined by the laws of entropy, come to an abrupt halt sometime in the distant future. A universe that began will end. Newtonian physics viewed time to be linear.
The New Theory of Physics (a game)
But it is accused that the aging Newtonian worldview ignored contradictory evidence; that at the level of the smallest particles, the system behaves randomly. So a new quantum worldview has emerged postulating that the universe also behaves unpredictably and that time is cyclic, or nonlinear.
Stephen Hawking explains: “At the start of the 1970s . . . we were forced to turn our search for an understanding of the universe from our theory of the extraordinarily vast to our theory of the extraordinarily tiny.” At the subatomic reality of things, physicists calculated that quantities of matter and energy behave disorderly and unpredictably. Thus, the mathematics of quantum mechanics was born. Whereas the symbol of the old physics was the picture of the atom consisting of protons, neutrons, and electrons neatly orbiting about, the images of the new physics are the complex mathematical equations and formulas by which physicists calculate the movement and properties of sub-atomic particles, or the manner in which quantities of matter and energy interact at the subatomic level.
The Universe Described
How can the universe be explained? Do the math. The science of mathematics has been called the language of God. Centuries ago, Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), revolutionary Italian astronomer and physicist who discovered that the sun, not our earth, was the center of the solar system, stated, “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.” Elsewhere he wrote that to understand reality, one needed to know the language of
this grand book—I mean the Universe—which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and interpret the characters in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometrical figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it [i.e., the universe]. 
Dr. Francis Collins, longtime head of the Human Genome Project, in his book The Language of God, relates how, when he was a graduate student in chemistry at Yale, he took a course in “relativistic quantum mechanics” from Willis Lamb (1913-2008), who won the 1955 Nobel Prize in Physics. Spellbindingly and from memory, Dr. Lamb would move the students “through the theories of relativity and quantum mechanics from first principles.” Intentionally and occasionally, he would leave out steps and challenge the students “to fill in the gaps” before the next class. Collins remarks that, “this experience of deriving simple and universal equations that describe the reality of the natural world left a profound impression on me, particularly because the ultimate outcome had such aesthetic appeal.”
At what point in mathematics, it must be asked, does the aesthetic become mystic? Rothstein observes that, “In both mathematics and music, there have been notions of connection, linking the soul and the universe.” The German Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), once stated: “The mathematician is only complete insofar as he feels within himself the beauty of the true.” So in the monistic worldview of the New Spirituality, mathematics and music become sciences, aesthetic ways of knowing, by which people can develop a personal consciousness of feeling “oneness” with the universe, or with whatever else is just “there.”
Among many mathematicians and physicists, hopeful optimism exists that an “eloquent and unified theory of everything” will be discovered. Lucas remarks that’s why “some physicists are busy trying to develop a Grand Universal Theory (GUT) which will unite quantum theory and the theory of relativity and become, as some put it, ‘a theory of everything’.” The tool employed to discover a theory of everything is mathematics. Hawking remarks that should an equation or formula be discovered
Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God.
So at that juncture, mathematics jumps to become metaphysics. In fact, and though they may be running ahead of themselves, New Age spiritualists have already merged science and spirituality. The New Spirituality is taking the quantum leap from physics to metaphysics, from what is below to what is above.
When combined with data culled from other sciences—biology, chemistry, etc.—mathematics, with its signs and symbols, has become the newest and most sophisticated adventure to discover the intelligence of whatever or whoever might be considered God. But through the lens of Holy Scripture, how should we view this development? Consider with me the rightful place that nature plays in pointing any observer to God, and then some cautions about approaching God only on this basis.
We need to recognize that legitimate inferences can be made by human creatures about their Creator. For reason of our mutual but separate existences, Paul states: “since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:20, NASB). The testimony is irrefutable, so much so that Paul states that any observer, from pre-historic to modern times, is “without excuse” (Romans 1:20b). In a limited way, physics relates to metaphysics. The physical evidence of the creation below points any contemplator of it to the Creator above. But we turn to consider some cautions and reservations regarding inferences about God that are derived from the study of nature.
First, God is infinitely intelligent. The Psalmist described, “Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength; His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:5, NASB; See Job 9:4; 12:13; 36:5.). As Paul first exclaimed and then asked:
Are we to think that one day a physicist will develop an equation that will be an “eloquent and unified theory of everything”? Will physicist-mathematicians be able to fathom the unfathomable, to think equally God’s thoughts, and become His counselors? I think not. Through Isaiah the Lord told Judah:
A theory of everything? Believing in the Creator provides us with that! Why would anyone substitute a theory for God?
“I am the Alpha and Omega”
In the Apocalypse, the Lord God’s name—“I am the Alpha and Omega”—expresses “not only eternity, but also infinitude, ‘the boundless life which embraces all while it transcends all’.” (See Revelation 1:8; 22:13.) The title of “I am” designates that in His being, the Lord God transcends time. He is not subject to the chronology and sequential events of history. In fact, He controls them. Yet He is also immanently involved in time, matter, and space. He is “the Almighty.” He is sovereign over the happenings of history. He holds “everything” in His grasp. One source remarks that the combination of the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet in ancient secular literature “came to designate the entire universe and all kinds of divine and demonic powers, so that . . . this title could refer to Christ’s dominion over the universe.” So if physicists are looking for some Grand Universal Theory (GUT), then they need look no further than Christ. He says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega . . . who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty’” (Revelation 1:8; See 22:13.).
Second, Scripture informs us that visible nature bears an evident and adequate witness to God (Romans 1:20). Based upon the inferences and projections they calculate, and regardless what physicist-mathematicians might theorize or project about the design, order, or being of the universe, they too, like the rest of humanity, are accountable for what is plainly evident to them about God in nature. Yet some continue to pursue the science of mathematics not so much to bring God into the equation, but rather, to keep Him out! One scientist bluntly stated:
Science, fundamentally, is a game. It is a game with one overriding and defining rule. Rule No. 1: Let us see how far and to what extent we can explain the behavior of the physical and material universe in terms of purely physical and material causes, without invoking the supernatural.
Third, while the mathematics of physics can describe the design of the universe, it cannot account for the origin of it. Human knowledge is limited, even that of the most sophisticated observers who employ mathematics (i.e., the language of God) to explain the way in which they see the universe running. The scope of human knowledge is limited. The physics of the present cannot account for the metaphysics of the past. As God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, who set its measurements, since you know? Or who stretched the line on it?” (Job 38:4-5, NASB).
Fourth, knowledge (i.e., science) about God is for all people, not for two classes, the physicist kings and then “just ordinary people.” Sophisticated scientists would do well to heed Paul’s warning that, “not many wise according to the flesh” are called (1 Corinthians 1:26). All humanity, explains the Apostle Paul, possesses sufficient knowledge about God, “so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:19). People tend to idolize intelligence, and if and when that happens, then human beings, cognitive beings that they are, will become self-worshipers, and as we shall see, this is already happening among the New Spiritualists.
Formulaic expressions of the quantum physicists can appear as esoteric and neo-Gnostic code language that only the scientific elite can understand. A friend of mine, a Ph.D. in chemistry, recently agreed that even within this special class of “knowers,” there can be great ambiguity and disagreement about what’s being communicated in the equations and formulas. One speculative physicist might not even understand the other.
While we recognize that many modern inventions and conveniences have come about for reason of quantum research—transistor radios, microwave ovens, and so forth—it needs to be asked: at what point do the calculations and theories become futile speculation? (Romans 1:21). To me, it’s the point where physics begins to project into metaphysics. I know I will be scorned for saying this, but physics does not unlock metaphysics. While mathematics may support the intelligent design or teleological argument for God’s existence, the mechanics of what is below, cannot account for who or what is above. To think otherwise is presumption, for the prophet Isaiah questioned, “Who has measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and marked off the heavens by the span, and calculated the dust of the earth by the measure, and weighed the mountains in a balance, and the hills in a pair of scales?” (Isaiah 40:12, NASB). We will do well to heed the caution of John Calvin (1509-1564):
“Therefore, let us willingly remain hedged in by those boundaries within which God has been pleased to confine our persons, and, as it were, enclose our minds, so as to prevent them from losing themselves by wandering unrestrained.”
Fifth, physics, while highlighting the design inherent to the structure of the universe, will in nowise reveal to us the personal Designer and Creator of the universe. That has been done for us in Jesus Christ, the incarnate and living Word, who by the power of His miracles revealed His mastery over nature’s elements. Design points to Deism, and that’s all. Intelligent design gives no verification of the Christian God who became incarnate by the Lord Jesus Christ. Thus, intelligent design can be equally employed to prove Allah as Jehovah. And as some Christians might become enthralled by a fractal vision of everything, such an infatuation could corrupt them from “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3).
God has spoken. “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son . . . through whom also He made the world (lit. ‘ages’)” (Hebrews 1:1-2). Though mathematics, anointed by scientists to be the language of God, may describe reality, it cannot account for the origin of it. No formula will provide to humanity a Grand Universal Theory. Only the Word accounts for the origin of “all things” (John 1:3), and this explanation of reality the Christian receives, not account of formulas conceived, but by the faith believed. Hebrews states, “By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). Only in the eternal Logos of God do we find the revelatory and reasonable account for the origin of everything. But into the perceived orderly working of the universe, some physicists have thrown a proverbial “monkey wrench.”
To be continued....
1. William P. Young, The Shack (Los Angeles: Windblown Media, 2007).
2. Because of her interest in cults, Jennifer Pekich rented the movie The Seeker to see if it presented New Age spirituality. Upon hearing the word “fractal” in the movie, and noticing fractal patterns marking the presence of the signs, Jennifer remembered that she had seen the term before. After a brief lapse in memory, she remembered reading the word “fractal” in The Shack. At a conference in California, Jennifer informed Warren Smith of her discovery which he then communicated to me. Jennifer’s awareness of and sensitivity to this connection, and Warren’s communication of it to me, stimulated my inquiry into quantum physics, its aspects of chaos and fractal theory, and how the New Age/Aquarian religion was combining particle physics with spirituality. We are indebted to Jennifer for drawing our attention to the “fractal connection” between The Seeker and The Shack.
3. The Seeker—The Dark is Rising, DVD, 20th Century Fox, 2008 (http:// www. amazon.com/Seeker-Dark-Rising-Alexander-Ludwig/dp/B000XUUQRE). Reviewer Tami Horiuchi explains the plot: “Will learns that his destiny is as a seeker who must travel through time to collect six ancient signs [their presence marked by fractal patterns] that will somehow enable light to triumph over darkness and save the world as he knows it.”
4. The Random House College Dictionary, Laurence Urdang, Editor in Chief (New York: Random House, Inc., 1975 Revised) 303.
5. “The Ultimate Paradigm Shift,” Fractal Chaos Crashes the Wall between Science and Religion (http:// www. fractalwisdom.com/FractalWisdom/index.html#paradigm).
6. Unable to live with the theological tension created by the transcendence/immanence of God, theologians tend to swing from one extreme to the other, affirming either a creator God who is beyond nature (i.e., Deism) or a process God in nature (i.e., Panentheism). Both extremes deny Jesus’ incarnation: deism by not allowing that Jesus, for reason of God’s transcendence—His being removed from the world—could have come from above; and process-ism by demanding that Jesus, for reason of God’s immanence—His being involved in the world—can only have originated from below. This is the spirit of “antichrist” (2 John 7).
Corduan describes the two theologies: “Like the God of deism, the process God does not intervene in the world. He is strictly finite. In the football game of reality, He is the cheerleader. He presents the world with ideals to aim for; He entices the world to follow His plans; He grieves if the world strays; but He cannot make the world do anything. As the world changes, He changes . . . Whatever He wants done needs to be accomplished by the world apart from His direct help.” See Winfried Corduan, Reasonable Faith, Basic Christian Apologetics (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1993) 97. The process God bears close resemblance to “Papa-Elousia” in The Shack.
7. Stephen W. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1996) 54.
8. Comparing the universe to a municipality, Dr. Frank Stootman, in his excellent lecture “The Spirituality of Quantum Physics,” defines quantum mechanics to be, “the mathematics of the very small end of town.” His lecture is available at the truthXchange website (http:// www.
truthxchange.com/sermon/the-spirituality-of-quantum-physics/). Another resource in understanding the relationship of particle physics to the new spirituality is, “QUANTUM MYSTERIES: Making Sense of the New Physics” (pp. 187-219), in the book The Soul of Science, Christian Faith and Natural Philosophy, written by Nancy R. Pearcey and Charles B. Thaxton (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994).
9. See J. Trampetić and J. Wess, Editors, Particle Physics in the New Millennium, Proceedings of the 8th Adriatic Meeting (New York: Springer). The three-hundred and fifty-five pages of this book are filled with symbols and equations.
10. Galileo Galilei, QuoteDB (http://www. quotedb.com/quotes/3002). “‘God is a Mathematician’, so said Sir James Jeans . . . in the 1930s, the British astronomer and physicist suggested that the universe arises out of pure thought that is couched in the language of abstract mathematics.” See F. David Peat, “Mathematics and the Language of Nature,” fdavidpeat.com (http://www.fdavidpeat.com/bibliography/essays/maths.htm). His essay was originally published in Mathematics and Sciences, edited by Ronald E. Mickens (Word Scientific, 1990).
11. Ibid. (http://www.quotedb.com/quotes/510).
12. Emphasis mine, Francis S. Collins, The Language of God, A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief (New York: Free Press, 2006) 61-62. Explaining the mystery that surrounds matter’s behavior, Collins asks, borrowing a phrase from Hungarian-American and mathematician-physicist Eugene Wigner (1902-1995), “what could be the explanation for the ‘unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics’?”
13. Edward Rothstein, Emblems of Mind, The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics (New York: Avon Books, 1995) 30.
14. Ibid. quoting Von Goethe, 135.
15. Collins, Language of God. Similarly, the father of modern mathematics, Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace (1749-1827) theorized that, “An intelligence which at a given instant knew all the forces acting in nature and the position of every object in the universe . . . could describe with a single formula the motions of the largest astronomical bodies and those of the smallest atoms. To such an intelligence, nothing would be uncertain; the future, like the past, would be an open book.” See “Science Quotes by Pierre Simon, Marquis de Laplace,” Today in Science History (http://www.todayinsci.com/L/Laplace_Pierre/LaplacePierre-Quotations.htm).
16. Ernest C. Lucas, “God, GUTs and Gurus: the New Physics and New Age Ideology,” Themelios 16:3 (April/May 1991) 7. Article is available online at (http:// s3.amazonaws.com/tgc-documents/journal-issues/16.3_Lucas.pdf). Likewise Carson observes, “that some physicists hope the discovery of the long-sought unifying equation will in principle explain everything in the universe mathematically . . .” See D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996) 199.
17. Ibid. Collins quotes S. Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam Press, 1998) 210.
18. Robert L. Thomas, Revelation: An Exegetical Commentary, Volume I (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) 81. Thomas here quotes H.B. Swete, The Apocalypse of St. John (London: Macmillan, 1906) 11.
19. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene A. Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains, Volume I (New York: United Bible Societies, 1989) 61.7, alpha, 611.
20. Ben Laake, “Our Quantum Reality: The Mathematics of the Mechanics” (http:// herescope.blogspot.com/2009/05/our-quantum-reality.html).
21. Carson, Gagging of God, 195, quoting Richard E. Dickerson, “The Game of Science,” Perspectives on Science and Faith 44 (June 1992): 137.
22. John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Translated by Henry Beveridge (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Reprinted 1972) I. xiv. 1.
23. On this point I find myself at variance with Christian mathematician Jason Lisle who wrote: “A biblical creationist expects to find beauty and order in the universe, not only in the physical universe, but in the abstract realm of mathematics as well. This order and beauty is possible because there is a logical God who has imparted order and beauty into His universe.” True. In the abstract symmetry of the physical universe, one may be led to believe in a logical God, but it is not consequent that, as exhibited by Christ, the believer will view God to be personal and spiritual. See Jason Lisle, Ph.D., “Fractals: Hidden Beauty Revealed in Mathematics,” answersingenesis.org, January 1, 2007 (http://www. answersingenesis.org/articles/am/v2/n1/fractals)
Reprinted with permission. This article series is from a chapter in Pastor Larry DeBruyn's book, UNSHACKLED: Breaking Away From Seductive Spirituality, which is available from Discernment Ministries for a gift of $10.00 plus $2.50 for shipping. Orders can be placed by phoning: 903-567-6423. Bulk discounts are available. Book sales directly benefit "Eastern European Ministries," a very special mission project that is close to Pastor DeBruyn's heart.