Ask from the Past: The EPR Paradox

“A quantum physicist I ain’t, but I know they get upset when quantum mechanics are essentially used as pseudoscience.”

(When the archived ATA site was restored, a short list of unanswered questions were found in the approval queue. I’ll be answering them here in Ask from the Past.)

Question from Linkinism:
You can find information on this and quantum mechanics in many books and websites. How do you interpret this information? One with faith may interpret these theories and postulates as proof of a higher beings existence, but how does an athiest view these things?

With great interest, but not a lot of concern.

A quantum physicist I ain’t, but I know they get upset when quantum mechanics are essentially used as pseudoscience. The usual formula is this: according to quantum mechanics, something extraordinary happens for which there is no explanation. Therefore, God (or whoever you want) makes it happen.

The EPR paradox goes a step further than claiming the extraordinary. I won’t go into the details, but not only does it imply that incredible things happen but the three scientists who came up with it used it to argue that quantum mechanics is an incomplete theory. As a bonus, the E in EPR was Albert Einstein.

Things have come along since 1935 but we know full well that quantum theory is currently incomplete. The most glaring omission is that it has no explanation for gravity. (A theory of quantum gravity is one of the big goals right now.) That means there’s lots of room for a God-of-the-gaps for those who want to insert one, but it hardly makes it necessary to do so.

Just because there’s no explanation for something yet doesn’t mean a god is the only possible explanation, so theists can’t make much of a proof out of the EPR paradox or any other area of science which is relatively poorly understood. That doesn’t stop some from trying, or at least declaring that there is a proof to be had.


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