Copenhagen, Heisenberg and Apologetics
Not enough that they want to apply these QM concepts to the physical macro world, but they want to learn from that speculation all sorts of Torah concepts, whether they are Torah or not.
For review: Heisenberg stated that the more precisely we measure the position of a subatomic particle, the less precisely we can measure its momentum, and vice versa. Hence, we can only determine the position or momentum within a range, but not precisely. Hence, we cannot conclude that cause "A" will always place the particle at point "A", as a conclusive effect. (Deeply oversimplified, but simply google the subject for more in depth discussion.)
The linguini logic of apologetics goes something like this (I am picking on Chabad, but others of you , Jewish and non Jewish, you know who you are):
1) QM proves that cause and effect are not necessarily linked. Each effect is only the most probable, not the necessary effect of the cause. Hence, miracles are naturally proven to be possible, though not probable. Naftali Berg Z"L, in B'or HaTorah vol9 page 47, indicates that the CR told him that this was an OBJECTION to using Heisenberg in apologetics, since it obviated the MIRACULOUS nature of miracles and made them only improbable events.
2) Prayer can affect things though our intention, just as, in Copenhagen, the observation changes the reality.
3) Reality is, itself, determined by observation, Aidus, as Copenhagen implies. Hence, we cannot trust our own observations, but Torah's edicts, as it is our observation that makes the reality real.
(Note: while some will claim this is a "straw man", I assure you that I have heard each of these arguments proposed in all seriousness. Follow the links, and you will be amazed at the apologetic acrobatics.)
I would point out some of the more obvious flaws in using this information in this manner. Please feel free to add any others you see fit (or question mine).
a) Heisenberg only applies to SUBATOMIC particles. We can know both position and momentum precisely with a car, a spaceship or a planetary body for instance. The Planck constantis key to understanding the scale. To say that Heisenberg removes the relationship between ALL CAUSE AND EFFECT is presumptuous and not supportable. Even the cat gedanken is only theoretical explanation of their view of how this could affect the macro world, not established reality. I am amazed that, given what Berg said in 1995, Chabad.org still maintains this on its website, though the Mindel letter from the CR seems to support this concept.
b) The CR was at the University of Berlin in the 1930's when and where QM was just being born in the layman's mind. This type of speculation would have been prominent discussion at that time. Still, the context of the Mindel letter does not completely imply that the CR is on board with it, only that the arguments of scientists are out of place, considering the principle. His point is that determinism is no longer certain in science whereas Torah is certain in reality and therefore, science cannot disprove Torah. True enough, but science can call interpretations of Torah (and every word and halacha of Torah requires interpretation*) into deep question, even based on likelihood. "You can't prove it" sophistry aside, the Torah scholar must take a position, "this is wrong by Torah standards" or "this is acceptable by Torah standards", on questions of science. Just to say that the science shows the world to be undeterministic is not a strong or supportable argument.
c) Copenhagen DOES NOT imply that the observer causes the reality. It only implies that the observer brings determinism to the system. The observer has no control over WHAT WILL BE DETERMINED, only that the observation establishes one of the possibilities as reality. The cat experiment makes this perfectly clear. In the moment before observation, the cat is both alive and dead in Schroedinger's estimation, and upon observation it will become one or the other, but the observer has no way of CONTROLLING WHICH will happen.
d) Copenhagen has always been weak. Dr. Afshar's challenge is devastating to Copenhagen. In short, Copenhagen is counterintuitive, violates the Theory of Relativity, and is likely to die the death of the Ptolemaic astronomy system. In short, Afshar shows that he can observe the wave behavior and measure no change in the particle behavior at the same time. In the modified double slit experiment, he blocks the minima of the wave pattern. In observing the particle behavior, according to Copehagen, the wavefunction collapses and the wave behavior cannot be observed. Hence, particles should be absorbed by the blocked minima, since they are no longer "real". He claims though that experiment data shows no difference, indicating that the wave pattern minima still exist, even though he is measuring the particle behavior. When Copenhagen is disproven, what will become of the apologetics built on it?
e) Even without Afshar, there are other possible explanations, aside from
In short, using Heisenberg or
* Note: Above I stated that all of Torah requires interpretation. I will bring two examples. In the case of a thief breaking in, the Torah says that the matter depends on whether it is day or night. The Chachamim say that this is allegorical and refers to whether the victim is "as certain as daylight" that the thief is not going to kill him, as with a father breaking in on his son. In the case of a Motzi Shem Ra, the Torah states that the proof that the victim's father brings is to "spread out the sheet" that proves her virginal bleeding. The Chachmim interpret allegorically that this means to indicate that the father of the victim carries a high burden of proof. (This is because the proof that the Torah recommends is very weak, since it can be easily faked. Perhaps the Torah meant just that, that the father's burden proof is very low, but the Chachamim interpret as they do. The point is that it is, in all respects, an interpretation of the Rabbis, overriding what would be the clear words of Torah.) This being the case, anytime we are challenging the "Torah", we are, in effect challenging an interpretation of the "Torah". The clear resolution of halachic issues by expounding is the basis of Talmud, Rishonim, Acharonim and later discussion. We have every right and responsibility to ask how they came to any conclusion, and what they meant ex-cathedra, and what they were giving as examples. Watch out for my "infallibility" rant, soon to follow.