Quantum theory seems to indicate that everything is undecided until it is observed. But we have a problem here. We know that the universe existed in a decided state at a time when there was no intelligent life in the universe to observe it and, if we are the only intelligent life in the universe, it is very likely that the parts of the universe that we cannot observe also exist in a decided state. Quantum theory, as far as I know, doesn't propose that we can observe backwards through time and the decided state of the universe as we see it is very obviously dependent on it having undergone a definite (decided) development in the past that allows it to be as we observe it now. Therefore, there must be something within, or apart from, the universe that is observing the whole universe, and has been doing so from very early on in the life of the universe. This observer is continually creating the universe by intervening in it as the observer's observance is the catalyst through which everything is decided. This observer must be all seeing or there would be regions of undecidedness in the universe.

Perhaps we could call this observer, "God."



  1. The Wiener suggests that if one understands the Wienercentric view of the universe, everything falls into place, all questions are answered, and no wiener goes to be without a blanket.

  2. Well, that’s a nice tale. It is not good physics exactly, but it is good use of what folk get of the more exact physics. Unfortunately, the people who do get the exact stuff will shoot it down and then claim that the religious are desperate to try and make their thoughts seem scientific (I know; I tried the same with the bit about once two particle have been in contact they always remain in connection and got hit with equations I couldn’t even read, let alone understand.) Best just thank the scientist for their current guesses about how god worked it out and let them go off disbelieving in whatever weird thing they call “God”.

  3. This is a clever piece, and in my thoroughly unqualified opinion a cogent one. Now–

    It’s not really quantum mechanics that says all this about the “observer”. Quantum mechanics is a bunch of mathematics that successfully models a significant piece of nature. Try some other model and you get trouble: either it fails to predict things right or it bogs you down in stuff that’s worse. (The latter is called Bell’s Theorem.)

    The observer bit is an interpretation of QM, pretty much what’s called the Copenhagen Interpretation. I once asked a real live physicist, an old school chum who’d got a PhD from one of the most highly decorated(*) physics departments in the world, what the current thinking was about the Copenhagen thing, and he replied that physicists pretty much didn’t argue over it any more, but stuck with the equations.

    (*) I do not refer to the elegance of its mass of sprawling buildings, on which the best comment came when a poet at the same university won the Nobel in literature: “You win a Nobel in physics here, and they name a building after you; you get one in literature and they give you a choice lifetime parking place.” Those who have parked in Berkeley will see that it’s not quite clear which is better.

    Ahem. My version of this was from a materialist side: For billions of years the Universe is in a totally undecided state, having no one to observe it. Then one morning some bright fellow, call him Mr Adams, wakes up and sees the world as no being has done before him. “Wow”, says Mr Adams, and in that moment the whole thing coalesces into the Universe we know and love, though the distant parts seem to coalesce only at the speed of light.

    Ummm, so how can he wake up and observe if his existence isn’t even settled yet? I have heard that this matter has been seriously discussed.

    Which reminds me of Schroedinger’s cat, and then I’ll shut up. The random radioactive decay which may or may not have taken place in the instrument has not been observed and therefore has neither happened nor not happened, or both. Likewise, the release of cyanide that would result from the machine’s detection of the decay. So the cat is both alive and dead till we open the box and observe.

    So just what does the cat think of all this?

    For more, see the 60s book Be Here Now, and the tale of the guy who is supposed to take a chicken out where no one can see, and kill it and cook it. The guru sees him still carrying the live chicken, and asks why he hasn’t obeyed. He says that wherever he goes, the chicken sees.

    Deep waters, Watson.

  4. Surely you realize someone will just HAVE to post these:

    There was a young man who said “God
    Must find it exceedingly odd
    To think that the tree
    Should continue to be
    When there’s no one about in the quad.”

    “Dear Sir: Your astonishment’s odd;
    I am always about in the quad.
    And that’s why the tree
    Will continue to be
    Since observed by, Yours faithfully, God.”


  5. I was rather under the impression that the Anglican church was proof that there are regions of undecidedness in the universe.

    Possibly that is because God has his hand over his eyes? …

  6. But then there can be nothing that is undecided, making “everything is undecided until it is observed” meaningless.

    Ellie’s young man reminds me of the other young man from Cape Horn.