Schroedinger’s Christ

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Can quantum physics bring light into our understanding of Christology? Is there a Schroedinger’s Christ? Maybe the dogma of Chalcedon can be profoundly understood in the power of quantum physics. Maybe the new physics is offering a new language to communicate faith to humans of our time. Maybe quantum physics is one among many signs of our times that we have the challenge to read in the light of faith. There appears to be an unexpected kinship between modern science and theology. Maybe quantum superposition/ entanglement offers us a new opportunity to model the unique personhood and dual nature of Christ. Therefore, it is an imperative of faith that challenges us to understand faith the mystery of the person of Christ in the light of quantum physics.

The Divine and the Human in Christ

Christians struggled hard to understand the divine and the human in Christ. Several of their claims suffered reductivism either on the human or the divine side. Although mother Mary was solemnly proclaimed as the mother of God at the Council of Ephesus (431 CE), the actual relationship between the humanity and divinity of Christ required further clarification. This was achieved by the council of Chalcedon (451CE). The doctrine of Chalcedon is articulated in Greek philosophy which being its strength also happens to be its weakness. Its strength is that it keeps the faith deposit or orthodoxy of dogma intact. But its weakness is that it fails to communicate adequately to modern humans. Hence, we have a complex issue at hand. It requires us to seek a new language to articulate the same doctrine so that it becomes accessible to modern humans. Here, you will find a suggestion that proposes that quantum physics appears to provide this opportunity to articulate the dogma of faith without losing its orthodoxy yet find a language that is understandable to contemporary humans. The mystery-laden wave/ particle dual behaviour of the sub-atomic particles (matter at its minutest level) can model the dual nature of the person of Christ.

Entangled particles

Quantum uncertainty being unacceptable to Albert Einstein, he along with his two assistants, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen presented a paper known as the famous EPR paradox which essentially taught that when one studied properties of one particle it would lead one to understand the particle of another associate particle separated from it without even measuring its properties. This would mean that the particles communicate with each other instantly breaking the universal speed limit of light. This is why they said that quantum theory as it was known then was incomplete. They proposed that there were hidden variables that may come to light after the further development of the theory. Niels Bohr and his companions rejected this proposal and taught that quantum theory is complete and nature itself was indeterminate. Schoedinger while also supporting Einstein proposed a thought experiment, known as the cat in the box experiment to ridicule Bohr’s position, where we have the prospect of saying the cat is both alive and dead before opening the box which has a poisoning radioactive material. But ironically, the thought experiment not just entangled the cat with the fate of the radioactive atom which could poison it, but it led us to agree with Bohr’s interpretation that taught that it is the measurement at the quantum level that shows reality as either wave or particle. The issue divided the physicist until the 1960s when John Bell’s inequality theorem finally settled it in favour of Bohr’s camp.

Schoedinger’s Christ

In the light of quantum physics, we may analogically see the dual natures of one Christ as entangled. We can trace Christologies from above that emphasize the divinity of Christ and Christologies from below that emphasized the humanity of Christ without denying respectively Christologies from below and Christologies from above. The council of Chalcedon placed humanity and the divinity of Christ not in opposition but in a relation of mutual affirmation by juxtaposing them side by side. It thought that one Christ is fully human and fully divine. We may analogically use Schoedinger’s thought experiment that we know as a cat in the box to model the mutual relations of one Christ of being fully human and fully divine. Schoedinger’s Christ stands for the juxtaposition of the affirmative relation of humanity and divinity of one Christ. When we open the box, it will depend on which side we emphasize without denying the other. We may either find Christology from above or Christology from below holding the other in tension without denying either of them.

The wave-particle duality of a single subatomic particle like a photon becomes a model that assists us to understand the human and divine (dual natures) of one person of Christ. Maybe Quantum duality may assist us to find a new language to lead modern humans to a profound understanding of Christ. This effort is indeed the need of our times. It can offer a new way of understanding Christianity today.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao