Is Quantum Randomness Random to God?

“Random changes”… a concept only allowable from the view of human perception.

Disagree. The random changes of the neutral theory of evolution are Quantum Mechanical at its core. A single base change in DNA say an A changing into a G requires chemical bonds to be broken and others to be made. The chemical process is really an electromagnetic process with is really a QED process which is QM in the probability of which electrons and when they will change states either absorbing a photon of energy or giving off a photon of energy.


I know you have a mental block on this topic… so let me just say you have a difficult time thinking outside the box.

As a theological position, Randomness is a mortal construct… not a theistic one.

Quantum Mechanics is probabilistic, best summarized by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. QM has no theological position nor a theistic one. QM says the future is unknowable with certainty.


I won’t join George in disputing the randomness of quantum events, except to say that QT seems to suggest to most there are no specific causes within the physical realm, but their highly accurate statistical variation neverless reveals a pattern of causation somewhere. You can’t get a statistical distribution from causeless events. There is always method in the madness.

But since the whole discussion of theistic evolution begins beyond the physical realm, attributing ontological randomness to quantum events is not only irrelevant, but ignores their statistical (and therefore rationally tractable) nature. See Robert J Russell on divine action and quantum events. The future is only unpredicatble under materialist axioms.

But my main point is to question the (common) premise that since point mutations could be biased by individual quantum events, therefore biological variation is truly random.

In the first place, there is nothing in that scenario which changes the general rule that in the macro world, quantum variations average out. This was demonstrated in 50 years of mutation experiments with ionising radiation, when not only did virtually no useful mutations arise, but it soon emerged that the range of possible mutations was limited, and the same ones recurred regularly… and that means a predictive statistical ditribution could be made over the lifetime of a species.

This statistical averaging is going to be even more marked now we know how any trait is affected by hundreds, or thousands of genes - or maybe by all of them: such a summative effect is going to swamp any random quantum factor.

Secondly, point mutation by radiation is at most a tiny part of real variation, Even point mutations are more often copying errors or failures in error correction, operating at the molecular scale. And as the biologists at BioLogos were always banging on, everybody (who is not a creationist!) knows that point mutations themselves are a small factor in evolution once you include gene duplications, shifted reading frames, HGT and all the rest, all of which operate above the quantum level.

It’s easy to forget all that when the popular discussions always seem to centre on point mutations without going into their causes (hey, they’re “random”, so what’s the point??). Maybe that’s partly because genome comparisons, say between chimp and human, mainly involve comparing strings of nucleotides rather than anything at the larger structural scales where, presumably, most of the effective differences lie. You never understand much about what a digital image is about by zooming in on the sequence of pixels.


I don’t understand this, please elaborate further. I don’t see the connection between statistical distribution and cause. Perhaps explain it using the double slit experiment: Fire electrons one at a time at a screen with two slits, what do you see? A statistical distribution of independent random hits on the otherside?

Take a look at video about it:


I usually use radioactive decay as model, but your double-slit vid. will do as well.

Back at the Hump of the Camel, our one-time resident skeptic Lou Jost used to say that QT demonstrates true acausality: ie that the events just happen spontaneously. The problem with that is shown well by the video, and particularly by the teleological language he uses to illustrate: the particles “know” where they have to turn up to match the statistical pattern.

In macro-space, that’s a reasonable metaphor, because (say) in a gas, each molecule “knows” where it’s going, and the aggregate of those courses simply is the probability function. Likewise, each toss of a coin has a determinate path because of the design of the system and the initial conditions, the statistical distribution being the aggregate of these.

The problem, of course, is that no such local causes are known in QT, and it seems the existence of any such local variables is proven to be impossible. There are no local properties of wave functions that determine the individual fate of photons. So that still leaves the problem of a particle “knowing” where to land to contribute to the bands of light (or in radioactive decay, the time it must decay in order to enable a highly accurate half-life clock).

That excludes acausality, because there is no rationality in an uncaused event, and a probability distribution is rational and even quantifiable. So there is a cause, but it can’t be local.

Another alternative is to suggest the particles don’t “know” their destination, but do know the statistical distribution, is rather incoherent: most distributions are the aggregates of individual events, and cause nothing. Knowing a dice has six equal faces doesn’t even help a human throw a six, let alone a photon. But an electron with an onboard statistical calculator that is undetectable is something like a miracle in any case.

The last alternative is that, like all statistical distributions whatsoever outside quantum physics, the probability curve is a function of the aggregate of true causes within a defined system. Only, if there are no such true causes in the material realm (Bell’s theorem) they must lie outside the material realm. QED.

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Good question.

Listen to @jongarvey closely on this. @gbrooks9 is correct:

QM has not yet been demonstrated to be random from God’s perspective. Just be cause we don’t know, doesn’t mean God doesn’t. At some point, @jongarvey might explain molinism too. Look it up if you can.


Your writings cannot DENY the possibility that God knows exactly why a particle or wave does exactly what it does. This is a very common premise of the Christian view of the underpinnings of nature.

It doesn’t change the science in any way … but it allows for a meta-reality that is important to Christians, even more so for those Christians who adhere to Evolutionary theory.

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I was with you right up to the last sentence. Why MUST there BE an “outside the material realm”? What understanding does an outside the material realm add?

Random from God’s perspective? How can events be random from an all-knowing being? Either God is all-knowing or not. If He is all-knowing, all events are known before they happen (full determinism). If He is not all-knowing, well He is just like the rest of us, and just understands probability theory, and not very God-like.

Exactly. Which is why @gbrooks9 is right:

Which is why you are missing something when you write…

This is certainly true from a human scientific point of view. However, from God’s point of view, we can’t say for sure. As you have just effectively argued.

Ok, I will give you this one. Sure, cannot DENY the possibility of an all-knowing God. But since an all-knowing, invisible God looks the same as a none all-knowing non-existent God, can’t I do just fine in life and in all kinds of scientific endeavors, assuming that I don’t know whether God exists or not? And leave it at that?

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YES! That is it.

That is the honest and scientifically neutral way of putting it. It allows for you to still say that your personal opinion is that there is no God, and dignify the position of others with whom you disagree. Their personal opinion is that there is a God. Quantum Mechanics, however, does not tell us one way or another.

Stating it neutrally this way does a great deal to serve the common good.

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Ok, I stated it neutrally, as I have always done in my scientific work. I have always been an agnostic in my scientific work. Atheism is an opinion, completing without proof nor evidence. I have no trouble being an 6.9 agnostic on the Dawkins scale of religious belief. Perhaps a 6.98.

A coherent explanation of order.

Because it would be IDIOTIC to leave it at that… this is a CHRISTIAN SITE.

What is your damage, @Patrick !!!

Show me some evidence of God. Anything. How about Him saying “Hi”?

In a universe of ever increasing entropy (disorder)?

Which makes most people wonder about how the original order arose.

Are you trying to argue for God all of a sudden? Clever.