DarkHorse Ministries

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle: A Spiritual Interpretation

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle of quantum mechanics states that specific pairs of physical attributes cannot be known simultaneously. For example, the position and momentum of an electron naturally follow a sort of 'see-saw' effect, whereby the more accurately the position is known, the more uncertainty there is as to it's momentum, and vice versa. Moreover, because momentum is directly proportional to energy, this is a sort of tug-of-war between the attainable accurate knowledge of the more localized 'position of a particle,' and the more spread out 'energy of a wave'. This principle is therefore also a statement of the wave-particle duality of quantum physics --- the electron appears to have both wave and particle natures, but the manifestation of one precludes that of the other. This is also the matter-energy dualism expressed in Einstein's famous mathematical statement of the equivalence of mass and energy, E=mc^2.

Does this not appear to be a perfect parallel with the complementary opposites symbolized by the Taoist Yin-Yang, whereby the world is viewed as composed of an infinite number of pairs of opposites, such as long-short, hot-cold, and wet-dry? Indeed, it is the presence of these perceptual opposite pairs, that allows our mind to have knowledge of our physical world at all.

It is apparently a dualistic 'knowledge trade-off' built into the very fabric of the natural world. Could not this 'knowledge trade-off,' discovered at the bottom of supposedly separate 'things,' possibly be the universe's way of telling us that this subject-object form of knowledge is not supreme? Could it be saying that 'Being trumps knowledge,' or that 'participation in the Being of all-encompassing Unity,' trumps the passive spectator knowledge of a separate subject knowing a separate object?

Some thought might also indicate that these questions equivalent to saying that the physical realm may not be supreme. Indeed, one of the problems of natural or physical science as practiced, is the largely unquestioned belief that there exists nothing that is not ultimately reducible to the physical.

A spiritual interpretation of Heisenberg's principle is possible if an all-encompassing, infinite, underlying Unity is assumed to be the most basic structure of reality. If this is true, then even the smallest subset of this Unity, even a single electron, must in some way contain the whole. Perhaps we find a hint in the mathematics of infinity, whereby, any finite number divided into infinity, results in the value of infinity. In other words, infinity is not divisible. The whole, or infinity, could then be present in all apparent parts, all apparently separate objects existing in space and time. This is analagous to the observed fact that when a holographic image is fractured, even the smallest piece contains the image of the original scene. In fact, this holographic truth may simply be a miniature reflection of the underlying Unity of reality itself.

The study of the physical properties of any object, necessarily requires that the object be viewed as separate from the knowing subject. This so-called 'objectivity' in fact, is a fundamental assumption of all scientific inquiry --- which seems very reasonable when judging from physical appearances. However, down at the quantum level, it appears that we are witnessing the breakdown of the validity of this assumption. This may be occurring because the presumption of the existence of a separate subject investigating a separate studied object, is ultimately in error. If so, then we might expect to receive less than complete knowledge of the nature of the electron subsystem, which in this case would be knowledge of the whole Unity of reality. Said differently, the observer sees a part-icle and not a wave, because the observer has made the erroneous assumption that the electron subsystem is a-part-from instead of a-part-of his consciousness.

It is even possible that this error has the effect of fragmenting the underlying Unity within the consciousness of the investigating subject. Then as a result of this fragmentation within the consciousness of the observer, there results a sort natural penalty, namely an inability to receive a full knowledge of the whole-istic reality of the electron subsystem. The only way to receive the whole reality of any subsystem would then be through conscious participation in the whole reality of which we are a subsystem of, rather than separate from.