Quantum Mechanics and Free Will

There are two forms of causality. One is called final causality. It describes why something occurs because of a subsequent event. I put on my shoes to go outside to check the mail. The reason (checking the mail) for one event (putting on my shoes) follows after the event itself. Cause follows effect. Human beings operate in the realm of final causality. The other is called efficient causality. This is the kind of causality I learned about in physics class. In physics, all causes must precede the resultant effects. Or at least they did when I was taking physics over 50 years ago. Now, it turns out that on a quantum mechanical level not only can two physically separated particles influence each other, they can influence each other through time. Experiments indicate that such particles can engage in final causality.

There’s an interesting post over at Mind Matters about the scientific and philosophical implication of quantum mechanical violations of efficient causality. (H/T, Mark Trapscott)

These two views of causality appear to be irreconcilable and they lead to deep mysteries. If everything is physical, then why is causality at the higher, human, level the complete opposite of causality at the lower, physical, level? Because final causality cannot come from its opposite, efficient causality, then something must intervene between the levels. That, in turn, implies that the human level cannot be reduced to the physical level.


Instead of eliminating the mystery of final causality, the experiments deepen the mystery. There must be an observer in order for the entangled causality to occur and physical processes cannot observe anything. So the very occurrence of reverse causality at the physical level means there is top down influence from the human level to the physical level. Not only is quantum physics unable to explain human final causality, it cannot explain its own final causality by itself. Its final causality is a trickle down effect from the human level.

And herein lies the rub. If human observers are necessary for physical final causality to occur, how do humans come to have the capability in the first place? This question points to a yet even higher source of final causality that extends beyond the human realm, and is responsible for the final causality that humans exhibit.

Thus, these quantum physicists are showing that—far from final causality being a minor physical phenomena that can be explained away with an experiment—our entire universe is imbued with final causality within its very fabric and this final causality must come from some source beyond the universe.

Read the whole thing and Genesis 1:1.

1 thought on “Quantum Mechanics and Free Will

  1. This all maps quite well to C S Lewis’s apologia for the existence of universal Reason, or the idea that there must exist some underlying form of Reason from which our consciousness and personal reason ultimately derives, otherwise imagination has no obvious foundation.

    I know I’m not explaining it well. He explains it far better in his various works.

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