Summary: Faith is believing the impossible.
The Physics of Faith: Believing the Impossible
Pastor Mark Batterson
This evotional continues The Physics of Faith series. To check out old evotionals, visit the evotional archive @ www.theaterchurch.com.
Oliver Wendell Holmes said, “A mind stretched by a new idea never returns to its original shape.” That is really what this series of evotionals is all about. We’re juxtaposing physics and faith. I’m hoping that the physics stretches your faith and faith stretches your physics!
One of the most revolutionary discoveries in the world of Quantum Physics was made by James Stewart Bell, a physicist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research in Switzerland. He essentially disproved the principle of local causes which states that the relationship between particles must be mediated by local forces. Bell’s research seemed to indicate that regardless of distance, everything in the universe is interconnected. Albert Einstein called it “spooky action at a distance.”
Let me try to explain it this way.
We generally communicate by talking, in which case, our voices produce sound waves that carry information at about 700 miles per hour. So the length of time it takes for you to hear me depends on the distance between us. The fastest communication signals are light waves like radio waves that carry information at approximately 186,000 miles per second. Now here is what you need to understand: almost all of classical physics rests upon the assumption that nothing in the universe can travel faster than the speed of light. The speed of light, in a sense, was considered the universal speed limit.
But recent experiments have shown that if two subatomic particles shoot into space as the result of a subatomic reaction, they always seem to influence each other no matter how far they travel. What happens to one particle happens to the other particle superluminally or faster than the speed of light. The technical term is instantaneous nonlocality. It simply means that there seems to be an invisible link between all particles. The link defies space—particles can be in opposite corners of the universe. And the link defies time—it is an instantaneous connection that defies the speed of light.
This discovery has revolutionary ramifications, but let me state the obvious: Bell’s Theorem redefined what is and what is not possible. Classical physics held that nothing could exceed the speed of light, but we live in a nonlocal universe with superluminal connections.
Two weeks ago I wrote about Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and said that nothing is absolutely certain. There is always a range of uncertainty in the world of quantum mechanics. This evotional is really a corollary. Nothing is certain. And nothing is impossible. There is always a range of possibility.
Jesus redefined what is and what is not possible! He said, “All things are possible.” And because we sometimes need to hear the same thing in different ways, Jesus also said, “Nothing is impossible.” But He didn’t just talk the talk. Jesus walked the walk. He trafficked in the impossible.
Jesus interrupted weather patterns. He changed the molecular structure of water into wine. He hardwired a blind man’s brain installing synapses between the optical nerve and visual cortex. Jesus walked on water and walked through walls. He turned energy into matter. He made the blind see, the deaf hear, the mute talk, and the lame walk. He raised people from the dead and then He himself rose from the dead.
That’s a pretty impressive resume of miracles!
It’s easy to say, “Yah, but that’s Jesus. What does that have to do with me?” The answer is everything! John 14:12 says, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these.”
Jesus redefined what is and what is not possible. That is what those miracles represent: a redefinition of possibility. Jesus said, “Everything is possible to him who believes.”
Impossibilities are relative!
To a newborn, walking is impossible. Newborns have not developed the necessary motor skills or strength, but give them a year and walking becomes a cakewalk. Sometimes time is the only difference what is impossible and what is possible. In the words of Danny Hillis, “There are problems that are impossible if you think about them in two-year terms—which everyone does—but they’re easy if you think in fifty-year terms.”
To a five-year-old who hasn’t learned addition and subtraction, even the simplest of algebra problems is next to impossible. But give her a few math classes, and she’ll come up with a simple solution to that impossible problem. Sometimes knowledge is the only difference between what is impossible and what is possible.
Humans can’t walk through walls. I’ve tried a few sliding glass doors and that doesn’t work either! But what is impossible to me is easy for sub-atomic neutrinos. They whiz right through walls! To a neutrino, atoms in a wall aren’t close together. They are infinitely far apart. Sometimes size is the only difference between what is impossible and what is possible.