Can Quantum Physics Determine Our Very Choices?


A Physicist’s Prediction ----- Mahlon Reihman

The debate between predetermination and free-will has stretched over centuries, with little concrete evidence able to support either side. Those who assert that mankind maintains full reign over his free-will believe that through a constant series of randomized choices, we create our own future. Due to innate traits such as “artistic creativity, musical prowess and mathematical genius,” people could express themselves without being beheld to an all-knowing source (Halpern 55). Those who argue that our lives are predetermined, however, often fall back on religion and theory, claiming that all of what we do is predestined and we merely exist to carry out our decided future. With this mentality, “people’s destinies are guided by forces beyond one’s reach,” as they practically surrender themselves as tokens to an all-knowing future (Halpern 55). Recent developments in quantum physics theory may lend a hand to these arguments, revealing that the chaotic randomization of quantum particles cannot possibly be predicted, challenging the very notion of predeterminism.

From the perspective of a physicist, who views the world in a statistical and analytical view, the world tends to be more black and white. In this field, there is little room for predictions that fail to involve and utilize hard data. Revolutionary research on quantum physics has led many physicists to believe that, because of the sporadic and random nature of atomic particles, we cannot truly predict anything (Wolchover). This new line of research does not necessary support one side of the free will versus determinism debate, but it attempts to delegitimize the argument of predetermination. Because deep down, “nature is inherently uncertain,” the exact location of quantum particles makes it impossible to predict what is yet to come because of randomized movement. This has led quantum theorists to claim that there is no possibility that an omniscient force could ever predict our actions (Wolchover). The level at which we could predict our future, according to the physicist, is remarkably slim; a completely uneducated guess into our destiny should hold equal truth to an informed prediction. This logic falls on the assumption that in order to accurately predict our future, we would have to predict the behavior or microscopic particles, which is another debate in and of itself.

Under these assumptions, it appears that physicists do not overtly support one particular side of the determinism debate. Perhaps the argument as to whether or not human history is preordained is not isolated to the two distinct options of free-will and determinism. Conceivable, quantum physicists have unearthed a third possibility, where people’s futures are “fully determined but unpredictable” (Musser 1). When claiming that lives our “fully determined” there is an important distinction to make; an all powerful omniscient force does not have the past and future of mankind mapped out, but instead the unpredictability of science creates a completely randomized and unpredictable future for us all. Our current scientific and technological parameters restrict our ability to identify this “third variable” which could allow us to decode our randomized yet unchangeable future.

The Pursuit of Destiny, Paul Halpern (Pg. 55)