A Particularly Wavy Quandary: Kid Worldview

admin —  October 11, 2011

Image courtesy of Il

This is one of those times when you’re just going to have to trust me…

Yes, your eyes may quickly dart off the screen if I admit the subject--quantum physics.

But…WAIT!!!   DON’T GO!!!

I promise… if my pea brain can wrap around this story, then you’ll do just fine—and you’ll see what quantum physics has to do with a biblical worldview in parenting.

So hang in there as we dive into the infinitesimally teeny-tiny world of subatomic particles…

Our boys were clicking through the TV options one night and landed on the Science Channel.

Now, I’ve learned from experience that these shows can be “R-rated,” meaning “R”adically secular and often radically at odds with a biblical worldview. Adult supervision advised.

So with some degree of caution, we listened to what amounted to scientific head-scratching about the behavior and essence of energy particles on the smallest known level, in the so-called quantum world.

Recent experiments have revealed the perplexing nature of the most miniscule particles of energy. In some respects, they behave simply like any other matter…as particles, or “stuff” (matter) that can be measured and will show predictable movement.

But, at other times, these electrons behave as waves, with no resemblance whatsoever to physical matter, or “stuff.”

That’s a big difference—kind of like trying to compare the ripple of a wave rolling across the lake to the actual pebble that caused the ripple.

Interesting, I thought, but not what I considered terribly exciting or relevant.

But then our son picked up on another key point that, frankly, I missed. The behavior and nature of these tiny energy particles/waves changes when observed or measured. (Here’s a great cartoon clip that shows this phenomenon.)

I chalked it up to another “Gee, that’s interesting” moment and didn’t give it another thought.

Our son, Jacob, did. The next morning he admitted to staying up until after 2:00 a.m. thinking about this issue—using his Bible for perspective and insight.

He was intrigued that the very act of OBSERVING the movement of tiny energy units changed the manner in which they moved and behaved. (Kind of like how your kids might have a rowdy pillow fight if they thought you weren’t watching…but then might lie on those same pillows like sweet, innocent angels if you were in the room!)

Jacob opened his Bible to the Genesis account of creation and noticed something I had glossed over time and again when reading. It wasn’t until the end of Day 3 in creation that Genesis records God’s observation of his handiwork.

At the end of Day 3 (not Days 1 and 2), the Bible notes, “And God saw that it was good.”

Jacob’s questions… Did God’s observation of His creation cause changes in matter? Could His very act of observation have sparked the establishment of the laws of nature that govern the most elementary levels of energy and matter? Why doesn’t the Bible include “God saw that it was good” on days 1 and 2, as it is on 3 through 6?

Well, not the type of questions we were likely to answer over breakfast!

But what a joy as a parent to know that our children can learn to start with God’s Word in analyzing the world around us…whether it’s for simple everyday issues or for complex scientific questions about the very nature of His universe.

That conversation reminded me, too, that we shouldn’t shy away exploring secular scientific sources with our children. With proper discernment, they will see in science the majesty of His creation.

Even though the secular world might call our world “random”--the accidental product of billions of years’ worth of coincidental events—we, as God’s children, know the truth. His fingerprint is all over His creation! If our universe was such an “accident,” how could we have mathematics, measurable laws of nature and even exquisite (and, yes, sometimes bewildering) laws governing in the quantum realm?

Truly, our universe is no accident. As the Apostle Paul notes, its breathtaking complexity offers a daily witness to everyone: “God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.” (Rom 1:20)

So the next time you find yourself shying away from a complex scientific discussion, lean in and listen with discernment instead. Armed with God’s Word and His wisdom, you might discover another way to explore His glorious power with your children.