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Quantum Physics: Cause And Effect - by John Prytz

If causality is not 100% dependable at the most elementary of levels then that implies that the bits and pieces at that level have some sort of free will! Can an electron or photon have free will? Can they do whatever they damn well please? If so, then moving on up the chain from micro to macro, that means that you (as a macro being) must have free will.


If causality is 100% dependable at the most fundamental levels then electrons and photons, etc. do not have free will. Electrons and photons, etc. can not do whatever they damn well please. So, moving right up the chain from micro to macro, that means that you (as a macro being) don’t have free will!


Light (photons), or electrons, or any other elementary particle, whether exhibiting wave or particle properties, are still behaving in a predictable (causality) manner. Turn on a laser beam – a stream of photons – the beam doesn’t do a loop-de-loop! Sprinkle iron filings over a magnet – the lines of force now visible aren’t going to spell out your name! Gold nuclei do not spontaneously decay since gold isn’t radioactive. The Sun’s spectrum – spectral lines that identify what the Sun’s chemical composition is – all caused when electrons jump from one energy state to another, don’t shift positions or tell you the Sun is made or 24 caret diamonds (or gold for that matter). The Sun’s spectrum reveals hydrogen and helium and minor constituents each and every time.


Let’s start with a happening - an event.


An event, or mechanism causing an event, is both a cause of a future effect, but equally that same event or mechanism is also an effect of a previous cause.


In other words, take the case where A causes B, and B causes C. B is both the effect of A and the cause of C.


The event in question is to pick a card, any card at random, from a well shuffled deck (say a deck that’s been used for years in weekly poker games). Say the card was an Ace of Diamonds and it was the 10th card from the top.


In a landscape of equal possibilities, there are lots of ways that a deck of cards can be shuffled to have that specific card in that specific location in the deck. However, you didn’t pick from that landscape of equal possibilities, you picked from one possibility. Only one possibility out of many thousands of possibilities was realised and presented to you.


What decided that that particular shuffled mechanism was the shuffled mechanism out of a multitude of shuffled mechanisms? Whatever it was, it was something dependent on what went on before. The specific shuffling was an event, or an effect, of a previous cause.


So a previous cause (a shuffling), gave rise to one specific event (that particular shuffled deck), which resulted in one specific card being picked from a specific location.


However, within that specific shuffled deck lays another landscape of possibilities. All possible 52 cards can be in all possible 52 positions. All possibilities are equal; only one will be realised.


A cause (a shuffling) gave rise to an effect (one specific shuffled outcome) which in turn was the ultimate cause of another effect (picking the Ace of Diamonds from the 10th card down from the top).


The central question, was selecting the Ace of Diamonds a certainty or a probability? - Destiny or chance? - Causality or randomness? - Did God throw dice, or didn’t He?


You would probably say it was probability, but that’s because you didn’t know in advance that the tenth card down was the Ace of Diamonds. However, once that deck had been shuffled, that tenth card from the top was without question certainly the Ace of Diamonds whether you knew it in advance or not. The outcome was certain based on the ordering of the deck prior to shuffling and the pure mechanical and physical processes of the shuffling act.

Science librarian; retired.

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