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One of Albert Einstein’s most famous quotes is, “God does not play dice with the universe.” I mistook Einstein for saying this in my beginning years of studying physics. But now, I see the deep imports this statement carry. What made that transformation? Let us look at it below.
The Foolish Fool #
One definition of God which I held was, “God is the entity who is independent to anything and everything without any restrictions - including moral, logical or other frameworks”. In the beginning years of my study of Physics at university, one sees the work of Einstein in almost all major fields. For example, his Special Relativity is taught at the beginning for all Physics students, his work on Brownian motion crops up in statistical mechanics, his photoelectric effect springs up at the beginning of Modern Physics courses and a few more. That makes students think Einstein is a superhero. But, then, when we come across this statement of Einstein, at first sight, it seems so absurd or foolish, considering the fact that the definition of God which I stated at the beginning of this section.
Well, if God wants to play dice, let him be, what stops him from doing so. That was my argument back then. But something was lingering in the back of my head that Einstein is not that foolish to make such a foolish statement. So, I set out to understand better what he tried to say.
Redemption Perhaps? #
When I studied Quantum Mechanics, it was clear to me that some of the observables must be indeterminate. Any attempt at a hidden variable theory must reconcile this fact to make its compatibility with the highly successful quantum physics to make a stand as a better alternative to incorporate determinism into standard quantum physics. This means the hidden variable is, well, hidden. It exists but cannot be measured. Now, this can bring up critics saying that if it is hidden then what is the point of having it and analyzing it in the first place? Isn’t science all about facts and figures which are measured, tried and tested?
But the knack here is that the hidden variable is employed by nature but is kept from us from accessing or meddling. We are not granted access to certain properties of nature. Certainly, the German Idealists strived to explain the transcendent, noumenal or objective existence of truth and this rabbit hole goes much deeper into philosophy. Another reason why physics needs philosophy! But getting back to our business, this idea put me in deep thoughts that Einstein may be right in his statement.
The way he might be right is as follows: God is necessarily a knower of all things. Probability is just ignorance of knowledge. So, the use of probability is just an excuse owing to the fact that we don’t know something. But that doesn’t stop God from knowing something. So, God playing dice will know what numbers are going to result but not us. Why? Read this to know more. So, the hidden variable theory is just a fact that God knows what is happening under the hood but not us.
So, when Einstein claimed that God doesn’t play dice, he meant that God knows everything and needn’t be ignorant of his own creation. This thought just stoked and stunned me to the tip of my nerves.
I feel this is why this single statement has become an “aphorism” and definitely deserves credit. It is just that it needs to be presented the way it has to be.