Physical reality is a myth. The notions of science being neutral and objective, and phenomena existing independently in and of themselves, is false.

Rather, reality is what is perceived using measuring instruments and this reality changes according to the instruments we choose to use. Indeed, what is not measured does not exist. This conclusion, made by physicist Max Born in 1926, constituted a heavy blow to the prevailing paradigm, the intuitive, experientially based view that there exists an external reality that is the object of our sense perceptions.

According to Born, electrons could no longer be considered materially real particles, but rather mathematical constructs. With this, Born put the first nail into the coffin of scientific certainty. The fundamental certainty we thought we had regarding the ability to precisely locate particles in space has given way to the probability that the particle is in a given place.

The second and decisive nail in that coffin was hammered home by Werner Heisenberg in 1927 when he formulated the uncertainty principle. Heisenberg argued that in the subatomic world, one cannot know simultaneously different properties of matter, for instance, the position and the velocity of a particle. Hence, it is also impossible to precisely map its trajectory. After all, to know the trajectory, one must know both position and velocity at any given time. The impossibility of this knowledge stems from the fact that when we measure one property, we necessarily interfere with the other property and change its value.

At first glance, this resembles a similar phenomenon from the macroscopic world. Thus, for example, when we put a thermometer into a glass of water, we inevitably change the temperature of the water. The difference is, however, that in the macro-world, it is possible to calculate the influence of the thermometer and substract it from the measurement in order to obtain a corrected value for the temperature of the water. In the micro-world, however, one cannot even in principle distinguish between the influences of the measuring device and the entity being measured. Hence in the micro-world, a measurement is always a result of the simultaneous and fundamentally inextricable influences of both factors, the observer and the observed.

One implication of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle is that in the sub-atomic realm, it is impossible to perform a measurement without interfering with the measured system. More precisely, we can measure, for instance, the position or the velocity of the particle, but never both of them simultaneously. Any precise measurement of one property renders impossible the precise measurement of any other property.

This fundamental uncertainty is actually integral to the physics and is not a result of any technical imperfection in the measuring instruments. In other words, it is impossible to avoid, nullify or otherwise correct for, the influence of the act of measurement on the sub-atomic entity measured.

From the empirical point of view, quantum theory has passed every experimental test without fail. This has made the gap between intuition and practice even wider. As Einstein put it, “The more quantum theory succeeds, the crazier it seems.” Professor Yissachar Una, Head of Physics at Hebrew University says: “It is very difficult to believe in the quantum theory, but it explains every phenomenon in atomic physics ~ mechanical, electrical and thermal properties of solids, liquids, gases, etc., etc… There is no point in trying to comprehend what cannot be understood. We have no choice but to benefit from the surprising results. That is how nature behaves!”

A further development in quantum theory is the complementarity principle, also known as the Copenhagen interpretation, developed by Niels Bohr. According to this principle, two mutually exclusive properties of matter, the particle property and the wave property enigmatically coexist in quantum objects. Under some circumstances the quantum behaves as a particle and under others it behaves as a wave. The reality of the situation, says Bohr, is not inclined towards either state. Rather, it depends on us, what we wish to measure, and the instruments employed. Correspondingly the quantum object will manifest as either a wave or a particle.

An important consequence of Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle and Bohr’s complentarity principle is that as a result, science has been stripped of any claim to certainty or objectivity, and nature itself is now seen as devoid of causal determinism, material realism, or independent reality.

The adherents of quantum physics are saying, “In the new physics there is no place for statements like ‘the quantum is in this location and has that property.’ Instead we can only say ‘There is some probability for the object to be in this location and some probability to have that property.’” Heisenberg is telling us that what we observe is not nature itself but rather nature as subjected to such-and-such modes of observation. Moreover the theory only delineates what we can or cannot observe. Bohr’s point is essentially the same, that the purpose of physics is not to establish what nature is, but rather to establish what we can say about it.

The Copenhagen Interpretation leads us to the conclusion that reality, or at least some of its features, does not exist in its own right. Reality is what we are disclosing using our measuring devices. In effect, measurement has become the court of last resort for determining reality at the quantum level.

In this matter we encounter intense difference of opinion among physicists to this very day. One school of thought maintains that human consciousness is not actually required for the collapse of the wave function from the potential to the actual state. They claim that the measurement itself is causing the collapse of the wave function regardless of whether the measurement is performed by a human being or recorded by an inanimate device.

The other school of thought, headed by Eugene Wigner, argues that no recording or computing mechanism whatsoever could replace human consciousness in the pivotal role of making a quantum determination. Hence whatever the measuring instrument registers is without meaning or purpose until the moment of interaction between the measuring device and the consciousness of the human observer interpreting it.

Accordingly Wigner’s followers find their resolution to the paradoxical “Schrodinger’s cat” thought experiment, in which unobserved quantum processes potentially trigger a lethal mechanism, which result in the cat being neither alive nor dead until observed. They maintain that the arrival of a human being on the scene gives meaning to the information recorded by the inanimate experimental apparatus.

By extension, this reasoning brings into question the very notion of reality prior to man. Could it be that countless quantum events related to the creation of continents, seas, plants and animals have all been kept in some ambiguous indeterminate state of pre-reality pending the advent of humanity? And that suddenly, by virtue of his conscious mind, man has caused in a single moment the collapse of billions of suspended waves? And if this was really what happened on earth, does that not imply that this is true also in respect to the development of the universe as a whole to the extent that billions of stars, galaxies and quasars came into real existence only when all of this penetrated the mind of the first human?

The physical size of the universe is 1026 times greater than the size of a puny human who appears to be absolutely negligible against the backdrop of the universe. Nevertheless numerous physicists are embracing the “Anthropic Principle” according to which the universe was initially created only after the establishment of a prior condition that after a certain period of time, creatures possessing consciousness and observership would appear.

It is with regard to this notion that physicist John Wheeler has said that the existence of an observer is as necessary for the creation of the universe as the existence of the universe is necessary for the creation of the observer.

As strange as these conclusions seem, rejecting the central significance of man in collapsing the cosmic wave function leaves us with two equally mysterious possibilities:

1) The collapse of the universal probability wave was effected by the minds of intelligent creatures who lived on other planets before man was created; or

2) The Divine Mind which exists outside the physical world took care of this problem in the same way as He took care of other issues related to Creation.

According to this second possibility, we can view the world as a quantum unity represented in the Divine Mind as a cosmic wave function that cannot be subjected to any kind of division. From the perspective of Divine observation, reality is absolutely objective and deterministic. And it is only we limited by the principle of uncertainty, that perceive the world as contradicting our intuition. And if the Divine Mind represents the “hidden variables” which we have not yet found, then it is possible that Divine Providence is the answer to Einstein’s protest that “G‑d does not play dice with the universe”1 Indeed He is not playing dice. He is using His mind to collapse the wave function representing the physical universe, including our consciousness.2