Does Quantum Physics lead to Atheism


Does Quantum physics lead to atheism?

Let us discuss this question today.Quantum Physics is one of the most successful theories of science. In every thing in the world, success depends on practical results. Quantum Mechanics is regarded as a highly successful theory because it has spectacular practical results.

There are many quantum physicists we can talk about but I would like to use the life of Paul Dirac as a reference point in this discussion. Take Dirac’s equation for example. It predicted the existence of antiparticle to electron and the discovery of antielectron or positron is one of the greatest achievements in science. You might ask, so what? Dirac’s quantum theory led to the discovery of positron, how does that help? The discovery of positron has produced astronomical benefits to human society. Let me give you a few examples: Positron Emission Tomography Scan (PET Scan)  was invented based on Dirac’s theory. PET scans are now diagnosing diseases at cellular level.

Nanotechnology: manipulates matter at the level of  atoms and molecules. Nanotechnology gives ability to see and to control individual atoms and molecules. Instruments like Scanning Tunneling Microscope (STM) and the Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) are the products of nanotechnology. Promising technologies like delivering chemotherapy to individual cancer cells are emerging due to advances in the nanotechnology.

Particle Physics: Today we have particle accelerators around the world. These are giant machines that use electromagnetic fields to propel charged particle to nearly the speed of light. The physicists make these particles collide with each other and then study their structure and behavior. Recently CERN in Geneva discovered Higgs’ Boson using Large Hadron Collider. These particle accelerators are the largest machines human beings ever built. Quantum physics form the foundation of these particle accelerators which have been revealing the nature of the universe.

Spintronics: Spintronics are spin-based electronics. Classical electronics control the flow of the charge of electronics. Engineers now going further. To manipulate even the spin of electrons. Dirac’s equation gave the accurate description of the spin of electrons. These Spintronics are going to change the face of computer industry. Super computers with unlimited storage and maximum energy efficiency are being built using spintronics.

Space: Quantum mechanics has revolutionized the concept of space-time and thereby space travel. A new generation of spaceships and space stations are being built. So, quantum mechanics is everywhere, from medical scans to particle accelerators to computer computers to space ships.

So, success makes friends. Many atheists are now making the claim, quantum physics support atheism, quantum mechanics rule out the existence of God. Is that true? So,  let us see, does quantum physics support atheism or theism?

Quantum physicists asked questions about the existence of God. For example, Paul Dirac was one of the founding fathers of quantum theory. In 1971, Dirac said, the question, ‘Is there a God?’ is one of the most important questions in contemporary physics as consequential as other fundamental problems of physics such as, ‘Is there causality? Is there space-time continuity?

Dirac tried to connect the existence of God with the question of origin of life. Let me quote his words,

“It could be that it is extremely difficult to start life. It might be that it is so difficult to start life that it has happened only once among all the planets….Let us consider, just as a conjecture, that the chance life starting when we have got suitable physical conditions is 10⁻100. I don’t have any logical reason for proposing this figure, I just want you to consider it as a possibility. Under those conditions…it is almost certain that life would not have started. And I feel that under those conditions it will be necessary to assume the existence of God to start off life. I would like, therefore, to set up this connexion between the existence of a God and the physical laws: if physical laws are such that to start off life involves an excessively small chance, so that it will not be reasonable to suppose that life would have started just by blind chance, then there must be a God, and such a God would probably be showing his influence in the quantum jumps which are taking place later on. On the other hand, if life can start every easily and does not need any divine influence, then I will say that there is no God”.

So, existence of God is not an outlandish concept. Many quantum physicists like Paul Dirac thought of existence of God as a plausible explanation for the improbable nature of origin of life on this universe.


Quantum physics presented a challenge to the deterministic nature of classical physics. Newton introduced a mechanical view of nature. The universe is a giant machine with nuts and cog wheels. If you know how those nuts and wheels turning, you can predict everything about the machine. That view of the universe led to materialism, reductionism and determinism. Quantum physics threatened this view of the world: Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle made people feel that you cannot be certain about everything in the world. Quantum physics brought back a sense of indeterminism into people’s consciousness. That threatened many atheistic ideologies. Atheism embraced scientific materialism, everything can be reduced to atoms and molecules. Karl Marx was an atheist, his Communist ideology was dependent on dialectical materialism. Karl Marx based his Communism on godless materialism, so called ‘scientific materialism’  proposed by people like Ludwig Buchner and Ludwig Fuerbach. Marxism claimed to be true description of reality and boasted that it could offer solutions to all problems plaguing our humanity, including religion. Karl Marx said, ‘Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, as it is the spirit of the spiritless conditions. It is the opium of the people’.

Communism believes that human society is going through stages of development. Slavery, Feudalism, now Capitalism, finally Communist Socialist Utopia would come. That is a deterministic theory. Communists were horrified by Quantum physics. For example, Quantum physicist Paul Dirac was in love with Marxism, Soviet Union and Stalin. He visited Russia many times and lectured in its universities. The Soviets found themselves in a dilemma. Paul Dirac love them, they like Paul Dirac, but they don’t like his physics.

Paul Dirac’s textbook Principles of Quantum Mechanics was published by Soviet Publishing House in Russian language in 1932. The Communists put a disclaimer in the preface: Dirac’s books ‘‘contains many views and statements completely at variance with dialectical materialism’. The second edition of 1937 also came with a warning, ‘P.Dirac….makes some philosophical and methodological generalisations that contradict the only truly scientific method of cognition – dialectical materialism’

The atheists in Moscow refusing the philosophical ramifications of the scientific theory put forward by quantum physics. Any room for uncertainty in physical processes postulated by quantum theory would contradict their strict materialism. So, the indeterminism brought by quantum physics actually threatens atheism or any atheism built philosophies like Communism.


Physics and Mathematics have a relationship from the beginning. Quantum Mechanics brought very complex mathematics into physics. Physicist Neil Turok said, “As strange as it is, quantum theory has become the most successful, powerful and accurately-tested scientific theory of all time… represents a triumph of abstract, mathematical reasoning”

Quantum theory is a triumph of abstract, mathematical reasoning. Paul Dirac in 1931 said,  “The most powerful method of advance that can be suggested at present is to employ all the resources of pure mathematics in attempts to perfect and generalize the mathematical formalism that forms the existing basis of theoretical physics, and after each success in this direction, to try to interpret the new mathematical features in terms of physical entities”.  The highly mathematical nature of Quantum physics led many physicists to think of God. In May 1963 edition of Scientific American Paul Dirac wrote an article titled, The Evolution of the Physicist’s Picture of Nature, he wrote

It seems to be one of the fundamental features of nature that fundamental physical laws are described in terms of mathematical theory of great beauty and power, needing quite a high standard of mathematics for one to understand it. You may wonder: Why is nature constructed along these lines? One can only answer that our present knowledge seems to show that nature is so constructed. We simply have to accept it. One could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe. Our feeble attempts at mathematics enable us to understand a bit of the universe, and as we proceed to develop higher and higher mathematics we can hope to understand the universe better.

 God is a mathematician of a very high order, and He used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe. These are the words of Paul Dirac, one of the founding fathers of quantum physics.   You do mathematics and you make predictions, and they lead to discovery. It is called Principle of Plenitude. This principle works. Einstein predicted the existence of photos, Pauli predicted neutrino, Rutherford predicted neutron and Dirac predicted predicted positron. And all those predictions came true resulting in the discovery of hitherto unknown particles. That is the power of mathematics.  Until Einstein used non-Euclidean geometry as the foundation of his general theory of relativity, Non-Euclidean mathematics was considered as figment of imagination, before Heisenberg used non-commutative algebra in quantum mechanics, that type of algebra was laughed off as fiction of the mind. But slowly people realized that those mathematics is real, not just mental constructs.

People who believed in God also believed in the external reality of mathematics outside the human mind. But atheists found it difficult to accept the reality of mathematics outside human mind.  Some atheists like Roger Penrose believe in the reality of mathematical world, but most atheists reject the notion that mathematics have a reality of their own, because that threatens their worldview. If you accept the existence of mathematics out side human mind, then you are conceding that there is intelligence outside human mind. Then you have to accept the existence of God because God is an intelligent being outside human mind. Mathematics is real yet immaterial, God is real and yet immaterial.

Some people said mathematics is discovery, but some people said it is only invention. Quantum physicists like Paul Dirac  saw mathematics as ‘discovery’, not ‘invention’. He believed in the reality of mathematical realm, it is not just an artificial construction generated in the neurons of our brains with no external reality.  One day Paul Dirac was taking lessons in Russian language from a teacher named Lydia Jackson. She told him, ‘I think mathematics was just a human invention’. Dirac did not agree with her opinion. He told her, ‘Mathematics always existed, only to be discovered by humans’. Then she asked him, ‘Doesn’t that mean that it was created by God?’ Dirac smiled and conceded.

So, Paul Dirac said, ‘Mathematics always existed, only to be discovered by humans’. She asked him, ‘Doesn’t that mean that it was created by God?’ That is a very legitimate question. Because once you accept that, mathematics is intelligence, mathematics has its own existence, intelligence has own existence, intelligence needs an intelligent mind, Mathematics is intelligence, mathematics needs a mind.  Physicist Dr.Max Tegmark came out with a new book, ‘Our Mathematical Universe: My Quest for the Ultimate Nature of Reality. In this book he concluded that mathematics serves as such a powerful tool because universe is a mathematical structure. It is not universe has mathematics, but universe is mathematics. Universe is a textbook of mathematics, a textbook needs an author. Universe is mathematics, so Universe is intelligence, it is irrational to say that intelligence can come out of unintelligent causes. It is more rational to say that intelligence comes out of intelligent mind, in this case, the mind of God.

 Many great mathematicians thought of God when they realized the consistency and predictive power of mathematics. Srinivasa Ramanujan (1887 – 1920), one of the greatest mathematicians ever lived, said ‘An equation for me has no meaning, unless it expresses a thought of God’. Paul Dirac’s assistant, Harish Chandra was a great mathematician and physicist in his own way.

He was awarded Padma Bhushan in 1977. Harish Chandra saw mathematics as a mediator between God and man.

You don’t have to be born in a Jewish or Christian home to see God as a mathematician. Srinivasa Ramanujan and Harish Chandra were Hindus. They could see the mind of a Creator behind the mathematical nature of the universe. Dirac expressed the same thought when he said, “one could perhaps describe the situation by saying that God is a mathematician of a very high order, and he used very advanced mathematics in constructing the universe”

So you see, these great mathematicians and quantum physicists were led to believe in God, not atheism.

Quantum physics is like synchronization of   human mind and the universe. It is like iphone and Imac. If you connect an iphone with an Imac they recognize each other, because both run on ios software made by same designers at Apple Computers. In the same way, human mind is syncing with the universe because both can understand each other through the software called mathematics. You don’t say, iphone born out of blind processes of matter, space and time, imac was born out of blind processes of matter, space and time, it is just chance that we can connect them and make them sync with each other. In the same way, there is no creator, the universe came out by itself through blind processes, our mind had no creator, it born out of blind mutations over millions of years, it’s just a chance. That is foolishness. It is more reasonable to say, just like iphone and imac were designed by same engineers at Apple Company, universe and human mind were created by same Creator, who is God. So the highly complex mathematical nature of quantum physics point us to God, not to atheism. That is what Paul Dirac did, he saw the power of mathematics in his prediction of positron, and said, God is mathematician of highest order.

Ontology: Quantum physics also has an ontological aspect.

Quantum physics is not sterile. It touched the emotions of its discoverers. In an interview in 1979, Dirac said, “The beauty of the equations provided by nature….gives one a strong emotional reaction” Physicist Freeman Dyson noted,  ‘The great papers of the other quantum pioneers were more ragged, less perfectly formed than Dirac’s. His great discoveries were like exquisitely carved marble statues falling out of the sky, one after another. He seemed to be able to conjure laws of nature from pure thought – it was this purity that made him unique”.

 Here is Freeman Dyson description of  quantum discoveries as marble statues falling out of the sky. There is beauty in this science. Quantum Physics is both truth and beauty.    James Joyce said,

(T)he true and the beautiful are akin. Truth is beheld by the intellect which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible: beauty is beheld by the imagination which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the sensible. (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1915, Chapter 5.

In October 1956 Dirac was giving lectures at Moscow University. He was asked, ‘what is your philosophy of physics?’ Dirac wrote on the blackboard: PHYSICAL LAWS SHOULD HAVE MATHEMATICAL BEAUTY.

On another occasion, Dirac said: “Mathematical beauty is a quality which cannot be defined, any more than beauty in art can be defined, but which people who study mathematics usually have no difficulty appreciating”. It was not just Dirac who was fascinated by the mathematical beauty of his equations. Other great physicists made their deliberations: Freeman Dyson observed He presents quantum mechanics as a work of art, finished and polished”. Arthur Eddington described Dirac’s symbolic version of quantum mechanics as ‘highly transcendental , almost mystical’

His passion was to find beauty in the nature. He said, ‘Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star’. So, there is a collective appreciation of creation in that statement. Pick a flower and you move the farthest star. You find a watch, you picked it up, its a beautiful watch, you are more curious, you opened the watch, it is so beautiful even inside.  Quantum physics revealed the intrinsic and extrinsic beauty of the universe. Atheism says universe is an accident, human beings are an accident, beauty in the universe is an accident. That is not a satisfactory answer. Universe is beautiful because it has a Creator with a taste for art. That explanation is more satisfactory.


Founders of modern science believed in a universe with a beginning.  Isaac Newton was a Christian, and he believed in the universe with a beginning. But as scientific materialism took over academia, more people believed in a universe with no beginning. At the beginning of 20th century, many physicists and astronomers believed in static universe, universe with no beginning, no end. Fred Hoyle was an atheist, he said, ‘universe has no beginning, there is no Creator’. Even Einstein believed in the static universe.

Quantum physics revolutionized Cosmology.From blackholes to wormholes,  international space station, the Hubble telescope, missions to mars, human beings scaling the silent endless frontiers of space. Quantum physics also transformed our understanding of cosmogenesis: the birth of the universe.

Dirac’s equation predicted the existence of positron and of antimatter. He wrote “We must regard it as an accident that the Earth (and presumably the whole solar system), contains a preponderance of negative electrons and positive protons. It is quite possible that for some of the stars it is the other way about, these stars being built up mainly of positrons and negative protons. In fact, there may be half the stars of each kind’.

That was a groundbreaking observation. Electron has positron, matter has antimatter. When electron meets a positron, they destroy each other into energy. When matter meets antimatter, they destroy each other into energy. A universe with equal amounts of matter and antimatter. Because matter and antimatter annihilate each other, some physicists saw creation ex nihilo in this phenomenon. Creation ex nihilo: A Universe created out of nothing we see in Genesis 1:1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.  When Dirac was working at Princeton University’s Institute for Advanced Study he befriended Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian priest and physicist. Paul Dirac meeting Georges Lemaitre: Quantum Physics meeting Cosmology. Lemaitre believed in the universe created by God, it has a beginning, and he proposed Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. He predicted the expansion of the universe and derived Hubble’s law and Hubble’s constant. During those years, some astronomers were atheists and they believed in the eternal universe. Here comes a Catholic priest contradicting them and proposing the expansion of the universe. Russian mathematician Alexander Friedmann studied Einstein’s general theory of relativity and his mathematics suggested an expanding universe. But even Einstein became furious at the ideas of Lemaitre and Friedmann. He introduced cosmological constant to make his universe a static structure. Later he regretted it was the biggest blunder in his life.

   So, Quantum physics led to the discovery of antimatter and finally a universe with a beginning. Dirac and Lemaitre discussed cosmology during their meetings at Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. Lemaitre was president of Pontifical Academy of Science in Rome from 1960. Dirac also became a member of this Academy in 1961. In 1968, two years after the death of Lemaitre, Dirac wrote a memorial in which he wrote, ‘I told him (Lemaitre) that I thought cosmology was the branch of science that lies closest to religion’. In 1964, Cosmic Microwave background radiation was discovered by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson and in 1978  they were awarded Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. Arno Penzias stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978, “The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole’. Yah we made this great discovery that universe has a beginning. But that is already in the Bible. I just discovered what Bible already states in plain language. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. So, Quantum physics unveiled a universe with a beginning: it told us what is already written in the Bible. The cosmology of quantum physics is more consistent with Christian worldview than atheism that proposed a universe with no beginning.

Moral implications

Like all scientific theories, quantum physics has moral implications. Should we use this technology for human progress or human destruction? Should we build power plants or make atom bombs?

Nuclear power is providing electricity to millions of homes around the world,  curing cancers through radiation therapy, improving agricultural output through pest control, decreasing pollution and dating ancient artifacts etc. Sadly, it also produced atom bombs.

United States recruited Robert Oppenheimer to lead Manhattan Project to produce atom bomb. Hitler drafted Werner Heisenberg to run his nuclear weapons program. The world saw the destructive power of atom when Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the two Japanese cities were razed by nuclear weapons on August 6 and 9, 1945.  Oppenheimer told President Truman, ‘I feel I have blood on my hands’.

   Quantum physicists worried about the propagation of this technology all over the world.  Indian Quantum physicists also worked on nuclear weapons. Home Bhabha was a student of Paul Dirac. Homi Bhabha (1909 – 1966) started India’s nuclear programs. On Bhabha’s invitation Dirac visited India for four months and met Jawaharlal Nehru on January 12, 1955. Homi Bhabha convinced Nehru to invest in nuclear programs. Bhabha established Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in 1945 and Atomic Energy Commission in 1948.

   The Quantum physicists were happy when they saw their science put to good use, but  were horrified when they saw it being used to make weapons of mass destruction. Paul Dirac loved Marxism, but he was shocked by what he saw in Communist nations.  Lenin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong, Castro, Ceausescu propagated death of God on billboards, made atheism the official policy of their governments, which were ruling over one third of the world. They were killing millions of people on the altars of Communism. If you believe in God, you are dead. The world had seen atheists killing millions of people in Communist nations.

Quantum physics cannot avoid such ethical questions. Many Quantum physicists started to search for a moral framework. For example, Paul Dirac read Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment. Dostoevsky exposing the sickness of self-sufficient Russian society and its need for regeneration through rediscovery of its roots in Christianity. Religion in general, Christianity in particular provides a moral framework to judge what is right and what is wrong. Atheism has no such moral framework. Might is right. Whatever is, is right, to use Alexander Pope’s words. The ethics of quantum physics need a moral framework. That search leads to theism, not atheism, because atheism provides no moral framework.

Fundamental nature of universe

Atheists believe in materialism. They rely on empiricism. They say, If you want me to believe in something, tell me its molecular structure, give me its atomic formula. I believe in water, I can show you it is made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom. If it does not have atomic structure, I don’t believe in it. God has no atomic structure, so I don’t believe in God.

Jesus said, God is a spirit. God has no atomic structure. He is a spiritual being. Quantum physics is taking us to a spiritual nature of the universe. What is the fundamental nature of reality? The Greeks believed in Earth, Water, Fire and Air. Classical physics told us fundamental nature of the universe is atoms. Recently we went much deeper. The particles inside the atom, then particles within the particles, all kinds of subatomic particles were discovered in the last few decades. Quantum Field Theory states that it is not even subatomic particles which are the foundation of reality, but an energy field. All these particles, and subparticles are arising from one invisible energy field. So, the fundamental nature of universe is invisible, not visible, it is not physical. That view takes us nearer to God. The universe at the foundational level is an invisible energy field, in that respect it resembles the nature of God. The Quantum energy field is transforming into atoms and molecules and then into different objects we can see and feel. In the same way, God who is spirit has taken a human form in Jesus. In that way, Quantum physics is nearer to Christianity not atheism.

Longings of the Heart

Quantum physicists are also human beings with feelings. If we read their biographies we see them as human beings craving for love and affection. For example, biographers of Paul Dirac filled many chapters writing about the ‘lost childhood of Dirac’. Dirac once said,  ‘I never knew love or affection when I was a child’. His father Charles Dirac forced strict discipline on young Paul. He was allowed to speak only in French at dinner table. His father was not considerate of Dirac’s wishes, desires or ambitions. Paul Dirac carried that childhood psychological trauma all his life. His friends perplexed, ‘Why was Paul so bitter, so obsessed with his father?’ Dirac allowed no photographs of his father to be displaced in his home. He did not invite his father to Stockholm when he received the Nobel Prize. So, this great physicist had bitterness in his heart because he had a feeling that he was not loved enough during his childhood years. Quantum physics cannot give that emotional fulfillment to human beings.

Earlier I quoted  James Joyce said,

(T)he true and the beautiful are akin. Truth is beheld by the intellect which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the intelligible: beauty is beheld by the imagination which is appeased by the most satisfying relations of the sensible. (James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1915, Chapter 5.

  Truth and Beauty they came together Quantum physics. But they are still imperfect. God is the perfect embodiment of truth and perfect manifestation of beauty. The Christian gospel was expressed in deeply emotional terms: ‘For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life’

For God so loved the world, Dirac craved so much for his father’s love, but when he could not find it, he filled his heart with resentment and bitterness. But here is God’s love, God who came to this world in the humanity of Lord Jesus Christ and died on the cross for our sins and raised from the dead to give us eternal hope. I hope you find the true fulfillment of love in Jesus Christ.

There are people who want to see quantum physics purely through materialistic sense. But we should remember materialism ultimately leads to a very depressing view of human beings. Scientific materialism was born through the work of Ludwig Buchner, a German thinker. He said these words: “We are like dogs on a treadmill; the red-hot irons of life goad us to unceasing action on the ever-turning yet motionless wheel, to a restless and aimless advance, until at length we sink exhausted into the grave we have dug”

“We are like dogs on a treadmill; the red-hot irons of life goad us to unceasing action on the ever-turning yet motionless wheel, to a restless and aimless advance, until at length we sink exhausted into the grave we have dug”

Science without God, or anything without God leads us to such despair. “We are like dogs on a treadmill; the red-hot irons of life goad us to unceasing action on the ever-turning yet motionless wheel, to a restless and aimless advance, until at length we sink exhausted into the grave we have dug”

So, today we have seen the question, Does Quantum Physics lead to atheism? The answer is no. In fact, the implications of quantum physics lead us to God.

So, today we have seen the question, Does Quantum Physics lead to atheism? The answer is no. The highly mathematical Nature of Quantum Physics,  its indeterminism, its ontology, its cosmological implications, and its moral implications. The fundamental nature of the universe unveiled byy quantum physics only point us to a Creator, a God with a moral framework. In fact, the implications of quantum physics lead us to God.

Paul Kattupalli