Quantum teleportation, FTL, and causality; was Re: Cat 5 extended run?

Levi Pearson levipearson at gmail.com
Wed Mar 13 11:39:02 MDT 2013


On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 6:06 PM, Daniel C. <dcrookston at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Tue, Mar 12, 2013 at 7:56 PM, Dave Smith <dave at thesmithfam.org> wrote:
>>> For the Mormons here - how does this square with your religious beliefs?
>>
>> You mean the fact that Levi believes FTL information transfer is impossible? Not too bad.

Perhaps God is capable of FTL information transfer, but must use that
capability very carefully in order to avoid disrupting apparent
causality for us.  At least, nothing in any religious text I'm aware
of suggests anything profoundly at odds with causality, such as in one
of the thought experiments regarding FTL information transfer that
describes an observer seeing a bomb detonating before the message is
sent to trigger it.  Visions and prophecies recorded in scripture tend
to be highly metaphorical rather than being a direct observation of
future events. If such is the case, then God must be carefully
guarding the knowledge about the underlying physics involved and thus
it is still effectively impossible for us to do so.

> No, I mean the fact that FTL travel (as well as time travel in
> general) would create causality violations.  If you believe in a deity
> that can travel and communicate faster than light and also travel
> through time, how do you make the two match up?  Is it just a matter
> of not bothering to try (the Lord works in mysterious ways, etc.) or
> do you attempt to come up with some explanation or justification for
> all of this?

I don't think there's enough physics detail given in the LDS canonical
scriptures to try to definitively map religious ideas therein to what
we know about physics. And attempts to do so in the past (among
religious groups in general) have led to all sorts of unnecessary
conflict between religion and other forms of seeking knowledge about
the world.

However, here's a crack at explaining how a very powerful and wise
being might possess foreknowledge of events and seem to communicate
them instantaneously without violating causality:
  1. Being creates a complex but constrained system, knowing the start
state and progression rules to a high degree of precision and accuracy
  2. This gives predictive power within the system; the being may
state with some confidence interval the probability of an event
happening within the system at any point in its progression.
  3. The being can also arrange precisely timed interventions within
the system, despite potentially vast distances involved.  The messages
just have to be launched earlier to arrive at the necessary times.
  4. Even allowing for a somewhat chaotic system that would be
implausible to completely predict, a being with sufficient
observational power could continually map how the system is
progressing through a 'possibility phase space' and foresee far enough
ahead to guide its progression through that phase space via carefully
timed and aimed interventions.

This system is not necessarily 'space and time as we know them'; it
could just as easily be an organization set up within space and time.
It doesn't even have to be completely deterministic, just
'deterministic enough' for a sufficiently intelligent and
observationally powerful being to continually update predictions of
the progression of the system.

This is just off the top of my head and not really reflective of my
personal views on religion or my belief that we're living in such a
system.  I think that while such things can be an amusing distraction,
they're not really relevant to religion or physics and aren't really
worth trying to pin down with any sort of certainty.

> It seems like the easiest explanation would be to hand-wave it away
> and say that God created the universe but exists outside of it, so the
> constraints of physics don't apply to him.  That seems like cheating
> though - and anyway, if I recall my D&C correctly, God is supposedly
> bound by the laws of nature just as much as we are.
>
> Regardless, is it possible to have a deity that is bound by physics
> but is still a deity?  Or do we have to postulate some sort of
> "sufficiently advanced technology" to make it happen?

The concept of deity isn't exactly understood the same by everyone.
One reasonable definition would be 'an entity that is worshipped by
people', and in that sense there's no reason such an entity would have
to have any particular powers at all, whatever its worshippers might
think.  A golden calf fits just fine in this definition of deity.
Even if you constrain the concept to something resembling the
Judeo-Christian concept of deity, that's still a pretty vague notion
that has clearly had a changing set of constraints on it throughout
history.

Given all this, there's absolutely no reason you couldn't come up with
some well-formed idea of a sentient deity that was sufficiently
powerful to explain some interpretation of the events in
Judeo-Christian scripture but was still bound to the laws of physics.
Whether you could get many people to agree that you were right about
the nature of God would end up being more a function of your charisma
and persuasive power than anything else, though.

Anyway, one of the powerful things about LDS theology is that it
doesn't bind itself too tightly to particular creeds or
interpretations of things.  It's explicitly open to (at least some
relatively large degree of) personal interpretation.  There are a lot
of people that get caught up on the published personal interpretations
of various facets of LDS cosmology, as far as such a thing exists, but
they're so varied and conflicting (even in the output of any
particular person over time) that there's no sense in attempting to
make much of the specific detail canonical.

      --Levi


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