Every once in a while, I delve into reading about something that is far beyond my mental scope. It’s almost like forcing my brain to run a mental marathon (and remember that people who live in these lanes are way out of my intellectual league). Just as it is healthy to push our bodies to their limits, it is healthy to stretch our minds.
In such an ambitious state, I picked up Louisa Gilder’s fascinating book The Age of Entanglement: When Quantum Physics was Reborn. Unlike most physics-related books, she sought to tell the stories of the conversations and interactions between the key players in the quantum era (names you probably recognize if you took chemistry or physics courses in college: Einstein, Bohr, Schrodinger, et al).
While I cannot say that I fully understand (or even remotely understand) the complex atomic realities into which these men were delving their entire lives, I can say that I am more in awe of the God who created such an intricate, seemingly inexplicable world. The more the most brilliant minds sought to understand the world, the more they realized that human language, even numbers, simply cannot capture the nuanced and quirky (or should I say quarky) realities sewn into the very fabric of the universe.
The entire book revolves around the debate over quantum entanglement, a strange phenomenon that cannot be explained by the classical model of quantum physics (supported by Bohr and an entire cast of his cronies). Einstein, Schrodinger, and a few brave others continued to insist that the long-range entanglement of particles long after a brief interaction, proved that our traditional understanding is gapped, at best. In fact, Einstein died trying to figure out a unifying theory that would teach us the relationship between the traditional model and the quantum model.
Entangled with God, Either in Enmity or Intimacy
The concept of the unseen, but very real entanglement of the smallest units of matter shouldn’t surprise believers (even those, like me, who don’t claim to fully understand it). After all, our God exists outside of time, yet he chose to step into time to interact with those whom he created with a mere word. He is not the disinterested clockmaker deists would have us believe. He is actively, eternally-engaged in his creation, even down to the level of electrons and quarks.
As I read Gilder’s book, I was simultaneously reading a very different book which talks about a very different form of entanglement: The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John Frame. While the physicists are trying to describe the strange entanglement of particles, Frame is speaking of the entanglement of people to their Creator. God is Creator and therefore authority over all created matter (his transcendence) yet he is involved in his creation in intimate ways (his immanence). God draws near in space, but he also draws near in time. In the words of Frame, “God is unavoidably close to His creation. We are involved with Him all the time.”
In Acts 17, the Apostle Paul says something similar to the truth-seeking pagans gathered in the Areopagus. “Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar to ‘the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made my man…” (Acts 17:22-24).
The writer of Hebrews also acknowledges the omnipresent, omniscient God “with whom we have to do” (Heb. 4:13).
The lives of believers and non-believers alike are tangled up with God. Denying him (atheism) or claiming a hung-jury (agnosticism) does not change the reality that our lives are entangled with the God of the universe. There are two ways to experience this entanglement: enmity or intimacy.
When we refuse to accept the reality of the Lordship of God, we are locked into enmity with him. Even if our words don’t say that verbally, our lives are entrenched in enmity. We are going against the grain of the universe and fighting a losing battle. According to Frame, unbelief is eventually found to be exhausting and infuriating, “a self-frustrating task,” because in unbelief of God we are trying to do that which is impossible: set up another not-god (even if it is self) as God.
The life of a believer, however, is intended to be a life of intimacy with God. Going with the grain of the universe and acknowledging reality as it truly is, believers are invited into a relational knowledge of and interaction with our Creator. In bending the knee (and more importantly the heart) before him, we acknowledge him for who He is and experience the entanglement of a loving Father.
These thoughts, far from being purely theoretical, have wide-ranging implications in our daily lives. When I think of those whom I love who deny or seek to ignore God whether actively or passively, I long for them to know the glorious reality of the entanglement of intimacy with God. In my own life, I want to enjoy his active-involvement in my life rather than chafe against it in stubbornness.
This God with whom we have to do is the Lord of heaven and earth, but he is also the suffering servant who died on our behalf. That he would entangle himself with our affairs, even when we stood in enmity against him, this is a wonder beyond all wonders!