Quantum physics (at least as much of it as I can understand) has been fertile ground for some of my most significant paradigm shifts in Christian spirituality.
For example, it seems the universe isn’t made up of solid “building blocks” but rather tiny particles in relationship with each other with vast quantities of “empty space” between them. What is it that fills the “space” between the particles? Well, perhaps it’s God’s presence, holding everything together (Col 1:17). Maybe we’re swimming in God.
Another concept from quantum physics that I find intriguing is “quantum entanglement,” which is the phenomenon that occurs when a group of particles seem to be connected in a way that you can’t observe with Newtonian physics. When one particle changes state, other entangled particles change at the exact same time, even when separated by vast differences. It’s like they’re connected through some unseen “medium”, almost like being in two places at once.
What’s all this got to do with Christian spirituality? The New Testament writers talk often as if we are in two places at once. In Romans 6, Paul says, “all who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death… Therefore, we were buried together with [Christ] through baptism into his death, so that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too can walk in newness of life.”
In other words, in our baptism, we’ve already died and been raised from the dead! We die before we die, and we rise before we rise. In Colossians 3, Paul writes “You died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” We exist in two realms at the same time (just like Jesus, who is in heaven with God but also with us to the end of the age).
It’s like we have quantum entanglement with Jesus! Our bodies are here on earth, subject to corruption and disease and sin, but also we’re already dead to all that and we are connected to the resurrected body of Jesus in heaven.
Hans Urs von Balthasar puts it eloquently:
So it is that not only Christ, but our love for him is already in heaven; it is in heaven that we receive him at Holy Mass, in heaven we seek and find him in prayer and contemplation, Indeed in loving our neighbor in the most ordinary earthly matters, we are encountering Christ in heaven. All this is hidden, of course, from our earthly senses at present, but when the Lord returns in will become manifest, along with him, as something that was always there.Prayer, p. 281.
Contemplating quantum entanglement helps take these biblical ideas from wishful thinking to plausibility for me. I’m able to live with a more consistent awareness of the fact that I really do have a life hidden with Christ in God, so “setting my mind on things above” is not a flight from reality, but rather a grounding in reality.