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Reconciling Newton's Religious Causality and Heisenberg's Atheistic UncertaintyA Paradigm Shift in Physics

Version 2 2024-07-06, 20:57
Version 1 2024-06-14, 11:37
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posted on 2024-07-06, 20:57 authored by Wim VegtWim Vegt

The pivotal shift in Physics initiated by Erwin Heisenberg's seminal work in 1925 marked a significant departure from classical paradigms towards what is now known as modern quantum physics. Heisenberg's groundbreaking paper, "On the quantum-theoretical reinterpretation of kinematical and mechanical relationships," commonly referred to as "Die Umdeutung," heralded a radical transformation in the foundation of physics.

By replacing the traditional religious notion of "Causality" with an atheistic concept of "Probability," Heisenberg's work revolutionized the field. The removal of "Causality" challenged the religious underpinning of physics, leading to a reevaluation of fundamental principles. This shift, epitomized by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, transformed the deterministic worldview into a probabilistic one, sparking debates on the nature of existence and human agency.

The ramifications of this paradigm shift extended beyond theoretical discourse. The ethical implications of scientific advancements, exemplified by the development of the atomic bomb during World War II, underscored the complex interplay between physics, morality, and political ideologies. The juxtaposition of Heisenberg's involvement in Nazi Germany's atomic research and Oppenheimer's leadership in the Manhattan Project highlighted the ethical dilemmas faced by scientists in wartime.

Moreover, the integration of Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle with Newton's Causality Principle rekindles discussions on the interconnectedness of Physics, Philosophy, and Theology. The quest for a unified framework underscores the importance of reconciling divergent perspectives to forge a coherent understanding of the universe. This synthesis seeks to bridge the gap between classical paradigms and modern quantum theory, offering new insights into the intertwined fabric of physical laws and metaphysical beliefs.

During the 5th Solvay in 1927 has been the famous discussion between Albert Einstein and Niels Bohr when Einstein declared: “God does not play Dice”. Formally this discussion was between Einstein and Bohr. But the real discussion was between Einstein and Heisenberg. Heisenberg the creator of the principle of “Fundamental Uncertainty”. Einstein’s statement: God does not play Dice” has to be interpreted in a wider and larger time-frame.


- In January 1919, Anton Drexler founded the German Workers’ Party. This party was formed from a group who had previously met regularly to discuss political matters. On the 24 February 1920, the German Workers’ Party changed its name to the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP), more commonly referred to as the Nazi Party.

- July 29, 1921, Adolf Hitler becomes the leader of the National Socialist German Workers’ (Nazi) Party.

- September 1925. Werner Heisenberg publishes in “Zeitschrift für Physik”: “On the quantum-theoretical reinterpretation of kinematical and mechanical relationships" (also known as the Umdeutung (reinterpretation) paper), a breakthrough article in quantum mechanics an introduces the principle of “Fundamental Uncertainty”.

- October 1927. 5th Solvay Conference: Einstein’s famous statement: “God does not play Dice”.

- After 1927: Heisenberg became the target of ideological attacks. A coterie of Nazi-affiliated physicists promoted the idea of a “German” or “Aryan” physics, opposed to a supposedly “Jewish” influence manifested in abstract mathematical approaches—above all, relativity and quantum theories. Johannes Stark, a leader of this movement, used his Nazi Party connections to assert influence over science funding and personnel decisions. Sommerfeld had long regarded Heisenberg as his eventual successor, and in 1937 Heisenberg received a call to join the University of Munich. Thereupon the official SS journal published an article signed by Stark that called Heisenberg a “white Jew” and the “Ossietzky of physics.” (German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, winner of the 1935 Nobel Prize for Peace, had been imprisoned in 1931 for treason for his reporting of Germany’s secret rearmament efforts, given amnesty in 1932, and then rearrested and interned in a concentration camp by the Nazis in 1933.)

- 1942. At a scientific conference on 26–28 February 1942 at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, called by the Army Weapons Office, Heisenberg presented a lecture to Reichs officials on energy acquisition from nuclear fission. The lecture, entitled "Die theoretischen Grundlagen für die Energiegewinnung aus der Uranspaltung" ("The theoretical basis for energy generation from uranium fission") was, as Heisenberg wrote after the Second World War in a letter to Samuel Goudsmit, "adapted to the intellectual level of a Reichs Minister", as is often done when presenting complex and cutting-edge scientific concepts to laymen. Heisenberg lectured on the enormous energy potential of nuclear fission, stating that 250 million electron volts could be released through the fission of an atomic nucleus. Heisenberg stressed that pure U-235 had to be obtained to achieve a chain reaction. This machine, he noted, could be used in practical ways to fuel vehicles, ships and submarines. Heisenberg stressed the importance of the Army Weapons Office's financial and material support for this scientific endeavour. A second scientific conference followed. At the conference, Reichs Minister Rust decided to take the nuclear project away from the Kaiser Wilhelm Society. The Reichs Research Council was to take on the project. In April 1942 the army returned the Physics Institute to the Kaiser Wilhelm Society, naming Heisenberg as Director at the Institute. With this appointment at the KWIP, Heisenberg obtained his first professorship.


It is in this time-frame context that Einstein’s statement: God does not play Dice” has to be interpreted. Einstein saw a dark Nazi-Future rising and the importance of Heisenberg’s knowledge for the Nazis. Einstein wanted to make clear to Heisenberg that our choices are always grounded on causality. There is no uncertainty in our choices and therefore we carry full responsibilities for our choices. Heisenberg’s lectures to nazi scientists have had an enormous impact on the development of atomic weapons. And probably the nuclear bombing on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would never have taken place without Heisenberg’s lectures to the Nazis. That is the responsibility of science. We are responsible for what we share. There is no fundamental uncertainty in our responsibilities.

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