Tuesday, February 02, 2010
Albert Einstein once made this famous declaration about quantum mechanics. Actually, he apparently has been paraphrased and what he really said was:
"Quantum mechanics is certainly imposing. But an inner voice tells me that it is not yet the real thing. The theory says a lot, but does not really bring us any closer to the secret of the 'old one'. I, at any rate, am convinced that He does not throw dice." Amusingly, Niels Bohr once responded to a similar statement by Einstein:
"Einstein, please quit telling G-d what to do," (quoted by Walter Isaacson).
In my search for the background to Einstein's quote, I found the following by Terry Pratchett:
"G-d does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of his own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time."
Why am I quoting random authors and physicists about G-d? The short answer is that I saw Einstein quoted by Harold Kushner in "When Bad Things Happen to Good People." I keep picking this book up both to help me advise my unfortunate patients and to settle my own spiritual crisis. Kushner does a good job in the consolation line and he comes by it honestly having lost his own son to a genetic disease.
Cancer keeps cropping up in my life, both professionally and personally and I am lately often in a bit of shock. I've spoken here about my nephew and the latest news is that things have turned very bad. His tumor has metastasized and is growing aggressively. At this point there seems very little hope. I might be sounding a bit too intellectual about this in my writing but in reality I'm confused, scared, bereft and feeling a lot of pain. My baby brother that I played surrogate parent to for years is about to lose his son. How can that happen? Why are we all so helpless to do anything?
No, I don't think that G-d is playing games with us. And I have no stake in having anyone else believe as I do, especially since I have so much trouble articulating what I believe, even to myself. Right now I find myself agreeing with Pratchett. I still hold that life worth the pain it brings but today I don't feel like I'm holding all the cards I want.