Tuesday, February 02, 2010

"G-d Does Not Play Dice"

Playing Games

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.


Sue said...

Sarala, I'm so sorry about the little guy's illness. I always believed that God only wants what is good for us... but then something like Haiti happens, or a baby gets sick, and you can't make any sense of it. I wish there was something I could do to make things better. Peace and love to you and yours...

Rayne said...

I am so sorry you, and your whole family has to go through this. I understand the feeling of frustration and anger and not being able to come up with the perfect thing to say or do. The inability to fix this situation or to prevent it from happening again. Sometimes you can even be gripped by an almost paranoid sense and you start wondering who it is going to hit next.
I have found that the best thing that I can do is to just be there as honestly and fully as you can be, sometimes even just sitting in silence next to those who are hurting, just being a presence is the best thing you can do. If you ever need to vent, I am here.

A Free Man said...

I believe in a god of sorts, but I've never been able to come to terms with why horrible things happen to people who just don't deserve them. I wish you and your nephew and your family all the best.