QR4.8.3 Quantum Evolution

Darwin’s “great idea” was that the human species was naturally selected by the evolution of life over millions of years rather than created by a divine intelligence. The conditions necessary for a species to evolve are identified as:

1. Reproduction. Species produce offspring that carry on their traits.

2. Variation. The offspring’s traits vary, e.g. by mutation.

3. Selection. Those offspring better fitted to survive reproduce more to pass on their traits.

Evolution is essentially an iterative method that lets biological patterns suited to survive arise naturally based on trial-and-error rather than a preconceived plan, a view that was taken to contradict the orthodox religious view of a divine creator.

In quantum realism, the physical world evolves because the quantum world explores every option. To apply Darwin’s theory to the quantum world, replace “species” by “quantum entity”, defined as a quantum server process. A photon as a quantum entity is then subject to evolutionary conditions as follows:

1. Reproduction. The photon quantum wave generates “offspring” by instantiation.

2. Variation. The “clone” instances in the photon cloud vary in properties like location and direction.

3. Selection. Quantum collapse then selects one instance to restart the photon in a physical event.

When a photon cloud passes through Young’s slits to hit the screen at a point, one instance is selected from many variants to trigger a server restart that reproduces the photon. Likewise, light finds the shortest path to any destination by a quantum evolution, where the instance that accidentally finds the shortest path to restart the server first is “more fit”. Yet while the “success” of that photon instance is accidental, that some instance will find the fastest possible way is not.

Young’s experiment doesn’t change the photon but many photons merging into an electron do constitute a new “species” as an electron has different properties from light. An electron can be said to occupy an “niche” of quantum space just as a species occupies a niche in nature. And just as an organism has competitors that seek to displace it, so an electron is constantly bombarded with competitors for its channels. The photon pattern we call an electron is stable only because it can keep other quantum entities out of its niche and survive. The biological concept of survival is thus replaced by the concept of stability in quantum evolution.

The evolution of matter did not stop at the electron but went on to give neutrinos, quarks, protons, neutrons and all the atoms of the periodic table, and this physical evolution was in play long before Darwin’s biological evolution began. If this were not so, how else could dead physical particles that in themselves have no life at all give rise to self-directed life? In contrast if processing cycles create change and quantum randomness gives variety then stable matter end-states are naturally selected in a physical evolution. Now it is expected that physical evolution will lead to biological evolution .

Quantum randomness illustrates the conundrum. In a clockwork universe randomness is pointless as it just introduces errors in the clock. Randomness is equally unhelpful in a god-designed universe as it just interferes with the divine plan. Hence neither mechanists nor theists welcome the randomness of quantum theory, but in quantum realism it is as necessary for physical evolution as genetic variety is for biological evolution. One concludes that what drives the universe is not dead matter following fixed laws nor a divine plan prepared by a super being but a dynamic quantum evolution discovering its future.