“Einstein, don’t tell God what to do!” This was the famous retort of Niels Bohr – one of the creators of quantum physics – to the most celebrated scientist of the twentieth century. Albert Einstein had been unhappy with what he called the “spooky” quantum theory, which implied that reality was almost random, illogical, impossible to understand. At the most fundamental observable level of physical existence, the tiniest expressions of energy and mass behaved in a way that was utterly bewildering. Like many people, Einstein found this hard to accept, and so he had argued that “God doesn’t play dice” (i.e., the natural universe is – or “should” be – orderly).

Surprisingly enough, the ancient Hebrew Bible has some things in common with modern quantum physics! Actually, the Bible expresses a rather similar overall view of the universe. Qohelet/Ecclesiastes 7:24 is one of many verses that speak of the great, unfathomable mystery of reality: “What has come into existence is far away and deep, deep! Who can search it out?” (Compare, for example, Isa 40:28, 55:8-9; Ps 92:5/6, 139:6; Job 5:9, 11:7; Ecc 3:11, 8:17.) Probably Bohr would have enjoyed these verses more than Einstein.

Another possible similarity between quantum physics and the Hebrew Bible relates to the four-letter name of God – יהוה (YHWH). People have wondered about and argued over this name for many centuries. A great number of different theories try to define its proper pronunciation and original meaning. One of the most popular ideas is that the Hebrew Bible’s name for God is a verb that expresses past, present, and future tenses all at once! According to this interpretation, the name YHWH means something like “the one who was-is-will be.” This is a very old idea that may go back as far as the Jewish-Greek Septuagint translation (ca. 200 BCE/BC) and the Book of Revelation (1st century AD/CE).

If we were to translate this understanding of God’s name into the language of quantum physics, we might call it “a superposition of all possible states.” Indeed, quantum mechanics posits that the particles or waves that apparently make up our universe (and us) can exist in all possible states at once – until someone carries out a “measurement.” Once you measure the location of a particle, it “collapses” to a single specific location. Perhaps the name of God, YHWH, is similar: it communicates Being in all states, dimensions, and times simultaneously – and if you try to define the meaning more specifically, you end up reducing it to just one aspect.

This is by no means the only possible way to understand the name יהוה (YHWH), and it is not even necessarily the most plausible. For those who would like to know more, I have prepared a course on the name of God that discusses its meaning, significance, pronunciation, history, interpretation in Jewish and Christian traditions, and more. Reality may be complex and unfathomable, but that’s no reason not to study it!

The Bible can provide us with truth, but it can also be difficult to decipher! Whether you're looking for some biblical direction, stumped on scriptural questions, or just want to confirm that you're already on the right track, join the growing community of faculty and students at Israel Bible Center! (Click here to begin your journey of discovery).

77 COMMENTS

  1. 😃 Love it! Amen! The incomparable, immeasurable mysteries of YHWH and His creation,and His love expressed toward it , especially in the Incarnation! Searching them out is one of the most rewarding enterprises of Life.

  2. Rev 1:8 – I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
    J.

  3. Do you have this information in written form. I am very hard of hearing and so cannot benefit much from oral teaching. However, I am very interested in the subject.

    • Peggy, the video courses include extensive written notes on screen, which can also be downloaded for review. I suggest that you contact the office directly to explain your situation and see whether the course might be suitable for you.

  4. so I heard a rumor that the Divine name can be read forward and backwards, there are interesting ways to pronounce it more than on anyway, but an interesting possibility would be Yahvah He, or Ha, va hiy, becaus ye hiy, owr yehiy is, and can be translated as is, was, and is to come light, for example, David also compares the female to the earth, as the child is being developed in her womb as well, Psalms 139, The spirit heaven combines with the mater earth to make us both spiritual, and matter, this is something of a mystery.

  5. As a former physicist become late-in-life minister, I found your comments interesting, but not quite correct as I view QM. Specifically, the gist of the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle can be [re]stated as “You can never know both the position of an object and the momentum of its movement beyond (and a constant comes into play).” This can also be explained by saying that if you bounce light off of an object, you cause it to move a bit, so the act of measuring where an object is in fact disturbs its location. Schweitzer implicitly grasped this.

    • Thank you, John. As a non-physicist, it is definitely possible that my presentation of the quantum analogy contains flaws. Could you point out exactly where you see the issue? My understanding of the Heisenberg uncertainty principle mostly matches yours. But it has been my impression that the idea of quantum superposition goes beyond that, positing a “general state” that represents a combination of all possible states. I would be grateful for any specific corrections!

  6. Quantum Physics is fascinating. Most physicists want to prove God isn’t. The Universe would not act as such otherwise. Ice wouldn’t float – we wouldn’t be here. I think God started with an unimaginable pool of energy, stretched it, called from a small portion of it all matter, and that to react in a very controlled manner (Quantum Physics). Maybe I’m nuts, but I don’t think Time is something we are floating in, as down a river, but that every particle in the Universe carries its own property of “Duration.” Wish I had the math skills to prove it.

  7. Relishing my spiritual walk with HaSHEM, I believe HE had drawn me more profoundly into the most fascinating facet of HIS PERSON, i.e. HIS NAME. I appreciate reading through your write- ups, I also believe dwelling upon the wonder of HIS NAME suffices in understanding at least what we can perceive in our lifetime. Thank you for your teachings.

  8. Rev 1:8- “1:8 I AM the Aleph and Tav, says YAHWEH ELOHIM, WHO is and WHO was and WHO is to come, the SHADDAY.”

    -Book of The Covemant

    • Yes, this is the place that in the Jewish-Greek original suggests the idea mentioned in the article, via its allusion to the Septuagint of Exod. 3:14-15.

  9. I absolutely love this! I would really like to hear Dr. Gruber’s take on 1) why the Tetragrammaton was replaced with another word in the scriptures, and 2) why it does not appear in the New Testament, even when OT scripture verses are quoted (I have my own theories).

    • Thank you for the questions. If I may paraphrase Gen. 41:25: The questions of Dolores are one! 🙂 We don’t know exactly why or when the substitution took place, but it seems to be connected to a belief that it would be improper to pronounce the true name of God. The period around the first century (including a bit before and after) is a transition period — we see changes in how the name is written in both Hebrew and Greek texts. Hence it is difficult to guess how the original versions of first-century Jewish messianic writings (such as those in the so-called “NT”) treated the Name. The later copies we have follow the same practice as do the later copies of the Septuagint. These matters are addressed in more detail in the course.

  10. Insightful discussion!

    Actually, the Divine Name may resonate more with General Relativity (GR), and its (3+1)D fabric of space+time

    Although we experience that fabric in a sequence of 3D moments of time…

    The whole entire fabric exists all at once…

    Past regions, the current “slice” at the present moment, and all future regions…

    All co-exist in the theory of GR

  11. “He who was and is and is to come” and “I am the alpha and the omega” and “I AM that/who I AM” all seem to fit well into the discussion above. M.

  12. Mind blowing that just confirms we do not have the mental capacity to ever explain the deep mysteries of God, he is immeasurable.

  13. The Hebrew word for truth is the aleph, mem,& tav – the beginning, the middle, and the end or simply “all.” Eternal past, present, and future. ADONAI Echad.

  14. Greetings Rabbi. Can you let me know if your course touches on the subject of Samael, the second God that was part of the Godhead and was taught in early Judaism.

    • Thank you for the inquiry, Luke. I should clarify that I’m actually not a rabbi (at least in the sense understood for most of the last 2,000 years). Regarding courses, I haven’t personally prepared any that deal with Samael (and I would quibble with your description of him). That said, some of the IBC offerings do indeed discuss these kinds of ideas (including, e.g., Metatron, the ‘Son of Man’, and other such figures as interpreted by Boyarin and others). I suggest that you contact the office for more details about those courses. Thanks for your interest!

  15. Like the disco ball that hangs above the dance floor with many reflecting mirrors, so are we as individuals created in His image and likeness,that can only be seen and understood in the realm from where we began.We have to understand our relationship with our Creator first before we can bare the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.Be rooted and grounded in Love. 🙂

  16. I have always loved YHWH’s wisdom in the articulation of ha Shem: ehyeh asher ehyeh. To me it has always said “you are not smart enough to figure it out – just love me and keep my mitzvot.” I think one of the things that separate Judaism and Christianity is that we Christians have tried to articulate too much and gotten ourselves too tangled up in doctrine that is much too concrete and pushes one toward a too literal reading of scripture. What if we saw both Tanakh and Christian writings as a quest for hochma, sophia, wisdom in the midst of respect for what we do not (and cannot) know. . . .

  17. Hi Dr Gruber!
    As a laser physicist I know a little bit about quantum physics and am also a pastor. Obviously, this article caught my attention.
    I agree with every verse you quoted with regard to the wonders of God, the deepness of reality, and that God’s name describes all of existence, past, present, and future. The names of God are indeed awesome and a wonderful study. One of my favorite classes in seminary.
    I also do a lot of study of the relationship of Eastern philosophy and quantum physics to know that what is described there is the fundamental existence of the universe itself, which was created by God, but is not God (even though Eastern philosophy says that fundamental existence is God). What is meant by the construct of God’s name points to him as ultimate being, but has no clear link to superposition in quantum physics. The similarity is entirely coincidental. God is pure spirit and the quantum world is made up of unconscious energy that God spoke into existence. All things, whether visible and invisible, were made by him and for him. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. So, I think we need to be careful with associating God with quantum physics. Many people could get the wrong idea that the quantum world is God, as I used to think before I came to have a personal relationship with the living God through Yeshua. The quantum world is still the world of nature, the created world, and is not to be conflated with the supernatural world, the domain of God.
    All that said, the Bible still is amazing on its insights, as it ought to be if indeed is the word of God.

    • Thank you for reading and commenting, Walter! Just to clarify my own view: quantum physics is one ‘mode’ of trying to understand Creation. To whatever extent this mode of investigation tells us anything true about Creation, it also tells us something about the Creator. However, the analogy drawn in the article is merely between one possible view of the meaning of the Hebrew Tetragrammaton (YHWH) — the meaning of which is not known for certain — and one particular concept in quantum physics. As to whether the similarity between these two is ‘entirely coincidental’ (whatever that means!), I have no idea. In fact, as I state in the last paragraph of the article, I don’t even know whether this particular view of the meaning of YHWH is the best; it may well not be. Nonetheless it is interesting and thought-provoking to think about all these different aspects of reality and what we can/cannot comprehend. Shalom!

  18. This one left me shaking my head. I have several friends..all men…who cannot help describing the Father and Son without using allusions to Star Wars or Star Trek, neither of which have I ever seen…in my seventy years. Science, pseudo or otherwise cannot explain YHVH! Shalom!!

  19. MATTHEW 6:9
    Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
    Psalm 45:17 I will cause your name to be remembered for all generations;
    Which name to keep holy and remembered? A named created by men who replaced the letters for not to be pronounced for political, economical, religious reasons?

  20. How can we keep the Name of God Holy or pass it over to new generations as ordered by God. By hiding it? The true pronunciation of YHWH has long been lost, because the Jews decided it was too sacred.
    What a crime.

    • Giorgos, Jesus himself circumnavigates the divine name when he teaches us to begin our prayers with “Our Father in heaven…” (Matt 6:9). So in chastising “the Jews” for avoiding the name one is also chastising the Jewish Jesus.

    • In addition to what Dr. Schaser wrote above, it may be worth noting that the entire “New Testament” uses the same circumnavigation / substitution (κύριος; kyrios) as the Jewish Septuagint translation of the Hebrew Bible. Both of these anthologies of texts were passed down in the *Christian* tradition. One theory is even that it was Christians, not Jews, who instituted this Greek substitution for the divine name. For more information, please join our course:
      https://israelbiblecenter.com/courses/name-of-god/

    • Hi Giorgos, I also used to find this issue very important, but please put it into perspective: the Bible actually says more about being kind to animals or about bathing than it does about pronouncing God’s name correctly. Where is your passion for those commandments? Yes, I know that we are supposed to sanctify God’s name, but did you know that actually doesn’t require pronouncing it at all? It requires imitating our Master in mercy and kindness so when unbelievers see us, they do not scoff at and blaspheme our Father (Matt. 5:16 vis-à-vis Ezek. 36:16-20). I know this topic is important to you, but please don’t let it consume you so as to supersede the important things like doing justice, loving mercy, and waking humbly with our God (Micah 6:8), a theme that fills the pages of Scripture.

      • Hi Jared
        It’s not in vain that God commanded us to call Him with His name. Romans 10.13 Πᾶς γὰρ ἂν ἐπικαλέσηται τὸ ὄνομα Κυρίου σωθήσεταιand and Psalm 45:17 the Name to be remembered for all generations;
        How can I do that without knowing His Personal name? By hiding it

  21. There are many fascinating parallels between light and the attributes of God (“God is light”). The book “God Light: Sunlight Sonlight” reveals this.

  22. I understand none can give a clear answer to my question and I know it’s not easy. That’s why I believe Septuagint is most accurate where (4QpapLXXLev b) YHWH is written in Greek letters. Thousands of other names are saved due to the Greek language because a word is writer as it sound.

    • Giorgos, what is your question? So far you’ve advanced a rather offensive accusation against all Jews, seemingly based on a judgment call by a small group of rabbis long ago. You ignore the other points that have been mentioned for you to consider. And the rest of what you wrote is very hard to follow. If you have a genuine question in there, please explain clearly what it is.

  23. Revelation 4:8 and 11 may shed some light. Not only is God “Who was, and is, and is to come.” But for his good pleasure all things “were and are created” so creation itself is not one act but a continuing act in a continuing state by a continuing God.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your name here
Words left: 50
Please enter your comment!