Eucharist and Quantum Mechanics

Act I

Fill a sealed room with “air”, consisting of a mixture (in our view) of hydrogen gas and oxygen gas. If a person were to enter such a room, he or she would find this mixture completely breathable, without any noticeable negative effects, at least if the person did not stay in the room for very long….Now light a match in the room. An explosion occurs, and the room is now damped. The “air” in the room has been replaced with water. That is, a tiny amount of one fundamental substance, fire, introduce into another fundamental element, air, has caused the air to be transformed – transubstantiated – into a third fundamental substance, water

Act II

According to quantum mechanics, there has been no change in “substance”. The number of hydrogen atoms and the number of oxygen atoms is unchanged. There has, however, been a change in the quantum coherence relations between the atoms. Before water was formed, the hydrogen atoms were bound in pairs to each other to form a hydrogen molecule, an the oxygen atoms were bound in pairs to form an oxygen molecule. These molecules individually were in a coherent quantum state. Further, the atoms were bound in such a molecule precisely to form a coherent quantum state, since being in such a state would minimize energy. But in a mixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas, there is a lower energy coherent state, the state in which the hydrogen and oxygen are bound into water molecules. The mixture would become water eventually even without the spark; spark merely speeds up the reaction rate.


This is exactly what [Tipler proposes] happens when the bread and wine are transubstantiated by the priest


Source: The Physics of Christianity, Frank J Tipler, 2007

11 thoughts on “Eucharist and Quantum Mechanics

  1. Pingback: TUESDAY AFTERNOON EDITION | Big Pulpit

  2. Pingback: Eucharist and Quantum Mechanics « Fr Stephen Smuts

  3. Um. Don’t know much about science, but a bit about language; this doesn’t add up so far as I can see, for a relatively simple reason which is explicitly stated: “no change in ‘substance'”

    Transubstantiation means that the substance changes. Council of Trent:

    “there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood”

  4. Yes- but the water can be separated back into its components. How about using bread and wine: through the “work of human hands,” wheat and grape are irretrievably changed into bread and wine; which then are irretrievably changed into the Body & Blood.

  5. ‘Substance’, philosophically speaking, refers to ‘what something is’
    instead of what it has in its accidents, or properties. It is
    generally a mistake to cross contaminate philosophical definition with
    how the word is used in the realm of chemistry and physics…. it is
    true that the use is related… but it is not the same.

    In the Eucharist, there is a change in the reality (substance) of what
    the host is. Not in the accidents, or in the physics. What the
    person describes in this post in about physical changes. If a
    scientist where to take the Eucharist and examine it, what he would
    see is particles of bread which were formed in combining of ground wheat
    and water. The individual molecular structure of gluten, sugars,
    starches, entrained water, etc., would all be present. As long as the
    accidents of bread remain, the consecrated host is, in reality, the
    Second Person of the Holy Trinity.

    Those who attempt to compare water molecules forming to
    transubstantiation… are at risk to being led off to various false ideas… such as
    this: or this:

    For more information on the Theology:

  6. The bread and wine becomes the body and blood of Christ by the action of the Holy Spirit, not by the introduction of a physical substance. The physical elements are necessary for transubstantiation to occur but the actual act of transubstantiation is a spiritual act.

  7. I’m only a lowly chemist although I have taken…or perhaps survived multiple quantum mechanics courses. My conclusion is tht the writer is using multiple terms incorrectly in order to mke the comparison to the Eucharist. A comparison that is, IMO, unnecessary as I know with every fiber of me being the bread and wine becomes the body nd blood of Jesus Christ upon consecration. Although, as a scientist (with a doctorate, multiple federal grants, blah blh blahforgo has been practicing for 15 years I don’t think this comprise holds water. I’m also not sure it necessary as true believers don’t need to find DNA in the consecrated host to know it is consecrated Host. Sorry to sound so critical.

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