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by Edwin E. Olson



The life of our cells depends upon their connection to the behavior of the small particles in our atoms called quanta. At that invisible level, particles like electrons can do multiple things at once. This is called superposition. These particles are connected and affect each other even when far apart (entanglement) and easily pass through barriers (tunneling).

Quantum biologists who study these phenomena even speculate that our minds need quantum behavior to perform instantaneous calculations. I believe it is possible that our sense of a divine presence is also dependent on what happens at the quantum level, at least metaphorically. In And God Created Wholeness: A Spirituality Catholicity[1] I explore the implications of the quantum basis of our physical well-being, our consciousness, and our spirituality.

At the quantum level, physical life, consciousness, and spirit are one reality—relationships of living energy and patterns of information.

At the molecular level, biological processes are very fast (trillionths of a second) and are confined to short atomic distances. When atoms are doing all of these “weird” things, this is coherence—a circumstance where large numbers of particles cooperate. As a strong metaphor, I believe it is reasonable to assume that with deep meditation and prayer we enter a coherent state of consciousness that is manifested in our spiritual intuitions and in our dreams. At the quantum level, physical life, consciousness, and spirit are one reality—relationships of living energy and patterns of information.

As a metaphor, I developed a Wholeness Model – a three-strata model of Surface, Middle, and Bedrock [2] to investigate the similarities in the three dimensions of Body (life), Mind (consciousness) and Soul. Our experiences in the tangible physical world (the Surface stratum), our inner sensations, emotions, and images (the Middle stratum) and the strange reality of quantum activity (the Bedrock stratum) are all connected. As we cycle through these strata we are transformed as new insights from the unpredictable possibilities in the Bedrock change our emotions and feelings in the Middle and lead to new behavior on the Surface.

The Wholeness Model describes a process that brings together the empirical reality of science, speculations about consciousness, and the wisdom of the world’s religions, especially the Christian religion with which I am most familiar.

When we connect to the depth dimensions of the Bedrock in the dimensions of Body, Mind, and Soul, we awaken the creative impulse that is manifesting in us, through us, and as us. Matthew Fox says:

We need to go down deep into the darkness, into the mystery, into the shadow, into the forgotten parts of ourselves as individuals and communities and as a species. We must also come back to the surface changed and ready to make change. The future requires all of us to dive deep and return, surfacing with the wisdom, the mysteries, and the truths we learned from diving.[3]

Jesus said the realm of God is active yet hidden, persistent, and mysterious (like yeast and mustard seed). The deep level of reality portrayed by quantum biologists is like the working of the spirit of God as described by St. Paul: “I am with you in spirit.” A single atom, electron or photon behaves like a wave that is in many places at the same time. The many electron clouds of possibility could be the superposition that St. Paul intuits.

When we pray for someone in a hospital, could this be a demonstration that something happening “over here” has an instantaneous effect “over there” no matter how far away “there” is (entanglement)? With deep meditation and prayer, is it possible that we can enter a coherent state where large numbers of particles in our Soul are cooperating with and affecting something far from us?



If we stay connected, the coherence in the Bedrock will flow up to our life in the world. If our ego takes over, if we live in fear, if we create stress, we break that connection, and ultimately our soul becomes sick and even manifests in physical symptoms. Amidst the strange movements of quantum energy in the Bedrock, there is an order that also pervades the Universe. Religion and science help us to make sense of that order and keep us from being overwhelmed by the awesome powers of nature and the universe.

In the Bedrock we see the deep connection between ourselves and others. Boundaries are gone and our concerns for others are as important as our concerns for ourselves. We move through barriers (tunneling) and experience our own spiritual authority. We assume more responsibility for our own life and for the life of the community.

If we don’t own and examine our deeply embedded unconscious societal attitudes that give rise to the violence, racism, sexism, and homophobia on the Surface, we are in peril in the short term. In the longer term, if we don’t acknowledge our deep suppressed feeling of alienation and abandonment, our pursuit of wealth, technological prowess, and consumer satiation will do us in.

Our new vision of wholeness must come from deep within.

With intentional collective cycling to the Bedrock we can integrate wisdom from the Bedrock and turn conflict on the Surface into productive, sustainable dialogue and conversation. Capturing this sense of catholicity is essential to understanding a way out of our ecological, social, and political quandary.

We are living a dream—a rational, analytic, ego-driven dream—that we have concocted on the Surface. For a new transformative dream, we must go to our individual and collective unconscious as native people have done for centuries.  Our new vision of wholeness must come from deep within.


Listen to our follow-up audio interview with Edwin Olson here.




[1] Edwin E. Olson, And God Created Wholeness: A Spirituality Catholicity (Marymount, NY: Orbis Books, 2018, forthcoming).

[2] Based on the model developed by Johnjoe McFadden & Jim Al-Khalili, Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology.  New York: Crown Publishing, 2014.

[3] Matthew Fox, Meister Eckhart: A Mystic Warrior for our Times (Novato, California: New World Library, 2014), 274-275.


Edwin E. OlsonEdwin E. Olson, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor in the graduate school of the University of Maryland, University College, and instructor at the Chautauqua Institution. He currently writes and leads workshops in applying complexity theory to issues in science, spirituality, and religion. He is the author of And God Created Wholeness: A Spirituality Catholicity (forthcoming 2018), Finding Reality: Four Ways of Knowing (2014); Keep the Bathwater: Emergence of the Sacred in Science and Religion, (2009), and Facilitating Organization Change: Lessons from Complexity Science (2001), and numerous papers and presentations at international conferences.

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This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Wow! I’ve just preordered this book. It sounds so exciting. I thank Professor Olsen for his simple explanation of coherence, superposition, entanglement, tunnelling (double “L” in the UK!) Just right for a science dummy like me.

    During 2018 I intend to read my way through the books in the “Catholicity in an Evolving Universe” series. I am at present reading Dianne Bergant’s, “A New Heaven, A New Earth. The Bible and Catholicity”. Next will be “The Source of All Love. Catholicity and the Trinity”, then “The Image of the Unseen God” and then Professor Olsen’s book. A great programme for 2018. Many thanks to the authors and Orbis Books for this fabulous series.

  2. Hello.
    It would be great if all this inspirational material could be translated into French for greater diffusion.

  3. It is wonderful to hear from someone so articulate continuing the work of Teilhard and furthering it in such concrete circumstances.

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