Eindtein famously stated that God doesn't play dice ("Gott würfelt nicht"). But wasn't that example of precisely how he thought quantum mechanics should be, i.e. a determined process appearing to have chance-like behavior?

  • A human playing dice is trying to create an outcome as random as they can, so God playing dice would mean God trying to create random outcomes—the fact that dice rolls aren’t truly random is just due to human limitations.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 13:31
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    No also because playing dice (quantum randomness) still requires nonlocality to explain the distant correlations. Randomness alone doesn’t even suffice. The full quote is, “It seems hard to sneak a look at God's cards. But that He plays dice and uses "telepathic" methods… is something that I cannot believe for a single moment”. Dice alone are not the problem.
    – J Kusin
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 14:15
  • @Hypnosifl But dice rolls are truly random. No-one decides the results. God decides. God's actions are not random. If God does not exist, then the world is created and run by dice. I'm ok with that. Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 14:20
  • @PerttiRuismäki: Dice roles exhibit sensitivity to initial conditions, not true randomness. In a classical world, nothing is truly random, just relatively difficult to predict. There are people that claim to be able to consistently impact dice roll outcomes too: vice.com/en/article/bn3j44/…
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 15:18
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    For Copenhagen interpretation of QM the dice is the ultimate brute fact whose specific result is purely probabilistic and unexplainable, while for a real dice in everyday life its specific result could be further determined deterministically if we could gather all relevant explicit physical variables' measurement including air and contact surface frictions using classical mechanics theory which is complete. Einstein expects at QM level this should still be the case, its current brute fact still subjects to certain sufficient reason possibly involving more variables in its causal chain... Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 17:46

2 Answers 2


No. Einstein objected to the fundamentally non-local nature of quantum mechanics (formerly called 'action at a distance'), when he declared "I am convinced God does not play dice". He expected there to be hidden variables, to account for non-local effects and apparent randomness.

The EPR paradox was part of his later work aiming to show that QM allowed information (cause) to move faster-than-light, which would have been a strong indicator of a flaw in QM. Experiments confirmed the QM picture and ruled out local hidden variable theories (Superdeterminism is determinism being maintained but not locally, Many Worlds maintains local determinism but in a branching multiverse, these are popular interpretatiins and show the lasting concern about this).

That led us to understand the phenomena of quantum entanglement, which appears to show a non-local connection between quantum objects, but one which cannot be used to send information faster-than-light. This non-local connection has been theorised to be by Einstein-Rosen bridges, and the research programme associated with that is called ER = EPR.

People are apt to dismiss Eisntein's concerns as his being old-fashioned or backwards-looking, as working beyond his time. But properly understood they were part of unease widely shared in physics, about whether we can predict things. His work led to understanding entanglement, and to a research programme that is the cutting edge of modern physics. He may have been wrong, but he was the best and most insightful kind of wrong, put to astute use in finding the implicit consequences of QM, and opened the main avenue by which progress in our understanding there is expected.

  • I still can't see the connection between locality (or non-lolality) and dice. This answer looks more like a personal interpretation.
    – Gerald
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 16:20
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    @Gerald The physicist John Bell (the originator of Bell's theorem showing QM was incompatible with local realism) argued, based on reading Einstein's correspondence with other physicists and his own writings, that Einstein's objection to Copenhagen QM was more fundamentally about lack of locality than about lack of determinism--see p. 46-47 of this paper.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 16, 2022 at 18:17
  • @Gerald: Einstein held to local realism: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_locality#Quantum_mechanics This would mean all outcomes are determined locally, by causes limited by the speed of light. A 'random' QM result for Einstein, was a violation of this, because it would be an outcome not determined by local causes. He formulated that unease into a specific criticism, with the EPR paradox
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 9:39
  • Also note the connection of randomness & nonlocality is specifically because, when the same measurement is performed on entangled particles (spin along the same axis, for ex.), they give perfectly correlated results, so if you imagine the results were generated randomly at the time of measurement, there would have to be some kind of nonlocal law that instantaneously generated both results in a coordinated way. If these correlations didn't exist I don't think Einstein would have seen a conflict bt. the locality principle & the idea of randomly-generated results at the time of measurement.
    – Hypnosifl
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 18:00

Einstein's determinism manifested itself as a strict adherence to the physical concept of cause and effect. A concept that quantum mechanics challenges with probabilistic outcomes and quantum entanglement ( Einstein dismissed as "spooky action at a distance). So God (according to Einstein), does not base His actions on chance because God always knows the outcome. Cause and effect remain intact and the reason for probabilistic outcomes is because we can't see into the mind of God and don't have the full picture.

  • Probabilistic outcomes do not challenge cause & effect at all. They only mean that causes do not determine their effects with absolute accuracy. Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 4:16
  • @PerttiRuismäki But then there is no causal connection. If a cause can have two effects, each with chance 1/2, what causes the actual appearance? Certainly not the cause itself.
    – Gerald
    Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 11:22
  • There is only one cause and one effect. Simple and direct causal relation. Absolute accuracy is the impossible and illogical thing to expect. Commented Jul 17, 2022 at 13:59

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