I realized one thing today about why so many religious people bother me, and among the most, the new-age believers. They speak a religious jargon, a self-supporting language to reinforce their beliefs. When someone approaches to share their newfound (usually) or long-held belief, there tends to be an assumption that everyone agrees on the terms.

With the new-age energy-feeling beliefs, it’s particularly bad. Words that mean well-defined, specific things in physics are borrowed and bent until they mean something with little or no resemblance to the original — and there is a claim that there is.

Energy is detectable, it is one of the basic units in physical science. Chemical reactions release certain amounts. Nuclear reactions release certain amounts. There’s a conversion between mass and energy — the General Relativity equations. E = m×c<sup>2</sup>. It’s not particularly mysterious; it’s easily categorized and reasoned about.

Quantum Mechanics caught the eye of philosophers because it’s the first theory that posited that things are fuzzy and not exactly deterministic — it allows that the exact same action might not have the exact same effect each time. It’s the God loophole. Quantum Mechanics does not predict God. It does not explain, but it doesn’t explicitly contradict the theory that God exists.

In many ways, I think that’s unfortunate. I think trying to tie philosophy so tightly to science does both a disservice: blind faith does not belong in science, and the startling limits to natural laws mute any idea of a deity down to tiny effects. The concepts of new-age mysticism and of Quantum Mechanics are congruous, but they don’t match up exactly, particularly not in scale.

That one creates one’s own reality is a powerful thought, repeated by many over the centuries, from philosophers in antiquity to psychologists in the present. Its power, however, is one of positive thought, not of the ability to warp space and time. The belief that one can fly just by thinking about it or to walk through walls with a thought is magical thinking, and not supported at all by Quantum Mechanics. I think there’s disappointment for people who spend much time trying to create their own fantastic reality. Left as a psychological statement, a positive statement that you can’t solve things by thinking of the negatives about a situation, it holds far more power: lives are transformed with that change in thinking. With realistic goals and positive thinking, far more change will occur than banking on the possibility that one’s thoughts alone with no action will turn the whole world to being more hospitable, or bring about great changes.

Really, one just can’t change other people, and one can’t wish things into existence. Accepting that sounds negative, but it’s the gateway to having positive change happen in one’s world.