Where did the laws of physics come from?

(John Dalton) #208

Sure. I would tend to think a part of reality where math didn’t apply would be rather more unfathomable though!

I guess to answer that question, we’d have to know more about all possible forms of reality. I guess we’ll be stuck there :slight_smile: In my own mind, it seems hard to divorce abstract numbers from the underlying physical reality. Even say negative numbers have some kind of possible analog.

What about other intelligent life though? It would be pretty shocking if it turned up and had DNA–that would put a new slant on the common descent vs. design question :slight_smile: I guess anywhere in our universe there are discrete units of things, and numbers. Even animals here on earth can distinguish between some numbers of some things I guess. So we need to destroy all intelligent life. Couldn’t it possibly arise again spontaneously though? And the things would still be here in numbers. I don’t know, but this is starting to make my head hurt :slight_smile:

(GJDS) #209

I like maths, but I feel that when I tried to understand number theory, I kind of left it to the mathematicians.

Numbers are abstract and they also have application to the real world. A simple way to think of this is prime numbers - if I remember much of this, it’s like taking a straight bar or stick of a given length - we can break it into two equal parts to get 2, these equal parts gives us 4, and so on. All of the parts are of 1 (stick).

The simplicity of God, the essence of the Trinity, is a way of thinking of the divine as distinct from being. So while I get @Jon_Garvey 1+1+1=1, I would remove all + and = signs as part of our abstraction and reality conceptualisation.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #210

I agree that the Bible is not an empirical reference book, but it is a very valuable spiritual book, which means that it is about God and God’s relationship to God’s people overt the ages. That is why I contrasted it to science, the Big Bang theory, saying that the4y both point to the fact that th3e4 universe had a Beginning out of nothing, or Nothing.

Now I am somewhat puzzled by you ontology of empirical knowledge and subjective knowledge. Now it is certainly true that empirical knowledge can be distinguished form subjective knowledge, but knowledge needs to be rooted in reality, not semantics

I maintain that Reality is not dualistic (physical/metaphysical, or empirical/subjective,) but Triune, physical, rational, and spiritual. In either case one needs to say that both the physical/empirical and the subjective/metaphysical are equally real for the universe to have a real consistent meaning. Logically this means that all knowledge and all Reality must be rooted in God, Who is the Source of the universe.

The Bible points to the facts that 1) God is infinite. 2) the universe is finite, which means that it had a Beginning, which has been conformed by the science of the Big Bang. Therefore 3) God must be the Source of the universe, because only God has the Ability, Opportunity, and the Motive (Love) required to create the universe out of nothing.

(Mark D.) #211

I’m glad we agree that the bible is not an empirical reference book but I doubt we’ll ever agree about ‘nothing’. What you refer to as “nothing” still retains the seeds for everything by way of God. Apparently what we do agree on is that every state of the cosmos has always been preceded by its necessary conditions, even though for both of us that amounts to a statement of faith.

Okay but how will we know when we have grasped reality? That puts it in the domain of epistemology. In order to describe what we think is real it would seem we will also have to depend on semantics. What can be said about ontology will always be filtered by epistemology and semantics.

I lean toward monism ultimately so I guess that makes me a lumper. For me reality is just everything that is. But when we start articulating what exists we find natural categories and dependence relationships. So there is a whole class of things we can describe which are psychic/mental/subjective. But I see everything of that nature as being dependent upon minds which are dependent upon brains. I think you would say that makes me a materialist and I’ll own that so long as you recognize that my ontology still includes nearly everything yours does of the psychic/mental/subjective sort. The only thing lacking, I believe, is disembodied agency.

The project of making the universe have a consistent meaning is not one I share. However I can get behind your Triune divisions as I think they’re helpful from our perspectives. The physical doesn’t need much explanation but the rational and spiritual do. I think from our points of view as conscious minds, the subjective divides into that which originates with me and that which does not.

What originates with me being that part of mental life pertaining to my deliberate effort. I’m guessing this might be the part that corresponds to what you call the “rational”. What does not originate from my own machinations is what I suppose you would call the “spiritual”. I find that a useful distinction. It is what prevents beliefs about purpose, meaning and God from being dismissed as made-up, imaginary and unreal.


I would assume that you don’t accept any and all assertions that people make, do you? I am no different.

As I have said earlier, if someone starts from a belief in God then I can understand the arguments they make. When you start an argument with God already existing then it can lead to those conclusions. The much harder argument to make is starting with a lack of belief in God and arriving at the conclusion that God created the universe.

For the record, I think the universe is rational, as I have stated many times before.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #213

I am glad you think that the universe is rational. Is that because the universe thinks?


By rational I mean the universe can be understood by humans. That has more to do with nature behaving consistently through both space and time.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #215

One evidence for the rationality of the universe is that it can be understood by humans, but humans do not make the universe rational. Indeed humans were created by nature, that is evolution.

The issue is nature cannot think, and humans can think. Where did the ability to think or to be rational come from if not from nature?

Nature has not been behaving consistently through space and time because the universe had a beginning and life on earth had a beginning. Also quantum physics raise the question about the inherent consistency of nature.

The long evolution of the surface of the earth and life indicates that nature can and does change. Finally our ability to think means humans can change our minds and be inconsistent.

(Richard Wright) #216

Hello Mark,

Our physics runs on elegant math, how do you think that happened to come about? Presumably the multiverse would too, ie. String/M-theory, known for its elegant math.

Kraus never meant ontological nothingness, the title of his book is misleading.

I’m not sure what you mean by that. Most Christians don’t sit pondering whether physicists will eventually discover how the universe got here. Some of us, in forums like this, merely like to point out that scientists, despite what some claim, don’t know how the singularity could have come into existence from literal nothingness.

This sounds like the Hindu universal soul and the New Age concept of looking inward for God.

That may be your opinion and/or perception, but it doesn’t sound like any of the reasons people believe in God that I know and have had conversations with, or how the Greeks, Persians and Chinese came up with the idea of the divine.

So your otherness is a consequence of evolved brains and minds. It doesn’t answer the questions of how the universe got here and why did it produce this consciousness.

Jesus didn’t call for mindless obedience:

"But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works (miracles), that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.” (John 10:38)

Of course if your inner, “otherness” doesn’t require anything of you then there is no reason to obey it. Like someone said, “A lot of people believe in everything Jesus taught, except for the sins they struggle with”.

What is the, “traditional” God you refer to - the distant god of the Greeks, the many gods of Hinduism that distilled down over the years to 3, the irrelevant god of Buddha? Jesus revealed a personal, father God that sacrificed his son for our sins.

Do you have any evidence of that? People believed that the earth was the center of the universe because that’s what it seemed to them at the time, buoyed by misinterpretations of OT passages.

That I agree with. We just have faith in very different sources for our consciousness.

There is a Youtube video of a discussion between Ard Louis and Max Tegmark at MIT that opened to questions from the student audience. The first question was from a young lady to Max, who had just waxed eloquently on how grateful he was that the forces of the universe had caused quarks and gluons to come together to form his brain that he could study this universe and fall in love with his wife whom he had recently married. The question was, “who are you grateful to?”. It got a big from laugh from the audience and Max just smiled. We all have our opinions and of course nothing can be, “proven”, but but the overall experience this universe has to offer, to theists, is best explained by an, “other” that exists actually outside of us that created our universe and who is opposed by the forces of darkness, rather than an inner other that is a consequence of a physical paradigm that popped into existence from nothing.

(Mark D.) #217

Hello Richard. I’m afraid I’m still in the dark as to what you have in mind when you say “our physics runs on elegant math”. As I already said, that sounds suggestively as though the mathematics is instrumental in the running of the universe which physics studies, rather than being merely descriptive.

No I don’t suppose they do but when I meet them online many have been eager to point to this as supporting belief in a creator God. I’m only pointing out that so long as God is conceived of as being able to create something/everything from nothing -and- God is conceived as being eternal, then Christians like myself do not imagine there was ever a time when the seeds for the universe we perceive now did not exist. I sure don’t know exactly what preceded our current state before the hypothesized expansion of the singularity, but I assume whatever the necessary conditions of that expansion were met.

No it doesn’t I don’t know how the universe got here. But then again who does? People have a lot theories and beliefs about such things but I don’t think that sort of knowledge is anything we urgently need to know and nor do I think it is anything we’re entitled to know. Thanks to science we are frequently seeing the curtain into the past drawn back further and further.

Just to be clear, I am only questioning whether the God of the humans is also the God of the entire cosmos. Do I have proof that the God of the humans is not also the creator of all time, space and everything else? Of course not, I have no more proof than you have for making the positive case. But as people have a long history of imagining the universe as revolving around and indeed existing for our sake especially. To me that seems suspect.

I’m glad of that. Consciousness > minds > brains sure seems parallel to: food > digestion > stomachs to me. I thought the idea of evolutionary creation was that nature including evolution shows the path of creation. Do we really need consciousness to arrive in some extra-natural manner? Is it necessary for belief in the God of Christianity?

Fair enough. It certainly is the assumption of the dominant cultural practice in much of the Western world and beyond. But some of us don’t fit into that demographic.

(Richard Wright) #218

Hello John,

Hence a pointer to something outside of the physical, since our knowledge of the physical tells us that objects shouldn’t pop into existence from ontological nothingness.

Most new atheist leaders say the only reasonable options are the multiverse, which is what they all have faith in, the universe popping into existence from ontological nothingness and God creating the universe. Some also throw in various versions of an eternally existing universe, almost all of which have a problem with the decreasing entropy problem. To me a big problem for atheists is how did any physical stuff get here if not, “created” somehow? And where did the laws of physics come from, the original question of this thread, that are described by elegant math that are accurate in some cases to 1 in 10 million? That to me is a pointer to an intelligence underlying the physical.

I’m not sure I understand your point. You had asked, “if there is a God how can we even know what he is like?” And I answered, “we have a whole book on what He’s like, you just don’t accept that god”. Yes, not all theists believe in the bible. You could believe in a God who wants to spread his message violently, like the distant god of the Koran. The, “most people” refers to the fact that the vast majority of humanity, in history, have acknowledged divinity. They just didn’t know who it was until He revealed Himself to Abraham and the Hebrews.

Where did you expect god to, “show up”? On your cell phone? There are cogent reasons why God doesn’t do that, mostly because He wants people to choose Him, and not scare people into obedience. That, to me, seems more like a rationalization not to accept God rather than a reason not to believe in Him

You might have addressed them, but you haven’t offered anything close to a compelling explanation for them. Like all atheists, you have no explanation for the physical existence, nor for the fact that its physics are described by very complex and beautiful mathematics, which offer signs of intelligence behind the physical. Your personal version of atheism seems to be, “well, we can’t, “prove” anything, so for now I’ll chock up the physical to the physical, and from there came love, complexity, order, intelligence, etc.” You can believe what you like and I’m not here to ridicule it, only to offer that objectively speaking it’s not a very coherent explanation and one that even the leaders of your movement would agree is, in the least, not very complete.

They exist in our physical reality, not necessarily a consequence of it. They question really is though, “how did a physical reality, apart from the supernatural, come to exist that produced those things?”. And no skeptic here gave any reasonable explanation of pure evil like displayed in Hitler.

I’m not being strident, I’m only repeating Romans 1:20, "For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse." :slight_smile:

At least by your statements here, you seem to feel that the physical can or will be shown to offer reasonable explanations for the characteristics of this universe. That is a faith conviction, for no other reason that that doesn’t jibe with what we at present know of the physical.

(John Dalton) #219

I’ve acknowledged that. However, as I’ve also said, “outside of the physical” is not equal to “God”.

I haven’t heard that said, but I don’t really care. I’ll stick to discussing my own opinions on the matter.

By this reasoning, it’s a big problem for theists how the intelligence got here. :man_shrugging:

My point is that you can’t use the Bible to support your point that most people accept that some kind of god exists. Most people don’t accept that the Bible is true. People’s ideas about gods vary greatly. If you want to use the Bible to assert that your conception of a god is the true one, be my guest, but then the other ones must be false, thus invalidating your original point.

A “divinity” without any definition is just deism, which is my point. Deism doesn’t tell us anything specific about gods, and deist gods functionally are the same as gods which don’t exist. You can’t support your case by simultaneously claiming that your God is the true one, and appealing to the belief of “most people” in a divinity.

Oh dear. “Anywhere” means just what it says. I’ll be clearer. No, not on my cell phone. Not in any way or sense that I can perceive.

Neither have you–you’re just advancing an equally unexplainable “explanation”. I’m being up front that I have no explanation, yes.

[quote=“Richard_Wright1, post:218, topic:39114”]
Your personal version of atheism seems to be, “well, we can’t, “prove” anything, so for now I’ll chock up the physical to the physical, and from there came love, complexity, order, intelligence, etc.”[/quote]

Maybe. I’m not chocking up the physical to the physical though. I am saying that the physical is all that I am currently aware to exist.

You can believe what you like and I’m not here to ridicule it, only to offer that objectively speaking it’s not a very coherent explanation and one that even the leaders of your movement would agree is, in the least, not very complete.

I don’t think we can simply wish explanations of things into existence. If it’s true that we don’t have an explanation for some things, then we should face that fact directly.

Let’s not get started on that again :slight_smile:

Well, Paul was :slight_smile: And I would suggest that if you present this as a reasonable viewpoint, then you are too.

That’s oddly worded. All of the known characteristics of this universe are ultimately physical. Maybe continuing scientific exploration of the physical will give us more answers one day. But it also seems that there will always be another layer to uncover. I suspect we may never get a fully reasonable explanation for the existence and characteristics of the physical. But, I don’t think you’re offering one either.

I don’t think you accurately characterized my beliefs on the matter, nor do I see how “faith” is involved in my actual beliefs.

(Jon Garvey) #220

Do you also have problems seeing how your “wishes” are involved in your “wants,” John? “faith” and “belief” are synonyms - in many languages actually the same word: in English simply derived from Old French and Old English respectively. At least, that’s what I believe based on my faith in the Oxford English Dictionary.

(John Dalton) #221

Ah. That’s why I originally asked, and have been using quotes. If we all agree that faith is equivalent to ordinary belief, sure. I’ve never made it a secret that I hold certain beliefs, and I think it would actually be impossible to proceed effectively through life without doing so. That being said, many people seem to have a somewhat different connotation to the word, with the suggestion of a rather strong attachment to the concept one has faith in, as opposed to a simple belief based on evidence which can be cheerfully tossed by the wayside if new and contrary evidence presents itself.

(Jon Garvey) #222

Well, I suppose the equivalent to their use of “faith” in such a happy-go-lucky system is the belief that evidence can be held lightly, or that a certain kind of evidence (that which is subject to overturning) is the sole object of belief.

So, for example, it’s a little hard to conceive that someone might have a lifelong belief that honesty is the best policy, and cheerfully toss that by the wayside when they see ne’er-do-wells prospering by lies. Evidence doesn’t work that way with moral convictions.


That’s a bit tautological since the definition of rational is “something that can be understood through logic and reason”. I would agree that humans don’t make the universe rational. It is the consistency of particle interactions through space and time that results in a rational universe. If the fundamental forces and constants of the universe changed willy nilly from place to place or from time to time then the universe would not be rational.

The laws of nature have been the same throughout the history of the universe, so I’m not sure what you are saying here. As to quantum mechanics, if we measured the decary rate of an isotope in separate labs and at separate times, we get the same results. Radioactive decay is governed by quantum processes and it is consistent in a stochastic sense.

(John Dalton) #224

Well said. A few things come to mind. This may be more a definition of faith, than of belief. You seem to be saying faith is a belief connected with moral convictions.That’s interesting, and I think you make a good example. A belief in honesty will probably be one based on moral instruction and constantly reaffirmed by personal experience. Could evidence come down the pike to end it though? It might. The movie Shawshank Redemption comes to mind :slight_smile: But, granted, certainly not easily, and most likely not. Maybe you could say this about the humanist beliefs I hold, for example. But, we’re talking about something different here. My lack of a belief in gods is not a moral conviction in any sense. It’s based purely on a lack of convincing evidence. Where does that leave us?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #225

Yes, the laws of nature have been consistent throughout the history of the universe, but the universe is finite, not eternal. Therefore it follows that the laws of nature and nature itself originated beyond nature in eternity or God. This is confirmed by the Big Bang which says that nature does have a Beginning beyond the physical, beyond time, beyond space, and beyond energy.


I don’t see how one follows from the other. Clouds are finite and are not eternal, but they originate from natural processes. I don’t see why there couldn’t be something natural that produced our universe.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #227

All of the known characteristics of the universe are not physical. The universe is rationally structured. That is more than physical. Matter and energy are physical. Natural laws that govern matter and energy are not physical, but rational. Time and space are not physical, but also rational.

Purpose and meaning are not physical, but spiritual. So are goodness and beauty. How can you say that the universe is not good and beautiful?

To say that the universe is ultimately physical denies the fact that the universe is rational, because the physical does not think. Only humans can think and we need to be taught how to do this properly.