Where did the laws of physics come from?

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #308

@jasonbourne4, thank you for your response.

First, let me explain that I am not an Evangelical, therefore I am not really familiar with the Apologetical tradition you and others have critiqued. It is good to have different Christian perspectives involved in this discussion to get different points of view.

I am not trying to argue for the existence of God per se. What I am concerned about is the goodness and the rationality of life. That life is good and rational people need to live and work together is the basis on which civilization needs to be founded. A strictly materialistic world view precludes this.

I am trying to reconcile Science and Theology and bring them together, not to show Theology is right and Science is wrong. The only way to do this is through Philosophy, which shows how the physical, the rational, and the spiritual work together to create the whole that YHWH God.

The question of this blog is “Where did the laws of physics come from?” The answer is from a rational God, rather than from nature which cannot think. If you have some problems with this, please join in.

Your quotations clearly indicate that scientists now should accept the fact that the Big Bang points to the real possibility of the reality of the Creator God. Sadly their ideology has driven some to denial and deeper irrationality, widening the division between people.

The “old” atheism was based on Reason and Philosophy and thus valued rationality at least as it defined this. The New Atheism is based on Science as it understands it in a very narrow way. It reduces Science to the physical sciences, primarily physics, overlooking the biological and human sciences
do not work the way they want them to work. In effect it denies that science is rational or needs to be rational, but is based on “brute,” not rational, scientific facts.

I believe that I am called by God as are all people to make sense of our world based on science, philosophy, and theology. All are important. Each is necessary. .

(Richard Wright) #309

Hello John,

I’m fairly amazed that this thread is still postable, so after my little vacation from BL here I am responding to this!

I brought up Romans 1 in response to a comment of yours that was similar to, “I wouldn’t be so brazen to be so certain of my beliefs”. I stated that from a biblical perspective, belief in God is a no-brainer. Biblical faith is believing that God is a good God and rewards those who earnestly seek Him (Hebrews 11). I also stated that the vast majority in history (al least every culture in history) has acknowledged or believed in the divine, though the exact nature of the divine was unknown until the days of Abraham.

No. Deists, multi-theists and basically anyone who believes in something beyond the physical are those who acknowledge the divine. At least according to my definition. :slight_smile:

I think you’re asking, “what makes me perceive the existence of God?” My answer would be, “the sum total of existence”.

It’s perfectly valid to say, “I don’t know”. But doesn’t that make you an agnostic, and not an atheist? BTW it is also valid for a Christian to say, “I don’t know” about some things.

Because that’s the sort of thing that the Dawkins/Hitchens crowd say. That, because Jesus offers eternal life to his believers, that it’s just wishful thinking, or believing what we want to believe. On that note I’ll take the opportunity to list what I call the, “Richard Dawkins Falsities/Logical Fallacies About Christianity”:

  1. Evolution disproves God

  2. Evolution disproves the bible

  3. Jesus promising good things means they’re made up

  4. The fact that biblical events took place before digital recording means they didn’t happen

  5. The fact that Jesus doesn’t appear daily in the sky/TV/movie screen/cell phones means that he doesn’t exit

  6. The fact that we can discover a coherent explanation of the physical means God doesn’t exist

  7. The fact that there is more than one faith proves that none are true

  8. The fact that there is more than 1 interpretation of many parts of the bible proves that it is valueless, and by extension that it is not inspired, and further that God doesn’t exist

That brings out a major difference between skeptics and believers, that believers are looking for explanations for existence, where skeptics are perfectly OK saying, “I don’t know” - maybe especially when the best explanations are not in line with beliefs. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:

Sure it does, you have faith that god’s do not exist, because that belief is not based on empirical evidence.

Stating that God is the best explanation versus the alternatives is not making a false dichotomy. Holding, “I don’t know if God exists or not” is not the same thing as holding that God exists and therefor that view is in the, “alternatives” category.

(Mitchell W McKain) #310

Every explanation of the universe starts somewhere. You and me can start with God, but others choose to start with some set of natural laws. Often they don’t even need very many, because many laws can be explained as being a result of spontaneous symmetry breaking.

Both can sometimes come up with some kind of rhetoric to support their idea. Those who choose God will say that He is self-existing and necessary by nature. It won’t prove that God must exist, but if you do believe He exists then this might satisfy you as to why He exists. Those who choose natural law might say all possible things and universes exist in some kind of multiverse and we just happen to be in this one.

But the final analysis is that any reason to choose either of these is completely subjective and there is no objective evidence for either one. And that means you can have no reasonable expectation that others will accept the one you choose to believe. Reasonable people accept that this is one of those things about which we should accept a diversity of thought and belief.

(John Dalton) #311

These are subsets of theists seemingly–I’m not sure what a “multi-theist” is.

and basically anyone who believes in something beyond the physical are those who acknowledge the divine. At least according to my definition.

“Something beyond the physical” isn’t equivalent to “divine” by any realistic definition.

Cool. So that could be one context in which I might possibly expect to perceive God, yes? As opposed to my cell phone screen or what have you?

Would that make a Christian an agnostic? It’s possible to be agnostic about some things and atheist about others.

Hmm. I said it for a specific reason–you seemed to expect me to have a better explanation for things than what I could offer. My contention is that if we don’t have an explanation for something, we may well have to accept that reality. I didn’t say it to assert that “because Jesus offers eternal life to his believers, that it’s just wishful thinking, or believing what we want to believe”, and I don’t see how you could take that from it–except to take advantage of a gratuitous opportunity to bash “the Dawkins/Hitchens crowd” :slight_smile:


maybe especially when the best explanations are not in line with beliefs.

“Best” may be a relative term here :slight_smile:

That’s an incredible statement. Simply put, I’m not aware of any convincing evidence, empirical or otherwise, that gods exist. Therefore that gods do not exist is simply a default position. By your definition I would have to have “faith” to not accept any possible assertion made by someone. We can see that indeed there are a lot of different definitions of “faith” out there!

No, but saying that “God” and “nothing outside the physical exists” are the only two options is, and that’s what you said. If you’re restating that, great. Personally, I don’t think we can even imagine all the alternatives, including the one theoretically true one.


You say “that gods do not exist is simply a default position.” I fully respect your view “that gods do not exist,” but do you really think it’s possible to have a “default position” about anything?

More importantly, would you also claim that all truth is empirically or scientifically testable?

(John Dalton) #313

Yes I do. To wit. I’m not aware of the existence of x. Someone asserts that x exists. I consider the evidence and arguments for that proposition but am not convinced by them. My default position is that x does not exist in that case. That’s how I’m using the term anyway. It seems logical to me.

No. Empirical evidence and scientific testing does kind of help things along though :slight_smile:

(Mitchell W McKain) #314

Quite possibly. I am certainly agnostic with respect to the objective knowledge of the existence of God and an atheist with respect to many religions and even some Christian concepts of God. But I am still a theist (1.5 on the Dawkins scale), saying that questioning is required by mental health but I know God exists as much as I know anything – which simply means I live accordingly. But I don’t believe proof or objective evidence is possible on the issue – not for the kind of God I believe in.

(Richard Wright) #315

Hello John,

Why is that an incredible statement? Atheists have beliefs about the universe just like everyone else, and those beliefs are by faith, since there is no empirical evidence to back them up.

Another branch from that idea is that some atheists, which would include yourself, seem to try to hide behind the idea of, “I don’t know and won’t know until I see any evidence of anything”. But that’s not how atheists really behave, as if it’s a 50/50 tossup between God and no-God. At every point of contention, yourself and the other skeptics here will point to a possible physical explanation for the universe and the distinct characteristics of the universe. And that’s because that’s where your faith lies, in a physical explanation.

Theism is the belief in a personal god. Multi-theists believe in more than one god. They probably lie in the, “theism” category since most gods in polytheism are personal, but not in monotheism. Deists believe in one impersonal God. Then there is the universal soul or consciousness. So besides polytheists the above are not in the, “theism” category but believe in some sort of higher power, which, including deism, I call "the divine’. You’re correct in stating that believing in something outside of the physical doesn’t mean divine as in a god, but this, “other” has been interpreted by most in history as, “the divine”, or, “higher power”.

Christians aren’t agnostic about God, but we don’t for instance know why many things happen in our lives. We don’t have answers for everything, but have faith that Jesus is the creator and by following him, which is difficult at times, will lead to eternal life.

I wasn’t trying to bash anyone, only bring out some of the falsities/fallacies in their philosophy and that it seems to have infected the beliefs of skeptics here, which comes out in posts from time to time.

There are answers in life, as there is purpose. We’re a curious species and we seemed to have been designed to search for answers in science, math, and in all facets of life. So holding the view that, “we can’t even imagine all of the alternatives” goes against the grain of human inquiry, to give up the hope of ever finding answers. And that leads to the best evidence for Christ, that he has answers to the ultimate questions in life. I can’t demonstrate that on a forum, that I feel connected to the creator and that my life has change tremendously since I stepped out on faith and became his follower. But that’s why most believe in him.

(Mitchell W McKain) #316


I am not aware of any objective evidence that fairies do not exist, therefore that faries do exist is simply a default position.

Obviously the statement in italics does not follow. No objective evidence means no objective conclusion. Any conclusion when this is the case is therefore a subjective conclusion. Anything else is special pleading. To be sure absence of evidence is not evidence either for absence or existence, UNLESS there is a reasonable expectation for evidence. In the case of fairies, gods, and aliens, this simply puts limits on the sorts of fairies, gods, and aliens which are reasonable to believe in. Visible fairies which put money under pillows in exchange for children’s teeth isn’t very reasonable for we do have an good expectation that there would be evidence of this. Gods currently living on Mt. Olympus is not very reasonable. Aliens visiting Earth without impressive stealth or cloaking technology is not very reasonable.

An example of the opposite from science is the that of finding fossils for every step in an evolutionary development. Fossil formation is a rare event and it is highly likely that there are rapid changes in species when they are few, i.e. on the brink of extinction. So there is no reasonable expectation for fossils covering every step in an evolutionary development.

By my definition, scientist are the best examples of faith in modern times. With a faith in the methodology and the presumption that there are no demons out there arranging evidence to deceive us, they follow that faith consistently and accept what the method determines with a superb example of honesty and diligence.

(Mark D.) #317

I don’t agree. Not all beliefs are by faith for either theists or atheists. When it comes to cosmic origins, as an atheist, I have my hunches and theories but nothing rides on it and I wouldn’t say I have any faith invested in it. Whether my hunches pan out or not will be interesting to see, but it won’t ruin my day either way.

That may be so but frankly I’d prefer to hear both theists and atheists admit they don’t know. But that admission does not restrain either one of us to behave as if it is a 50/50 toss up. I don’t know the universe was not created by any cosmic watchmaker but my assumption is that isn’t how it happened. A believer like yourself could be entirely consistent in admitting you too do not know, but that you are as committed to your assumption that it did as I am to my assumption that it didn’t. I wouldn’t expect you to act as if it were a toss up any more than I would.

Oh, and for the record, I will allow that my strong belief against anything supernatural is entirely a matter of faith. I don’t insist your failure to produce any evidence makes my case. I still don’t know it but I do feel very strongly that it’s so.

(Matthew Pevarnik) #318

I don’t think that anybody brought up this idea yet, or did they and I just missed it? I’m not aware of too much work on the topic, though talk myself loosely of Noether’s Theorem in my physics classes and how invariance of the laws of Physics in time, space, rotation, etc. leads to the familiar conservation laws (of energy, momentum, angular momentum, etc.). All that I could dig up at the moment is this essay/paper by Vic Stenger. Granted he is coming from a purely naturalistic perspective but it is an interesting idea to me.

I’m putting this here for my own reference as well so I can watch this at a later date, but perhaps someone may find it interesting and useful to this discussion:

(Mitchell W McKain) #319

I started watching it (i.e. went halfway) but there were some flaws…

  1. He asks us to consider absolutely nothing not as empty space but as an absence of space and time and then he describes it with properties which are rooted in space: uniform, isotropic, and empty. Uniformity means there are no changes over some measure. Well absolutely nothing has no changes but it has no measure either, so don’t see how you can say it is uniform. Thus his idea that these properties transfer from absolutely nothing to the universe is arbitrarily selective keeping the lack of changes on a large scale but not the lack of the measure over which there are no changes. This whole argumentation does not hold together.

  2. As a theoretical physicist I am very familiar with Noether’s theorem (didn’t know Noether was a woman though and was delighted to learn this), of course. Then after he makes the connection of conservation of energy with the uniformity of time, he suggest that if time were not uniform then energy would not be conserved. But we basically define time as uniform and I don’t think it is possible to find that it is not uniform. In other words, I don’t think he is really explaining that very well. I guess the way I would put it is to say that they are equivalent and that the conservation of energy and the uniformity of time are one and the same thing. Noether’s theorem shows a mathematical equivalence between the two. But it may ultimately be just how we impose our own rational order on the universe.

  3. But the biggest problem I have is with this idea of everything coming from indolence, anarchy, and ignorance. The reasoning here is far too subjective. His argument from indolence reminds me of the least action principle, but rather than “indolence” the word which comes to mind is “economy.” And I wouldn’t be surprised to see Christians jumping on my word and finding the presence of God there. But again my point here is that all this looks terribly subjective to me. Of course, all that means is that thinking this way is his preference and you can think like that also if it tickles you, but there really is no objective reason why you should.

(John Dalton) #320

Because–as I said–you could use that definition to say that I would need “faith” to reject any assertion that you made. I’ve never denied holding certain beliefs about things.

Of course we don’t behave that way. That would make one an agnostic primarily and not an atheist. Atheists don’t believe that gods exist and so the “god percentage” would be very low. Whether we know anything about these ultimate questions is a separate issue from whether gods exist or not. You seem to feel there is a strong connection between the two questions, based on numerous statements of yours, but that’s not how atheists see things in general.

At every point of contention, yourself and the other skeptics here will point to a possible physical explanation for the universe and the distinct characteristics of the universe. And that’s because that’s where your faith lies, in a physical explanation.

No. I’ve made it clear numerous times that’s not true for me.

That’s your prerogative, but “divine” and “theistic” essentially mean the same thing to me.

I don’t really care how it has been interpreted in most cases.

I never said anything about giving up hope–I don’t think we should at all. I’m simply explaining the reality of the situation as it appears to me.

More power to you :slight_smile:

Obviously not :slight_smile: We need a reason to think something exists, otherwise the default assumption is that it does not, at least for me. That’s how I live my daily life personally :slight_smile: I’m not talking about an absolute assertion that something doesn’t exist. I’m talking about a default assumption.

That may be, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with what we were discussing.

(Mitchell W McKain) #321

Ok… that is better. It looked like an absolute statement so that is what I was responding to.

But the methodology which you describe here as the one you choose to use, much like the methodology which scientists use, is clearly something you have chosen to put your faith in. So faith is involved at least as much as faith is involved in science. But yeah, I think you have a valid objection to the way he put it. In science it would not be correct to say that the results of a scientific inquiry is just a matter of having faith in the conclusion. In fact, sometimes we feel rather incredulous about the conclusion and we only accept it because that is what the scientific method determines.

Oh and sorry about the last comment… that was a little over the top. I am going to remove it.

(John Dalton) #322

Maybe “assumption” is better wording than “position”. That’s what I was trying to get at.

If you think of faith in this sense, we have to have faith that reality is actually real and all kind of things I guess. I’m not convinced though that all forms of “faith” are equal.

That’s the way I would think of it. If something has been empirically demonstrated, we know it to be true in some sense (even if we recognize that later knowledge may possibly cause us to revise our conclusions). We still have to have a level of faith in our ability to process information, etc., but factual knowledge seems clearly to be on a level of its own.

Cheers. Removing my quote as well.

(George Brooks) #323


Speak to the man who survives the fox hole before you decide too quickly on which beliefs in God you consider acceptable.


I would suggest the same for you. :wink:

(George Brooks) #325

The human genome was raised on the Divine. Let those who find such a thing caustic, let them pour the vessel on the ground behind them, while others drink.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #326

On what basis do you make this statement. If there is something beyond the physical, then that would be metaphysical and by definition divine. It might not be God as Christians understand God Who is one understanding of the divine, which can be discussed and argued separately.

You say there is no evidence for the divine, which I take to be the metaphysical or supernatural. @mitchellmckain says that there is no objective evidence. I see all sorts of philosophical, psychological, and theological evidence that the divine supernatural exists, but you apparently do not accept as evidence. Why?

If one does not accept spiritual evidence for the existence of the spiritual, of course there is no evidence for the existence of the spiritual. That is circular thinking.

(Mitchell W McKain) #327

Well LOL I am not convinced of that either! But that is another subjective judgement.