Where did the laws of physics come from?


(Matthew Pevarnik) #328

Thanks for giving me your thoughts! As an almost particle physicist turned biophysicist, I don’t too often engage the physical world in these ways. I haven’t watched the recent video and wasn’t expecting it to provide any earth shattering revelations as I think that we may not ever have a fully scientific explanation of the laws of nature or certain (at least presently) underivable fundamental constants.

I would phrase it that way too, but then I would have to add some kind of discussion about time. I am trying to think more about time, but specifically the ‘arrow of time.’ I am coming to think of the arrow of time as simply a description of states doing a random walk through phase space into the highest entropic configurations. However, this doesn’t exclude low entropy configurations as given enough time you would randomly walk into such configurations. Is there an absolute time for our universe or is it an emergent property that only exists because our universe began in a low entropy state (when considering the maximum entropy it could have).

I’ve got to watch it now to see what you mean. I had mentioned I think towards the beginning of this thread the idea that there is a brute fact to just accept: that the laws of Physics just are and are ‘eternal’ or something metaphysical is the cause of them. Do you think a more honest answer from everyone is just that ‘we don’t know?’


(John Dalton) #329

On what basis do you say that what is beyond the physical would have to be divine by definition? That would seem to be the question. To me, it seems that we lack knowledge of anything beyond the physical. This makes it impossible to restrict that concept to any particular set of parameters, such as “the divine”.

I have said there is no convincing evidence for the divine, that is, convincing to me personally. I can’t explain to you here why I don’t accept every item of evidence that you see–for a start I don’t know what they are. I’ll be happy to address any particular line of evidence that you raise though.

I would say that accepting spiritual evidence for the spiritual could well be circular. You’d have to clarify what you mean for me to say more.

I’m not sure it is. I’m basing the statement on different usages of the concept of “faith” that I have observed.


(Mitchell W McKain) #330

I am sure. The objectivity of science comes from the fact that it gives us written procedures which anyone can follow, no matter what they believe, to get the same results. My disagreement with Relates has been that I do not believe he can concoct objective evidence from reason alone. He misrepresents this by claiming that I am “rejecting philosophical thinking.” He wants his rhetoric to be equal in value to the scientific method. I am simply being consistent in denying any such equality.

Logic can only take you from premises to equivalent conclusions. Thus people will rationalize their belief by digging up the premises which will justify their beliefs. It serves a useful purpose in making a person’s beliefs coherent and finding the conclusions which follow from their beliefs. But the one thing it will never do is give your beliefs any objectivity unless your only premises are the results of the written procedures of science.

Relates like to point out that the procedures of science are not a product of the procedures of science. But while that is true, it doesn’t invalidate the objectivity of science. Objectivity can come from the right procedure constructed without objectivity in the same way that life can come from the right process made with non-living causes and components. The fact that anyone can follow the procedures of science to get the same results is what makes the objectivity of science irrefutable. But without that I see no reason to acknowledge any objectivity to be comparable.


(GJDS) #331

This is an important observation - the arguments on this topic imo are endless, especially when we add the Christian teaching that faith for a Christian is a gift from God. It makes everything God dependent and thus difficult for us as humans to assess it objectively.


(John Dalton) #332

OK. I think we’re talking about different things. I’m talking about an objective judgement based on observable facts about word usage.

It does seem to be endless. I’m not saying anything about the validity of Christian faith, but people sometimes seem to want to wrap all kinds of belief under the faith mantle.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #333

The physical is finite. That which is beyond the finite is infinite, which also the definition of God or the divine.

To say that humans lack knowledge of anything beyond the physical. That is not the same as saying there is nothing beyond the physical. It also raises questions as to what you accept as knowledge since the disciplines of philosophy and theology are based on knowledge of that beyond the physical.

Is mathematics physical? On my opinion it is not because it is not composed of matter/energy. Mathematics is part of the rational or mental aspect of Reality. It exists, but it is not physical.

I do not think that you would say that accepting physical evidence as proof for the4 existence of the physical is circular thinking.

We know that the physical exists because we experience all the time. In the some way we know that the rational exists because we experience every say and we know the spiritual in the same way although we experience all of these realities in different ways.

Love is spiritual. It too is not physical nor is it rational, although it has its rational and physical aspects. It is not physical in that it is not composed of matter/energy, and yet it is very real.

We know now based on scientific evidence of the Big Bang theory that the universe has a Beginning. This also follows from the rational fact that the universe, which is finite, has boundaries, a beginning and an end. It also follows logically that the finite emerged from the infinite. Therefore science also points to the existence of God, or the Infinite.

The “laws of nature” are not physical because they are not composed of matter/energy. They are rational, composed of human thought based on the scientific experimental method This how we determine how the physical aspects of Reality work. We use theology and philosophy (which needs to be reformed and restructured) to understand the spiritual and rational aspects of Reality.


(John Dalton) #334

That seems like fallacious reasoning. Just because the physical is finite does not mean that things that are not physical are infinite. Also, “God” is far more than infinite by any definition I’ve heard.

I agree totally, and I’m not sure why you raise this point.

Yes, this is true to a degree, but only to a degree. Math is a reflection of the properties of the physical world. Philosophy and theology are the product of thought in physical brains. These aren’t the kind of things I’m talking about. I mean something which entirely transcends the properties of our known physical reality. I find it difficult to imagine that the physical is the limit of all that exists in the cosmos, personally.

You’re right. If we have something “physical” than it is evidence that the “physical” exists, true.

As well as we can know anything, yes.

I’m still not able to think of “the rational” as a quality, as you do.

and we know the spiritual in the same way although we experience all of these realities in different ways.

Likewise here. I can only say that I do not “know” the spiritual. In fact, I have no experience of it personally. What do you mean by it?

I’ve said this before and you rejected it, but to me, love is an emotion. It’s a feeling produced by our physical brains.

We’ve talked about this a bit as well. To me, it seems that there is considerable dispute about the significance of the Big Bang.


(Mitchell W McKain) #335

That is just you deciding to call your judgments “objective” and call your observations “facts.” I don’t see anything which substantially separates it from other examples of rhetoric. Even if you suggest this falls within the realm of the softer human sciences, I would still be expecting the methodological formalities in a peer reviewed publication. It is not enough to say you think that might possible. An hypothesis is nothing more than a guess and there is nothing objective about it.

Perhaps a summary is in order here to make it easier to follow what we are fleshing out. We both agree that science has a superior epistemological status (I use the word objective to mean that it provides a reasonable expectation that others should agree) regardless of whether there is a faith involved in following the methodology and premises of scientific inquiry. However, I will refute the attempt of people to try to transfer that objectivity beyond the actual methodology of science to their rhetoric simply because they think of themselves as being “scientific” or because they use similar terms. That would come under the description of pseudo-science.


(GJDS) #336

@Relates The same can be said for knowledge of God. Orthodox theology has discussed ‘knowledge’ regarding God, and knowledge within God - thus, is the act of creation something that relates God to it? If God in essence ‘knows’ His creation through an act within His essense, that may be seen as adding to God, which violates the simplicity and One-ness of God.

From such considerations, we end up differentiating human knowledge from the divine, and ultimately, what we say rests on what has been revealed in scripture (which is also an act of faith).

Just as we cannot ‘know’ God as an object of scientific study, so we cannot 'think God’s thoughts after Him or at any time, as such teaching places, or adds, something called ‘thoughts’ into the divine simplicity.

Off course, we can debate each other on what we as individuals think, but that is as far as this would go.


(John Dalton) #337

That’s true of any observation, peer reviewed publication or no. We can’t make observations and assess them without belief in our ability to do so. If you want to call this “faith” be my guest, but I will say again that not all types of faith are equal. If you are going to question my ability to make such assessments without some level of faith which is equivalent to all other possible types of faith, I don’t see how we can even have a conversation about faith really.

OK, but I will not renounce my ability to make objective assessments, and to advance those assessments for consideration by others. It has nothing to do with “thinking of myself as being ‘scientific’” etc. I merely think of myself as being able to assess reality to a certain degree and having a certain ability to converse about it.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #338

The first question should be, Does the Infinite exist? In terms of symmetry the answer is Yes. We have Good/Bad, Matter/Antimatter, Finite/Infinite.

If things physical are finite, then That which is Infinite is not physical.

First how many things can be infinite? Only one by my count.

I do not know what can be “more” than infinite. All I can say is that if God is not infinite, God is not God, and if there is One Who is infinite even if that One does not meet our description of God, the One would be God. The Infinite is a good basic definition of God for the sake of discussion, even though people might disagree on the details of exactly Who God is.

If you are using this as your definition of God, that Who “entirely transcends the properties of our known physical reality,” that is not the definition of the divine or God that Christianity uses. God is both transcendent and immanent. God is infinite in that God is in the finite universe and God is beyond the finite universe.

You are right, which is the reason why the materialist position is mistaken.

For the sake of this discussion, the spiritual is the Good. We know what is rational because it is rationally structured. We know what is good because we see that it is meant to help us, rather than harm us. We know that the universe is good, because it is our Mother. We know that certain people are good because other are concerned about us. We experience the spiritual when we experience love and most especially when we love others.

Love is an emotion, but love as an emotion domes and goes, because emotions come and go. Love as a deep relationship which is the foundation for marriage and friendship does not come and go. Love as depicted in 1Corinthians 13 is not just and emotion, but a way that we should relates to others, and the way God relates to us.

Our brains are physical, but our minds are rational. They do not do physical work like our bodies, our legs, our hearts, and lungs, they do rational or mental non-physical work of thinking.

True, but there seems to be a consensus that it is the Beginning.


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #339

With all due respect, God is both One and Three as defined by the doctrine of the Trinity. I see nowhere in scripture, which we accept as Logos through faith, that God is Simple. God is Personal, which means both Unified and Complex, One and the Many. God is not Simple.

God does “change” as God’s knowledge grows, but God’s Love for God’s Creation does not change.


(Mark D.) #340

I can live with “we don’t know”. Not that I wouldn’t like to know, mind you. But since I don’t …


(GJDS) #341

I do not know of any major Christian denomination, or any significant theologian, who would adopt your view. The Trinity is understood as an essence that is identical, is one God, and cannot be added to or taken away. Thus the doctrine that God is simple and not a compound of parts, or whatever…


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #342

We are agreed that God is not a compound of parts or whatever. I do not agree that the choice is between God as simple or God as compound. I really do not think that a God composed of Three Persons is a compound. God composed of Three Persons is a Trinity and this is the God with Whom I am familiar.

I am aware that the understandings of the Trinity of the Eastern Church, which is your church, and the Western Church are different and this demonstrates this. The East accepts the view of philosophy that God is simple and impersonal, while the West takes the Biblical view that God is Personal and not simple.

I and most Western Christians believe that God is Personal and not simple. This is affirmed by Augustine’s view of the Trinity, which says that the unity of the Trinity is based on the Holy Spirit or the Love, which united the Father and the Son. See the Great Priestly Prayer of Jesus, John 17

Those whom I have encountered that say that God’s essence of simple as you affirm say that God’s essence is the God Head. The problem with this is that if God has a Head, which is Simple, then it is logical that God has a Body which is not. Thus this version of God has parts, which is exactly what they and you are trying to avoid. Augustine’s Trinity does not have parts.

If Jesus Christ is not fully God, because only His God Head or Essence is fully God, then Christians have a problem.


(GJDS) #343

What ??? :confounded:


(GJDS) #344

For anyone interested in discussions on Christian theology, such as Divine simplicity, I recommend an excellent series in “Eclectic Orthodoxy”. I have copied an extract dealing with a discussion by McCann:

" If God is a possessor of properties, he is enslaved to his necessity. Deity is stuck with his nature, just as we are with ours. One might wonder what McCann would have thought about the Byzantine distinction between the divine essence and the energeia . The scholastic point of the distinction was to secure the divine freedom.

McCann is aware, however, that the classical Western tradition does not think of Deity as a haver of attributes. God is simple. He cannot be analyzed in terms of properties: “God has no parts, and there is in him no composition, whether of matter or form, potency and act, or substance and attribute” (p. 221). He is dependent on nothing and thus absolutely free. We, of course, commonly make claims about God using subject and predicate (God is wise, God is loving)—how could we talk about God otherwise?—but if the doctrine of divine simplicity is true, these claims cannot be literally true. We are doing something which we cannot properly do. At best can only speak of the divine perfections by analogy."


(Roger A. Sawtelle) #345

My Brother,

God is either the Trinity or God is Simple. The Church, both East and West, has said that God is Trinity a long time ago and this is the Christian understanding of God, which is that God is not simple.

God is Love (and thus is not Hate) as John wrote, so God has attributes. God is the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. I really do not care that someone claims God is Simple, because the facts do not support any other view except God is Trinity, and thus Complex and One. If this is a mystery that does not conform to philosophy, so be it.

Agreed, but the answer to the problem is simple and that is that the doctrine of divine simplicity is not true, so Theology and Jesus are true. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light.”

If you want to see my understanding of God developed in a more nuanced manner, I refer you to my essay, God and Freedom on Academia.edu.


(Mitchell W McKain) #346

While I am not into the “God is simple” idea, I don’t think you can dictate this. The doctrine of the Trinity is that the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are three distinct persons and yet only one God. All ideas that they are different parts or different aspect of God have been rejected as completely heretical. This idea that God is simple is not an idea I really understand, but perhaps it is just emphasizing the oneness of God.

In contrast, my principle idea is that God is infinite and therefore not limited in any way except by His own choices. I guess I need to take a look at what GJDS is saying.

I consider this stuff about not being a possessor of properties to be empty semantics. Truth be told the obsession with properties in Greek philosophy and other philosophical discourse is an example of confusing language with reality. “Properties” are a semantic abstraction due to the fact that we use separate words like adjectives to describe things and attach them to nouns in a sentence. Reality doesn’t work like this.

Therefore you can say that nobody and nothing is a possessor of properties excepts words and abstract ideas. Thus God is not different than anybody else in this regard and if we use the conventions of language to describe other things then there is no reason not to do so for God as well, recognizing the ultimate limitations of language in representing the truth.

I certainly don’t think the freedom of God depends upon such theological gobble-dee-gook.


(GJDS) #347

I have a hard time understanding this. We attribute properties to just about everything - water is wet, water boils when heated, rocks are hard, you may be short in height, and so on. I cannot think of a paper I have published that does not include properties of substances used in experiments.

So I am puzzled when you say nobody or nothing is a possessor of properties.

The doctrine of divine simplicity has been discussed extensively, especially by theologians such as Aquinas and my quote is simply a way of showing this. We all recognise the limitations of language, but the reason why we discuss terms such as simplicity and essence, iis because God is different from us, and the language we use is, just as we agree, insufficient.

I am somewhat bemused by your “theological gobble-dee-gook”.