Where did the laws of physics come from?

(Mitchell W McKain) #348

Yes and God is good no matter how many times you say God cannot have properties. Wetness is not a property added to water except in our head. Water is just a molecule composed of an oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms. Wetness is a subjective experience and the goodness of God is another experience people have. It is not about adding anything to either of them except in our construction of sentences.

Yes WE attribute properties to things. This is something WE do in our heads and in our language. But the water itself is just oxygen and two hydrogen and there is no wetness attached in there anywhere.

Of course not. That is because your paper is full of words. This is just how language works.

It is no different than when you say that God has no properties – I am just following your lead in playing such semantic games. But the fact is, you can say that water is wet and I can say that God is good. There is no difference. This is just how language works – it is not about how reality works.

Rightly so! Obviously I am doing theology just as much as you are and as Aquinas did. We use the tools of language to describe God. As long as we don’t confuse these with the reality then I have no problem with this. Here is another example of where I think people are doing this…

People say God is all powerful – omnipotent. But then they turn around as say that God cannot do a bunch of things because this would contradict the omnipotence of God. Can you not see the innate silliness in this? They are confusing their description of God with God Himself to the point where they contradict the very description they have made. They say God cannot make a rock so heavy that even He cannot lift it. They say God cannot limit Himself, cannot take risks, cannot give anyone privacy, cannot make sacrifices, … by the time they are finished they end up with something incapable of love. This is what happens when you confuse your talk and description of God with God Himself – you strip Him of all power over Himself and give all that power to your theology. When you do that, then the theology does indeed become nonsensical gobble-dee-gook.

(GJDS) #349

Your approach seems tortuous to me but I think I understand your view. To get back on track, we seem to agree that we cannot describe God using human language, but we may speak of Him analogically. The reality of God is God Himself, and what we can say is revealed to us and even then we need the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Have I understood what you are saying?

(Mitchell W McKain) #350

I am saying that while I objected to Roger’s argument against the simplicity of God from the doctrine of the Trinity, if this idea of God being simple is about God not having properties or attributes then I am not buying that either. But then these look like very different ideas of what the simplicity of God is about. Maybe you simply haven’t explain the simplicity of God in a way that makes sense to me and I am just not buying either your argument for or Roger’s argument against. Like I said to Roger, if it just about the oneness of God then that is exactly what the doctrine of the Trinity is claiming.

But as far as language is concerned… I am saying that if we acknowledge the limits of language and do not confuse language with the reality then we can use it for God the same as everything else. To say that God doesn’t have properties is making this kind of error. You can say “God is good” without meaning that something has been added to God, just as saying “water is wet” doesn’t mean something is added to water. Otherwise you might as well say all theology is nonsense because nothing can ever be said about God and there goes all rationality in theistic religion into the garbage can.

(GJDS) #351

Yes, we agree.


You seem to misread my comment - simplicity, trinity, essence all mean One God. Other comments are added to counter comments against this simplicity.

Yes we use language as we can - the correct phrase “God is…”. Anything added to that is allegorical and/or scripture based.

If I say, God is good, I understand that initially as good I experience, and when referring to God, it would total goodness, or infinitely so, etc.,

Nothing is added because we understand God is…

If an alternate view is put, that God is compound, and not simple, that we can add to further compound this nonsense - it is an argument against the idea of the essence and divine simplicity, and I reject it…

I am happy that we discussed this, but I for one, think we have gone as far as we can in this exchange.

(Mervin Bitikofer) #352

Here is the end-all-be-all argument forever settling whether or not water is wet. :grin:

(GJDS) #353

Ha ha …… good one

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #354
  1. simple



simpler (comparative adjective) · simplest (superlative adjective)

  1. easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty.

“a simple solution” ·

“camcorders are now so simple to operate”

used to emphasize the fundamental and straightforward nature of something.

“the simple truth”

  1. plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation.

“a simple white blouse” ·

“the house is furnished in a simple country style”

* humble and unpretentious.

“a quiet unassuming man with simple tastes”

  1. composed of a single element; not compound.

  2. of low or abnormally low intelligence.

God is One, but God is not Simple according to Christianity. On the other Islam maintains that God is One and God/Allah is Simple.

The reason Islam gives to justify this simplicity is that if Allah had attributes Allah would be limited by them. Islam is not a covenantal faith like Judaism and Christianity are because Allah does not make covenants with people because honoring these covenants would be a limit to Allah’s freedom.

On the other hand Christianity does not see God’s Faithful Love and Truthfulness as limits on God’s freedom. These are a part of the character of YHWH, not God’s nature. YHWH IS WHO YHWH IS not because of YHWH’s nature, but because of YHWH’s character, Which YHWH freely chooses and can freely unchoose, even though there is no reason to do so.

YHWH freely reveals Godself in Jesus the Messiah and the Logos, which means that words mean something, when used properly. Jesus is the Logos Which is YHWH’s rational Word, not the Mythos, God’s authoritative word.

Human beings are made by God in God’s Image. They are both three and one, both complex and one. In the same way the Trinity is both Three and One, both Complex and One. The Trinity is One Complex God in Three Persons.

A Simple God has no freedom, because the Simple God is limited to only one mode of being and action. The Simple God could not create a complex universe, which is how we know that God is not simple.

(Clark Vangilder) #355

They come from human minds.

The Laws of Physics are human constructs modeling empirically familiar regularities. Period. The field forces etc. that the laws of physics model are something because they describe interactions in the physical world.

Cognitively speaking, our ability to perceive a change in this with respect to that relative to some change in time is why we even think about physical laws. Human memory systems and brain architecture allow for the coordination of the activation of multiple regions of the brain (learning) such that we distinguish things that are the same from those that are not, relative magnitudes, etc.

We must be very careful in speaking about the laws of physics as if they are something or have some sort of agency. They are not things; but, they are about things both real and virtual.

(Mitchell W McKain) #356

That is like saying that the universe came from the human mind because the “universe” is a word in human languages. It an empty dodge. Clearly when we ask such questions as where the laws of physics come from and where the universe came from we are not talking about the the human words and constructs but about the things they are referring to, in this case those same regularities and things in the physical world you say these laws of physics are describing.

The laws of physics being about the causes for events which we can measure and verify, the word agency is entirely applicable. Perhaps there are things to be careful about in speaking of the laws of physics, but so far I don’t see anything significant in what you have described yet.

(Clark Vangilder) #357

No…it IS NOT “like saying that the universe came from the human mind because the “universe” is a word in human languages.” Not sure what your beef is; but, it is unwarranted.

(Mitchell W McKain) #358

Since you avoided the essence of my response as thoroughly as you avoided the original question in the title of this thread, you have only doubled my “beef”.

So I repeat, hopefully with a simplicity you cannot avoid… the question is not about where our models came from but where the consistent patterns in nature come from!

(Clark Vangilder) #359

I did not avoid the essence of your response; however, you have entirely missed the essence of mine. Have some wHine and cheese with your double beef.

Concerning your claim that “the question is not about where our models came from but where the consistent patterns in nature come from”, I say, sure…according to you. I took a different approach than you did. Apparently, you are unaware that my mention of empirically familiar regularities refers to “the consistent patterns in nature”?

(Mitchell W McKain) #360

One last try… The question of this thread is where did those consistent patterns in nature come from? They did not come from human minds!

(Clark Vangilder) #361

One last time … YOU are not in charge in here. I really don’t care that you think that you are.

If you had paid close attention, you would have noticed that I mentioned empirically familiar regularities, which you rightly call consistent patterns in nature. The field forces etc. that describe interactions in space and time are something that human minds write laws about. If YOU want to conflate a description of physical reality with physical reality itself, then go ahead. I choose to make the distinction that the laws of physics are about the structure of physical reality rather than THE physical reality itself.

If you disagree, fine. I do not care.

Where do the patterns come from? Who knows? Physics would say one thing and Theism might say a number of other things. The structure of physical reality is what it is.

(Mitchell W McKain) #362

Ok… let’s try a bit of a reset by shifting from my objection to what I agree with in your original post…

The laws of physics are indeed human constructs and we must indeed be careful because we often think of the constructs of human minds like mathematics as something out there to be discovered rather than something which we create. And I actually tend to the latter, warning that the popular view of mathematics as some kind of universal language is very possibly misguided. I would compare mathematics to the rules of some complicated game we play, and then point out the absurdity of thinking that football or chess is some kind of universal language.

Yeah I am aware that I have some personality problems… my first reactions being too contrary instead of focusing on the things we have in common. Apologies for that!

(Phil) #363

Dr. Vangilder, let me welcome you to our little corner of the internet. It is good to hear your voice. Semantics can be a troublesome thing, with misunderstandings and different definitions of words giving us conflict where really none exists, but I agree with your statement:

Indeed, some have been known to argue (incorrectly) that certain “laws” make observed reality impossible, but that gets into other subjects.

In any case, welcome, and even the grouches around here are pretty likable once you get to know them.


Hi Clark, I’m not a moderator but wanted to welcome you to the forum.

I was initially going to respond with a question but your subsequent comments nicely clarified your position.

(Randy) #365

Welcome! Is this your website? Sounds like you have a lot more to teach me (as does @mitchellmckain)

(Clark Vangilder) #366

Yes … that is my website.

(Clark Vangilder) #367

ThanX … this question has a great deal of nuance, which makes it very easy to misunderstand one another, as well as ourselves. :thinking: