Where did the laws of physics come from?

(Mark D.) #21

No I don’t know anyone who thinks about it that way, except for some Jungians maybe. I’d be very interested to find out more.


They seem to have forums and even local communities of their own. Maybe you would enjoy participating and seeing if that is your thing (if you are interested in a community, that is). http://www.nontheistfriends.org/

It should be noted though that I didn’t even know non-theist quakers existed until last week, so I could be dramatically wrong about the impressions I’ve got from them.

(Mark D.) #23

Thank you very much, Boltzy. That was mighty Christian of you to share that with me. :slight_smile: I’ve just sent an email requesting to participate in their discussions. Haven’t seen their forums yet but even if the discussions are by email, good enough. The forum lay out here by the way is the best I’ve seen. Must be the standard enjoyed in the sciences. Impressive.

(John Dalton) #24

Discourse is part of the new wave in dedicated forum software, following on from the long (and basically great and hardly over) PHPBB era.

Much as you have a new brute fact though, you also have a new question: Why does God have purpose?

(Ashwin S) #25

The laws of physics came from the human mind.

They are approximations which best describe a set of observations. They are not necessarily ontologically real…
However, why the world/universe can be explained by logic/mathematics is the deeper mystery.
And this is a good reason to believe that things like math and logic exist independently from the human mind… and we come to the Logos of God… the mind behind all matter.

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #26

Who says, "**“we have no hope of discerning His logic or motivations?” Have you not heard of Jesus Christ, the Logos of God?

(Mark D.) #27

I wasn’t aware that Jesus had even addressed the laws of physics. Citation please? :wink:

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #28


John 1:1-3 (NIV2011)
1 In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was with God in the beginning.
3 Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
John 1:14 (NIV2011)
14 The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son, Who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

(Mark D.) #29

Surprising how little mathematics was necessary to sum it all up. Better let Pevaquark and the rest know so they can get their resumes out there and find other jobs. :wink:

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #30


Reducing everything to absurdity is not a strong argument.

Life/Reality is not physics. Physics is not math. In fact Matthew @pevaquark said he left math because it loved singularities and physics hates them.

As I have said, philosophy, theology, and science were created to study different aspects of life. When you reduce life to science, or to philosophy, or to theology you have a flat, inauthentic, silly understanding of Reality.

One needs to start with the human experience that life is good and rational. If this is true then there must be God (theology,) and there must be a rational (philosophy)and physical order (science.)


A universe made by a rational agent can have purpose, being that whatever the purpose that rational agent intended for.

(GJDS) #32

Perhaps it may be useful to consider the problems inherent is statements such as, “God works through laws of science ….” or derivatives of such language. The statements that are under the umbrella of “laws of science” are properly discussed within philosophy of science, and not theology. The discussion on God creates may be enlarged to include an understanding of the universe as God’s creation, by considering that all time, space, matter and energy are completely comprehensible to God, be it past or future. The fact that the creation is comprehensible to human intellect is the primary focus of the faith-science conversation, and it is this that enables us to formulate mathematical expressions that indicate an “is-ness” to the universe. This also shows us an additional dimension to Paul’s statement that God may be comprehended in a limited way through His creation. The intelligibility of the universe to human intellect also shows purpose.

(John Dalton) #33

A subjective purpose, sure. But what is the purpose of the rational agent? We’re still left with that. That may not trouble you, and I can understand that, but it seems to me to be an unanswered question on the level of a brute fact we must accept.

(Ashwin S) #34

To have agency is to have purpose.
That’s one of the differences between a rational agent and a piece of wood or a robot. Purpose.

You cannot seperate purpose from Agency.

(John Dalton) #35

Why not? They seem like two totally different things to me. By the way, if that were true, we would have purpose without God.

(Ashwin S) #36

They are not… how do you define a rational agent?
Try to define a rational agent without purpose…
Agency involves the ability to act on one’s own impetus. This needs a will … i.e purpose.

(Jon Garvey) #37


I’m surprised to see how few attempts Christians have made to answer this question of yours, on a Christian forum. But there you go.

The first thing to point out is that fundamental laws of nature are brute facts to science simply because their explanation is not, by their very nature, amenable to science. So the person who believes that science is the only or ultimate source of truth will not be able to go beyond them. What’s, perhaps, more surprising, is that the curiosity of some of them should run out where the science runs out.

Thus the reasons for physical existence cannot be studied by the tools that examine the relationships within physical existence. The reason that the universe has regularities and an intelligible character cannot be studied by using the rules describing those regularities.

So the existence (and the intrinsic nature) of laws of nature require a philosophical and/or theological treatment, because of the severe limitations of science as an epistemological tool. And at even an elementary level, philosophers point out that since the laws are contingent (they could have been otherwise) and the universe is made up of parts (which could be arranged differently), it is pretty unsatisfactory, and indeed impluaisble, for the “brute facts” to stop at that point.

It begs some better explanation as much as it would if the universe consisted entirely of Coca Cola and currant buns, rather than Christmas trees and old copies of the New York Times. Those are the kinds of things that can’t be rationally thought of as primary reality.

There are other problems downstream if ones regress of causes ends in a “brute fact”, making the very existence of the causal thread you have followed likely to be false - but there’s no room to explore that here - except to say, if the universe by chance consisted entirely of the New York Times, what reason would you have for trusting any of the articles in it? But it is a major reason that materialism has been losing ground in philosophy in recent years.

God, however, is not the same kind of brute fact, and for more than one reason. In the first place, not being comprised of parts and subject to change, he is not the kind of “thing” that requires further explanation. He is the end of the otherwise impossibly endless regress of caused events, because he not contingent but infinite and self-existent.

Secondly, he is not a brute fact as regards the order of the universe, because he is a conscious will, a “he”, not a meaningless “it”. The laws are as they are because he chose them to be thus, and he chose them to be so in order to act faithfully for the good of all he created. And the fact that we are even capable of wondering about the laws makes sense as there is a correspondence between the One who made the laws and those he made them for, since we too are conscious, willing creatures. This is not so much an ID argument as am ancient refutation of Epicurus - it makes sense for a mind to give rise to contingent things, or even to lesser minds, but not for contingent objects to arrange by chance into minds.

A third reason God is not just another brute fact is that he may be known, and known through love, and as love. That love reaches beyond mere physical laws - which are, in their scientific form, only abstracted mathematical descriptions of nature incapable even of determining the direction of time, let alone true cause and effect - to a Father whose faithfulness makes sense of the faithfulness of nature (which is why the early scientists expressed natural regularities in terms of divine law), and which faith can even begin to comprehend him in his eternal and infinite nature: he is no more a “brute fact” than your father is.

Needless to say, that love is supremely shown in Christ, as will be known by most of those reading this, if not by most of those contributing to this thread. But we are supposed to be able to give an account of the hope that is in us, so it helps to study some philosophy and theology, rather than hope science will be able to, metaphorically speaking, lift itself by its own bootstraps to explain the laws of nature.

EDIT - some light reading on the problems with “Brute facts” (amongst other views of thelaws of nature)

(John Dalton) #38

I don’t think an impetus needs a will, nor do I think a will is a purpose. Maybe I should ask you to define purpose (do I really have to define rational or agent?) We share a survival instinct with other animals, surely. As social animals, we tend to participate in relationships which can give our lives meaning or purpose. In our complex society, there are many avenues for development which can provide purpose. Are these the kind of things you mean?

(Mervin Bitikofer) #39

If you don’t think of “purpose” as at least something embedded within a will (if not the will itself), then just what do you imagine a “purpose” must be, John? Do you think there is no such thing as “purpose” at all then?

(John Dalton) #40

That’s a fair point. What about the examples I gave above? Do they qualify as purpose?