Problems with the Laws of Physics

Thanks, Webmonk and others, for pointing out the howler in that article that alleges that scientific observation might destroy the universe: The scientist was quoted as denying that we was referring to causality, but the reporter ignored his own source and went on to assert causality all through the story! (Why didn’t I notice that?) Still, the truth remains that science is becoming far less materialistic, common-sensical, and reductionistic than it used to be.

Frank Sonnek points out a better article that illustrates that point, how the very concept of a scientific law is up for grabs. The writer says that the very notion that there are laws that govern nature derives from Christianity, which gave birth to modern science. He also gets tangled up himself, saying that we must not allow ourselves to invoke a divine providence, that we have to find a solution from within the system, even though that is proving impossible!

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • jayfromcleveland

    When I was in the physics program, there was a professor who repeatedly broke the chalk at the blackboard and looked up. His line was, “in physics there is always the exception to the rule and I want to be looking when the chalk falls up.”

    This is the logical endpoint of quantum mechanics and other statistical based studies which conclude that anomalous things happen at the ends of the bell curve. However, following Newton, the chalk never will fall up because there will always exist an attraction between the chalk and the earth, proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distances.

    It’s ironic that here in a high tech era based on the physics of Newton and his successors, such gobbledegook would emanate from the physicists.

  • jayfromcleveland

    When I was in the physics program, there was a professor who repeatedly broke the chalk at the blackboard and looked up. His line was, “in physics there is always the exception to the rule and I want to be looking when the chalk falls up.”

    This is the logical endpoint of quantum mechanics and other statistical based studies which conclude that anomalous things happen at the ends of the bell curve. However, following Newton, the chalk never will fall up because there will always exist an attraction between the chalk and the earth, proportional to their masses and inversely proportional to the square of their distances.

    It’s ironic that here in a high tech era based on the physics of Newton and his successors, such gobbledegook would emanate from the physicists.

  • S Bauer

    I do not claim to have understood completely everything that Douglas Hofstader said in Goedel, Escher, Bach, but one thing that came through loud and clear is the impossibility of finding the whole solution of any system from within the system.

  • S Bauer

    I do not claim to have understood completely everything that Douglas Hofstader said in Goedel, Escher, Bach, but one thing that came through loud and clear is the impossibility of finding the whole solution of any system from within the system.

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I think the idea of “obedience to law” might have some Christian underpinnings. But it may not be the best way of discussing the issue. I like physicist David Deutsch’s discussion in his book The Fabric of Reality. In his view, scientific theories are best seen as descriptions of the fabric of reality. I think the image is important because many theories are very “fabric-like.” Gravity as a distortion of spacetime is one. While you may have the same results talking of an object “obeying the laws of gravity” and talking of the same object following the shortest path through spacetime, the former gets you thinking in unproductive ways, like “How does the object know what the law is?”

    This does not remove God from the picture. We can still ask “Why did God create reality with this kind of fabric rather than another?”

  • http://www.oldsolar.com/currentblog.php Rick Ritchie

    I think the idea of “obedience to law” might have some Christian underpinnings. But it may not be the best way of discussing the issue. I like physicist David Deutsch’s discussion in his book The Fabric of Reality. In his view, scientific theories are best seen as descriptions of the fabric of reality. I think the image is important because many theories are very “fabric-like.” Gravity as a distortion of spacetime is one. While you may have the same results talking of an object “obeying the laws of gravity” and talking of the same object following the shortest path through spacetime, the former gets you thinking in unproductive ways, like “How does the object know what the law is?”

    This does not remove God from the picture. We can still ask “Why did God create reality with this kind of fabric rather than another?”

  • allen

    The Fabric of Reality? That puts me in mind of something that Chesterton put into Father Brown’s mouth (if memory serves me correctly), that is, that what we see here on this side of heaven is like looking at the wrong side of a tapestry. That guy had a way with words.

  • allen

    The Fabric of Reality? That puts me in mind of something that Chesterton put into Father Brown’s mouth (if memory serves me correctly), that is, that what we see here on this side of heaven is like looking at the wrong side of a tapestry. That guy had a way with words.


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