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Monday, May 13, 2019

How Naturalism Defeats Science As A Knowledge Discipline

Introduction

One of the core necessities of science is the constancy of the laws that govern this universe. The fact that the laws of physics have the same since the beginning of the universe and will continue until the universe is destroyed allows scientists to not only observe and know what is happening in the moment of their observation, but it allows them to discover what has happened in the past and even make accurate predictions of the behavior of objects and conditions in the future. Some scientists even use the understanding that the laws of physics are constant to make predictions of what we will observe in the past (by observing distant celestial objects), then conduct multiple observations to test their theory. But where do they come up with the idea that the laws of physics are constant in the first place?



The Constancy of the Laws of Physics

We certainly cannot look inside this universe to establish it, for that would be to beg the question (assume what we are trying to conclude). Without something outside the universe that established the constancy of the laws of physics, such an assumption has no justification. So, on this view, since our first assumption has no justification, neither do any of the conclusions that follow it. At best, the constancy or variability of the laws of physics is unknowable. Since scientists foundationally base their claims about the past and the future upon something that is unknowable, then their claims about the past and the future can only reach the same level of knowledge: unknowable.

At this point, many scientists would object based upon observation of distant celestial objects. My response is to point out that a subtle fallacy is in place. While we think that we can observe the past by looking at distant celestial objects to observe how the laws of physics behaved back then, we are still stuck with merely a suspicion (thus the whole scientific enterprise that is dependent upon constancy is suspect). I ask that the objector recalls that in order to correlate the observation to any point in time, the speed of light (governed by the laws of physics) must be finite and constant- light does take time to travel, so we are seeing light as it was when it left the object not as it is now. To say that observing distant objects establishes the constancy of the laws of physics is to commit the fallacy of begging the question. The objector has sneaked his conclusion into his argument. This invalidates his conclusion that our observations establish the constancy of the laws of physics. But all is not lost, they do still have a suspicion that the laws have been constant into the past.

Naturalism Defeats Science As A Knowledge Discipline

If this universe is all that there is, then there really is no possible way to justify the belief in the foundational idea that the laws of physics are constant. All further conclusions will remain as merely suspicions and will remain unknowable. However, if something exists outside the universe that does provide a foundation for the laws of physics, then we at least have something to reason toward constant laws of physics without begging the question. If God exists and created this universe, then He certainly would be the source for the laws of physics, but this alone does not tell us if they are constant or variable over time.

Christianity Provides The Foundation For Science As A Knowledge Discipline

Interestingly enough, though, God has revealed to us which option He selected, and it matches the observations that cause us to suspect one or the other. Let us examine Jeremiah 33:25-26:

Are The Laws of Physics Constant? “This is what the Lord says: ‘If I have not made my covenant with day and night and established the laws of heaven and earth, then I will reject the descendants of Jacob and David my servant...’”  Jeremiah 33:25-26a


In this passage, God compares His constancy to the laws that govern His creation. If these laws are not truly constant, then the comparison means, at best, nothing, and at worst, the exact opposite (that the laws are variable).

If scientists wish to claim that their conclusions are more than mere unknowable suspicions, then they have no choice but to be dependent upon God's existing. And we're not talking about some deistic god, for a deistic god does not reveal Himself to His creation (God is revealing His constancy, among other characteristics, in the passage above), nor are we talking about some generic theistic god. We are talking about the God of the Bible. 

This God not only told us the truth of something that we only became suspicious may be true in recent centuries (the constancy of the laws of physics), but He came to earth, died, and resurrected from the dead (see this historical evidence in the post: "Did The Historical Jesus Rise From The Dead?"). In that resurrection, He confirmed His claims to be God, the Creator of the universe: the Source of the laws of physics.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and The Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created.”  John 1:1-3

Conclusion

Naturalism simply cannot justify the conclusion that the laws of physics are constant, and unless scientists are willing to ground this foundationally necessary concept in the God of the Bible outside the universe, none of their conclusions can be more than suspicions, and suspicions hardly counts as knowledge. In order for any conclusions that count as knowledge to come out of the scientific enterprise, God must exist to be the source of the constancy of the laws of physics. If naturalism is true, then science necessarily is not a knowledge discipline.

For More On The Implications Of Constant Laws of Physics, See These Books and Posts:


1 comment:

  1. I have speculated that variable physical parameters, so called constants, might be able to explain the apparent disagreement between a six day creation and a heated 14by universe. While technically these would not be variable laws, in practice and observation they would appear so. Great post!

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