Laws of nature

While the early scientists expected God’s creation to be orderly and show God’s lawfulness, that is certainly not the case with conventional science today.  While we can say that’s because of the Enlightenment, there’s more to it than that.

There’s something called the ontological inversion.  Basically, at first science is very empirical: what is real is what is observed.  But as a body of accepted theory grows, there comes a point at which the theory is considered more real than observation.  One problem with this is that anomalous observations may be rejected or ignored. Philosophy first took an ontological inversion with Kant who made Newtonian physics a starting point for philosophical reflection.

Today the laws of nature are commonly considered as foundational reality in a secular or Spinozan way.  Nature is law and law is nature and if God exists, God is law.

It seems to me that this ontological inversion works very much against creationists.  They believe in recent creation not because they have a law that proves it (though they try to use laws to bolster their case) but because they have particular records and revelations in the Bible that shows it.  If all is law, it’s very difficult to get to a belief in early creation because laws don’t have inherent beginnings.  They just sit there, timelessly (in fact the essence of law is its trans-temporal nature).

I think the answer is a strong empiricism which never gets to the ontological inversion.  Reality is still what is observed (and revealed) despite discovering a body of regularities we call laws of nature.  In philosophy that is know as realism.

December 2012