Monday, June 22, 2009

Natural Laws, Divine Immanance and Isaac Newton

We will be discussing a this topic a great deal within theistic science, so let us get started.

Isaac Newton is widely credited with developing the idea of natural law, according to which the universe proceeds in a uniform manner without the need for divine intervention.

First, we should note that this view is a myth as far as Newton himself is concerned. The website, by Stephen Snobelen, reveals a very religious side of Newton. This side was kept from the public even in his lifetime, so strong had the public myth become even then!

But whatever Newton thought, it is a great mistake in theism to use the phrase "without the need of divine intervention"! God did not create the universe to leave it alone, because in theism that would completely defeat the purpose of creation! Creation was made, according to theism, so God could come and dwell in us, and we in him. That is at least clear from the Christian book of John.

More specifically, if God is Life Itself, then we cannot live disconnected from God. All our love and wisdom, all our affections and thoughts, and all our actions and perceptions derive from God. If we are human, it is because He is the original Human. If we live at all, it is because He Lives. (We may be disconnected in parts of our being if we wish to disagree with God, but we can never be wholly disconnected.)

In that case, it is nonsense to even imagine that the universe could proceed by itself without contact with the Divine. Of course, we have to understand how this contact occurs, but as for where and when, it must be practically everywhere, and all the time.

This view is a simple consequence of theism, and of God's immanence in theism: that whereby God continuously sustains the universe. This is not merely by some philosophical and metaphysical principle, but, if indwelling is to be achieved, by something immediate and intimate. It is to be contrasted with deism, whereby God creates the universe as a clock, and then sets it to run on its own. Newton was not a deist, but the belief that the world, "though being once form’d, it may continue by those Laws for many Ages" did allow for others to increase those ages, and work against theism.

It is very important not to forget this truth of theism. It implies that there is really no such thing as 'natural law'. Rather, we have laws about the way that God dwells within the universe, and from those laws we can derive something like natural law, and that 'something law-like' will tell us now the world usually behaves when God is dwelling in it in his usual way. It are these 'usual laws' which physics has discovered up to now, but the real laws are much deeper.

Another formulation, which I describe here, says that Theism describes how the natural world reacts in the presence of God, but that this is always. It also describes how these reactions are modified when the Divine dwelling is moderated by intervening spiritual and mental choices. These, we will find out, are the souls and minds of people. And so we find out how our minds can act in our bodies, also partially depend on our bodies.

What theisic science will have to tell us, therefore, are the principles whereby Divine Immanence gets translated into the apparently-constant behaviour in the universe. That behaviour makes us think of natural laws, and think that these are constant. It makes us think that physical objects had a fixed life of their own that cannot be altered. This last statement cannot be right, if God is life itself. I start to explain this in my 1993 article "The Consistency Of Physical Law With Divine Immanence". Who said that physics was simple?

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