Scientific argument for God's existence
#1
Hi everybody!

As a physiscist, I would like to share what I think is the strongest rational argument for God's existence, i.e. the mathematical representability of the natural laws. A well-known result of modern science is that natural phenomena can be sytematically predicted through a specific system of few mathematical equations, the laws of physics. The laws of physics describe nature in terms of quarks, quantum fields, bosons, etc.; all these terms actually refer to abstract mathematical models which are the elements of a complex mathematical theory. Unless you consider the success of the laws of physics, which represents the basis of modern technological progress, as an unbelievably lucky series of coincidences, you should agree with the idea that our mathematical models describe the intimate structure of the universe; such structure would consist of abstract mathematical relations, because this is what the laws of physics express.

Since mathematical equations and mathematical models are abstract concepts, which cannot exist independently from a mind conceiving them, the existence of this mathematically structured universe does imply the existence of an intelligent and conscious God, conceiving it according to such mathematical structures.

I would like to clarify that my faith in Christ is certainly not based on my scientific knowledges; I believed in Christ long before I became a physiscist and the reason why I believe in Christ is essentially that I find His teachings fully convincing.
Nevertheless, studying physics I have found a striking confirmation of some of my beliefs.
I also know that atheists would not accept my argument because they reject "a priori" the idea of God, and therefore they reject any valid argument about God's existence.
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#2
Thank you, Mmarco, and welcome to the Tank.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the most precious blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the Masses said Throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in Purgatory. Amen.
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#3
Have you read Fr. Robert Spitzer's book New Proofs for the Existence of God? It's a bit dated now (2010), but it incorporated the findings of physics and drew out their implications for some proofs for God's existence. It's pretty good but dense but goes along the same lines of what you've written here. 

https://www.amazon.com/New-Proofs-Existe...0802863833
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#4
(08-11-2019, 12:47 PM)piscis Wrote: Have you read Fr. Robert Spitzer's book New Proofs for the Existence of God? It's a bit dated now (2010), but it incorporated the findings of physics and drew out their implications for some proofs for God's existence. It's pretty good but dense but goes along the same lines of what you've written here. 

https://www.amazon.com/New-Proofs-Existe...0802863833

No, I haven't. Thanks for the suggestion!
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#5
Welcome to the forum, Marco. Allow me to answer as best as I can. Corrections are more than welcome  Smile

There is a problem with arguing that the predictability of the physical laws infer, by necessity, an intelligent designer, because such a purely deterministic model runs contrary to the possibility of miracles or divine interventions occurring without denigrating the very fabric of reality. At most, that argument would infer the possibility of a detached and impersonal creator (a law-giver), as deists perceive God to be. Yours is a slightly more elegant rehash of the "watchmaker analogy".

Second, the claim that "mathematical equations and mathematical models are abstract concepts, which cannot exist independently from a mind conceiving them" is a non-sequitur. The laws of mathematics exist outside of physical reality and outside of human perception. The role of our intellect is to discover them, for they do not become concrete reality only when they are perceived (Esse Est Percipi), on the contrary, they are perceived because they are concrete reality.

One of the most interesting features of modern mathematics is the fact that physical laws are theorized many decades before they're able to be proven as factual and many more decades before they are found to have any practical applications. Bernhard Riemann, for instance, laid the mathematical foundations that, more than 50 years later, would sparkle Einstein's general theory of relativity. Newton's three laws, that pertained to describe the motion of material bodies (including planets) under the action of forces being applied to them, would be the most striking example for purposes of teleology. His contemporary, Leibniz, assumed that God played an active role in making sure that planets don't bump into each other, accusing Newton, a man who dedicated decades of his life to the study of Scripture, of minimizing God. On the contrary, Newton emphasized the majesty of the Almighty when describing a universe that doesn't require constant adjustment. The same could be said of any other phenomena when not yet fully understood by men: from lightning bolts and rain to microwaves and AM frequencies. The Higgs boson is the most recent example of a scientific principle that was theorized decades before its existence was demonstrated - the reason why it became known as The God Particle in the popular culture is precisely because of its elusiveness. Yet, there it is.

It's very dangerous to make fallacious argumenta ad ignorantiam, claiming that "we don't know what caused it, it sounds too complex, it sounds too improbable, therefore God is the most obvious explanation". That works well for a few centuries, until the obscurantist veil that covers the answers is lifted up and, rather than finding there a crouching God playing hide-and-seek with us, we find an answer that is according to natural laws and that will, in hindsight, appear too obvious to have escaped our grasp.

It's a fool's errand to go looking for God in the material world, not because atheists "would not accept your argument because they reject a priori the idea of God and therefore they reject any valid argument about God's existence", not because there are no good arguments for God's existence, but because there are no good enough arguments that leave no room for doubt. God Himself demands faith borne out of free will instead of compulsion, warning us of growing too attached to mundane (including scientific) wisdom:

1 Corinthians 1:19-21
For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, God decided, through the foolishness of our proclamation, to save those who believe.

1 Corinthians 3:19-20
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. For it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness,” and again, “The Lord knows the thoughts of the wise, that they are futile.”

Hebrews 11:3
By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible.

Romans 1:20-22
Ever since the creation of the world his eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things he has made. So they are without excuse; for though they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools;

Psalms 14:1-2
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is no one who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind to see if there are any who are wise, who seek after God.
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#6
Dear Giovanni Petro,

I think we disagree on some points, and I would like to explain better my position; I would like to say that I fully respect your ideas and I hope that what I am saying will not offend you.

You wrote: " There is a problem with arguing that the predictability of the physical laws infer, by necessity, an intelligent designer, because such a purely deterministic model runs contrary to the possibility of miracles or divine interventions occurring without denigrating the very fabric of reality."

I think that miracles are by definition a violation of the natural laws; my argument does not exclude the possibility for the Creator to violate the laws He Himself has established for natural phenomena.


 You wrote: "At most, that argument would infer the possibility of a detached and impersonal creator (a law-giver), as deists perceive God to be. "

On the contrary; my point is taht the intrinsic rational and conceptual nature of mathematical models implies the existence of an  intelligent , conscious and personal God; my starting point is that an abstract concept cannot exist by itself, but only as a thought in a thinking mind.

You wrote: " The laws of mathematics exist outside of physical reality and outside of human perception. The role of our intellect is to discover them, for they do not become concrete reality only when they are perceived (Esse Est Percipi), on the contrary, they are perceived because they are concrete reality."

Maybe we may only agree to disagree on this point, because I consider simpky absurd the idea that mathematics may exist by itself, outside a thinking mind. Mathematics is not discovered, but invented by an intelligent mind. In fact a mathematical model is made of abstract ARBITRARY assumptions and abstract relations. By the way, we can invent many mathematical models which have no correspondence with the physical world; they are simply abstract ideas,

You wrote: " It's very dangerous to make fallacious argumenta ad ignorantiam, claiming that "we don't know what caused it, it sounds too complex, it sounds too improbable, therefore God is the most obvious explanation".

This has nothing to d owith my argument; you must have misunderstood.
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#7
(08-12-2019, 06:49 AM)Mmarco Wrote: I think that miracles are by definition a violation of the natural laws; my argument does not exclude the possibility for the Creator to violate the laws He Himself has established for natural phenomena.

That is philosophically problematic, but give you're coming from a scientific background (like myself), it is a natural consequence of that line of thinking.

For an engineer, physicist or mathematician, "natural laws" are really just models of what is happening in reality. They are our description, so a miracle is then a violation of our understanding. Either that or they are seen as forces which exist separately from the beings they effect. Gravity for such a one is a force which exerts itself upon things, not a property that belongs to things.

For a philosopher, what is natural about Natural Law is that it is not some set of forces, but it is the relation between things on account of their very Nature (Essence, or Form). Thus because of the Nature that God gave Man, certain things are moral and immoral. Because of the nature of physical matter there is a natural attractiveness defined by its Mass we call Gravity. (This is where Einstein's description of gravity as Mass warping space-time, is very helpful to keep our philosophical bearings—things are not affected by some extrinsic force, but some property they have, like Mass, causes a relation to other things, and so gravity is a kind of quality/relation in/between a physical thing).

So to say miracles are a violation of the Natural Law is to say that miracles are what happen when God decides to change the Nature of a thing, but in doing that He would be changing what that thing is.

The Catholic philosophical understanding is that a miracle is more a direct intervention by God which either produces an effect without a physical cause, or prevents an effect despite the cause being present.

For God to "violate the laws He created" would call into question the Wisdom of God and the very Nature of God who is immutable and omnipotent. If God needs to intervene and violate a law He created, it suggests He created a bad law.

Before studying philosophy as an engineer I would have answered the exact same way you suggest, though, so totally understand your approach.

(08-12-2019, 06:49 AM)Mmarco Wrote:  You wrote: "At most, that argument would infer the possibility of a detached and impersonal creator (a law-giver), as deists perceive God to be. "

On the contrary; my point is taht the intrinsic rational and conceptual nature of mathematical models implies the existence of an  intelligent , conscious and personal God; my starting point is that an abstract concept cannot exist by itself, but only as a thought in a thinking mind.

Not necessarily.

The problem is that we are intelligent creatures, so we can look and see patterns and then model these patterns. There is also apophenia, though. We can perceive patterns which may not actually exist.

What abstract concepts show is that we have an immaterial aspect to us (our soul), because a purely material creature cannot have abstract (immaterial) concepts like the idea of number (which is physical reality with everything but quantity abstracted). This also shows that if we have an immaterial aspect then this cannot come from material. Which means that the soul is something immaterial, and therefore immortal.

At the same point, given we are contingent beings, there must be a source for that soul, and it cannot be matter, and that suggests at least a higher contingent being has give us this soul and has powers which at least are equal to if not greater than ours (because one cannot give what one does not have, and yet we have been given these powers). That posits a higher order and eventually a necessary being, which also must be Intelligent.

The pattern argument works, but it is pretty weak, because it fails to see that in a world so created and planned by said Intelligence, nothing will escape that intelligence, so it is not a matter of detecting or recognizing patterns that show the Intelligence must exist, rather it is a foregone conclusion of a created world that everything is planned and there is no such things as "random chance" in any real sense.

Your argument is not worthless, but it is not very strong. It is at best a supporting aside to the argument from Final Causality.

(08-12-2019, 06:49 AM)Mmarco Wrote: Mathematics is not discovered, but invented by an intelligent mind.

Which prompts the question : have we created mathematics to model the world, or has this Intelligent Designer?

That's why the argument hits a wall. If we're not discovering mathematics, then it's just as possible that it is our own creation than it is that of a superior intelligence.

(08-12-2019, 06:49 AM)Mmarco Wrote: In fact a mathematical model is made of abstract ARBITRARY assumptions and abstract relations. By the way, we can invent many mathematical models which have no correspondence with the physical world; they are simply abstract ideas,

Precisely why it does not get you to a designer or Intelligence, but only to the immortality of the soul and our own intelligence. To that you then have to switch to another argument for God's existence from the fact that we must be created beings (argument from contingency or efficient causality), and then the fact that if we have some intellectual power, it must be given by some being with greater intellectual power, and then back to the argument from efficient causality, there must be a highest intelligence.

It works, but it's a very tortuous path, and as a proof in itself, it fails.
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#8
Welcome, Mmarco. Perchance have you read any of Wolfgang Smith's work? I'm currently reading "A History of Ancient Cosmology" and he discusses the physical world in-depth and how it correlates to the Aristotelian notions of act and potency. In particular, the behavior of subatomic particles which tend to shift from "waves to particles" upon direct observation. I am no physicist, so some of the terms and concepts go above my head, but I highly recommend it if you haven't read it, or even "The Quantum Enigma," already.
"The Heart of Jesus is closer to you when you suffer, than when you are full of joy." - St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

“Behold this Heart which has so loved men that It spared nothing, even going so far as to exhaust and consume Itself to prove to them Its love” - Our Lord to St. Margaret Mary

My blog: https://slavetothesacredhe.art.blog/

Malachi Martin was right.
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#9
Thanks everybody for your interesting comments; you have given me something to think about.
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