Of Physical Laws and Moral Laws

Everything in our universe is governed by physical laws...

Our Universe and everything in it seem to be governed by what we call the ‘laws of nature’. Where do these laws come from? Are there other universes that have other kinds of laws, or even those that do not obey any laws at all but operate in some kind of random way? Can intelligent life arise in such universes?

What is even more surprising, is the fact that we humans can uncover and understand these laws. Many early philosophers and scientists saw this regularity in nature as reflecting a God of order. There was no doubt that these laws came from the same Creator who made the human mind. And since we were made in God’s image, it was no wonder that we could comprehend the cosmos. This, of course, inadvertantly resulted in the rise of science.

In that geometry is part of the divine mind from the origins of time, even before the origins of time, it has provided God with the patterns for the creation of the world, and has been transferred to humanity with the image of God. ~ Johannes Kepler

Seen through a proper, well-grounded theological lens, science can be viewed as the creative exercise of a God-given curiosity that seeks to open up, to our mutual astonishment, a cosmos designed to be explored and a universe created to yield its orderliness and splendor to our investigation of it. It should be, therefore, no surprise that the Christian faith helped to birth the scientific enterprise. The fear of the Lord could demand nothing less. ~ Scott Hoezee, Proclaim the Wonder

But what is the relationship between the laws of nature deeply ingrained in the fabric of the universe, and the mathematics that we use to express these laws? Isn’t mathematics a construct of the human mind?

Philosophy is written in this grand book, the universe, which stands continually open to our gaze. But the book cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language and read the letters in which it is composed. It is written in the language of mathematics. ~ Galileo Galilei

Why is it that there appears to be some correspondence between the rationality of the cosmos and our own rationality? If there were not, the universe would remain a mystery to us. Why is it that we are able to represent the structuring and ordering of the world in the language of mathematics when this is supposedly the free creation of the human mind? ~ Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God

Another question of interest in the science and religion dialogue is this: Just as there are physical laws that govern the natural world, are there also moral laws that govern the universe?

Yet might there not be another form of ordering in the world, which has an important place in our reflections? Might there be a moral ordering of the universe, in addition to its physical ordering? The study of the universe reveals that it is ordered. Might there not be a moral order within this universe, flowing from the nature of the world as God’s creation? Might there be something that is built into the fabric of the universe, and discerned – rather than imposed or constructed – by the human mind? Might not our minds be able to uncover this moral ordering? ~ Alister McGrath, Glimpsing the Face of God


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