The Laws of Nature
February 5, 2020 · C.E. Carter
No one knows anything of the world when they are born.
When people are young, they are able to rely on Instinct, a faculty of the mind which allows them to crudely yet effectively navigate the world around them. As they mature, Instinct inadvertently sinks to a position that merely informs, or even opposes, another human faculty known as Reason. People begin to understand that the Universe around them operates in a harmonious and consistent way. They come to understand this reality by Observation and Reasoning, even if they have no training in philosophy or the sciences. This principle, axiomatized in what is typically called The Law of Cause and Effect, presents itself so convincingly to the mind due to it’s ubiquitous explanatory and predictive power that, even if it is not a real metaphysical Law, it ought to be treated as a Law anyway. No one with any experience living in the world would dare to deny the facts that: 1) any action will cause other consequent actions, and 2) more importantly, that any action must have been caused by some antecedent action.
The Law of Cause and Effect is the dialectic foundation for other laws which describe behavior that is more specific to one thing or another in the Universe. The process of creating these laws can be as formal and rigorous as doing scientific research and publishing a peer-reviewed article in a scientific journal, or as informal as noticing that the wind at your house generally blows in a particular direction at a particular time of the evening. Both require Observation and Reason to do, the first case from a professor at a university, and the second from any layman with a keen eye on their surroundings. In either case, the fact that the Universe exhibits any kind of order allows humankind, by means of Observation and Reason, to conclude that the Universe itself is fundamentally ordered, and the particular ways in which it is ordered are called The Laws of Nature.
The Laws of Nature, like Newton’s Laws, or the Law of Supply and Demand, or Piaget’s Law of Cognitive Development, are Laws in that they are our best guesses as to what the Universe is like. Even if we are wrong about the specific descriptions of these Laws with respect to the phenomena we observe (and no doubt we are in many cases), we are not wrong about the existence of some Law by which the Universe is ordered. The consistency, beauty, and majesty of the Universe do not allow our minds to conclude that it’s all an accident, or equivalently, that a Universe with such Observed order could be constructed from a collection of random, meaningless, independent phenomena, interacting such that they appear to produce order. When we Observe things that appear to have a causal relationship, our Reason infers the causation naturally even in the absence of academic training or social conditioning.
The very existence of the Laws of Nature confronts the mind with another implication: if the world works according to Reason, then it must have been created according to Reason. Whatever order is Observed in the Universe must have been Reasoned of prior to its creation, since sound Reason is the only thing which can produce consistency and harmony. Equivalently, no one would dare to believe that rampant ignorance, foolishness, or carelessness could produce anything but disorder and chaos. Thus, some Being, some Great Reasoner, must have designed the Universe by Reason to adhere to certain rules of behavior, what we might call the True Laws of Nature. God is the source of this Great Reasoning, which is an aspect of the Biblical notion of Wisdom. It is known among theologians that God created the world in Wisdom, for we know that He “…imparted weight to the wind and meted out the waters by measure…“ and “…set a limit for the rain and a course for the thunderbolt…“, and to mankind He says “Behold, the fear of the LORD, that is wisdom; and to depart from evil is understanding.” (Job 28:23-28), implying that mankind has a Law as well, a topic which I shall delve into another time. Paul is even clearer in Romans, when he declares, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they [mankind] are without excuse.” (Romans 1:20).
Thus, the purpose of the Laws of Nature is to be harmonious, exalting the nature and character of God by means of Reason, so that mankind may understand that God alone is the source of Order, Wisdom, and Perfection. Knowing this, it does not take very much introspection at all for mankind to realize that he is a Lawbreaker.