Doesn’t Order in Nature Provide Circumstantial Evidence for God?

by Stuart Gray

I listened to a great discussion between James Croft and Calum Miller recently on the highly recommended “Unbelievable” Podcast. The topic of the discussion was, “Does theism or atheism best explain the universe?”. You can find and listen to their episode of the podcast here…

During the discussion, an interesting quote from Cosmologist Paul Davies was mentioned:

People take it for granted that the physical world is both ordered and intelligible. The underlying order in nature – the Laws of Physics – is simply accepted as given … as brute fact. Nobody asks where the Laws come from. However – even the most atheistic Scientist accepts as a point of faith the existence of a law like order in nature that is at least in part comprehensible to us. So Science can proceed only if the Scientist adopts an essentially Theological world view.” – Paul Davies

James Croft, who describes himself as a Humanist community leader (and he’s a jolly nice chap to boot!) responded to this quote with a fascinating rebuttal to it. He said…

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Interesting arguments. But I think they rely on some false premises. The person said that Scientists accept as an act of faith the law like regularity of nature without which they couldn’t do their work. I think this is flatly false. I think our ability to construct models which bring order to our experience…we do not discover order in the universe…we construct models to bring order to our experience. That does not speak to a faith in the inherent intelligibility and ordered-ness of the universe. Scientists can proceed in their work without assuming at any point that the Universe is ordered or inherently intelligible.

If I rephrase what I think James is saying here – he is proposing that Natural Laws and order in our Universe is the last thing on the mind of a Scientist. Rather – Science is all about OBSERVATION of phenomena and CREATION OF A MODEL which helps Scientists understand that phenomena. This is a completely human centric perspective.

Well – this is very interesting to me and I’ve got some thoughts on the subject.

I think that – in a very real and practical sense, James is absolutely right. But – in my humble opinion – I also think he is proposing a form of circular reasoning that takes us back to an assumption that our Universe is ordered. Let me explain…


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