Saturday, July 08, 2006

What's a law of nature?

Daniel Morgan continues to invoke the laws of nature. As I pointed out to him in the past, the definition or even the existence of natural laws is a highly controverted issue in the philosophy of science. Yet he continues his appeal—none the wiser.


  1. Steve, here is a link to an interesting paper by Nancy Cartwright on laws of nature:

  2. Before, our discussion was on the prior commitments of a person who agreed with the "law" that matter is not physically created, nor destroyed, nor capable of being so. The crux of the argument was ex nihilo, and whether this was an intelligible concept for a person who agreed with the law above.

    Now, our discussion is on the phil of mind. I haven't discounted the existence of a soul/spirit in the argument. I have simply asked what, in the process of evolution, renders a mind irrational, whereas somehow, in the process of ex nihilo creation, this is not the case.

    Note that I am not saying "the laws of nature render ex nihilo impossible". So...what am I continuing my "appeal--none the wiser" to?

    Note that both Swinburne and Craig are theistic evolutionists, so I know there are Christians who would disagree with you. What would you say to them?

  3. Daniel Morgan said:

    “So...what am I continuing my ‘appeal--none the wiser’ to?”

    In our various exchanges you use natural law as a blocking maneuver to certain Christian claims, and you do this in a couple of differently ways:

    i) Negatively, you use the concept of nature law as a natural barrier to certain Christian claims, viz., creation ex nihilo, miracles.

    ii) Positively, you use the concept as a constructive alternative to certain Christian claims, as if a natural law were a productive force.

    Given the centrality of natural law in your atheology, you need to define and defend your terms rather than taking for granted one particular disputed interpretation of natural law.

  4. Daniel Morgan said:

    "Note that both Swinburne and Craig are theistic evolutionists"

    Are you referring to William Craig? If so, where have you seen him supporting theistic evolution? I haven't studied Craig's views on this subject in depth, but I've had the impression that he's an old earth creationist. He's sometimes supported the work of Hugh Ross, for example, and the web site of Ross' ministry features him as a supporter of an old universe:

    Ross' ministry could cite Craig on the issue of the age of the universe even if Craig isn't a creationist, but it seems more likely that they're citing him because his views are close to theirs.