How does God relate to laws of science? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
“But if God created laws of science and God created out of nothing, then God created a law that says that nothing can be created.”
So he said thinking he had given me a stumper to creation ex nihilo. Not a bit. No. This wasn’t an atheist saying this, but this is someone who apparently holds to a more demiurge type of idea of God. The matter is there eternally and God just shapes it. This is also a Mormon position.
So let’s start with a position that could be a shocker.
Maybe laws of science don’t exist.
Now hang on. I’m not telling you to throw out science entirely. With my view, science won’t change one iota. This is a meta-look at how we view the system. It’s how we view objects and what they are and how they behave. I’m also not saying this is a hill I’m willing to die on and a theory written in stone. I’m saying this is a possible idea I throw around from time to time mentally.
Maybe objects behave in relation to other objects not because of following some law, but because of what they are. A flying baseball based on what it is shatters glass based on what it is. In this case, we study natures and final causes a lot more. These are things science should be doing anyway and I contend a move away from final causality has deeply hurt science.
Yet that is not something written in stone and this is not a post about that. For the time being then, let us grant that the world is as we often perceive it. Let us grant that there are laws of science.
The problem with this kind of objection is that it assumes that the laws of science are realities that bind everything and everything is subject to them, which would include God. Science itself cannot tell you if God exists. It cannot tell you if God does not exist. You can get data that both sides can use. One could use science to argue about nature being bloody and horrendous and thus, God does not exist. One could say science seems to point to an origin of the universe and/or intelligent design and thus God does exist. I’m not saying anything about the credibility of any of those arguments, but if you use them, you still have to back that up with philosophical data.
C.S. Lewis once said about miracles that miracles have God putting something into the system and then the system takes over. With the virgin birth, which I do affirm, God fertilizes and ovum in the body of Mary and then the natural process of gestation takes over. When the 5,000+ are fed, extra food seems to come up miraculously, and then natural digestion processes take over. The water is turned to wine, but it is still digested like ordinary wine. We can safely assume that in the latter two cases, the people eventually had to go to the bathroom.
So what does the idea that matter cannot be created or destroyed say then? It means that all things being equal, if the universe behaves as it does without outside interference, matter won’t be created or destroyed. It says nothing about if something outside of matter could create or destroy it. Otherwise, you have a God who is bound by the material universe.
This might be a great and powerful being, but he sure isn’t God.
The real God is the one who is behind him and greater than he is and not bound by anything.
Keep in mind that while I think matter being eternal would not itself be a defeater for theism, I do think it is still a false position. I have a number of philosophical concerns, but those are for another day. Right now, my main point is just that this idea of God being bound by laws of science brings far more problems than it solves.
Maybe, just maybe, the classical position is right.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)