askandanswer

God and theories of physics

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Currently there are four credible theories of physics that seek to describe the universe and how it works – gravitation, relativity, quantum physics and string theory. There is disagreement about which one of these provides the best description, or how they could be unified. Would it be reasonable to assume that the best theory, and the one that is most likely to be correct, is the theory which best describes how God does what He does? Some of the things that God can do, which at present do not seem to be well explained by these theories are that He knows all things from the beginning to the end, He lives in a context where time is irrelevant, He can revoke the laws of gravity, eg, Moses and the Red Sea, and He can rearrange atomic or molecular structures with no observable movement of energy, eg, turning water into wine. If it is the case that one of the above theories can explain how these things are done, would that then be a reason to assume that that theory is more likely to be correct than any other theory?

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I tend to think that we must first come to decide if we believe that God is subject to the laws of physics that we experience, or if God operates above or outside or even creates those laws. If God is above our laws of physics, then I don't think it matters whether or not our understanding of physics can explain what God is doing outside of that. From a recent issue of BYU Studies Quarterly: https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/is-god-subject-to-or-the-creator-of-eternal-law/

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I'm inline with @laronius in the sense that whatever theory comes closest to, or is inline with, things as they really are is the approach that is more likely to be inline with God's powers and dominion.

@MrShorty has pointed out, which I used to be inline with the concept of "being subject to" but I'm not sure about that anymore. For example, am I subject to the Law of Chastity (acted upon) when I know it true and I would never act outside of it (agent unto oneself).

I'm of the nature now that they are complimentary. God understand the laws of the universe at the finest detail. Not only that, but for some reason, as with the priesthood God can command the elements to act. The question then, as with water to wine, when God commanded I would specify there was nothing magic about it, but that God commanded and the elements then worked their way through according to the natural laws that would compose wine.

This inline with the notion that every miracle performed has been accomplished through laws we do not yet understand.

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4 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I tend to think that we must first come to decide if we believe that God is subject to the laws of physics that we experience, or if God operates above or outside or even creates those laws. If God is above our laws of physics, then I don't think it matters whether or not our understanding of physics can explain what God is doing outside of that. From a recent issue of BYU Studies Quarterly: https://byustudies.byu.edu/article/is-god-subject-to-or-the-creator-of-eternal-law/

I think there is no doubt that God is subject to law and whether we call the law to which God is subject the laws of physics or the laws of the universe, or some other name probably doesn't make any difference. I haven't read the article, but I will, but to me, the greatest, and possibly irrefutable evidence that God is subject to eternal is that fact that He allowed, or was required, to subject His beloved Son to the agonies of the atonement. I cannot imagine that any father who loved their child would voluntarily subject them to such a brutal ordeal unless there was an absolutely compelling, unavoidable reason that they do so. I think the requirement for an atonement was something that was imposed on God because of the requirements of eternal law. 

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I also think that the answer becomes clearer when we remember that God was once a man, and as such, lived in a pre-existing law-governed environment, to which he was subject.

There also seems to be something odd with the idea of God continuing to engage in eternal progression if that progression is only in relation to, or subject to, laws that He had created. 

Edited by askandanswer

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1 hour ago, askandanswer said:

I think there is no doubt that God is subject to law

I disagree, I think there is plenty of room for doubt. Even the example of the Atonement, IMO, does not prove beyond any doubt that God must be subject to laws that He did not create. It certainly doesn't prove the converse or opposite or whatever you want to call it.

I think, when all is said and done, I find my puny intellect is just unable to even commence to start to begin to want to fathom God's nature, that I find very little that I can say for certain other than God is Good and He is my Father (or maybe it is more appropriate to say They are my Parents, but that is a different rabbit hole).

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5 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I disagree, I think there is plenty of room for doubt. Even the example of the Atonement, IMO, does not prove beyond any doubt that God must be subject to laws that He did not create. It certainly doesn't prove the converse or opposite or whatever you want to call it.

Law existed prior to the existence of our God because God, when He was still a man, became God because he obeyed law.

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8 hours ago, MrShorty said:

I think, when all is said and done, I find my puny intellect is just unable to even commence to start to begin to want to fathom God's nature, that I find very little that I can say for certain other than God is Good and He is my Father (or maybe it is more appropriate to say They are my Parents, but that is a different rabbit hole).

I think that God wants to be known by His children and is prepared to help make Himself known to those who seek Him.

3 And this is alife beternal, that they might cknow thee the only true dGod, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast esent.

See also

“When we understand the character of God, and know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to us.”

History of the Church, 6:308.

“Here then is eternal life – to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation, until you attain to the resurrection of the dead, and are able to dwell in everlasting burnings, and to sit in glory, as do those who sit enthroned in everlasting power.” Joseph Smith, DHC 6:306

Edited by askandanswer

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I think each theory likely has some parts of truth to it in varying degrees.

Many things that we view or perceive as "laws" are really not so. In his time, Isaac Newton blew so many firmly held "truths" out of the water as he made discovery after discovery. Then, along comes a guy named Albert Einstein who shows that many of Newton's "truths" about physics are actually false and/or only half true. Newton was a victim of his time, and although he was incorrect on some things, I personally believe him to be the smarter individual. Einstein had more to work with in his later years...but that is a debate for another time.

Something that really gets my goat is all of the blindly devoted followers of Stephen Hawking we see nowadays. Yes, the guy was smart...but he was just a person. Many of Stephen Hawking's theories are just that...theories, and yet we see so many in the science community take them as gospel, and they write one research paper after another using his theories as the basis for their truth and fact. They seem to forget what the definition of a theory is.

I see no reason why we as a very young civilization of people should continually pat ourselves on the back for discovering new "truths" when an honest assessment of our current knowledge and intelligence would barley register on the scale when compared to the truth of things. Why, just 2 weeks ago doctors discovered a new muscle in the human body. If we don't even know everything there is to know about our own anatomy, then claiming truth about the universe is folly.

God obeys laws, but many of them are unknown to us, and are likely impossible for us to comprehend at this time. Some of them, like gravity, may also be able to be bent for a time when certain conditions are met. The power and effects of the Priesthood are far greater reaching than any scientist can currently measure.

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11 hours ago, askandanswer said:

Law existed prior to the existence of our God because God, when He was still a man, became God because he obeyed law.

You  may be right. I really have no objection to the possibility. I think the main thing I am objecting to is the certainty behind the statement. I don't think we can state this as true with the kind of certainty that I am reading into this.

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This thread references a topic that is of interest to me.  But I would like to take this discussion in a slightly different direction but first I believe we need to set the table a bit for such a discussion.   The first problem we have is understanding science.  In a forum like this (religious) it seems that many are trying to define science from a "outside" position.  In essence - outside of science looking in.  I look at science as a means of explanation.  The foundation of science is a structure by which if we follow we will all come to the exact same conclusion.   To illustrate lets look at gravity.  There are principles of gravity that if we follow in the study of mass of physical objects - we will all come to the exact same conclusion.   It is interesting to me that in order to clearly define and demonstrate these principles of gravity - we need to rely greatly on the "theory" of mathematics.   Please note that I used the phrase "theory of mathematics".   Before we get too deep I wanted to point out that it is possible to use theoretic constructs to prove what we know as absolute laws of physics.  

The method of science is not so much to know something as it is a means to demonstrate your understanding such that others can follow and come to the same exact conclusions.   In short the primary purpose of science is a method of repeatable discovery.   The more we can repeat a discovery the more we can understand the truth of it.  The problem is that in "real world" applications - we keep finding exceptions.   Our society of science has labeled ideas attempting to deal with exceptions as theoretical science or theoretical physics.  Something has been happening over the last 200 years of so.  As an intelligent society we have been discovering more and more exceptions to things we thought were exact.  As we look out into our galaxy and universe we have discovered that we can only clearly define about 5% of what is going on.  95% appears to be exceptions.  So we take what we know and try to explain ideas (that make some sense) towards the vast array of ever increasing exceptions.

It does not take a rocket scientist to realize that the religious community has dealt very poorly with the discovery of exceptions.  Sadly even some of our LDS Apostles have said some things about these scientific exceptions that have been demonstrated to be inaccurate.  Others in the religious community that dislike LDS theology have blown such things way out of context while themselves dealing with such scientific exceptions even more ridiculously.   There are lots of quite ridiculous ideas about scientific exceptions we are facing as a society.  We ought to trend towards the "best" or most viable ideas and less towards anything that can be demonstrated to have almost no reasonable applications.  But humans tend to be overly narcissistic and want everything to match their "beliefs" rather than a willingness to sacrifice something of themselves for truth.

 

With the above background - lets take a little journey together.  Following World War II our earthly scientific societies started to turn from the technologies of war towards the ever increasing scientific exceptions.  One of the areas of focus started searching our galaxy and universe of other intelligent civilizations.   The more we looked - to the astonishment of the best of our thinkers - the more we could not find any evidence of another intelligent society beyond our little planet.   In the 70's a Russian scientist had, what I think is a very important idea about advancing civilizations.   Using his name this scientist came up with the idea of the "Kardashev Scale of Civilizations".  His theory is that we can measure the level of advancement of a civilization by the combination of it technology and their ability (via their technology) to harness energy.  A level I civilization can harness the energy of a planet (about 10^15 watts).  A level II civilization can harness the energy of a star (about 10^26 watts).  A level III civilization can harness the energy of a galaxy which is about 10 billion times that of a class II civilization.  Some have attempted to define more levels but it is my opinion that such thinking does not really add anything to the initial concept.  If anyone wants to have some fun - Google "Kardashev Scale of Civilizations" and compare your LDS understanding of Kingdoms to the scale of civilization - I would personally be interested in your impressions.

So here are a couple of ideas:  The first is that with all our scientific thinking about the 95% of our universe that is currently an exception we are looking without any effort to realize any influence of intelligence.  The second is that here on earth we are a level 0 civilization.  We can only think and make up stuff about what something more intelligent would look like and behave.  What is interesting to me is that we tend to think that any civilization more intelligent and advance than our own is most likely malevolent.   May I propose something - If we are to advance our social intelligence and develop more powerful technologies - we need to develop better laws and social constructs such that we become more "united" (compassionate and kind) towards one another. If we cannot solve our religious differences - we will implode on ourselves before we can even reach a level I society and our so called intelligence and technology will all be for not and our society will be no more significant than that of an ant hill at best.

 

The Traveler

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On 1/14/2022 at 1:26 AM, laronius said:

I'm not a physics expert by any means but if science is the study of how things really are then yes, whichever theory can account for everything, including "miracles" and other acts of God, would be more correct than the others.

So if it is the case that the theory that can account for everything including miracles is more likely to be correct than other theories, then using that approach, and using the example of the mountains fleeing through the faith of Enoch in Moses 7:13 - one of many possible examples - we can rule out gravity as being the theory that best explains how the universe works. And the numerous instances of Christ's miracles, for example, using such a small amount of loaves and fishes to feed so many, would seem to violate the laws of quantum physics, as it involved the disassembling and reassembling of atoms in a manner that violates quantum physics, so we can also rule that out as being a theory which best explains how the universe works. That leaves relativity and string theory as possible contenders. Relativity might help to explain how God knows all things from the beginning, and how time seems to be irrelevant to Him, but if God dwells in a specific location, eg, in Kolob, and visits here from time to time, then any theory dependent on the idea that nothing can travel faster than light ,such as relativity, is not likely to be fully correct. So that leaves just string theory, about which, unfortunately, I know very little. But there do seem to be reasons for suggesting that string theory may be a viable prospect for investigating how and why the universe is the way that it is, and the relationship between God and this universe and for explaining how God does what He does.

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