The Words of the Fleisher Family
I suppose I am one of a shrinking minority who has never had a problem understanding the need for the existence of God. In fact, I find it odd that people can look at the universe, talk so much about the laws that govern it, and seemingly not ponder the origin of these very laws.
Through the course of this brief essay, I will attempt to address this issue. I will begin with why I think the universe is governed by laws, followed by a discussion about when laws come about, and finally concluding with why I believe laws require an author.
In order to understand why laws must exist, we must first define what laws are. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a law as: “a rule or principle of construction or procedure” (Law, 2004), which means that laws are the fundamental rules that tell a system what to do and how to operate.
To further explain this idea let me use an example of a game of football. The things that define a game of football -- the playing field, the ball used, what constitutes a score, what actions are permissible, and even what uniforms to wear -- are all governed and directed by laws.
The universe too, like any other system, is defined and governed by laws. Certainly, these laws would include, but are not be limited to, laws like the law of aberration, Maxwell’s equations (which include Gauss’ law, Gauss’ law for magnetic fields, Faraday’s Law, and Ampere’s law) and the four laws of thermodynamics. These laws, in turn, explain why stars seem to move, how magnetic fields work, and why people with ice skates have always been able to slide on ice (Francis, 2008).
The irrefutable existence of such laws begs the questions: “When do laws come about?” and “Where do laws come from?”
To the first question, I can think of three possibilities. The laws either come into existence after, during, or before a system is running.
The first of these three options is perhaps the most common seen today. An example of this would be the traffic laws that were created after the construction of cars. When cars were first introduced, there were no traffic laws. However, because of this, there were preventable accidents. To keep accidents to a minimum, the government created traffic laws.
The problem with this option is that it only addresses a problem after-the-fact. Such a methodology cannot apply to the laws of the universe because, if the laws that governed time or gravity were initially absent, the universe would not have developed or existed. In simplest terms, there would be nothing left for such remedial laws to govern, and nothing left to fix.
If this did happen, then the universe would have to start over with those laws already in place and try again, which will be the third option we will consider.
In my opinion the second option makes even less sense than the first. It is a fanciful thought that laws would somehow create themselves at the time they are needed, and this idea is easily disproven by the following example.
If two people are playing basketball, but have no idea what should happen when the ball leaves the court (goes out of bounds), the notion that the forces of the universe suddenly get together and decree that the same person who last touched the ball cannot start with the ball, is absurd. Common sense tells us that reality does not work that way.
Furthermore, in computer programming, when a governing law does not exist, the system crashes. The system does not create its own law. Likewise, in games, governments, and everything else I can think of, laws do not autonomously create themselves when they are needed. Usually, someone realizes the need for a law, or rule, and then creates an appropriate one.
Which brings us to the third and final option, that laws must exist before a system is created. Since laws are what govern a system, and without them the system simply does not know what to do, it is reasonable to assume that these laws must be in place before the system can function properly.
As a computer programmer, this view makes the most sense to me since all computer programs exist within a man-made system (or universe) governed by laws (also known as coding languages and operating systems), and when these laws cease to function, the program ceases to function. Hence, for computers, it is imperative that the laws exist before the system is built, and I would argue that this is the way the universe, at large, also works.
If this is indeed the case, then the next question is: “Where do these laws come from?”
The short answer is “God”. The long answer is “From an author.”
The reason is because laws need to be intelligently and thoughtfully designed. The laws of nature could not have “evolved” over time, because any initial imperfection, especially during the early stages of the formation of the universe, would have had adverse effects on the universe, possibly even causing it to collapse.
More importantly, by their very nature, laws require an author. Since laws are the principles which govern how a system runs, one must know how a system should run before one can formulate laws for it.
For example: The law which states that people must have seat belts on when driving, is in place to decrease the number of deaths caused by car accidents. In order for this law to even be conceived, someone has to first want to decrease the number of deaths caused by car accidents.
Likewise, I would argue that the existence of laws that govern thermodynamics would require some basic concept of what thermodynamics are supposed to do.
I think this is true is because all observable laws seem to be in place to guide systems towards some purpose or goal. In some cases that goal can be as simple as to create a running system, like the basic kernel for a computer’s operating system. In other cases that purpose may be extremely complicated, like in governmental tax and subsidy laws. However, in every case I can think of, the creation of a law hinges upon some purpose or concept of how a system is supposed to work.
The problem with an authorless system is that, by its nature, such a system cannot have a concept of a purpose, goal, or end result, which as we have seen is paramount to the existence of laws.
A true authorless system is entropic by nature. It has no guiding force or principle, and as such must be chaotic and random. Also, such a system cannot have foresight and cannot contemplate how each individual law reacts to every other law because that would require cognition. The outcome of such a system would have to be a set of uncoordinated rules that have no reason to work together. Furthermore such a system of laws would be equally likely to create arbitrary or necessary laws, and would have a very low chance of creating laws that build upon previously created laws.
In contrast, the laws we see exhibited in the universe work with one another and build upon one another, such as how the Ideal Gas Laws (also known as Gas Laws) build upon the laws of Thermodynamics and Kinetics (Shodor, 1998).
To add to this, it would appear that all laws are designed by someone or created by something. We have no evidence that laws can spontaneously emerge, and empirical evidence seems to tell us that all laws come from some sort of governing body or entity.
This being the case, then the inescapable conclusion must be that laws require a creator apart from the system which the laws are designed to govern, which shows the logical necessity for the being we call “God”.
To summarize, the universe is governed by laws, and these laws cannot be the result of happenstance or trial and error because error would cause the system to break down, and possibly cease to function. This, in turn, means that all of the vital universal laws must have come together before the universe did, and they had to be error-free, which rules out the possibility of an evolved system of laws.
Furthermore, before any observable law is created, it must be preceded by a preexistent concept that defines the purpose, parameters, function and design of that system. In addition, since the universe’s laws are coordinated and build upon themselves, we can say with certainty that there must be a divine author.
"Law" Def. 4. Merriam-Webster's Dictionary. 2004. pg 409.
Francis, Erik M. "The Laws List." The Laws List. 22 May 2008. 6 June 2008 www.alcyone.com/max/physics/laws/index.html>
The Shodor Education Foundation Inc. "Gas Laws." UNC-Chapel Hill Chemistry Fundamentals Program. 1998. Department of Chemistry: the University of North Carolina At Chapel Hill. 6 June 2008 www.shodor.org/UNChem/advanced/gas/index.html
Also, special thanks to: Rev. Michael Hentrich and Alice Fleisher for helping with editing and proof reading.