Induction and Laws of Physics

An excerpt from a discussion between two people on a discussion board regarding the problem of induction.

A: After all was said it seems that Matt was not able to account for the Uniformity of Nature and that he didn’t see that as a problem. He has faith that the future will continue to be like the past based on the past but if it did happen to change he didn’t see how that would be a problem. So I guess on his worldview it wouldn’t be a problem that science would only be possible for the time being? The general UON could change and that wouldn’t be a problem? Am I misunderstanding him at this point? If not I don’t see how that would not be a problem for an empiricist! It would seem like a gigantic problem!

B: I account for the uniformity of nature through the laws of physics as they stand, they don’t have to be eternal constants in order to be contributors to uniformity – they only have to be constant between point A and point B – not making the assumption that the laws of physics will stay the way they are eternally doesn’t mean that the assumption can’t safely be made that they will remain constant through the next day…again allowing for the fact that my assumption may be incorrect.

This isn’t a problem for this empiricist because this empiricist only relates to the laws as they stand. Were I to attempt science outside of the current laws I’d be making assumptions about what those laws could potentially be as opposed to the way those laws currently are – this isn’t an issue because it doesn’t assume eternal constants and doesn’t need to. If the laws of physics change, and they could, then the way we approach those laws and science must also change – until such a time we should stick with the current methods.

A: Thank you for your response. You said:

“I account for the uniformity of nature through the laws of physics as they stand, they don’t have to be eternal constants in order to be contributors to uniformity – they only have to be constant between point A and point B”

I’ll give you give you “constant between point A and point B” but why do you assume that “they only have to be” that way? The point in question concerns point C. Just because the laws of physics act a certain way in that past (point A) and continue to “stand” that way in the present (point B) how do you know they will continue that way into the future (point C)? At this point since you have not experienced the future you have to move out of the realm of empiricism and into the realm of faith. This is where your atheistic empiricism is inconsistent and has problems.

“not making the assumption that the laws of physics will stay the way they are eternally doesn’t mean that the assumption can’t safely be made that they will remain constant through the next day…again allowing for the fact that my assumption may be incorrect.”

The question is not necessarily about the laws being eternal but applies for any future event even ten minutes from now and by you making an assumption that they will remain constant and call it safe does not change the fact that you are making an assumption. There is an inconsistency here with empiricy vs assuming things by you allowing for the fact that you “may be incorrect” actually reveals the point regarding this.

” This isn’t a problem for this empiricist because this empiricist only relates to the laws as they stand”

If that’s true then you don’t know how they will stand in the future because you have not experienced it yet and when assume that it will you must abandon empiricism.

“Were I to attempt science outside of the current laws I’d be making assumptions about what those laws could potentially be as opposed to the way those laws currently are”

No one asking you to move away from current laws were asking you from an empiricist worldview how do you know that the current laws will continue as they are in the future (Point C).

“this isn’t an issue because it doesn’t assume eternal constants and doesn’t need to. If the laws of physics change, and they could, then the way we approach those laws and science must also change – until such a time we should stick with the current methods.”

As I said I don’t need necessarily need eternal constants ten minutes from now will do. I would argue that if the laws of physics can change which you said they could, forget about the approach, science would no longer be possible. Christians have no problem sticking with the current methods, which is a different question than how do you know that the laws of physics will continue as they stand now verses the future.

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