The infinity of scientific law

-The laws of nature are infinite in an interesting way: they all presuppose initial conditions that they don’t specify, and so they have no terminus a quo, and most of them do not specify any final state* and so they have no terminus ad quem. 

-The laws are conduits from the initial condition specifier to the goal specifier. To say that causal natural laws render free choice or spiritual activity impossible is to completely miss their fundamental structure of being open on both ends.

-Laws are just another instance of omne quod movetur ab alio movetur. The “other” is the one specifying initial conditions and goals.

-But doesn’t this deny immanent teleology? No. STA is clear that the infinite motions of nature are for the sake of life, that is, for the sake of those things that can specify goals and so must have some power to specify conditions. Even the immanent teleology of the purely physical is instrumental to the higher order powers of life.

-Life must come forth from nature, since it is one with it. But we only know of one process by which it could do so: pure chance. This requires the amount of merely natural material to be immensely larger than the amount of living matter, so much so that life in comparison to the totality of nature will seem negligible. The magnitude of the universe does not dwarf life or make it insignificant: it is a condition of its possibility. The physical had to make itself practically infinite to achieve its deepest purpose: completion by life.


*The octet rule or the the various equilibrium rules (heat, liquids, rigid bodies) might be exceptions to this. But even here “final states” in the merely physical are not purely final. An equilibrium state, for example, is just as much a terminus a quo as a terminus ad quem. This is another way in which laws of nature are infinite.

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