The Deeps

Let’s talk a little more about this idea of ‘a deeper level of explanation than the laws of physics’ that Paul Davies refers to.

…belief in God is largely a matter of taste, to be judged by its explanatory value rather than logical compulsion. Personally I feel more comfortable with a deeper level of explanation than the laws of physics. Whether the use of “God” for that deeper level is appropriate is, of course, a matter of debate.

What’s interesting about that is the question of what the word ‘deeper’ is gesturing at. Well, what is it? What makes this putative deeper level of explanation deeper? Deeper than the laws of physics, and possibly to be identified with ‘God’. So it’s something outside nature, necessarily, because otherwise it can’t be ‘deeper’ than the laws of physics, it would be on the same level. So therefore the usual tools and methods for inquiry into nature (stars, dirt, humans, nematodes, bacteria, psychology, fire, weather) are irrelevant, because we’re after something different, and deeper. So…we have to avoid the usual methods of inquiry then. We have to use different methods. What other methods are there? The ones that are not useful and are not legitimate in inquiry into nature. Ones that don’t consult evidence or logic, ones that don’t submit to testing and peer review, ones that don’t have to produce replicable findings and checkable sources and evidence.

Unless I’m missing something, and there’s some third option? Something that is on a ‘deeper level’ than the law of physics, yet still relies on evidence and logic and peer review, but a somehow different kind of evidence and logic and peer review from the kind that the laws of physics rely on? But…what would that be? Do tell me, if anyone knows. We could call it The Third Way.

But meanwhile I have to operate on the assumption that there are only two options. There is rational inquiry carried on in the usual way – in history, forensic investigation, detective work, daily life, as well as in science – and there is the other thing. So it is the other thing that provides a deeper level of explanation. How? By not having any constraints. By being free as air, free as the wind blows, free as Emma Goldman on her best day. By floating free of any requirement to back up its assertions and truth claims.

Okay, so what I want to know is, why is that level deeper? Why is it not, rather, incomparably more shallow? Why is it not a mere thin layer of spit compared to the deepest part of the ocean?

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