Is it possible for physics to explain everything?

We often have debates on here between those who believe in the supernatural and those who are skeptical. The supernaturalists claim that physics can’t prove everything - and at the moment, they are correct. (I’m a skeptic myself - I just mean this in reference to the fact that we don’t know everything).

But is possible that we could know everything? That when someone claims to have seen some phenomena we actually could mathematically prove that such a claim is impossible?

If physics doesn’t explain everything, then our physics model is incomplete. It doesn’t and it is. Science is a process. It isn’t over yet.

DaLovin’ Dj

Nor, in that sense will it ever be.

Where did the laws of physics come from? This cannot be answered from within the system of physics itself.


what would happen if physics got so comprehensive that every joe shmoe could have his own WOMD? Surely such information would have to be controlled and kept secret?

Beware of anyone who says they know everything. I believe that would be impossible to prove. But I think you are generally correct in that, over time, physics has been able to explain more and more observed phenomena. Unfortunately it’s a race against a moving target.

Yes it is, didn’t you get the memo?

Physics isn’t going to explain everything. I would argue, however, that the methods Physics and the other sciences use to observe and explain the world around us have been the most sucessful and internally consistent.

Appeals to the supernatural tend to throw logic and internal consistency out of the window. By making the claim that there are no “natural” explanations for a given phenomena we limit ourselves to making unverifiable guesses about that phenomenom. If that were truly preferable to the scientific method then alchemy and astrology would never have yielded ground to physics, chemistry and modern cosmology. The sciences are sucessful precisely because they provide a model of the physical world that is open to falsification and reinterpretation in light of the given evidence. I trust that approach far more than I trust those who would choose to stretch or ignore the data in order to make it fit in with their particular worldview.

Physics is at its depth about measuring, and drawing predictions about measurments. When we know of nothing that cannot be measured or predicted by physics we will believe we know everything about physics. This has happened befor to some extent during the late 18th early 19th century Neutonian physics was thought to be complete, it took great insight and accurate measurements to learn this was wrong. So next time we have nothing that we can’t measure or predict we will not know that we are correct.
Physics cannot measure what is unmeasurable, this begets highly charge philisophical questions about the nature of that which is unmeasurable.
So physics within its bounds of ‘the measurable’ may become complete, but it cannot say anything about the unmeasurable.
Cheers, Bippy

Physics can not explain ethics or morality.

—Where did the laws of physics come from? This cannot be answered from within the system of physics itself. —

Of course not: laws are, in the end, just observed regularities. But surely you’ll admit that at some point, we’ll just have laws, and they can’t “come from” anywhere. Our current laws may be woefully incomplete, but if we find examples of exceptions (say, for a supernatural dimension), then we will simply be duty bound to revise them to include the exceptions.

—Physics can not explain ethics or morality.—

Why not? Granted, it would have to get very reductionistic (like trying to explain the game of baseball from the perspective of the molecules involved), by why not in theory? What do you mean by “ethics and morality” that makes them outside the realm of explanation?

Those things don’t exist!

Seriously, though, I don’t think physics is meant to address thought or choices, in general.

Do you mean now? In which case there isn’t any argument.

Do you mean forever? When did you become omniscient?

Because ethics and morality involve the fundamental concepts of moral rightness and wrongness, i.e. the way things SHOULD be. This is something that belongs far outside the realm of physics.


Perhaps you are right, science has no business dealing with something as nebulous and unsubstantiated as “the ways SHOULD be.” Whatever the hell that might be.

As for “where do the laws of physics come from” this is not necaessarily unanswerable within physics. It may be that the laws themselves are governed by measurable statistics of the universe in such a way that there could only ever exist a limited type or group of laws that coulde emerge out of the ‘pre-universe’ non existance. Furthemore if the laws that could emerge also lead to structures complex enough to form living entities then the number of possible sets of laws with observers may be very small or even unique. Only in a universe governed by such laws could observers (like ourselves) immerge in order to consider and calculate those laws.
This would lead from
I think therefor I am
I think therefor a sufficiently complex universe exists for thought to be a possibility of things within that universe, therefor the universe must be subject to such laws that organised structures can from in sufficient variety to create processes congruent to thinking, …


But you haven’t, in the least, explained why. You simply reworded your original assertion.

Morality and ethics are judgements. Presumably, the beings that make those judgements make them for reasons, and at some point, those reasons cease to be moral reasons, but simply necessary/historical/structural reasons. Given those assumptions, I don’t see the inherent problem you’re pointing to, so perhaps you’re working under a different set of assumptions: if so, what are they?

Yes, it can. I think ethics and morality are based on Physics.

For example, people are lazy, but once their butts got kicked, they will move fast – Newton’s third law?

No, I didn’t. I introduced the fact that morality and ethics are about the way things should be, as opposed to the way things are. This distinguishes them from the realm of physics.

In other words, physics is about the behavior of matter and energy. Ethics and morality are about moral choices, and the way things should be.

But… how so?

People’s moral judgements of the way things should be are a subset of “the way things are.”