Theoretical physicist Paul Davies wrote:
But what are these ultimate laws and where do they come from? Such questions are often dismissed as being pointless or even unscientific. As the cosmologist Sean Carroll has written, “There is a chain of explanations concerning things that happen in the universe, which ultimately reaches to the fundamental laws of nature and stops… at the end of the day the laws are what they are… And that’s okay. I’m happy to take the universe just as we find it.”
Assuming that Davies is correct, I find it odd that there is little interest for understanding the laws of nature. There are some interesting questions to be answered, such as: Where do the laws come from? How do they cause things to happen?
Physicist Neil Turok once posed the question:
What is it that makes the electrons continue to follow the laws?
Indeed, what power compels physical objects to follow the laws of nature?
The question I would like to focus on is: what would a naturalistic explanation of the laws of nature look like?
Frankly, I don’t know where to start. What I do know is that a bottom-up explanation runs into a serious problem. A bottom-up explanation, from the level of say bosons, should be expected to give rise to innumerable different ever-changing laws. Different circumstances, different laws.
But this is not what we find. Again, Paul Davies:
Physical processes, however violent or complex, are thought to have absolutely no effect on the laws. There is thus a curious asymmetry: physical processes depend on laws but the laws do not depend on physical processes. Although this statement cannot be proved, it is widely accepted.
If laws do not depend on physical processes, then it follows that laws cannot be explained by physical processes. IOWs there is no bottom-up explanation for the laws of nature.
But what does it mean for naturalism if there is no bottom-up (naturalistic) explanation for the laws of nature? How does the central claim ‘everything is physical’ make sense if there is no physical explanation for the laws of nature? What if it is shown that the laws of nature control the physical but are not reducible to it?