Scientific materialists have a serious problem with the Laws of Nature. They believe that the entire universe is mass-energy and that metaphysics is entirely false. But the Laws of Nature are a metaphysical construction. Metaphysical has two meanings – beyond the physical and beyond the scientific understanding of physics. The laws are metaphysical in both meanings.
(This topic is discussed in great detail as an underlying theme throughout my upcoming book, Buddha is an Atheist.)
Science agrees these laws exist, but they have no physical form. They are thus meta-physical. If they are not laws, then they are merely descriptions of behavior. But if they are merely descriptions, it is not clear how objects behave in predictable manners. If they are laws, then they cannot be made of a physical substance. What substance could saturate the universe, creating predictable behavior everywhere? Even if there were such a substance, nothing could make the substance cause this behavior but a higher, non-physical power. The proposition of a material causing the laws seems less likely than natural laws existing as a function of nature. They must be immaterial, hence natural laws are meta-physical in the first meaning.
They are also beyond the understanding of physics. Scientists have created some excellent, good, and fair descriptions of how natural laws operate, to be sure. But it has in almost no instances shown why they operate. Why is there a nuclear force at all? Why is it so much more powerful than the other forces? What is it? What is gravity? How does it exert a force throughout space? If mass ‘curves space’ – then how does it perform that trick? Why are electricity and magnetism linked? Why does DNA drive the construction of life? How did DNA come into being? Why is mass-energy conserved? Why does light always travel at the same speed regardless of relativistic frame?
Science has no explanation for these questions. Without an understanding, they are metaphysical – beyond the understanding of physics. Many questions are beyond the understanding of physics, yet they are totally valid questions about the world. Many phenomena proven to exist by science and easily observable by anyone have no satisfactory scientific explanation. Many lack even a proper means of scientific framing. Hypotheses have been formed and theories investigated, but most are found wanting. It’s unfortunate that science cannot admit that metaphysics is part of reality. When it can, there will be an enormous surge in progress because a huge blockage will be gone.