In theoretical physics, why is the mathematical model favored over the mechanical model? Awhile back, I posted a thread asking about what each theory posits as real. For example, quantum field theory might limit the set of real things to fields, field quanta, the universe, and causality. It was an interesting exercise for me to see how each theory highlights different "real" things even if the proponents denied making any statements about what was real. However, in almost all instances when I made an inquiry, the response is typically underwhelming. I often hear that it is not an important question, that it should be left up to philosophers, or that defining what is real is unnecessary to do physics. For example, I have often read and heard that spacetime does not correspond to anything real. It is a mathematical representation of what happens, and it is sufficient to explain why it happens. In other words, worrying about reality just muddles the picture. All questions about existence seem to be relegated to confirming mathematical models. For example, confirming the existence of black holes and the Higgs Boson were milestone events. They confirmed the validity of the underlying math. While I would agree that mathematical models are necessary and powerful tools, which can lead to new and important discoveries, I am curious as to why mechanical models are largely ignored. In other disciplines, they make up the discipline's bread and butter. For example, the DNA molecule is the foundation of modern genetics. So, I am left to wonder why theoretical physics is the exception. Below is a list of all the reasons I could think of to explain why mechanical models are not used in theoretical physics. I tried my best to state each as a non-straw man argument. It is not my purpose to start a discussion about the merits of each (even though I have qualms about each which I would be willing to discuss off-line). Rather, I am just looking to create a list of arguments that has at one point or another been proposed or would be agreed to. Some of the arguments may overlap. Any mechanical model can be represented mathematically, making the mechanical model irrelevant (Example: spacetime). As a practical matter, theoretical physics just does not lend itself to mechanical modeling. Positing real things in a mechanical model requires a definition of reality, which is outside the scope of physics. Quantum mechanics tells us that reality is truly indeterminate until it is measured and therefore incapable of being mechanically modeled (Example: the separation of the micro and macro-world). The uncertainty principle provides a boundary, beyond which mechanical models won't work. Mechanical models are at best analogies (Example: stretched rubber sheet to represent gravity). Mechanical models cannot be employed until we get a better understanding of all physical phenomenon (Example: unification of all forces). Causality, which is required for mechanical models, is an emergent property, and therefore cannot be used to explain phenomenon at the micro-world level. Mechanical models are an invention the human mind imposes on physical phenomenon to understand the world and therefore cannot be used to accurately model the true world (Example: the planet model of the atom where the electron orbits the nucleus). The universe works according to laws and not mechanics.