False arguments that God exists
In 1963, my metaphysics teacher in college was W. Norris Clark, SJ. According to him, the cosmological argument for the existence of God begins historically with Aristotle’s concept of the “prime mover.” Following Aristotle blindly, Thomas Aquinas calls the “prime mover” the “first cause.” In the 1920s, Etienne Gilson made the cosmological argument logical and persuasive by focusing attention on Aquinas’s metaphysics. The cosmological argument is this: a finite being needs a cause, therefore an infinite being exists. This is an argument, not a proof, because it is based on the assumption that humans are finite beings and the hope that the universe is comprehensible. In Western religions we call infinite being God.
In the early 1960s, it was discovered that the universe, with all its galaxies and stars, began to exist 13.7 billion years ago as an infinitesimally small particle (the Big Bang). This is a reason to believe that God inspired the human authors of the Bible because the Bible says many times that God created the universe out of nothing. Since human authors knew nothing of the expanding universe and cosmic background radiation, the Big Bang is a sign or reason to believe the Bible.
Another reason to believe the Bible is that agnostic atheists usually do not discuss the cosmological argument in a reasonable, intelligent, and honest way. Instead of saying that the cosmological argument for the existence of God is not convincing, they say, “I don’t know whether God exists or not.” Suffering from cognitive dissonance, agnostic atheists do not like to think about the cosmological argument.
Fr. Spitzer believes that the Big Bang is proof of the existence of God. I think this is proof that God does not exist because it is proof that the universe is not comprehensible. If two jurors reach different verdicts after a lengthy trial, one juror has better judgment than the other. But if one juror says some evidence points to guilt and another says it points to innocence, then one juror is more knowledgeable, intelligent, rational, or honest than the other.
Fr. Spitzer also believes that the “fine-tuning” of the constants of physics is evidence of an “intelligent designer.” This nonsense is based on the fact that physicists do not understand why the mass of the electron and the speed of light are what they are. If these numbers were different from what they are, the universe would not be the same as it really is and there would be no mammals. Since humans are mammals, we will not exist.
Another example of this reasoning stems from the fact that the Earth is exactly 93 million miles from the Sun. If this number were 92 or 94, it would be too hot or cold for the origin and evolution of living organisms. This is not evidence of an intelligent designer because we know what caused the number 93. What caused this distance was Newton’s laws of motion and randomness. If someone doesn’t understand the concept of random chanceyou can explain it by pointing out that there are many planets that are not 93 million miles from their star.
In “fine-tuning” reasoning, physicists don’t know why the numbers are the way they are. However, pro-religious and anti-religious enthusiasts debate whether or not there are many other universes with different physical constants. They do not even address the metaphysical question of whether or not the universe is comprehensible.
There is a passage in the book that sounds like it is consistent with belief in God, but actually supports atheistic ignorance and stupidity:
Acts of self-awareness (awareness of awareness) are difficult to explain by regular spatiotemporal patterns (an act of awareness being captured, so to speak). (location 2211)
I agree that our ability to turn to ourselves and catch ourselves in the act of our own existence proves that humans are embodied spirits, and the existence of other humans proves that we are finite beings. But compare Spitzer’s quote with a quote from the most widely used biology textbook in the United States:
And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. After all, the human brain is the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. For most biologists, brain and mind are one and the same; we will understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we will understand such functions of consciousness as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of the mind, finding Descartes’ concept of mind-body duality more appealing. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th ed., p. 776)
Fr. Spitzer confuses two different methods of inquiry: physics and metaphysics. Many agnostic atheists will admit that human consciousness is a mystery. But if you ask them what caused the Big Bang, they’ll say the same thing: it’s a mystery. There are no mysteries in science. There are only unanswered questions because science has an extraordinary track record of success. If scientists didn’t assume this, they wouldn’t be working so hard and for so long trying to answer scientific questions. In metaphysics there are only mysteries. We must give up trying to understand what a human being is because that gives us reason to believe that there is a transcendent reality and our freedom is prior to that reality.
In the cultural conflict over the Intelligent Design (ID) theory of evolution, both sides are behaving badly in different ways and for different reasons. In the infamous Wikipedia headlines “The Sternberg Peer Review Controversy,” a biology journal editor published an article promoting ID behind the backs of his fellow editors at the Biological Society of Washington. His colleagues at the Smithsonian Institution were so outraged that they treated him so badly that they had a congressional committee write a report entitled “Intolerance and the Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian: Senior Smithsonian Officials Allow the Demotion and Harassment of a Scientist Skeptical of Darwinism Evolution .”
There is another example of pro-religion and anti-religion enthusiasts who disagree with science. In this case, the God-fearing are paragons of reason, and the agnostic atheists behave very irrationally. According to the second law of thermodynamics, heat flows from hot objects to cold objects, not the other way around. Thinking that a cold object is more ordered and complex than a hot object, some God-fearing people say and think that evolution violates the second law. In 2008, American Journal of Physics published a paper on evolution and thermodynamics with an absurd calculation proving that evolution does not violate the second law. The American Journal of Physics refuses to take corrective action because it will become news. Then the American public will realize how irrational and unintelligent people can be regarding science and religion.
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