Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy

In 1963, my metaphysics teacher in college was W. Norris Clarke, S.J. According to him, the cosmological argument for God's existence began historically with Aristotle's concept of the "prime mover." Following Aristotle blindly, Thomas Aquinas called the "prime mover" the "first cause." In the 1920s, Etienne Gilson made the cosmological argument logical and persuasive by focusing attention on the metaphysics of Aquinas. The cosmological argument is this: A finite being needs a cause, therefore, an infinite being exists. It 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 intelligible. In the Western religions, we call the 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 God inspired the human authors of the Bible because the Bible says many times that God created the universe from nothing. Since the human authors knew nothing about the expanding universe and the cosmic background radiation, the Big Bang is a sign or a reason to believe in the Bible.

Another reason to believe in the Bible is that atheists-agnostics generally don't discuss the cosmological argument in a reasonable, intelligent, and honest manner. Instead of saying the cosmological argument for God's existence is not persuasive, they say, "I don't know whether or not God exists." Suffering from cognitive dissonance, atheists-agnostics don't like to think about the cosmological argument.

Fr. Spitzer thinks the Big Bang is evidence of God's existence. I think it is evidence that God does not exist because it is evidence that the universe is not intelligible. If two jurors arrive at different verdicts after a long trial, one juror has better judgment than the other. But if one juror says a bit of evidence indicates guilt and the other says it indicates innocence then one juror is more knowledgeable, intelligent, rational, or honest than the other.

Fr. Spitzer also thinks 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 an electron and the speed of light are what they are. If these numbers were other than what they are, the universe would not be the same as it actually is and there would be no mammals. Since human beings are mammals, we would not exist.

Another example of this reasoning arises from the fact that Earth is exactly 93 million miles from the Sun. Were this number 92 or 94, it would have been either too hot or cold for living organisms to have arisen and evolved. This is not evidence of an intelligent designer because we know what caused the number to be 93. What caused this distance is Newton's laws of motion and random chance. If someone does not understand the concept of random chance, you can explain it by pointing out there are many planets that are not 93 million miles away from their star.

In the "fine-tuning" reasoning, physicists don't know why the numbers are what they are. Pro-religion and anti-religion enthusiasts, nevertheless, discuss whether or not there are many other universes with different physical constants. They never even consider the metaphysical question of whether or not the universe is intelligible.

There is a passage in the book that sounds like it is consistent with belief in God, but it actually supports atheistic ignorance and stupidity:

Acts of self-consciousness (awareness of awareness) are difficult to explain through regular space-time models (one act of awareness capturing itself, as it were). (location 2211)

I agree that our ability to turn in on ourselves and catch ourselves in the act of our own existence proves that humans are embodied spirits and the existence of other humans proves we are finite beings. But, compare the Spitzer quote with a quote from the most used biology textbook in the United States:

And certain properties of the human brain distinguish our species from all other animals. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. To most biologists, the brain and the mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we'll understand such mindful functions as abstract thought and feelings. Some philosophers are less comfortable with this mechanistic view of mind, finding Descartes' concept of a mind-body duality more attractive. (Neil Campbell, Biology, 4th edition, p. 776)

Fr. Spitzer is confusing two different methods of inquiry: physics and metaphysics. Many atheists-agnostics will admit that human consciousness is a mystery. But if you ask them what caused the Big Bang they will say the same thing: It is 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 would not work so hard and so long trying to answer scientific questions. There are only mysteries in metaphysics. We should give up trying to understand what a human being is because that gives us a reason to believe there is a transcendent reality and our freedom is before that reality.

In the cultural conflict about the theory of intelligent design for evolution (ID), both sides behave badly in different ways and for different reasons. In the scandal Wikipedia titles "Sternberg Peer Review Controversy," the editor of a biology journal published an article promoting ID behind the backs of his fellow editors at the Biological Society of Washington. His colleagues at the Smithsonian Institute were so outraged they behaved very badly towards him and caused a congressional committee to write a report titled, "Intolerance and the Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian: Smithsonian's Top Officials Permit the Demotion and Harassment of Scientist Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution."

There is another example of pro-religion and anti-religion enthusiasts disagreeing about science. In this case, the God-fearers are paragons of reason and the atheists-agnostics are behaving 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 evolution violates the second law. In 2008, the American Journal of Physics published an article about evolution and thermodynamics with an absurd calculation proving that evolution does not violate the second law. The American Journal of Physics is refusing to take corrective action because it would become a news item. The American public would then find out how irrational and unintelligent people can be about science and religion.