Review of: "New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy", by Robert J Spitzer

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    Abstract

    This book, by an American Jesuit theologian, addresses the question of God’s existence through the prism of historic Christian logical arguments and experimentally justified scientific cosmology. His strategy is similar to that of the evangelical William Lane Craig. The term ‘proofs’ can be taken here as meaning arguments and/or evidence. The evidential side is especially concerned with the second proposition of the Kalam cosmological arguments, namely:1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.2. The universe began to exist.3. Therefore the universe has a cause.A careful survey of cosmological arguments is presented in Part 1, Chapter 1, in which the BGV (Borde, Guth, Vilenkin) theorem of 2003 is introduced and explained. This indicates that all inflationary cosmologies with an average Hubble inflation greater than zero must have a beginning. Later, there is a postscript (pp. 75 – 103) written by physicist co-author, Bruce Gordon, considering implications of the BGV theorem for string landscape theories, M theories, inflationary and oscillating cosmologies contending that they are all subject to the BGV theorem and, therefore, all require a transcendent immaterial Creator. Chapter 2 discussed the apparent fine-tuning of physical constants for life in a precise and competent manner, including some arguments against the multiverse interpretation. Part 2 (chapters 3 – 6) contains the author’s original formal arguments for God’s existence. These are exacting and cogent refinements of the conditional arguments for a necessary Being. In explaining these, Dr Spitzer distinguishes between Conditioned and Unconditioned Realities, and argues step-by-step, and with the aid of flow diagrams, that: (a) there must exist at least one unconditioned reality in all reality, (b) that this must be the simplest possible reality, (c) be absolutely unique, (d) be unrestricted, and (e) the continuous creator of all else that is. Further extensive sections follow with Lonergan’s argument that aims to demonstrate that such a Creator must be unconditioned in understanding and intelligibility. These are connected to Spitzer’s ‘proofs’. Chapter 5 draws upon the prohibition, by the great mathematician David Hilbert, against the existence of certain types of infinities (C-infinities) or infinite past time. This points to an A-infinity, that is, a Reality that transcends both time and the axioms of finite mathematics.Part 3 (chapters 7-8) is headed: The Transcendentals: The divine and human mysteries. Here Spitzer considers three dimensions of absolute Simplicity to which human beings have access: Love, Goodness and Beauty. Their combination with Being itself (the one unconditioned Reality) equates to a modified form of the medieval concept of “the transcendentals�. He argues that human consciousness seems to possess five aspirations or desires that can only be satisfied by these transcendentals. By this turn of argument, he goes beyond a somewhat austere logical defense of theism to a more holistic apologetic.Readers of Science and Christian Belief are accustomed to abstract reasoning and should find this book an informative and inspiring contribution to the literature. The author has taken great care in the logical development of his case and in documented references (300+) to the pertinent scientific and philosophical literature. Full indices are provided. Overall Spitzer provides a judicious account of modern cosmological evidence and theories and the metaphysical implications that flow from them.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)190-191
    Number of pages2
    JournalScience and Christian Belief
    Volume24
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Keywords

    • Cosmology, Creation, BGV Theorem, Teleology, Christian Apologetics

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