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Fallacious Arguments That God Exists
In 1963, my metaphysics professor in college was W. Norris Clarke, SJ. According to him, the cosmological argument for the existence of God began historically with Aristotle’s concept of a “prime mover”. Blindly following Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas called the “first mover” the “first cause.” In the 1920s, Etienne Gilson made the cosmological argument logical and persuasive by focusing on the metaphysics of Aquinas. The cosmological argument is as follows: 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 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 the reason we 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 the human authors knew nothing about the expansion of the universe and the cosmic background radiation, the Big Bang is a sign or reason to believe in the Bible.
Another reason to believe the Bible is that atheist-agnostics generally do not discuss the cosmological argument in a reasonable, intelligent, and fair 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, atheist-agnostics 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 intelligible. If two jurors reach different verdicts after a long trial, one juror has better judgment than the other. But if one juror says that little evidence points to guilt and another says that it points to innocence, then one juror is more educated, more intelligent, more rational, or more 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 the electron and the speed of light are the way they are. If these numbers were different from 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 thinking comes from the fact that the Earth is exactly 93 million miles from the Sun. If this number were 92 or 94, it would be either too hot or too cold for the origin and development 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 random chanceyou can explain this 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. Pro-religious and anti-religious enthusiasts, however, debate 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 actually supports atheistic ignorance and stupidity:
Acts of self-awareness (awareness of awareness) are difficult to explain through regular spatio-temporal models (one act of awareness captures itself, so to speak). (location 2211)
I agree that our ability to turn 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 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. The human brain is, after all, the only known collection of matter that tries to understand itself. For most biologists, brain and mind are one and the same; understand how the brain is organized and how it works, and we will understand such functions of consciousness as abstract thoughts and feelings. Some philosophers are less fond of 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 research methods: physics and metaphysics. Many atheist-agnostics 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 a remarkable success. If scientists did not assume this, they would not work so hard and for so long trying to answer scientific questions. In metaphysics there are only mysteries. We should give up trying to understand what a human being is because that gives us reason to believe that there is a transcendent reality and that our freedom is prior to that reality.
In the cultural clash over the Intelligent Design (ID) theory of evolution, both sides misbehave in different ways and for different reasons. In a Wikipedia scandal titled the “Sternberg Peer Review Controversy,” an editor of a biological journal 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 very badly and forced a congressional committee to write a report titled “Intolerance and Politicization of Science at the Smithsonian: Top Smithsonian Officials Allow Degradation and Harassment of Scientists Skeptical of Darwinian Evolution.”
There is another example of pro-religious and anti-religious enthusiasts disagreeing about science. In this case, God-fearing people are paragons of reason, and atheist-agnostics behave very irrationally. According to the second law of thermodynamics, heat flows from hot bodies to cold ones, 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 an article 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 would make the news. The American public would then learn how irrational and unintelligent people can be about science and religion.
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