Since all religions say there is life after death, everyone should know and understand the arguments for God’s existence. Scientists have an infinite amount of time to answer questions about sense observations, but being patient is not a virtue when it comes to questions about religion. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
Man's faculties make him capable of coming to a knowledge of the existence of a personal God. But for man to be able to enter into real intimacy with him, God willed both to reveal himself to man, and to give him the grace of being able to welcome this revelation in faith.(so) the proofs of God's existence, however, can predispose one to faith and help one to see that faith is not opposed to reason. (paragraph 35)
The “proofs” are these two arguments: 1) Since human beings have free will, they are finite beings. Finite beings need a cause, but an infinite being can be the reason for its own existence. The religions originating in the Near East call the infinite being God
. One of the Chinese religions calls the infinite being Tao
, which means “way.” 2) If moral laws are true and not value judgments, a transcendent reality exists.
These are only arguments because they are based on the assumption or hope that the universe is intelligible. If someone says the arguments are not persuasive, this does not mean they have bad judgment or don’t understand the arguments. However, most atheists and agnostics don’t say this. They say, “I don’t know whether or not God exists.” This statement implies that there are no arguments for God’s existence. The arguments can be called proofs
because the question of whether or not God exists is only relevant if you are deciding whether or not to believe in God and fear His wrath.
This is what Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D., author of “New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy,” says of the book:
Though many sound books have been written about the ‘first cause/mover’ proof of Aristotle and St. Thomas, this is the most accessible and illustrative rendition I have encountered. His explanations make a heavy subject engaging and easy to read. It has outstanding pedagogical value. (Ignatius Press website)
I was surprised that a Jesuit promotes arguments for God’s existence based on the “first cause” argument of Thomas Aquinas rather than the metaphysical argument of Ètienne Gilson. Spitzer considers the Big Bang, the “fine-tuning” of physical constants, and the limited explanatory power of quantum mechanics evidence of God’s existence. I consider this reasoning pseudoscience because there is no evidence God caused the Big Bang, “fine-tuned” the universe, or is entangled in quantum mechanics. In my opinion, this scientific knowledge is evidence that God does not exist because it is evidence that the universe is not intelligible. It is one thing to assume the universe is intelligible to answer the question of what a human being is and what causes human beings to exist. However, to make this assumption to answer scientific questions is nonsense.
Fr. Spitzer understands the metaphysical arguments because he explains that God is “an unrestricted act of understanding” in his book. My guess is that Fr. Spitzer thinks he will get more converts by saying God caused the Big Bang instead of saying finite beings need a cause. In my opinion, it is just as wrong to trick people into joining your church as it is to use violence, as was done in Spain in the 14th century. Promoting irrational arguments is heretical because it implies that God’s existence cannot be proven. It also violates Can Law 270 §1, which says, “They are to avoid profane novelties and pseudo-science.”
The following two quotes prove that that author is not advocating the “first cause” arguments that Fr. Spitzer promotes. The author is presumably using the phrase first cause
to get a favorable review from Fr. Spitzer:
It is simply impossible for any series of presently cooperating causes to regress without a first cause, and so we must admit the existence of at least one first and uncaused cause. (location 453)
Whatever else first cause means, it means something that needs no cause. (location 1946)
The word cause
comes up in three separate methods of inquiry. In the method of inquiry called history
, there is the final cause, which is related to human action. If you spend 30 minutes washing your car, the final cause is a clean car. In the method of inquiry called metaphysics
, a being that begins to exist at some point in time requires a cause. A finite being needs a cause because it is a composition of two incomplete beings or metaphysical principles: essence and existence. An infinite being is a pure act of existence without a limiting essence. In the method of inquiry called science
, a causal system is one where the energy is constant.
When animals have nothing to do they go to sleep. Only human beings ask about the cause of things. Just because a human asks what caused something does not mean there has to be an answer that can be understood by human beings. Indeed, as Professor Augros points out, many atheists and agnostics deny there is such a thing as causality.
Assuming that the universe is intelligible means there exists an “uncaused cause,” a being that “needs no cause,” or a self-sufficient being. Whether or not you make this assumption, there can be an infinite or finite regression of causes without a “first cause.” All that is needed is a cause of the finite or infinite regression of causes outside of the regression.
The proposition that the Big Bang is evidence of God’s existence or that God caused the Big Bang has no truth content or value. It does not in anyway satisfy our drive to know and understand everything. Furthermore, it leads to the idea that God is something that existed prior to the beginning of the universe but does not exist now.
Atheists and agnostics understand this and express it by asking: What caused God? The title of the book promises to refute the what-caused-god refutation. The book fulfills this promise because it does not advocate the argument from the Big Bang, fine-tuning, origin of life, and biological evolution.
Human beings are finite beings not just because we have free will. We also have the conscious knowledge of humans as opposed to the sense knowledge of animals. The author refers to this knowledge with the phrase “openness to foreign forms” and says:
How the form of another being exists in a knower, how it ‘gets there,’ might also vary. The specific manner in which this is done (which is in all cases mysterious to me, and I dare say to everyone else, too) does not affect the root difference between knower and nonknower. (location 1760)
It may appear reasonable to say that human knowledge is mysterious because the metaphysical explication that knowledge is the openness of being to the self-manifestation of being is lacking in content. A good way to express the “root difference” is to say humans are embodied spirits or spirited bodies. Another formulation is that the human soul is spiritual. Most atheists and agnostics think the human soul is spiritual by definition or they pretend not to know that the human soul is spiritual.
According to the author, God is intelligent because He gives human beings intelligence and you can’t give what you don’t have. Dr. Augros realizes that the intelligence of God is different from the intelligence of humans:
It would be infinitely more intelligent than we are, unhampered by the limitations of brain space and time spent reasoning. (location 1713)
It is my understanding that intelligence involves asking questions about things we know. Human beings have conscious knowledge and worms have sense knowledge. Since God exists, like humans and worms, God has knowledge too. We know this by analogy. If you poke a lion in a cage with a stick, the lion will roar and try to claw you. We know by analogy that the lion does not like being poked with a stick.
I don’t agree with the author’s explanation of why God, an infinite being, created finite beings:
He makes the universe, after all, not out of personal neediness, but out of generosity, in order to communicate his goodness to creatures, but by making them good themselves in various ways and by enabling some of them to see that the goodness of creatures points to a far superior goodness in himself. (location 2846)
The only thing that could motivate God to do anything is self-love. God created finite beings because he loved Himself as giving. But He could just as well love Himself without giving. Why finite beings exist is a mystery. God’s existence does not explain the existence of human beings or any scientific observation. It is simply the case that a universe without God is less intelligible than a universe with God.