on November 7, 2010
I will keep this review short and sweet. I have personally been building a research library of science, Philosophy, theology, and books on the cults and occult for the past 15 years. One topic that I continuously find myself reading and listening to debates on the most is the area of God's existence. I enjoy the various approaches and 'faith assumptions' brought to the raw materials of physical data by naturalists/materialists/atheists and deists/theists. I do not like fluffy works which is why I avoid the childish rants of the "new-atheists" and the unbiblical liver-quiver approaches of some Christians. There is one thing that I always notice regarding books like this: the illogical 1-star reviews of some atheist who turned off the porn for a minute to provide a thoughtless review in order to impact the aggregate of the rating who I promise NEVER read the book. On this particular topic, I have read works of theists like William Lane Craig, John Polkinghorn, Alvin Plantigna, etc. and this is the best book yet. I have to admit that this book was such a surprise to me given that I have never heard of Robert Spitzer until he wrote a rebuttal to Steven Hawking a few months ago in the Wall Street Journal. Hawking no doubt has a brilliant mind and I love how he shows the world that a physical handicap cannot a stop powerful mind. But as with most Physicists who do not continuously develop the philosophical he commits fallacies in logical thinking that most would miss; i.e., equivocating on the word "nothing" and a category mistake confusing physical laws and causal agents (which ties into the equivocation of 'nothing').
NOW TO THE BOOK THAT CAUSED MY FIRST REVIEW ON AMAZON AFTER PURCHASING HUNDREDS OF BOOKS: In short, the book is broken down into 3 sections: (Part-1) Indications of Creation and Supernatural Design in Contemporary Big Bang Cosmology (Part-2) The Philosophical Proofs of the Existence of God and (Part-3) The Transcendentals: The Divine and Human Mysteries. I have not seen "The Transcendentals" added to a book like this since Thomas Aquinas--the baby that unfortunately got thrown out with the Medieval bathwater. This topic is so well developed that I was in Thailand for work with jet lag and could not put it down. My eyes literally swelled with tears one night as I pondered the richness of what I just read. Some people are moved by music but I am moved by powerful ideas. This section alone is worth the price of the book and the good news is that although the first two parts are helpful, part-3 stands alone. In fact, I would jump to that section first because it would provide an appreciation for the data provided in the first two sections. If you honestly like ideas even if you are an atheist or agnostic you will appreciate this book
I hope that this review was helpful and I do hope that most of you understand what I have come to learn: VERY FEW Atheists reject God intellectually, most of them reject him emotionally. The "intellectual" just sounds sexier!
on March 6, 2011
Everyone should read this work before deciding whether they believe in a Creator or not! I have just finished reading this book within the last couple weeks, and have found myself consumed by the most paralyzing and profound awe that I have ever experienced in my life. Father Spitzer has proved that he is undoubtedly one of the greatest allies of God and humanity as a whole as he seeks to humbly, yet sharply, argue the unmistakable truth of our Creator's existence. What I love most about this work is that Father Spitzer revolutionizes pro-theistic arguments by boldly vindicating the Creator on the very stages of modern scientific and philosophical thought where His presence is most ardently (and often successfully) refuted. The result of Father Spitzer's labors is the most beautiful, inspiring, and awesome collection of multi-disciplinary proofs of a Creator and an ultimate creation event, giving a profound and unshakeable legitimacy to the foundations of theism that our world desperately craves.
I ironically sought out Father Spitzer's work after reading another work by a very prominent modern physicist proclaiming that all of existence as we know it can be explained without making recourse to a God or Creator. My studies as an engineer and a Catholic have always led me to the belief that the fields of modern physics (especially the branches concerned with universal origin) and modern faith must be different sides of the same coin, since, if the Creator exists (as I have always believed), then all modern physical studies and theories of the natural world (the product of His creation) can only ultimately affirm His presence. Suffice it to say I was greatly shaken when I was confronted by the modern physicist's work previously mentioned that presented a modern physical theory of our universe's creation WITHOUT any need for a Creator or a creation. The solace I sought out in "New Proofs" did more than just blunt the pain the atheistic physicist's work had inflicted - it has imprinted my consciousness with the most profound and unshakeable ideas imaginable, and has gifted me with the most reassuring affirmation I will ever need that the Maker undeniably exists.
Father Spitzer diligently speaks very generally in this book from the faith perspective, making no special recourse to a specific religion (Judaism, Christianity, Muslim, etc.), nor does he rely on any references to any sacred religious texts (The Bible, Koran, etc.), in order for him to powerfully make his case. In other words, existing faith groups or belief standards are not a platform for the evidence presented in this work....the Creator's existence is proven in its most raw form without the entanglements that thousands of years of human interpretation on faith have brought to the picture. Part One of the book presents proof for an initial creation event in all credible cosmological origin theories, and also shows the extreme improbability of the multitude of "cosmic coincidences" that coalesce to allow life in our universe, which will lead any logically functioning human intelligence to conclusion that an intelligent, purposeful Creator exists. Father Spitzer clearly commands an authoritative knowledge of today's modern scientific arenas, and gives fair and comprehensive consideration to all aspects of these arenas. Part Two of the book presents formal philosophical evidence of a Creator, drawing on concepts of conditioned and unconditioned realities, notions of intelligence and intelligibility, and concepts of time and infinity itself to make logical arguments in favor of the Maker. Part Three takes the scientific and philosophical proofs to their logical conclusion, and begins to explore the mysteries of Divine and Human Purpose (The Transcendentals) as a direct result of belief in a Creator (this belief having been established in Parts One and Two of the book). Above all, Father Spitzer maintains a humble tone throughout the work, and is never pushy, preachy, defensive against some invisible atheist "enemy," nor does he ever proclaim that people should "just believe" what he's saying. The work humbly presents undeniable evidence of a Creator, and invites all to accept this knowledge and enter into a joyous life dedicated to understanding our Creator's loving purpose for us.
on September 3, 2010
Here's the ultimate praise any reviewer could give: "I wish I could have written that". I was particularly impressed by the use of the Second Law of Thermodynamics argument and the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem about finite past time in all reasonable cosmologies, to demonstrate a beginning for the Universe. With regard to the anthropic coincidences that are used to demonstrate an intelligent designer for our universe, Fr. Spitzer's exposition has the virtue of being focused and well organized, in contrast to some others on this subject, where the coincidences are piled one on top of another, until at the 378th coincidence one's eyes begin to glaze. And he has the ethos of science nailed down, that is to say, he marks science as an empirical enterprise that can give evidence for an intelligent designer (that is, be a sign-post to God), but, unlike metaphysics, cannot "prove" the existence of God.
The philosophy was heavy going for me, but presented clearly and convincingly. (The second and third readings will be even more valuable I assume.) I was particularly impressed by Fr. Spitzer's demonstration of an unconditioned reality ("First Cause"?) and by the categorization of the several kinds of infinity, and why Hilbert disavowed Kantor's infinite set theory (the Hotel that can never be filled?). Thank you Fr. Spitzer; I'm looking forward to your next book on the intersection of science, philosophy and faith, in which some of the topics that couldn't be covered in detail in "New Proofs" might be discussed: evolution, mind and soul, and quantum mysteries.
on August 24, 2011
Father Spitzer provides a comprehensive survey of the modern scientific foundation for the metaphysical arguments for the existence of God. He begins with review of the thermodynamic concept to entropy, which states that the universe moves from an ordered to a disordered state. This first physical argument for an ordered and finite universe beginning with a "Big Bang" is succeed by the more profound results that have recently emerged from quantum cosmology. A variety of cyclic, bouncing and multiverse inflationary theories have been posited to support an infinitely existing physical universe. In 2004 Borde, Vilenkin & Guth (BVG Theorem) proved with only minor constraints that any inflationary ("Big Bang") universe must have a beginning.
Additionaly, he surveys the basis for intelligent design. He reviews the history of the twenty (20) universal constants and the extremely small variance that can exist from them to permit the universe we actually live in to exist. Then Father Spitzer describes Roger Penrose's number. When you the divide the total entropy of the universe 123*log10 by the total phase space volume 10*log10^101 you get a probability of 10*log10^123 to 1. It is a very big number insuring that a million monkeys will never randomly type out the rules for the universe.
The basic argument for the rest of book proceeds as any true metaphysical statement must, first from a physical truth that the universe has a beginning (BVG theorem) to the metaphysical statement that nothing comes from nothing (Parmenides) and nothing ever will (Rogers & Hammerstein). The conclusion must be that there is a creator.
The middle of the book covers a modern development of the classical proofs for the existence of God. Father Spitzer substitutes the modern concept of an unconditioned reality for the "first cause" of Aristotle and St Thomas Aquinas. Plato's concept of the "simple" as unconstrained is given a modern scientific foundation in field theory. Father Spitzer explains how constrained protons and electrons emerge from the "simpler" electromagnetic field and that this field and the space-time field (gravity) should emerge from the simpler, less constrained, and yet more powerful high energy unified field theory when it is discovered. Ultimately the final field emerges from the unique, simple, totally unconstrained, pure act, the Creator.
Finally, Father Spitzer moves beyond Thomist arguments to argue for the creator of past time. For this argument he introduces Hilbert's analysis of the infinite and a modern mathematician's limitation of the infinite including Cantor Sets to mathematics and the prohibition of actualized infinities (i.e. physical infinite sets).
The book concludes with the philosophical look at the Truth, the Beauty, the Good, and the Love that emerge from the simple and unconstrained intelligibility of the creator. The spiritual implications are treated last.
The book is well footnoted and provides references to both accessible and popular texts that will provide detailed explanations of the many topics that Father Spitzer handles rigorously but necessarily at a survey level and only quickly reviewed here.
Initially, I hesitated to read the book thinking it might become just another disjointed survey. Instead I found a rigorous and expansive survey of the state of modern scientific cosmology. The description leaves you with the conviction that the current world view of astrophysics including the "Big Bang," general relativity theory, and quantum field theory, provides the friendliest intellectual foundation for the rational proof of the existence of God that man has yet discovered.
on October 2, 2013
First of all, I admire and envy the author's wide breath of knowledge and high intelligence. When the book centered on science, my reading speed was good. On the other hand, when the book switched to philosophical subjects such as unconditional realities and unrestricted intelligence, my reading pace slowed to a grind. Then, the book advanced to discussions of love, goodness, and beauty -- at this point, I came to a complete halt. Unfortunately, the material became too difficult for my average intelligence.
The discussions were enlightening when focused on substantial topics such as the "Big Bang", multi-universes, and the long odds against the formation of the universe and the Earth. When the author went beyond science into metaphysics, his style of writing became complex, perhaps convoluted. I tried to continue, but stopped because I simply could not understand the text.
I'm not sorry that I tried to read this book because it opened my eyes to some interesting ideas. To future readers, enjoy the author's high intellect, read with patience, and absorb what you can.
To understand this book requires more than my undergraduate knowledge of philosophy and my undergraduate interest in physics. None the less, I think I understood most of the conclusions of the book.
1. The Big Bang theory strongly implies that the universe was created by a non-material source 13.7 billion years ago. Atheistic physicists in a desperate attempt to avoid that conclusion have posited extremely unlikely and untestable theories such as there is an expanding "multiverse" that is spawning an infinite number of new universes. But the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth theorem proves that any multiverse with any positive expansion factor would also have had a finite beginning and thus had to be created.
2. The universe is fine-tuned to be capable of life. There are at least 20 constants that determine the strength of the fundamental forces, speeds, energies, and so forth. Penrose showed that the odds of the universe being created with the calculated low entropy state were 10^ (10^123) - the exponent contains 10^123 zeroes!
3. If the ratio of the gravitational constant and the cosmological constant (the rate that the universe is expanding) was larger by 1 in 10^50, the universe would expand so rapidly galaxies and stars could not form, and if lower by 1 in 10^50, the universe would collapse. Other constants or ratios varying would cause similar disasters such as carbon atoms not forming, rendering carbon based life forms impossible, or nearly all hydrogen disappearing, preventing stars from shining.
4. To avoid the conclusion that the universe was designed to support life, atheist physicists have devised elaborate complicated models that allow the formation of more than 10^ (10^123) universe. But these models require elaborate, extremely unlikely fine tuning in an attempt to prove the universe is not fine-tuned!
5. Twentieth century science now shows that "Planck minimums" determine minimum time divisions (5 *10^ (-44) seconds), minimum spatial intervals (1.62 * 10^ (-33) centimeters) and a maximum speed (300,000 km/sec, the speed of light). And modern metaphysics shows that contradictions occur if reality does not have a minimum finite interval of time, a minimum finite interval of length, and a maximum velocity.
6. Atheist physicists continue to claim there might be a model that shows that time extends backwards to infinity to avoid the necessity of a creation. But famous 20th century mathematician, David Hilbert, proved that although there can be potential infinities such as terms of a mathematical series or potential future time, there cannot be any actual infinities in reality. And if time stretched backward to infinity, all those past times would have had to exist, so his proof can be used to show there cannot be infinite past time.
7. Spitzer shows that there cannot be only conditioned realities (realities that each depend on some other reality for its existence). Therefore, there must be at least one unconditioned reality, a reality that does not depend on any conditions for its existence. There can be only one such unconditioned reality. All other realities are conditioned and each ultimately depends on the unconditioned reality to satisfy its conditions. "And all men call this unconditioned reality God".
8. Lonergan shows that at least one and only one unrestricted (unconditioned) reality has unrestricted intelligibility and intelligence. "And all men call this unrestricted intelligence God".
9. Defining God as the unconditioned reality makes it impossible to disprove the existence of God.
10. Further metaphysical proofs show that God must be Being itself, Truth itself, Love itself, Beauty itself, and Goodness itself. And man has a natural desire for Being itself, Truth itself, Love itself, Beauty itself, and Goodness itself.
on September 13, 2010
"New Proofs" is an extremely challenging yet rewarding read, but it is not for the faint of heart. All totaled, I probably read the book 3 times, as I had to double and triple back numerous times in order to assimilate Father Spitzer's massive intellectual yield. And I do mean massive. The good doctor employs Socratic method, Platonic allegories, tautological analyses, mathematical proofs and sound logic & rationale to propound his arguments. I was quite amazed at the author's ability to adduce the existence of an Unconditioned Reality via an elegant, logical argument.
Father Spitzer's writing style is somewhat mechanistic and overwrought and though highly disciplined, it lacks personality, as well - he loves the word "probative." I highly admired this work, and as expansive as it was/is, I can't help but wonder who the target audience was for this exegesis? I feel quite sanguine in asserting that this book isn't for the general public, but it is well worth the effort if you're willing to put in the time.
4 stars today!
on September 14, 2011
Fr. Spitzer does an excellent job of bringing together a tremendous amount of relevant, current information on the subject of humanity, our relationship to our Creator, and how to tie these metaphysical issues back to scientific evidence, and a sound, logical philosophical framework.
Do not assume this book to be a casual read! Do not assume that you will finish this book and put it on a shelf and forget what was presented. I did not think there was much new "news" on the subject, but on reflection and after reading this book I believe that the media has been distorting/diminishing the plain facts about the uniqueness of our planet in particular, and of the history of our universe in general, and the significance of the scientific discoveries that have been made in the last 100 years or less.
Considering the material which Fr. Spitzer is working to unpack for us, I think he has done an outstanding job and I look forward to reading more from him.
on July 5, 2010
Fr. Robert Spitzer (Jesuit, former President of Gonzaga University) doesn't just put a telesope or a microscope to his peepers as he scans the cosmos for design and declares that God exists! He utilizes logic, deep philosophical thought as he makes a case for theism and refutes atheism forasmuch as asserts that "incomplete, illogical, and nonsystematic thought" is not "good enough. Unfortunately, it never is." And in "New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy" Fr. Spitzer delivers fascinating and compelling potent proofs for God's existence based on logic and systematic thought.
The author provides captivating evidence for theism drawn from the realms of physics and philosophy discovered within the last 50 years.
"New Proofs for the Existence of God" includes proofs that are built upon concepts such as:
- space-time asymmetry to cosmic coincidences to the intelligibility of actuality
- string theory
- quantum cosmology
- mathematical thoughts on infinity and additional material.
I would add that Scripture declares: "Your throne, O God, is established from of old; You are from everlasting" (Psalms 93:2). And mathematics has demonstrated that infinite numbers exist in theory. So how can one account for infinite numbers if one solely relies on a finite epistemic foundation (finite cosmos interpreted by finite human minds)? Can ascribing theism as one's epistemic source be the solution? Can presupposing an infinite transcendent God justify infinite numbers? For one can count: 1, 2, 3, 4,... and go on infinitely. One can count backwards: -1, -2, -3, -4,... and go on infinitely in that direction. Yet our universe is finite. Without an infinite God, one cannot account for infinite numbers.
Great is our Lord, and mighty in power; His understanding is infinite (Psalms 147:5).
This intriguing and dazzling assortment of evidence furnishes the reader with powerful reasons to know that God is the transcendent source for the cosmos and mankind.
See the New Book that contends for the existence of God using moral absolutes by Mike Robinson:
There Are Moral Absolutes: How to Be Absolutely Sure That Christianity Alone Supplies
or additionally see the dynamic new book on apologetics:
Truth, Knowledge and the Reason for God: The Defense of the Rational Assurance of Christianity
type in the ASIN #:1432706322
on December 9, 2010
I was just barely able to hang on. Forget the crudness of vjecsner above. This is genious. Whatever Fr Spitzers intentions the conclusion is that science and philosophy are converging. His synthesis betrays his background in education/// postgraduate degrees // three magnas and three summas and president of Gonzaga U. His cosmology treatment is just right for those with apassing understanding of the discipline. His philosophy and metaphysics are nothing new. however his synthesis is so well handled for a difficult amalgam that the end result depends on the individual reader to comprehend. A book of a lifetime for the searcher of profound answers. I wish the book were given some other title. The word proofs has too much baggage.