New proofs for the existence of God
NEW PROOFS FOR THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy
By Robert J. Spitzer
Eerdmans Publishing. 319 pages. £18.00
ISBN 978 0 802 863 836
This book, by an American theologian and polymath, addresses the question of God’s existence through the prism of historic Christian logical arguments and experimentally justified scientific cosmology.
It is a strategy akin to that of William Lane Craig and similar high profile intellectual evangelicals. It is a well structured but quite tough read that rewards the Christian believer who wishes to ponder some of the deep things of God.
In mathematics and logic, all proofs begin with assumptions (axioms) that are taken as either hypothetically or self-evidently true and consequences are deduced according to accepted rules of thought. To a certain degree, the initial axioms can have a higher status than the ensuing consequences, which strikes some Christian thinkers as an upside-down procedure when it comes to justifying our belief in God — surely the supreme Axiom of thought and consciousness, as a long tradition, including Anselm, Calvin and Plantinga, affirms.
However, the rationale for arguing from the lesser to the Greater is well embedded in Christian history and has the attraction of starting from common ground between thinking people, wherever they are. But this common ground may seem more apparent than real, especially for postmoderns. The Apostle Paul, in Romans 1, reminds us how willfully devious humans can be in hiding from the face of God. Nevertheless, it is highly profitable — particularly for those already believers — to consider the two-way connections between analysis of theistic beliefs and contemporary understandings of our cosmic home and the conditions necessary for life.
A deceptively simple example is the Kalam cosmological argument. As expressed by W.L. Craig, this states:
1. All that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore the universe has a cause.
A key issue is the defence of the proposition that the universe began to exist. This is well addressed by our author, in Part 1, with extensive discussion and documentation to recent scientific and philosophical literature. The Borde, Guth, Vilenkin (BGV) Theorem is introduced. This proves that all inflationary cosmologies with an average Hubble inflation greater than zero must have a beginning. Part 2 advances three major philosophical arguments for God’s existence. In explaining these, Spitzer distinguishes between Conditioned and Unconditioned Realities, and argues step-by-step: (a) that 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 that aim to demonstrate that such a Creator must be unconditioned in understanding and intelligibility.
In the interests of brevity, I just mention the fascinating discussion in Chapter 5 that draws upon the prohibition, by David Hilbert, the great 20th-century mathematician, against the existence of certain types of infinities (called 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.
After these rigorous and cogent arguments, Dr. Spitzer has a final Part 3 that complements other treatments of the attributes of God as they impinge upon our human longing for perfect truth, perfect love, perfect justice/goodness, perfect beauty and perfect home. So this volume has much to warm the heart as well as exercise and enlighten the mind. It is recommended as a book to read and re-read by well-motivated Christians accustomed to abstract reasoning and concerned for competence in high-level apologetics and philosophical theology.
Professor David Watts,
University of Manchester and Sale Evangelical Church