New Proofs for God’s Existence

This week The Gregorian went to press with a challenging but necessary lecture by Father Robert Spitzer, S.J.

Argumentative atheism is experiencing a resurgence. And Father Robert Spitzer is one reason why that is not necessarily a bad thing.

We have experienced at least three different forms of atheist resurgence in the past century. One was the literally militant atheism that reached its peak in totalitarian regimes in the middle of the 20th century. Expressions of faith in God were criminalized and adherents were persecuted; this form of atheism decimated the ranks of the faithful by violence and fear.

A second form of atheism is the apathetic agnosticism that has prevailed in much of the Western hemisphere and in America to this day. In apathetic agnostic societies, religion is fine as long as it remains a private eccentricity. But to mention God at a social gathering is a faux pas, and to mention him seriously in a business meeting is unthinkable. This form of atheism may have been even more destructive to faith.

A third form of atheism is argumentative atheism. This was the form of atheism that prevailed in the world of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. It was an atheism that didn’t seek to destroy believers, but passionately sought to dissuade them. Questions about God were bandied about in universities and in public lectures. Poets, philosophers, novelists and playwrights all had their say.

Today’s rise in atheistic literature looks most like this third kind of atheism — but with important differences from the days when God’s existence was debated in public halls.

Back then, thinkers spoke a common language, based on rules of reason and logic that were widely shared. Today, that philosophical language — and the worldview it expressed — is lost. In its place is a scientific language and, as Cardinal Christoph Schonborn said on campus last year, “reason is bound into the narrow limits of the mathematical , or natural science and its methodology.”

Enter Father Robert Spitzer.

Think of him as a missionary to scientists. His New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy (Eerdmans, 2010) speaks to modern scientists in their language.

He came to Benedictine College campus fresh from the Larry King Live show and a “debate” with Stephen Hawking. Spitzer is the kind of guy who can debate Stephen Hawking.

In his speech here he addressed three questions: “First, can science give evidence of creation and supernatural design? Second, what is the evidence for a beginning of the universe and what are the implications for creation? Third, what is the evidence of supernatural intelligence from anthropic fine-tuning — the idea that the universe appears to have been intentionally constructed for intelligent life?”

The concluding sentence gives you a hint for the direction the talk goes but it has to be read to be appreciated: “Thus, it is both reasonable and responsible to believe on the basis of physics that a very powerful and intelligent being caused our universe to exist as a whole.”

To check it out, click on the link and sign up for The Gregorian … free.

Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Kansas where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications department and edits the college’s Catholic identity speech digest, The Gregorian.



  • DPierre

    As far as dating the New Testament, there is good evidence to belive it was ALL written by 70 A.D. (See ‘Redating the New Testament’ by J.A.T. Robinson, a liberal (!).)

    A fragment of the Gospel of John has been dated as early as 125 A.D., suggesting that it was actually written much earlier; and John has often been identified – speculatively – as the ‘last’ one to be written.

    It is safe to say that the entire New Testament was completed during the lifetime of the actual eyewitnesses.

  • Michael

    An there’s the real type of atheism that demands evidence for assertions before accepting them. People have gotten tired of the plethora of religions all telling us different things about what God is and how God wants us to behave (especially with out clothes off – for some reason God is particularily concerned with that.). People, expecially those educated in science and the scientific method are saying enough is enough where is your evidence. And we’re waiting, and waiting and waiting and the best religious people can come up with is “Well you can’t explain …” Of course not, but that doesn’t mean there’s a God and even if you did why would it be your God and not one of the thousands of others humans have believed over the year?
    Bring out some real evidence and then we’ll talk. And by the way, can you tell us why God is so worked up about sex. It’s like he has the same obsessions we do. Strange.

    • Tom Hoopes

      On the sex thing: Nature is even MORE obsessed with sex than we are or God is … it makes babies from it, assigns STD epidemics to it, attaches people emotionally to each other with it via hormones. Weird. Nature is obsessed about sex and so are we. Maybe we made nature up.

    • Tom Hoopes

      On demanding evidence for God …. with my kids I always put it this way: Imagine we were gnats living on a tuna-noodle casserole. Imagine we had advanced gnat-sized scientific equipment. We could find out the composition of the casserole: The noodles, the cheese, the tuna, the sour cream, the salt. We could reconstruct how the casserole was put together, in what order. We could stage expeditions outside the casserole to the kitchen and learn more. Smart gnats would say “There must be a cook!” but it would take a special revelation to say, “There is a cook, and there is also a family that plans to eat the casserole.” … but when a REALLY smart gnat says, “There’s no evidence of a cook! There is just a casserole! The teleogical view of nature is so out dated.” We could say nothing … but just wait for the coming of the Serving Spoon.

  • BOB

    As a scientist, I find the ‘scientific’ reasons for God’s existence to be without relevance. Religion was invented in the complete absence of any knowledge about natural laws. The conception the ancients had about the universe were very anthropocentric. To cite the ‘fine tuning’ argument is to shoot wide of the mark. As the recent (I believe it was last November) article in “Scientific American” showed, parameters in nature could vary widely and life would still be possible. In addition we simply have NO idea how the universe(s) came to be, so the ‘fine tuning’ argument is simply God of the gaps. Religion is now playing catch up to the collapse of a teleological view of nature. As Avery Cardinal Dulles wrote several years ago in ‘First Things’, scientists have quit looking for purpose in nature. We have done so because, for thousands of years, people said it was there and was obvious. They were wrong on both counts.

  • Manny

    The New Testament was written between 15 to 60 years from Jesus’s death, depending on the Gospel book or epistle. Scholars have used various methods to approximate their dates. You could look them up in Wikipedia or any good Chrisitian encyclopedia.

  • Tom Hoopes

    3. THE BELIEF QUESTION. Why does God demand that we believe he exist, and threaten punishment to those who don’t?
    Think about that question for a second. Let’s say you and I were mice who jumped off a burning ship onto a whale’s back. Let’s say the whale told us, “I am a whale, but I am a good whale. Therefore I warn you: I will soon have to dive. Jump onto that debris over there or you will sink and drown.” You wouldn’t say: “Forget it. A good whale wouldn’t threaten to kill us if we didn’t believe.”
    God is a good God. He created us and knows us and knows reality. He tells us how to live here … and what to avoid. A bad God wouldn’t give us Ten Commandments or give us any information. He would just watch us flail.



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