Before moving on to Spitzer’s application of physics to belief in God, I believe we need to ask some critical questions of his inferential method.
There is no question that Spitzer is properly articulating the basic findings of physics as they regard the “observable” material universe. My question, however, takes significant issue with how much we can actually deduce based on the findings of physics.
For instance, Spitzer states that by “extrapolating back” mathematically we can deduce that the universe is “about 13.7 billion” years old. Leaving aside the fact that many cosmologists would question this timetable, we might also ask: has the universe has ever expanded at a variable rate at any given point that remains unobservable from our vantage point? Spitzer does indicate some variation when speaking of “dark energy”, and in all likelihood recognizes the possibility of variables in the space beyond our perceptual horizon. But he assumes that space is generally constant.
Yet, in my mind, the perceptual horizon makes the problem of “observability” acute. To accept 13.7 billion years, and by extension most of Spitzer’s big bang cosmology, we are obliged to assume that the universe, beyond our horizon, is behaving in the same way as it is in our observable universe. Isn’t this a 50/50 bet? Well, not quite. Mathematically there is a strong mathematical likelihood that the universe is consistent in its behavior, if not always constant. Nevertheless, the ability to determine that consistency is dependent our degree of knowledge about the universe, is it not? And the only thing we can say for certain is that we cannot see beyond a certain horizon. We do not even exhaustively understand the universe we can see, how can it be that we can make a claim to understand the universe to such a degree as to identify it age and behavior? Finally, we might ask, are there any indications of dramatic shifts in the expansion rate of the universe whose degree of impact we cannot determine? Conversely, are there any indications of the universe retracting, or collapsing entirely, about which we know very little?
I don’t want to nit-pick the argument–I do understand that Spitzer is building an argument of “informal-inference” that relies too heavily on no one piece of data, and that it makes no claims about proof. These are a few questions in my mind as we move forward in our study. Perhaps Spitzer will address them later in the book.
Big Bang Creationism
Spitzer is quite careful to point out that science cannot deductively prove the existence of God (22). God is not a phenomenon in the physical universe and so cannot be addressed by science. Moreover, Science can never assume it has “all the facts” that are to be had and must always remain open to new possibilities.
Nevertheless, Spitzer does believe that:
- “[S]cientific evidence for a beginning can be combined with a metaphysical premise (such as “from nothing, nothing comes”) to render a metaphysical conclusion that there must be something beyond physical reality which caused physical reality to exist” (23, emphasis Spitzer).
This statement seems troubling to me. First, can we combine the metaphysical and physical as easily as Spitzer seems to suggest? If so, why? If we do not account the right of science to speak about the metaphysical, how can we grant the metaphysical (philosophy/theology) to speak about physics (out of nothing, nothing comes). Is this not a statement of physics as well as philosophy?
Second, it seems to me that Spitzer’s approach only derails the atheistic rejection of God, possibly. What lies beyond the Big Bang may only be a physical reality, since our perceptual horizon of historical time is limited by that event. There could be anything beyond the big bang. There is nothing to suggest (that I can see) that “God” or “god” is on the opposite side.
Many of you may remember the film Star Trek V . Sybok, the brother of Spock commandeers the Enterprise in order to make his journey to “God” who lies just beyond the “Great Barrier”. What Sybok finds however, is in many ways (not all) a being who is quite different than he expected. My question is: how does Spitzer’s theory land us in any other place?
At this point, I am quite skeptical (and yes, I still believe in GOD). I hope all of you are looking forward to engaging with Spitzer on this fascinating and important question of the existence of God. These initial questions only serve to whet my appetite for I am sure is going to be a fruitful study