Why Believe in God?
Magis God Wiki: "Why Believe in God?"
© Robert J. Spitzer, S.J. Ph.D./Magis Institute July 2011
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Unit A: Does Belief in God Enhance Purpose in Life?
This material is not in NPEG, but may be found beginning in Unit 26 of PID.
What produces happiness and purpose in life?
From immediate gratification and surface apparentness to what is pervasive, enduring, and deep.
Four levels of happiness and purpose in life
Level two identity, the comparison game, and our culture’s source of anxiety.
Two ways out of the comparison game – level three and level four purpose in life.
Level four purpose and happiness – transcendence and faith.
Maintaining a level four purpose in life.
Unit B: Is There any Evidence for the Human Soul?
This material is not contained in NPEG, but is in Units 20-21 of PID.
An assessment of peer-reviewed medical studies on near death experiences from the Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and other studies.
The Human Soul (This is a single article covering the topics below, which are indexed there for quick reference).
The definition of “brain death,” alternative explanations, and controlled, longitudinal studies.
Eight similar characteristics in near-death experiences.
Patients report seeing data that should not have been accessible to them in their brain-dead states, and which is subsequently verifiable (veridical).
The von Lommel Study. Veridical data established.
80% of blind patients can see during their near-death experience.
The measurable absence of death anxiety in both children and adults.
Encounters with transcendent beings (loving white light, Jesus, deceased relatives, etc.).
Conclusions of Von Lommel and other studies.
Unit C: Is there Evidence of a Human Soul (Transcendentals)?
An in depth analysis of this material may be found in NPEG Chapters 7-8 and a lecture presentation may also be found in PID Units 14-19.
The desire for complete intelligibility and perfect truth.
The desire for perfect love and empathy.
The desire for perfect justice/goodness.
The desire for perfect beauty.
The desire for perfect being/home.
The five transcendental desires and the transmateriality of human consciousness.
The five transcendental desires and God.
Unit D: Is there Evidence of God from Science?
Cosmology incuding Physics.
A more in depth assessment of this material may be found in NPEG Chapters 1-2 and the Postscript to Part One, and a lecture presentation may be found in PID Units 1-5.
The extent and limits of scientific method.
The standard big bang model.
Was the big bang the beginning of the universe (13.7 billion years ago)?
The significance of a beginning in physics – implications of creation.
Three models for a pre-big-bang period.
The string theory-inflationary multiverse.
The bouncing universe.
String theory-higher dimensional bouncing universe.
Significant evidence that all three models for a pre-big-bang period would have to have a beginning.
The evidence from space-time geometry proofs (Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin).
The evidence from entropy (Penrose, Beckenstein, Banks, Carroll).
Universal constants, anthropic coincidences, and fine-tuning.
Five examples of fine-tuning.
Can fine-tuning be explained by pure chance?
Two competing explanations: the multiverse and supernatural design.
Which of these two explanations is most reasonable and responsible?
Conclusions about the probability of super intelligent Creator.
Unit E: Can the Bible be Reconciled with Science?
This unit is not found in either NPEG or PID, however, there is a free videocast on The Magis website.
The bible is not doing science – but theology, sacred truths.
Is evolution reconcilable with the bible?
Human beings are not reducible to merely organic mechanisms, and therefore, cannot be the result of a merely bio-physical process (like evolution).
The trans-material component of human beings must have another origin
Unit F: Can the Existence of God be Logically Proven?
This Unit contains only steps I and V of a logical proof for God’s existence. Steps II, III, and IV can be found in NPEG Chapter Three (Sections II through IV) and PID Units 6-11. Those wishing a review of logical syllogisms may want to consult PID Units 6-7.
Three kinds of publicly corroborateable evidence – a-priori, a-posteriori, and combinations.
Step I of the metaphysical proof – proof that there must be at least one unconditioned reality in “all reality.”
A record of the missing steps of the proof
These can be found in NPEG and PID (as noted above). These steps prove that there can only be one unconditioned reality and that it must be absolutely simple and unrestricted in its power.
Step V of the proof which shows that the one unconditioned absolutely simple unrestricted reality must be the continuous Creator of all else that is.
Unit G: Is there Evidence of God from Mathematics?
For a more in depth presentation of time and the formal a-priori synthetic argument for a timeless Creator of time, see NPEG Chapter Five and also PID Units 22-25.
“Infinite past time” is an analytical contradiction.
Three kinds of infinity (A, B, and C infinities).
Covered in the last paragraphs of An Analytical Contradiction in "Infinite Past Time"
David Hilbert’s prohibition of C infinities applied to real aggregate structures.
What is real time?
The prohibition of a C infinity to real time
Implying that past time must be finite and that it must have a beginning, further implying a Creator of past time. See Conclusions
Unit H: Why Doesn’t God Need a Creator?
An in depth treatment of this material may be found in NPEG Chapter Six Section I.C. It is briefly treated in PID Unit 12.
No serious philosopher ever suggested that “everything must have a cause,”
For this would imply that God needs a cause. See Serious Metaphysicians Don't Dismiss First Cause
All rigorous logical proofs require that there be at least one uncaused reality.
All rigorous proofs show that there can only be one uncaused reality
(see Unit F).
Conclusion of Proof of God Not Needing a Creator
All rigorous proofs show that everything in reality besides the one uncaused reality must be caused and that the one uncaused reality must be the cause of all else that is. God does not need to be created – indeed, he must be “that which is uncreated,” otherwise nothing would exist. See Conclusion
Unit I: Can Atheism be Rational?
Can Atheism Be Rational? (the article of that title).
For a more in depth study of this material, see NPEG Chapter Six, Sections II and III; for a brief lecture presentation, see PID Unit 25.
It is impossible to rationally disprove the existence of a transcendent being
it cannot be done, a-priori, a-posteriori, or through any combination of that. See The Impossibility of Disproving the Existence of God
A brief response to the problem of suffering – why would God allow suffering if He is all powerful and all loving?
(See Units K&L for a much more extended treatment.)
A brief Discussion of the Tenuous Rationality of Atheism
A response to Freud’s contention that God is the product of wishful thinking.
Unit J: Why Seek Revelation?
This is not presented in NPEG. For a brief lecture presentation see PID Unit 30.
A brief summary of the four sets of evidence for God
The evidence from physics.
The evidence from the logical proof for the existence of God.
The evidence from philosophy of mathematics.
The evidence from near-death experiences and human transcendentality.
The mutual corroborative effect of these four sets of evidence.
The complementary picture of God given by these four sets of evidence.
If reason can probe so deeply, why do we need God to reveal himself (revelation)?
There are five basic areas into which reason cannot probe deeply.
The heart of God.
How to pray and worship.
Specific ethical precepts and attributes of God that cannot be known by reason
(e.g. the trinity).
God’s inspiration, response to prayer, and redemption of suffering.
The dynamic of sacred community.
Toward a definition of love (agape).
Five reflective questions manifesting the unconditional love of God and his desire to be with us empathetically.
God as Emmanuel
Unit K: Why Would God Allow Suffering from Humans?
This is only briefly treated in NPEG Chapter Six Section III. (See PID Unit 25-27.)
If our love is to be our own (and not merely a program) we must freely choose to love
Which means that we must have another choice – namely, “not to love.” But the choice not to love gives rise to the possibility of suffering and evil. See The Intrinsic Relationship of Freedom and Love
Responses to special cases concerning suffering caused by humans.
Unit L: Why Does God Allow Suffering from Nature?
This is only briefly treated in NPEG Chapter Six Section III. (See PID Unit 26-27.)
Suffering is caused by nature because we are born imperfectly into an imperfect world.
Why would God make an imperfect world?
To help us to self-initiate
development of our purpose in life and our identity (from Level One to Level Four). See Identity Transformation
To allow us to cultivate the “stoic” virtues
The Stoic Virtues (e.g. courage and self-discipline, etc.)
To allow us to develop in love (agape).
To allow us to develop our sense of empathy and compassion.
To leave room for us to build a better world.
To leave room for us to build the kingdom of God.
Conclusions about Suffering Well
Unit M: References
A comprehensive bibliography of all the references used in the above twelve units.