This book, by the former president of Gonzaga University, is the culmination of many years of study and publication in the areas of cosmology, metaphysics, and Christian spirituality. And furthermore, its publication was timely, as it arrived on the scene at the same time as the book, The Grand Design, by Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow (New York: Bantam, 2010). In fact, Spitzer and Mlodinow debated cosmology and the existence of God on the set of “The Larry King Show” that aired on September 10, 2010. Thus the topic of this book – what recent developments in cosmology, mathematics, and metaphysics can offer to the scholarly and popular discussion about the existence of God – touches a current that is highly-charged in American culture.
The purpose of the book, as announced by the author in the Introduction, is that recent advances in the fields of physics and philosophy can contribute to a rational argument for the existence of God:
Just beneath the extremely complex reasoning, massive accumulations of recent scientific data, and philosophical argumentation lies an important polemical purpose to this work: a desire to “update” the traditional arguments for the existence of God, especially the “Five Ways” of Thomas Aquinas (see Summa Theologiae Ia, q. 2, a. 3; available online at http://www.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasfiveways.htm ). Especially in regard to the arguments from causation and contingency, Spitzer’s arguments bring into the conversation an appreciation of recent advances in cosmology and mathematics that should not be overlooked by theologians and scientists.
The third section of the book – where the author reflects on the transcendental truths residing deep within the human person that are satisfied supremely by the transcendent God – is the reason why this book is published by Eerdmans and not by a more conventional secular press. The character of God – the answer to the question “Who is God?” – must be considered just as seriously as the question of God’s existence. Even if the discussion in sections one and two of this book led to an assent to the proposition for the existence of God, such an assent does not address the vital theological concern, why should we think that this “super-intelligent, transcendent, creative power” really cares about humans?
Yet this review cannot end without expressing some frustration with its presentation of data and argument. The problem has to do with a misreading of the intended audience for the book. The dialogue between religion and science has attracted in recent decades many interested parties, both specialists and non-specialists. But one wonders how the totality of this book can address convincingly the questions and concerns of that audience – even specialists in various fields of science. This reviewer has tried to keep up with developments in cosmology and metaphysics regarding the God Question, and some of the presentation and terminology in this book left me gasping for air. Fortunately, the author has created a multi-media institute, the Magis Institute of Faith and Reason (see its home page at: http://www.magisreasonfaith.org/ ) that carry forward the purposes and arguments presented in this book.