Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

On the Inadequacy of Materialism

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 02, 2012

One of our supporters, Brian Newman, offered an interesting addition to the comments I made in my review of Fr. Robert Spitzer’s book, New Proofs for the Existence of God (see my In Depth Analysis entry, Proving God). Brian wrote:

Fr. Spitzer’s book is excellent: he combines contemporary physics and cosmology with recent results from mathematics and philosophy. He draws attention to the recent BVG theorem that proved conclusively in 2003 that any universe with net expansion cannot be past eternal. Thus those highly speculative ideas about unobservable eternal ‘multiverses’ are decisively put to rest. You may notice that the more recent books on cosmology written by materialists that have come out since 2003 studiously avoid discussing BVG. They have no answer. I do think however that rather than delving into the proofs of God, a more fruitful approach would be to use the new results to clearly demonstrate the now scientific and philosophical inadequacy of materialism. Once the idea of materialism is seen to be false minds are more open to other possibilities I think.

This suggestion is interesting because science, of course, cannot positively prove the existence of God. Science cannot explore spiritual reality. But it can reach a point at which material explanations are no longer sufficient for what it finds in studying nature. Philosophy can prove God’s existence, because it is possible to reason about the characteristics of a being which could serve, for example, as a First Cause. But this is not something easy for people to conceptualize.

Newman’s suggestion is that by putting our energy into demonstrating the insufficiency of materialistic explanations, rather than into philosophical proofs for the existence of God, we may open people to the possibility of the spiritual, enabling them more easily to recognize and properly integrate a wide variety of influences, experiences, and arguments that can lead to God.

In some cases, surely, the absence of pressure to sort this out immediately and opt for God might be salutary. Of course, one project need not exclude the other, but in a culture which has great difficulty imagining anything which transcends material reality, this suggestion definitely opens another promising line of inquiry and discussion.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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