I copied this entire page off Facebook. (comments and all)
The Magis Center of Reason and Faith.
Let's skip the oxymoron and discuss the article.
I hope someone else will, I don't know where to begin.



Dear Fr. Spitzer,



What is the difference between metaphysics and physics, and what are the limits of each?



Emily



Dear Emily,



You ask a very interesting question but it may involve some complexities which may, in turn, compel you to read this answer a few times and then consult a book like my new one – New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy .



Physics is the study of nature, and more specifically, of matter, energy, change, motion, elementary constituents, space, and time within the universe. It proceeds from an empirical or observational starting point, and uses measurement and quantitative analysis to discover the equations of physical force and energy which describe the laws of nature. It is restricted to data from our universe, and specifically what can be observed and falsified in our universe. Since we cannot know whether we have discovered everything which would affect our theories of the universe, all such theories are perpetually subject to modification or change. Nevertheless, physics attempts to corroborate the evidence behind its various theories by discovering multiple data sources and evidence sets through mathematical correlation. When this correlation is found, the theory becomes more rigorously established, and carries with it considerable probative force (even though it may one day have to be modified). See Chapter One, Section II of my book New Proofs).



Metaphysics, on the other hand, is the study of ultimates – such as the ultimate grounds and causes of existence. It probes the whole of reality – not just reality in our universe or reality which can be observed. Thus, it seeks to discover whether there is a reality outside of our universe (such as a Creator) and whether there is an unconditioned reality, an infinite reality, an absolutely simple reality, a completely intelligible reality, and a spiritual reality.



In order to do this, metaphysics uses a methodology of proof which is distinct from that of physics. Physics proceeds from observation through hypothetical-deductive reasoning to a conclusion which can be modified. Alternatively, metaphysics uses a methodology called reduction to absurdity (which shows that a hypothetical proposition is equivalent to an impossible state of affairs, which means that the opposite proposition must be true). There are three general forms of reduction to absurdity:



1. Reduction to a contradiction (where one shows, for example, that a proposition such as “past time is infinite” implies “an achieved unachievable” which is a contradiction. This implies that past time is not infinite, and is therefore, finite – see Chapter Five of my book New Proofs);



2. “Reduction to the non-existence of everything” (where for example, one demonstrates that if everything in all reality is a conditioned existent, then nothing would exist – which is clearly not the case. This means that there must be at least one unconditioned existent in all reality – see Chapter Three of New Proofs); and



3. Reduction to an infinite regress (where, for example, one shows that an infinite number of conditions has to be fulfilled for something to exist – which means that it won’t exist because an infinite number of conditions – an unlimited number of conditions --is unfulfillable. See Chapter Three of New Proofs). These three proofs are explained in Chapter Six of New Proofs.



Physics is limited to the data of this universe – and specifically, to what can be empirically observed and falsified, but it does not specifically treat what is beyond our universe. It can, however, give considerable evidence for a limit to the universe (such as a beginning) which brings it to the threshold of metaphysics because a beginning marks a point at which the universe came into existence. At this point, physics passes the baton to metaphysics which considers the idea of absolute nothingness (physics does not do this because absolute nothingness does not exist in our universe or anywhere else). It is here that metaphysics reveals the need for a Creator because if the universe was nothing before its beginning, then it could not have created itself (because from nothing, only nothing comes); therefore, something other than the universe must have created the universe as a whole. This is what is meant by a “Creator.”



Metaphysics can prove a series of absolute propositions through its specific methodology. For example, it can prove that there must be at least one unconditioned reality, and that this reality must be unrestricted and unique (see Chapter Three of New Proofs). It can also prove that there must be at least one completely intelligible reality, and that this reality must be unrestrictedly intelligible and unique (see Chapter Four of New Proofs). Metaphysics can also prove that aggregative structures (such as past time) cannot have an infinite number of constituent parts, and therefore, that past time must be finite (see Chapter Five of New Proofs).



Though metaphysics can demonstrate absolute and universal truths (which can be shown to be either impossible or necessarily true through the proofs described above), it cannot use those proofs to demonstrate the existence of particular, contingent, factual truths about our universe (e.g. the invariant speed of light in our universe is 300,000 kilometers per second). Contingent, factual truths are neither impossible nor necessary, and so they cannot be demonstrated by the above proofs; they can only be verified through observation and measurement.



Thus, physics has its domain of observable, contingent, factual truths about our universe and metaphysics has its proper domain concerned with absolute and universal truths which can be demonstrated through proofs which lead to the impossibility or necessity of those truths. These methodologies, though distinct, can be complementary and mutually corroborative, and when they are, they can reveal the richness, the beauty, and even the transcendent dimensions of reality.



Sincerely,



Fr. Spitzer
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Ed Cobb
Or perhaps only some unbelievers are unable to find it compelling because they refuse to remain open to something they cannot contain in a measuring cup, already having found all the answers.
The Church calls it invincible ignorance. Parado...xically, it is most common among the fairly to very intelligent.
As the great 20th Century philosopher Earl Weaver put it, "It's what you learn after you know it all that really counts."See More
September 25 at 4:37pm · LikeUnlike · 3 peopleLoading... ·
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Lisa Nicholas
Of course, it is a tautology to say, "Only believers believe this." What What do you mean by "believers," Douglas? If you mean "religious" believers," history proves you wrong. Philosophy, of the kind Fr. Spitzer uses, does not depend on an...y kind of religious belief, although certainly it is compatible with some kinds of religious belief (Christianity most especially). Only dogmatic, fundamentalist scientism insists that metaphysics = religion (therefore irrational superstition), and rejects it out of hand. The argument that "anything that is not (empirical) science is, ipso facto, untrue" lacks any proofs.See More
September 25 at 4:45pm · LikeUnlike · 3 peopleLoading... ·
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David Persyn And rules of Forensics say that gratuitous dismissals can logically be gratuitously dismissed.
September 25 at 4:58pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
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Jesse Schexnayder
‎@Doug actually shoving ones head in the sand might be better related to making atheistic (i.e. religious) faith claims that pronounce with absolute confidence (and some might say arrogance) that there can be NO god in a very large reality... with an extremely small amount of relevant data.

Not to say that this flawed approach isn't gratifying. As they say, ignorance is bliss...See More
September 25 at 7:32pm · LikeUnlike ·
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Magis Center of Reason and Faith
Douglas has been removed from the page, as multiple posts insulting others and their intelligence were continued despite warnings. Maintaining a level of discussion that rises above insults is very important to us. Atheists are welcome on t...his page, as has been demonstrated by the multiple posts non-believers have written regularly on our wall.

Rude people, be they atheist or Christian, are not welcome. We all deserve a place to discuss intellectual ideas without being attacked for our opinions.

Barb Hallett, Magis ModeratorSee More
September 25 at 7:38pm · LikeUnlike · 3 peopleLoading... ·
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Clint Douzat
Aquinas says "Our natural knowledge takes its beginning from sense. Therefore it can extend only so far as it can be brought by (reflection on) the things of sense (S.T., la, 12, 12)
and
"Those things which do not fall under the senses cannot... be apprehended by the human mind except in so far as knowledge of them can be gathered from the senses" (C.G., I,3,)

So unless we first experience things with the senses, self-evident propositions like "a whole is greater than it's parts" can not be arrived at. Unless we first sense whole things and their parts, we can't make that claim. If metaphysics uses these kinds of self evident propositions that were arrived at through sense experience, upon reflection we can deduce further truths.

If our natural knowledge depends completely on sense experience, then the mind is just a passive recipient of these impressions. But if the mind were completely passive, then not only metaphysics, but Newtonian science would also be useless. Forming hypotheses and drawing testable conclusions require mental activity, not sense experience.

Just because sense experience plays a fundamental role in how we acquire knowledge, doesn't mean that we must conclude that we are
confined to uncoordinated experimental data. Just because we can't measure God in a test tube, doesn't mean we can't know there is a God.

I've been reading F.C. Copleston's book on Aquinas so this stuff was kinda fresh on my mindSee More
September 25 at 8:03pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
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Lisa Nicholas
It seems to me, one's understanding of the relationship between faith & reason depends a lot on a person's anthropology (understanding of what it means to be human). If you believe that the human person is a union of body and soul, then I b...elieve it is quite natural to believe that reason (which, as Clint points out, relies on concrete, physical reality) can cooperate with faith (which believes in immaterial reality). For the materialist, it is impossible to conceive of the human mind (soul) as anything more than an epiphenomenon of the physical operations of the body (brain). But I say anthropology comes first, because the most fundamental thing we know is what it is to be human.See More
September 25 at 8:28pm · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
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David Fairbairn
You trust the senses that lead you to know that there is a God, but that we cannot prove the existence of.
How do you define senses? Does it include the intelligence to imagine, experiment and prove theories that we cannot sense or experienc...e at first hand?See More
September 25 at 8:36pm · LikeUnlike ·
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Brian Buckner Maybe the question is how to tell truth from faulsehood. There are sciences that do just that. Kenesology. Mussle testing is one that comes to mind. Try reading Dr David Hawkins. Amazing student of life. Much peace ;-)
September 25 at 8:47pm · LikeUnlike ·
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Marstin Crouch Dear Father, do you know the difference between SCIENCE (the proven truth) and pseudoscience (unproven)?
September 25 at 10:36pm · LikeUnlike ·
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Magis Center of Reason and Faith Mr. Crouch -- one of the basic tenets of the scientific method is that we can only have theories (often exceedingly well-collaborated theories), not a proven truth. By definition, science must be open to new information and new conclusions. The difference between good science and pseudoscience is not proof (because no such thing exists) but methodology. -- Barb
September 26 at 12:06am · LikeUnlike · 3 peopleLoading... ·
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Marstin Crouch Very good answer and correct as well. I am impressed so I shall recede. just so you know. Not one time has a "Christian or Creationist" quieted me. you are the first.
September 26 at 12:21am · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
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Magis Center of Reason and Faith LOL. Welcome to the page, Marstin. Hopefully you find the discussions here on a different level than what you are used to seeing... -- Barb
September 26 at 12:33am · LikeUnlike ·
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Marstin Crouch I am on several atheist links however all we do is confirm what we already know. I am not learning in that way. I came here thinking this will not be a challenge either, however after reading this article I am impressed. I will try to keep my level of insults to zero.
September 26 at 12:39am · LikeUnlike · 2 peopleLoading... ·
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Beryl Stapleton Isn't real debate a fascinating thing? Thanks to all of you. Interesting and enlightening. God's Blessing on all of you.
September 26 at 12:52am · LikeUnlike ·
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Lisa Nicholas I appreciate Fr. Spitzer's explanation of the methodology of metaphysics. Most of what (little) I know about metaphysics and formal logic has been picked up on the way to other things.
September 26 at 12:59am · LikeUnlike ·
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Richard Prys
I don't know if I really exist. I can only believe I do. I am limited within my own senses and experience. How can I find ultimate reality? Surely I can only ever know the subjective.
While this doesn't mean all beliefs are true, it ma...kes it hard for anyone to claim to know something without any doubt at all.See More
September 26 at 1:25am · LikeUnlike ·
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Richard Prys
I don't know if I really exist. I can only believe I do. I am limited within my own senses and experience. How can I find ultimate reality? Surely I can only ever know the subjective.
While this doesn't mean all beliefs are true, it ma...kes it hard for anyone to claim to know something without any doubt at all.See More
September 26 at 1:26am · LikeUnlike ·
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Richard Prys Sorry, computer is playing up.
September 26 at 1:27am · LikeUnlike ·
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Greg Stone
How does Aquinas define senses? At first glance that approach seems limiting. We are conscious of more than our bodily senses...perhaps he has an expanded view of senses?

I find his contemporary, Bonaventure, to worth consideration. His work..., The Soul's Journey Into God, takes one up the mystical path to knowledge of the divine. We may need to put Bonaventure on equal footing with Aquinas as we move ahead in our exploration of the nature of the universe.See More
September 26 at 2:51am · LikeUnlike ·
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Greg Stone
How does Aquinas define senses? At first glance that approach seems limiting. We are conscious of more than our bodily senses...perhaps he has an expanded view of senses?

I find his contemporary, Bonaventure, to worth consideration. His work..., The Soul's Journey Into God, takes one up the mystical path to knowledge of the divine. We may need to put Bonaventure on equal footing with Aquinas as we move ahead in our exploration of the nature of the universe.See More
September 26 at 2:51am · LikeUnlike · 1 personLoading... ·
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Greg Stone
How does Aquinas define senses? At first glance that approach seems limiting. We are conscious of more than our bodily senses...perhaps he has an expanded view of senses?

I find his contemporary, Bonaventure, to worth consideration. His work..., The Soul's Journey Into God, takes one up the mystical path to knowledge of the divine. We may need to put Bonaventure on equal footing with Aquinas as we move ahead in our exploration of the nature of the universe.See More
September 26 at 2:51am · LikeUnlike ·
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Nancy Whitehead Meyer ‎"Only through learning may men acquire wisdom and live in accordance with God’s will."- King Alfred the Great
September 26 at 2:22pm · LikeUnlike ·
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Replies to This Discussion

Fr. Spitzer presents another failed attempt at proving god. His description of the methodology of metaphysics misrepresents the process as being in some sense definitive. It isn't. Metaphysicians hardly agree on anything, including what is acceptable as a method. Take for example, his example for the method of Reduction to Contradiction. The apparent contradiction of an infinite past is predicated on a linear concept of time. There are other ways to understand time, so it is not a proof of anything. The other so called proofs that he presents for god can also be easily dismissed as "proof."

Or consider this trite argument:
"It is here that metaphysics reveals the need for a Creator because if the universe was nothing before its beginning, then it could not have created itself (because from nothing, only nothing comes); therefore, something other than the universe must have created the universe as a whole. This is what is meant by a “Creator.” "

It is based on the convenient assumption that only nothing can come from nothing. Why? Yet more telling is that of course it fails to explain where the Creator came from. If the Creator is outside the universe then you must explain its origin as well, and so on, leading to an infinite regress.
The whole thing is almost pure made-up nonsense, yeah. He's good up until about the second half of paragraph 3, when he introduces a false-dichotomy. Everything after that point builds upon that. An argument built upon a false-premise is kind of screwed from the word go.

What the heck does 'Fr.' mean, anyway?

Also, I like this paragraph:

Though metaphysics can demonstrate absolute and universal truths (which can be shown to be either impossible or necessarily true through the proofs described above), it cannot use those proofs to demonstrate the existence of particular, contingent, factual truths about our universe (e.g. the invariant speed of light in our universe is 300,000 kilometers per second). Contingent, factual truths are neither impossible nor necessary, and so they cannot be demonstrated by the above proofs; they can only be verified through observation and measurement.

Essentially, he's admitting that metaphysics is completely useless.
Essentially, he's admitting that metaphysics is completely useless.

...And then goes on to use the same language to prove god can exist.

"Metaphysics can prove a series of absolute propositions through its specific methodology. For example, it can prove that there must be at least one unconditioned reality, and that this reality must be unrestricted and unique".

Really?
I wonder if Hawking would agree with that proposition?

(Ever see the SNL Update bit where they say some crap and the other one says: Really?)

According to the FB page, the "Magis Center of Reason and Faith" is a Church sponsored group.
If this is the best they can do, you'd think atheism would have it easy.
The comments make even less sense. There are some "atheist" pages on FB that make as much sense as this one, so I'm not surprised, but......I read this and wondered about what in the hell these people must be thinking if they feel that the above constitutes a true understanding of either physics and/or metaphysics. Is it any wonder that they think Adam and Eve rode around on dinosaurs?
Magis Center of Reason and Faith The Rev. Robert Spitzer, S.J., Ph.D, will deliver a public lecture at
7:30 p.m. Oct. 25 in the O’Malley-McAllister Auditorium at Benedictine
College in Atchison, Kan. His talk will be based on his recent book
“New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary
Physics and Philosophy.” He recently appeared on Larry King Live for a
debate with Stephen Hawking.


I will see if I can find a link to that interview and post it here.
Sweet. Good luck with the search. Would love to see it.
I didn't expect to find it on YouTube.

(I wasted a half hour trying to at CNN)
I drew a few subjective conclusions from watching he debate(which it wasn't at all):
Deepak Chopra is an incomprehensible asshole and Larry King is clueless. Spitzer is simply not on the same page, clearly out of his depth, hardly the type the Church in all it's infinite wisdom would want in the same room with Hawking(maybe he's the only non-pedophile they could find). It kind of seemed Mladinow couldn't wait to get out of there.
I think really understanding this level of physics without the math is like trying to understand Beethoven without the music.

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