Complete Podcast Interview Transcript:
Welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast. Inspiring conversations with Christians in science, technology and industries of the future. For more information or to make a tax-deductible contribution, visit PurposeNation.org.
Brad Cooper: 00:16
This is Brad Cooper with Purpose Nation and today we have a very special guest whose mission is pretty near and dear to our hearts here at Purpose Nation. We are joined by Father Robert Spitzer. Father Spitzer, welcome to the Purpose Nation Podcast.
Fr. Spitzer: 00:29
Thanks. very much, Brad. Great to be with you.
Brad Cooper: 00:31
It's a real pleasure as well. And we don't know each other very well yet. We've had a few quick conversations and I don't know if I can even say this to a priest. So with all the respect in the world, I do feel you're like you're a little bit of a brother from another mother.
Fr. Spitzer: 00:46
Probably, God has a way of creating these souls and uh, they're, they're, they're unique. They can definitely have similarities with great geographical lines.
Brad Cooper: 00:57
I don't know if I can say that to a priest. So again, with all due respect, I just feel like I feel like we're on the same page, a lot of these issues. So we're very blessed and glad to have you and look forward to geeking out with you a little bit on these faith, science and technology issue. February issue. So I'm kind of a science and theology Geek and so I love talking here and you were also heading up the Magis Center, which is just a stone's throw off the street from us essentially at Christ Cathedral.
Fr. Spitzer: 01:19
Yeah, that's exactly right.
Brad Cooper: 01:20
So such a blessing to have so close by and lots of resources there. I do want to ask everyone to please visit the MagisCenter.com. We'll have links on our podcasts, lots of great resources, big fans of what you're doing and so many ways, encouraged Catholics and hopefully all the other Christians as well to deepen their faith in face of all these opportunities and challenges we have in this modern era. I'm going to give the very condensed bio. There's a lot there, so I'm going to go and quickly. So hold your hat everyone. Father Spitzer as a Jesuit priest, philosopher, educator, author, speaker, former president of Gonzaga University. He's the founder and president of the Magis Center of Reason & Faith, which we're going to hear about more shortly. He's also the president of the Spitzer Center of Ethical Leadership, has made many television appearances, including a great one on Larry King live debating Stephen Hawking, which was really good and we'll talk a little bit about that, the Today's Show, a History Channel, PBS Series and Hugh Hewitt Show and currently he has a show called Father Spitzer's Universe, which is really cool as well on EWTN, so I would definitely check him out there. It's a weekly show, is that right Father?
Fr. Spitzer: 02:23
It's a weekly show and airing in the west coast here. We have it live on Wednesdays, on EWTN from 11am to 12noon and then it is re-shown both on Wednesday and also on Friday in the evenings.
Brad Cooper: 02:35
and I mentioned you can check it out online as well. There's YouTube videos that folks can check on as well and he's written many, many books. Just a prolific author. I'll have it. I can't even mention all the books. There's so many and they're all good ones, so we'll have a link on our podcast page. Says so many of these great resources as books and again, you can also check them out at MagisCenter.com. Father, you're a busy guy. How do you really have time to think about all these deep philosophical issues with all the things you're doing?
Fr. Spitzer: 02:57
You just have to make time for it. I discovered that even amidst all the other kinds of responsibilities in life, if you just really set aside is almost sacrificing, you know, a couple of hours every day, whether it, even if it has to be in the evening, late in the evening or in the early morning, that's the time to do thinking and you do have to get some separation from sometimes the Administrivia, the running of organizations and institutions and things with employees and getting new hires and getting people on board and raising finances and so forth. You just have to make time for it. I've done it, really since I was a young man and uh, just have kept it up ever since. And it's really probably the favorite time in my day and the favorite time, uh, you know, in, in, in my life really in my existence when I get to put this stuff on paper.
Brad Cooper: 03:46
That's great. And again, it sounds very familiar. My family is always wondering why I'm staring in space. I think it's because I, uh, I lost something. It's usually because I'm thinking about these things. So talking about the Magis Center, when did you found that and what was sort of the reasons behind it and what are you hoping to accomplish with the Magis Center?
Fr. Spitzer: 04:02
You know, when I was teaching at Georgetown University, you know, and then later at Gonzaga University when I was president, it became apparent to me way before the Pew Research got done, that kids were really struggling with their faith because of an unnecessary problem. They thought that faith and science were incompatible with one another, even contradictory with one another. And so if science is truth, then faith must be false. And so people begin at the very best, to sort of grow apathetic. And, at the very worst, they just jumped off the proverbial theistic ledge and became agnostics and atheists, non-believers. So it was pretty sad to see. So I started teaching a course at Georgetown on the philosophy of God. And then I started teaching another course. You know, that it did concern specifically the whole area of faith and science. You know, when I got to Gonzaga, I kept it going. I had three wonderful guys who helped me out. There were three professors there, Gonzaga because I just didn't have time to correct papers and things like that. But I could hold a lecture for 70 to a hundred people. I would do that every semester in, you know, try to, as they say, put this more metaphysical and ontological responsibly anthological vision out there so people could see that faith and science are not contradictory at all. And in fact they point to the same thing. Pew Research, by the way, in 2012 confirmed everything that I thought the Magis Institute was born out of that when I left Gonzaga part of the as president. Part of the reason for doing that was to get this institute started sending Ignatius of Loyola had these three wonderful questions. Number one, what is the greatest universal need? Well, if you've got 40 percent of your kids who are now church going who are going to leave the church and belief in God, not just the church, but belief in God between the ages of 15 to 35. 40 percent simply, you know they've got problems with phasing science. This is a huge problem. Oh, number one, you know, I've got to do something about this because this is the greatest universal need. This is unnecessary atheism and really a lot of these new atheists are pulling the wool over these kids eyes. They're not doing any favors to science by the way, because the minute you make it incompatible with faith and people who have faith or not willing to leave their faith, well think, well, gee, maybe I shouldn't pursue a career in science. So it has the reverse effect. A lot of the new atheism, as I always say, just ignores the panoply of evidence for an intelligent creator within the scientific realm and there are far more errors of omission and come back to the questions of Ignatius of Loyola. So the number one question is, what's the greatest universal need that thought I, I spotted it. Number two, is anyone else doing it well and see William Lane Craig and a few others who were doing it on the Protestant side. I could see, you know, that there were some Jesuits like Guy Consolmagno, one of my own Jesuit brothers who was, you know, working at the observatory down in Phoenix in a variety of other people were doing some things, but there was no comprehensive way of dealing with this or the other big problems that kids are having with faith. Like, why would an all loving God allow suffering? So I just thought to myself, no, not very many people are doing it and the people who are doing it are doing it either piecemeal or from a different perspective, a ecclesial logically, etc. So gee, you know, this, this is a huge need that's not being met. And then the Ignatius said, well, point number three, you know, if you've got the capacity to do it competently, what's holding you up? You know, get moving. I better get moving. So, uh, when I finished my discernment, I told my provincial about it and I just said, you know, I really want to do this. I have a person down here, you know, guiding Tim Busch, who's really willing to help me get the institute are started to help me put together a board. Tim Really helped me out down here in Orange County. As I said, the rest is history. It just got going.
Brad Cooper: 07:57
That's great. So the urgency, which you expressed these things, the part of the reason that you sort of got into this most recent calling, I mean, one of the things you had said is that we're in the midst of almost in a pandemic crisis now. Do you think the average church-goer average Catholic, the average Christian out there, did they really recognize this? are parents or people mostly just not having a clue about. what's happening out there?
Fr. Spitzer: 08:22
Well, a lot of parents do recognize it. Unfortunately they recognize it too late. So you know, one of our really first benefactors. He had three sons. They all went to Steubenville, very fine Catholic education. All of them got into the technology area and science and they all became declared atheist and you know, it's like what happened? And of course if people are not really aware of how pandemic and how deeply rooted in this kind of attack on theism. So I think that's the first thing as you intimate that there is a great deal of maybe naivité, they just don't know because they're not on the social media. The parents aren't and so forth. Now, the bishops, they are reading the Pew survey, so they're becoming very acquainted and now there's two other big surveys that are also confirming the same thing. It's almost impossible if you're a religious leader, religious educator, not to be aware of the problem, although I'd have to say in some Catholic circles still the problem is not very well perceived, but it is becoming more known. And so I think that's the reason we have experienced surge of activity on the Magis website is simply because it is becoming more well known. There is a lot of still naivité out there, but the kids themselves, oh, they know. I mean, uh, the, the really smart ones, ones who are just scared to death of being accused of needing a crutch or being a whim. You know, you just can't face the reality that you know, God's not out there and you're all by yourself. You know, and they fall for it. They have no real way of judging. You know, what the atheist may be saying, not only in the high schools but certainly in the colleges. They don't know how to respond to it, they don't have intelligent answers from the best peer review journals. And so because of that, the tendency is they can follow a, either to apathy or worse. Like I said, they can just declare themselves atheist. Once they do, it's very, very hard to bring them back. So I do think we really need parents to become very cognizant of this. Forty percent of these kids are gonna to leave and unfortunately there's a, you know, not a necessary correlation which science, it's just across the board that people who just do a lot of reading, you know, uh, and they could be in literature or something else. Right. You know, they're gonna have real difficulties. Intellectual difficulties of sustaining their faith.
Brad Cooper: 10:58
Right. It's, and it's not just the church, but in a lot of ways it's educational system. You've talked about building statues with feet of clay, which is a great phrase that you said, which I've heard of. And again, this is a reference to (the book of) Daniel (in the bible), I think maybe?
Fr. Spitzer: 11:15
That's right. Yeah, exactly. And I mean, here's the whole problem, you know, if you build this beautiful solid iron statue, you know, but you give them a feet of clay, in other words, the whole foundation. So we give them great church history course and we give them a great course on the sacraments and further confirmation course. We're giving them a real terrific course on the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But it's the old problem if you know, not just a kid, but it could be a trade school student, college student. It could be an adult, a young adult. But if the person is thinking, "but wait a minute, what if God doesn't exist?" And he really believes he doesn't think this is a silly questions. Read something from Richard Dawkins or Victor Stinger or something. You know, he's read something in the social media team, has no response to it. And then of course you go to the next class and good cause some moral theology. And the coach saying, "well, wait a minute, what if I'm just a bunch of atoms and molecules and I really don't have an immortal soul?" And God doesn't exist, and of course then you give them the next course. And so on, spirituality and the kids going, "Whoa, wait a minute, what if Jesus Christ wasn't real? What if this is all just a bunch of stories?" Well, if you can't answer those three fundamental questions, does God Exist? Do you have a unique immortal soul that will survive bodily death. And number three, Jesus Christ as a reality has risen and God with us. If you can intelligently defend those three, you have built a wonderful statue full of iron except with feet of clay. You know, a big old rock hits the feet of clay and then the statue just falls over. There's no foundation at all. So this is a problem and it's gotta be faced. But educators like we've been trying to bring this out to the diocese. We have a program called seven essential modules. The response has been unbelievable. We just went to the USCCB with this new product for the first time, trying to get into confirmation classes and about 35 bishops came. 27 have subscribed immediately to the seven essentials and they're really opening the door for us to go into all the confirmation classes. Some of those dioceses are quite big, you know, and same thing in Los Angeles, you know, is now on board San Diego. Of course, all the folks here in Orange County, it's moving. People see the need and thank God they see the need. So we're gonna, just gonna keep hacking away at this. We're expanding our staff. It's all free of charge. Something that costs nothing.
Brad Cooper: 13:44
Yeah, I got a chance to see the Essential Modules that you're talking about. So obviously again, visit the MagisCenter.com and also CredibleCatholic. com.
Fr. Spitzer: 13:53
Yeah, they just click on it. You get all seven modules free of charge. You can, you know, video stream. I'm right there if you want or you can download them if you want to your computer. But the main thing with the modules is there voice-over power points so you can present it as a teacher to a confirmation class. No problem.
Brad Cooper: 14:13
Fantastic. It's great. You know, I mean it's a no brainer. So if we have any bishops listening to the podcast please sign up for this because it's so desperately needed, um, these types of materials, Father Spitzer and the Magis center pointing out, so please do visit CredibleCatholics.com and MagisCenter.com to check out these modules. They're fantastic and go through a lot of the different things and questions as you said that kids and even adults and we were talking about that before, as you said, if you don't have answers to some of these things, how are your kids, your students, if you're a teacher gonna have answers if you yourself are sort of struggling with some of these things and they're not easy. I mean granted some of these physics things that you go through and we're going to talk about, you don't have to necessarily be a PhD in particle physics to understand this stuff, but some of it does get a little weighty. So let's put some shoes of steel or shoes of iron on these kids instead of the feet of clay. I really liked that sort of picture. Again, we're speaking with Father Spitzer of the Magis Center and visit MagisCenter.com. Father Spitzer knows a lot about education in our kids and our young people. Former president of Gonzaga. I talked a lot about that, but take a step back to your own childhood and growing up. I'd love to hear more about you and how did you come to the calling that you're at now in the vocation that you're at? Was this something that you knew at an early age that you either wanted to be a, you know, a vocation in the church or did you know, did you want to be a scientist? I mean, what, what are some of the things that early on that you knew or that you felt called to and leading up to where you are now?
Fr. Spitzer: 15:31
You know, I grew up in Honolulu, Hawaii. I went to a wonderful school, originally a Protestant school called Punahou School for my education and it was a terrific science education, no question about it and you know, it was oriented toward math, science and a great school. However, I went to catechism class every day and in those catechism, I mean every Saturday and uh, those catechism classes were wonderful because, you know, I really did start getting that sense of being called to the priesthood. But I must admit, as I kind of approached high school myself, I started reading a lot of this existential is literature, Albert Camus, you know, L'Étranger and then, you know, No Exit by Jean-Paul Sartre..
Brad Cooper: 15:31
Some light reading (laughing)
Fr. Spitzer: 16:21
Yeah, some light reading (laughing) but boy! You know, I was kinda going around to these various priests and saying, Hey, do you guys have a response to this? You know, uh, is there any kind of proof of God? And the priest will say, well, you know, I've heard of this Aquinas proof, you know, but I can't really tell you where to find that stuff right now. So I've kind of wandering around for a little bit there. I had wonderful priests, don't get me wrong, I love them dearly, but, but, uh, you know, it just wasn't clicking in. And when I went to college to Gonzaga, my mother wanted us to go to a Catholic college and I went to God and say again, I love the experience, you know, right away I had a professor who was very nice, gave me a copies, you know, you always seem to be interested in these topics. And to take a look at these new singularity theorems from these two guys, you know, Hawking and Penrose, you know, so it's that wow, you know, who are they? And I'm not even so much as heard of singularity therapy. So of course, you know, the next thing I know I'm trying to read this mathematics, you know, it started to figure out what in the world of negative pressure mean and so forth and so on because it was a little above my head at that point. But nevertheless, I got to a point, you know, that, you know, if everything conversion spacetime to a single point, you'd have to have an absolute beginning of the universe. And it dawned on me for the first time, oh my gosh, you know, maybe there's evidence from science for God. And so that was my first real awakening at Gonzaga and thought a year later, you know, I was going down the hallway and I heard this professor saying literally proofs for the existence of God, you know, I mean, I just stopped right there and I was listening to this guy outside the classroom. So then I just thought I'm going in. So I nonchalantly went into the classroom late, you know, sat down in the back of the classroom and I was just enchanted is the only word for it. Just fascinated from listening to this guy. And then finally, um, I walked up to him and I said, you can't prove the existence of God, you know, logically, he said, I most certainly can. So I said you prove it and I'll critique it. And he goes, I'm very well aware you're not in this class. He says, I'll tell you what, you come back and sign up for the whole class next semester and I'll prove God's existence. And he did. And so of course I dedicated my book, you know, New Proofs for the Existence of God from physics and philosophy. I dedicated it, in part to him. And so a wonderful, wonderful man and always patient with me and uh, but again, it was another kind of an intellectual awakening and once I kinda got over that hump and discovered Bernard Lonergan, oh my gosh, you know, which played into the science completely because, you know, as you might know, this book Insight: a Study of Human Understanding. I didn't know who, who Lonergan was and I had not heard of this text, but this fellow, Father Dave Lee came up to me and said, hey, Bernard Lonergan is coming to give these lectures and the functional specialties. So I said, "oh, should I go see this guy?" "Absolutely! he said, "..someone like yourself to get the interest in science, the interest in philosophy. If you're not going to see Longergan?" I said, "I've never heard of Lonergan." So I said, "OK." You know, so I am going on listening to this guy. And uh, and of course he's, you know, I had a meeting as usual. So I'm trying to follow these lectures. And this guy, it later on when I had Yosef paper as a professor, you know, I have to tell you, the lecture paces is stunning. You gotta concentrate. So anyways, so I was concentrating on this guy to beat the van and I just thought, I've got to get this book Insight. I got to get this book Insight. So I got to review these chapters. He, she's going too fast. So finally I buy this book. It's a huge thick tome and I'm going through this thing and of course I'm looking at this thing, statistical heuristic structures, of course, the requirement for doing quantum theory. Then I'm reading about classical heuristic structures, but then in light of general relativity theory, you know, rods and clocks. So I'm reading this book, I'm going, oh my gosh, wow, this is a, this is unbelievable, you know? And so of course...
Brad Cooper: 20:25
And everybody in the audience right now is like it was like, oh ok... (laughing) I'm like loving every minute of it. And they're like, you lost me here. This is all fantastic!
Fr. Spitzer: 20:40
That led to my vocation, to answer your question. I find whole world opened up and the fact that Lonergan was a Jesuit, I just thought I want be a Jesuit. I mean, you know, this is it. Yeah. This guy's like not only a genius, he's like a really unbelievably informed genius about science and so forth and if he's a Jesuit I. that's what I want to do. They evolve. Vocation was born pretty much right there.
Brad Cooper: 21:03
Awesome. It sounds like pretty very early on. It sounds like God, at least the curiosity in you in sort of a love of math and science it sounds like, and then you put a few people in your path that sets you off on this journey.
Fr. Spitzer: 21:13
Yeah. I would say, you know, it probably goes all the way back to Mr. Jardine, my high school physics teacher, but immediately I attached myself later to the Lonerganians in college. The inspiration got going and I knew at that juncture that when I did my doctorate I really knew I wanted to go on and philosophy of science, but with a leaning toward physical ontology and metaphysics, so space in time theory I had it in my mind since I was a pretty young and then ran into the wonderful Dominican Father William Wallace, great philosopher of science. I wrote with him and another great yield and physician by the name of Paul Weiss.
Brad Cooper: 21:51
That's a great background there. And uh, you know, again, I think we're all blessed to have someone like you diving deep into these issues. We obviously have on the other side, you know, atheists who dive deep into how to sort of discredit all of God and all of the things that you're passionate about and speaking about that. So for you, talking more about the physics side of things where there are a lot of evidences that you present and you know, there's been a lot of debates and you mentioned William Lane Craig and has debates with Lawrence Krauss, all these folks. And so there's something from nothing which you, you, you're pretty keen on and I know that was part of your conversation with Stephen Hawking on Larry King and a big thing that you point to. And so I'd like you to sort of outline just really briefly in layman's terms that argument in terms of something from nothing. Then also sort of what's, what's wrong with the counters you might get to that. So you know, Lawrence Krauss and store folks might say, well virtual particles just pop into existence out of nowhere and we measure that and we see it today. So the universe could just pull them out of existence. And then the other thing they'll say is, well there's a multi-verse and there's 10 to the 250 universes. So one of those is going to result in our university. Is that sort of. Is that your main argument against the arguments to atheist presents in terms of the justice of God? Or is there another way that you hang your hat on? That's kind of the biggest one. And then. And then walk us through sort of what are the counters to that?
Fr. Spitzer: 23:09
Well, I think there are four major areas are counters, three of them are from science itself, from physics itself to the fourth one is more of a metaphysical kind of a thing. The argument about something from nothing. But before you can get to that, what would you do have to show is that a beginning is more probable and that's just the beginning of our universe. But a beginning of a multi-verse. Even the beginning of a universe in the higher dimensional space of string theory. Now these are all hypotheses, right? Well, multiverse has a hypothesis. We don't have any evidence for it, but it is possible to postulate a multiverse because inflationary theory and certain areas of what's called a quantum gravity. I'm such a string theory will allow the possibility to have like a mega universe, what they call multiverse, which kind of pops out little bubble universes all the time, but it has to pop out in in sort of an ordered way, but nevertheless that multiverse hypothesis, there's also very esoteric theories from the higher dimensional space of string theory or m-theory, which also can provide some other, you know, what we might call a universe is prior to our big bang, where our universe would be one little universe of its many. You know, there's also the balancing university which has been quite popular. So how do you counter these? These kinds of things which are all possible feasible, except the bouncing universe now is pretty much not thought to be a really good possibility for extending time backward for an eternity. Because of dark energy, infinite fine tuning and other huge problems that even atheist admit to like Sean Carroll. So the main thing though is you know, number one, the Borde-Vilenkin and Guth proof. That is a very important counter. You can read about that on the Magis Center or on Credible Catholic volume one. If you look at that, everything is kind of spelled out for you. The main thing with the Borde-Vilenkin and Guth proof are Arvind Borde at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Alexander Vilenkin, Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University in Boston and Alan Guth Chair of Cosmology there at MIT, three of them got together in 2003 and wrote a book for a Very Important Physics Journal called Physical Review Letters D, all of that. By the way, you can get sources right on our website, but the main thing is it only has one only one condition for a universe or multiverse or string university to have a beginning and that is have an average rate of expansion greater than zero. So the universe or multiverse as a whole has to have an average Hubble expansion or an average rate of expansion as a whole greater than zero. Well, that is not a hard condition to meet in any known cosmological scenario. First, our universe is an expanding universe and it's not only expanding is probably inflating, so it's hyper expanding. Every multi-verse, in order for a multi-verse to be possible, you have to have an input on field or inflation. And so again, if a multi-verse has to be inflation inflating, then it also has an average rate of expansion greater than zero. So it too must have a beginning according to BBG. Again, when you have lots of universes nucleating out of a prior universe, say in higher dimensional string universe, again, that nucleation process implies an expansion rate greater than zero. And again, with oscillating or bouncing universes, you know you'd have to have an average expansion rate greater than zero. So all four of these scenarios require a beginning according to the Borde-Vilenkin and Guth Theorem. Now this is getting to the point where we are very, very close, not just to a beginning of our, but it'd be beginning of any cosmological scenario that could constitute physical reality. So we're getting really close to a beginning of physical reality itself. This is a very provocative roof by the way. There had been no shortage of attempts to try and get out of this group, but the attempts had been rendered very physically unrealistic. And you know, Alexander Vilenkin is just tenacious on this. He went to Stephen Hawking's birthday party in 2012 and just read his paper about why you can't avoid a beginning. Lisa Grocer, who was covering it for the New Scientist called it the "Worst Birthday Party Present Ever". But anyway, the long and the short of it was that, uh, he's been tenacious. And now you know, again, if you really take this seriously, then Vilenkin and colleagues are correct, then you're not going to be able to get out of a beginning of a cosmos, a beginning of physical reality. Whether it's in a multiverse and inflating universe or a higher dimensional space, string university, etc. So that's one really, you know, important thing. Everyone who has an interest in science and who wants to respond to the atheistic contingent should know this argument.
Brad Cooper: 27:54
So the universe had a beginning and I guess that you're going to lead us into, and this is again, I've seen the resources and they're great on the MagisCenter.com. Go check these out and so they walk you through step by step each of these so one of the important starting points is to your point that there, there must be a beginning and science seems to be showing that loud and if there isn't then there must be a creator or something from nothing to something.
Fr. Spitzer: 28:18
Sure that's the next step because virtual particles out of nothing and they don't pop out of nowhere. Virtual particles pop out of false vacuums, but that's something or the faults of fluctuation of a vacuum. That's something, of course it's not out of nowhere because it's in dimensional and oriental space that it's popping out. So of course the idea to equate space with nothing, right? That's first of all is a mistake because you can have more or less of space because it's dimensional and orientable, but you can't have more or less have nothing because nothing is nothing. So all it is. So the idea of, first of all, the virtual particles can pop out of nowhere is false. I just compare it to my bank account. Frequently, the balance is nothing. However, the bank accounts still exists in which to have the zero balance. So of course, but the point is it's pretty clear what is really nothing. Now, when Stephen Hawking wrote a brief history of time, a previous book of his. Stephen Hawking actually took nothing very serious rain and he thought, well wait a minute, you just can't start with the equations of physics. The equations of physics are parameters that govern and belong to something more fundamental than the equations, namely what we would call in, you know, metaphysics or reality or being right or what we might call substance or something of that nature or in physics energy. So you have to have energy to have the laws of physics, you know, regulate the interactions of various manifestations of energy and of course differentiate the various manifestations of energy. But the first thing you need is energy and Stephen Hawking picked up very seriously. He said, what was the flame that, you know, ignited as it were, breathe life as it were, into the equations of physics. Where did that come from with the clear implication that the universe couldn't have done it for itself and therefore a God?
Brad Cooper: 30:35
Right. He's changed his minds on a couple of things even on some of these science issues. I mean all you have to do is read The Black Hole War from Stephen Hawking, sort of back and forth on some of these things. Brilliant guy obviously, but some issues, I mean maybe had it right more right the first time and then maybe somehow changed his view on it.
Fr. Spitzer: 30:53
I don't think he changed his views on it for scientific reasons. I think he changed his view on it for personal choice.
Brad Cooper: 31:00
The implications what he was saying previously. I think maybe. Yeah. Yeah. So shifting gears a little bit from, from the physics and again MagisCenter.com you can get all of these great resources and Father Spitzer walks you through step by step a lot of the different apologetics type things that parents and kids and students and confirmation folks should probably pay attention to. I'm going to shift gears a little bit though. So we're about a science and technology and so artificial intelligence is coming and there's lots of things there. So you had a great way of looking at the human soul and you walked through that in terms of the churches teaching and some great information there. We don't have a time to go through it all and we can point folks to, to what you're talking about there, but it really briefly to you, what is the human soul and in relation to that, you know, we do have people like Ray Kurzweil and some of these trans humanists who say not only is artificial intelligence coming but a machine could one day become quote unquote conscious. And so if that were to happen, what implications, what are we to make of that? I mean there's obviously some ethical issues here. There are countries already declaring rights for robots essentially, so what's sort of your sense of this? I mean maybe you don't believe it and I don't believe a lot of it, but I do believe artificial intelligence is moving fast and furious and I think 20 to 30 years from now we might have something that for all intents and purposes seems like a consciousness. Whether it is or not. That's sort of what I want your opinion on it and in relation to the human soul.
Fr. Spitzer: 32:20
Yeah. I don't think it'll be conscious and certainly not self-conscious and outline my arguments for this in a book called Tools Upward Yearning. People want to read Chapter 3 and Chapter 6 is where you want to go or if you're on CredibleCatholic.com just go on Volume 2 a free resource there. That's a 1,800 page resource, but go to Volume 2 and it gives you all the reasons for a soul. First of all, what's his soul? In my view of a soul is trans physical. That is to say it is not dependent on the laws of physics or even physical energy in space time in order to exist, so I do think human beings have a trans physical soul and I do think that trans physical soul is capable of surviving bodily death and I think it's capable of doing five trans physical functions. One of them is self-consciousness. Another one is to have a pure unrestricted desire to know a third one is what we call the five transcendental desires. A fourth one concerns mathematical algorithms and Gödel's Theorem and I'll just try and really briefly explain a few of these things that human beings do that artificial intelligence doesn't do and there are some people who really honestly trying to take this seriously who are on the other side of the coin from me and there are other people who just ignore everything I'm about to say. Just act as if none of this research which ever published in a Peer Review Journal and it's been published in dozens.. no, in literally hundreds of peer review journals. So here's the first thing, the studies of near death experiences. I think people have to look at the good peer reviewed medical journal studies of near death experiences, if I've got them all outlined on, um, MagisCenter.com to look at this free article called Science, Medicine and Near Death Experiences. You can see this, there's very good evidence that we're going to survive bodily death and that we're going to completely transcend the laws of physics when we do, and as a matter of fact, we'll be able to see and hear, et cetera. Do you realize 81% percent of blind people who had been blind from birth see for the first time when they're clinically dead. You didn't project a hallucination from your physical body because if you've been blind from birth, take my word for it, you don't have a single visual image in your brain to project onto any hallucination. So the main thing of course is how in the world can they give accurate veridical perception when they're dead and they had been blind all their lives, you know 81%, that's up you got to take it seriously. There's another set of studies called terminal lucidity. Very, very important as well. This is where people who have severely atrophied, cerebral cortex and frontal cortex, this what happens is that a say from Alzheimer's disease, what happens, you know, these people a week to one hour before they die, suddenly just wake up and they are functioning completely normally, normal memory, normal consciousness, normal perception of reality. they're speaking articulately. I got to take care of this will, you wouldn't believe what's happened to me over the last, you know, five years while I've been in a coma, bla bla bla bla bla bla bla. And of course they're perfectly normal and then they die and people go. But they couldn't have done that with their brains because your brains are the size of peas. And so of course, you need more than a pea brain basically to be able to speak articulately and of course again we just simply have to take recourse to something trans physical to explain to that form of consciousness. There's a fellow by the name of David Charmers, here's a third thing. Chalmers, you know, he writes a lot in the area of philosophy of mind, but here's the basic thing. Chalmers as advanced his theorem that self-consciousness, the experiencing of experiencing that human beings do, so you have basically are human subjectivity is into relative positions with respect to itself simultaneously as experienced or inexperienced in the same moment that that kind of apperception cannot be explained by a physical process. And he's gone out on the limb on this, but of course, you know, this has been thought about by many people before Chalmers, but I've got a lot of stuff on Chalmers on the web site. Just take a look at CredibleCatholic.com or just go to a free article there is called 70,000 Years Ago: A Soul. There's a fourth big area that's now coming up and that's really important. And that's with respect to Gödel's proof, an incompleteness theorem really. So it was, uh, you know, developed quite a long time ago by very famous German mathematician. Gödel's, himself basically tried to show that human beings do mathematics and the trans algorithmic way. That is to say we can actually formulate whole sets of algorithms without referring to anything in any past algorithm or within the content of the algorithm itself. We transcend the mathematical data we have. We don't have to think according to artificial intelligence rules, we don't have to have programs set into us. We're actually capable of genuine mathematical creativity. ", you know, from the very beginning. And so of course, this idea which Gödel has said has been very vexing. You know, Roger Penrose has rewritten these theorems. It's not easy to get out of. Nobody has gotten out of it. Human beings, simply do mathematics in a holistic, trans algorithmic, a way from above, if I can put it that way, instead of, as computers do from below with a set of formal rules or algorithms. So that's, that's a huge area. Fourth area that's been developing in recent times. There's this fifth area, uh, you know, a traditional area called the five transcendental desires. The human beings have the desire for perfect truth, love, goodness, beauty and home or being that they have these five transcendental desires which are completely inexplicable. This guy named Bernard Lonergan philosopher, he has written about this in terms of the pure unrestricted desire to know and he calls it the Notion of Being, I have these quotations from Lonergan, getting on the websites and you can, you can see them there or just go to chapter three of that book of the Soul's journey. But anyway, these are very provocative arguments because you just can't get around. How in the world can we always be beyond what our knowledge is such that we can see the boundary of our knowledge significantly enough to ask a question that is the problem. I mean, even Sir Arthur Eddington, one of the greatest mathematical astronomers who ever lived. You know, he finally writes this at the end of his book called The Nature of the Physical World, terrific in blending of quantum in relativity theory, the end of it, what does he put down? A defense of mysticism. And in that book he says, there is a questioning in the human spirit that cannot be explained by science because it is always beyond any place for science is. It provokes a questioning that gives rise to science so that science can scarcely question is warrant. And then he goes on to say, the light beckons ahead and the purpose surging within our nature response. What's the light? You know, obviously God, but it's God as the horizon of perfect intelligibility, uh, you know, this is what our Lonergan articulate so beautifully, but you're not going to explain this from the vantage point of physical processes. It's impossible, you know, the pure unrestricted desire to know is transcendental and, but human beings constantly ask creative questions or not questions that have been formally entered into it through a set of algorithms or a logic, but real genuine, creative questions like, well, how does that work? Why is it this way rather than some other, you know, these are the questions that human beings ask in a general generic sense that is unrestricted in its scope. And because of that says, Longergan, there's this other transcendental aspect. But if you start putting together this whole panoply of reasons for the soul, these are things that artificial intelligence can replicate, and by the way, conceptual ideas are a huge area that's been around since the time of Aristotle and Aquinas con, but of course it's been taken up by great scientists in the 20th and 21st Century. For example, Sir John Eccles the Great Nobel Prize winning physiologist who just happened to get a doctorate in philosophy as well. I mean Eccles makes no bones about it. Conceptual ideas are not going to be produced either by artificial intelligence or by animals and of course, the reason is because conceptual ideas already require a degree of abstract ideation that's present in the human mind before the human mind has any experience. You need that this level of highly abstract ideation in the mind before you can convert an experience, which is an individual, is a property into an abstract idea. Monkeys very highly trained chimpanzees, by the way, like Nim Chimpsky, right? You can teach them a hundred and 20 words in American sign language, absolutely remarkable, but they're all perceptual ideas. That conceptual ideas and these perceptual ideas have individual correlates. The word banana with a banana, you know, or uh, you know, the thing, banana, etc., etc.
Brad Cooper: 41:31
MagisCenter.com. you can go through all of these things on the human soul and consciousness and all of the things that Father Spitzer just went through. Pope Francis has said sort of, I guess joking. I don't know, maybe you have the inside scoop on this, but if there are, there are aliens, you know, he was asked a question and they come to us and say, Hey, would you baptize me? You know, I'd, I'd, I'd love to be baptized. And his answer was kind of flipping, but he sort of said, oh sure, you know, why not, why don't have time. So if a 20, 30 years from now a super smart, you can call it conscious or not, robot comes to us and says, Hey, I kind of liked this Christianity. This is Catholicism. I'd love to learn more about it. I'd love to be baptized. Assuming that you could do it without short circuiting because the water would probably short circuit the room, what do we say to the robot who asked to be baptized?
Fr. Spitzer: 42:14
I do not believe that it will be a man made robot that will ever be conscious for the reasons that I've already talked about, but there could be an alien and intelligent life form, but if the alien is intelligent, like we're intelligent or self-conscious like were self-conscious or has the transmitting ideas like we do, then I would say absolutely baptized that alien because you know that alien definitely has some trans physical dimension would I call a soul and if he has a soul, he didn't get it from a merely physical, organic evolutionary process. He had gotten them from a transphysical cause, namely God. So God gave that alien a soul. I'm baptizing them. On the robot side though, I don't believe God's going to be giving robot souls and he's the only one who can give transphysical souls. All we could do is give hardware that comes from the physical world. That of course is conditioned by physical laws. To make a long story short, you could have a trans human where you're then putting, for example, robotic technology onto human brains, which of course is not just the human brain. Remember that human consciousness, the soul is working through the human brain, so maybe by giving robotic kinds of augmentation to a, you know, a human being, you might be able to sort of channel that human being soul through that robotic augmentation and get to some remarkable powers and things like that. Now that's possible, but of course I would baptize the human being and not the robotic, you know, augmentation that's been given to the human being up to enhance him.
Brad Cooper: 43:48
Some deep questions there That's. Yeah. What percentage of it does it have to be human to be OK? Lots of great things. I. Fair enough, fair enough. Talking back again about the purpose of the Magis Cetner there and again, for folks it's MagisCenter.com. I mean obviously, you and I could go on for hours on this, so lots of great materials there on the website, so please do check that out. But going back to again and speaking to some of these parents in some of these young people in terms of encouraging them, Catholics and other Christians to pray about a calling in science to become more involved, to become more educated in philosophy and apologetics and some of these things you've talked about, what, what encouragement can you give them and what positive signs do you see and what can you say about encouraging folks to do these things?
Fr. Spitzer: 44:23
There are answers to every single one of the so-called atheistic rational rationale that had been proposed recently in the social media. Their answers from vantage point of the universe. There answers from the vantage point of the soul. I mean the Shroud of Turin and science. We never even got into that. I mean, there are answers all over the place. The main thing is to get a hold of these answers. And so what I'm really recommending is a curriculum called Seven Essential Modules. I'm begging people just go to the website, CredibleCatholic.com, click on seven essential modules. Watch these modules, their voice over powerpoint, so easy to use. They have embedded videos, very short, very easy to access. I'm just begging parents, watch these with your seventh and eighth grade kids who don't have to wait until they're seniors in high school, you know, watch it with them when they're younger. They're are absolutely great answers for this. If the kids want more of like a good science nerd, like myself, go to CredibleCatholic.com and go to the big book. If you just want the summary of the things we've been talking about, go to CredibleCatholic.com and look at the little book, but we're trying to bring this to the confirmation programs everywhere in every diocese in the United States. 7 Essential Modules, we're trying to bring it to high schools everywhere. So if people are interested, just write to me. Spitzer@magiscenter.com. I will get this to you.
Brad Cooper: 45:49
That's great Father Spitzer. And again, I have to vouch for the materials that are there. It's great stuff. And as Father said, you know, don't wait until the church to bring it to you. Don't wait until they're in high school. The kids out there on the Internet at 8 years old, 9 years old or 10 years old learning these things. So Father Spitzer, thank you so much for your time today. We appreciate you being on the podcast.
Fr. Spitzer: 46:05
Hey, thanks so much for the opportunity, Brad.
Brad Cooper: 46:07
Fantastic. Thank you Father and God bless you and the work that you're doing!
Fr. Spitzer: 46:11
Thank you. God bless you!
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