God, Science and Immaterial Things Dinesh D\ Posted Jan 28th 2008 8:30AM by Dinesh D'Souza Filed under: Science, Christianity, Controversy, Atheism Over the past couple of weeks an especially determined atheist has been writing me, offering me $1000 if I can make God appear to Him in such a way that he can see and touch Him. The atheist just finished reading my book What's So Great About Christianity and it disturbed him, because it challenged his assumptions. Still, he demands unquestionable empirical confirmation. If I can only make God show his face, my correspondent sarcastically suggests, he would be happy to join the ranks of the believers. In some ancient religions, where gods were considered to be made of the same material substance as other matter, this would be a reasonable (or at least a meaningful) challenge. But all the great religions, and certainly the Abrahamic ones, regard God as an immaterial spirit. If the atheist is willing to consider the possibility that such a God exists--as all open-minded atheists must do--then the question becomes: how can we know of the existence of immaterial things? Scientists believe in immaterial things. How about gravity? I should write back my betting friend, offering him $1000 if he can make gravity appear to me in such a way that I can see and touch it. But of course he would indignantly reply that gravity is a force, and the existence of forces cannot be verified through direct sensory experience. Rather, their existence must be inferred through their effects. We know that something is making objects plummet to the earth. We know that something is causing the light from the sun in certain cases to bend. That something we call gravity. Or consider dark matter and dark energy. I haven't seen them, and I bet you haven't either. In fact, no one has. The reason they are called "dark" is because they don't emit light. So how can we reasonably believe in such invisible, immaterial things? The existence of dark matter is inferred from its gravitational effects on visible matter. The existence of dark energy is inferred from the accelerated rate at which galaxies are flying away from each other. Scientists reason that something is holding galaxies together, and something else is causing them (and space itself) to fly apart. These somethings we call dark matter and dark energy. Interestingly scientists believe that dark matter and dark energy make up more than 90 percent of all the matter in the universe. Applying the same mode of reasoning, I would argue that some immaterial force caused the universe to come into existence. Here is the proof: a) All material things that have a beginning must have a cause, b) We know from the Big Bang theory that the universe (not just matter but space and time itself) had a beginning, c) Therefore the universe has a cause. Now that cause can be natural or supernatural, but we can rule out a natural cause since the universe encompasses all of nature. It is simply ridiculous to say that nature, which once did not exist, somehow caused itself to come into existence. Some people like to talk about "multiple universes" or even an infinity of universes but they have to admit that they are just making those up: there is no empirical evidence whatsoever that any universe exists except our own. Much of this kind of talk seems to be a desperate way of trying to get around the idea of God. It's faith-based atheism. It's must more reasonable--and, invoking Occam's razor, much more intellectually parsimonious--to believe that the universe came into existence because of a non-natural or (as theists would say) supernatural cause. That cause we call God.