Sally Krutzig, News Editor
This year’s Aquinas Lecture, featuring Fr. Robert J. Spitzer and sponsored by the philosophy department, drew one of the event’s biggest crowds. Students and professors filled every seat, and many more crowded the back and lined the staircase. Spitzer spoke about the scientific evidence of God’s existence, especially that pertaining to the Big Bang Theory — a topic of interest for both humanities and science majors. The lecture took place at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 28, in Lynch Auditorium.
Spitzer is a well-known expert on the relationship between Catholicism and physics. A Jesuit priest and former president of the University of Gonzaga, he has written five books (including “New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contributions of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy”), founded several Catholic institutions and debated Steven Hawking on Larry King Live.
Spitzer began his lecture by pointing out that the famous Big Bang Theory, often thought to be anti-Christian, was first proposed by Monseigneur Georges Lemaître, a Catholic priest. Spitzer believes one of the most important aspects of this theory is that it supports the idea that there was, in fact, a beginning to the universe. He pointed out the many similarities between the beginning of the universe according to physicists and the Creation as detailed by the Book of Genesis in the Bible. These similarities include the transition from “nothing” to “something” and the beginnings of light and matter.
“If we accept that space and time really did erupt out of nothing in the Big Bang, then clearly there was a creation, and the universe has a finite age,” he explained.
He also went on to describe the highly improbable conditions that would be necessary for life to begin. He called these “anthropic coincidences,” and, according to Spitzer, the extreme improbability of them happening on their own suggests that an intelligent and transcendent being is behind the creation of the universe.
While much of his lecture, which was filled with scientific terminology such as “entropy,” “multiverses” and “thermodynamics,” may have gone over the heads of many students, others appreciated the logical and scientific explanations.
“I really enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about in-depth science when applied to my faith,” said junior Laura Jauregui. “As a humanities major, I haven’t taken many science courses, so it was nice to get a scientific perspective on the world as well as a philosophical one.”
After the lecture, Christopher Mirus, associate professor of philosophy and director of the university’s history and philosophy of science program, gave a response to Spitzer’s lecture. His talk gave students another perspective on the more debatable aspects of Spitzer’s lecture.
Whether or not students agreed with Spitzer’s explanations of the universe, most seemed to appreciate the ideas he was able to bring to the table at the 32nd annual Aquinas Lecture.