Dark Energy, Dark Matter and the Light of the World

What is the difference between a materialist who believes dark matter exists and a theist who believes spirit exists?

Light in the Darkness
Light in the Darkness (photo: Pixabay/CC0)

One of the prominent online anti-theist atheist polemicists whom I regularly observe and critique was recently having a field day mocking some Christian with regard to the belief that God the Father is a spirit (immaterial):

“You can’t just magic something into existence with a definition. God is not made of anything, but he’s made of spirit? Or he is spirit? Or something?”

Another atheist asked: “Can someone tell me what the word ‘spirit’ means without saying what it is not?”

How intensely ironic (the last sentence)! It’s atheist critics who are constantly informing Christians that atheism itself is, alas, not a formulated position, but only the absence of a position (belief in God). It’s not a worldview, etc. I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve heard that. It’s not true, but we hear it all the time.

Yet now we witness an atheist complain that we can’t define spirit in a way other than what it is not (matter). 

It’s one thing to challenge theists with producing arguments in favor of the existence of God (we’ve produced dozens; none are ever good enough for hard-core atheists); quite another to make the “argument” that a spiritual being (the very category or notion or hypothetical) is absurd. This argument has the following logical structure:

  1. Spiritual “energy” is nonexistent.
  2. Gods as well as ghosts consist of such spiritual “energy.”
  3. Therefore, God cannot exist, since he is said to consist of a thing that itself doesn’t exist.

As usual, the atheist is merely assuming that certain things aren’t true and can’t possibly be true. They habitually do this with miracles and the supernatural. But this is blind faith and not reason. They also do it with the question of whether there is something other than matter.

I shall “turn the tables” by using a scientific analogy. Scientists are currently quite excited about new phenomena called dark energy and dark matter. The very notions have only made their appearance over the last 25-30 years or so. The term dark energy was coined only in 1998. But — recent or not — it’s now widely accepted and represents the cutting edge and most fascinating field of study in cosmology and astronomy (superseding black holes). A NASA web page comments upon it as follows:

“What Is Dark Energy? More is unknown than is known. We know how much dark energy there is because we know how it affects the universe’s expansion. Other than that, it is a complete mystery. But it is an important mystery. It turns out that roughly 68% of the universe is dark energy. Dark matter makes up about 27%. The rest – everything on Earth, everything ever observed with all of our instruments, all normal matter – adds up to less than 5% of the universe. Come to think of it, maybe it shouldn’t be called “normal” matter at all, since it is such a small fraction of the universe. One explanation for dark energy is that it is a property of space. ... 

“Another explanation for how space acquires energy comes from the quantum theory of matter. In this theory, “empty space” is actually full of temporary (“virtual”) particles that continually form and then disappear. ...

“Another explanation for dark energy is that it is a new kind of dynamical energy fluid or field, something that fills all of space but something whose effect on the expansion of the universe is the opposite of that of matter and normal energy.”

Dark energy, then, is considered to make up 68% of the universe, yet it is almost a complete “mystery” and scientists use words like “clueless” to describe their complete lack of understanding as to its origin. If this is true (and scientists say it is), it turns out that science in all its glory (the atheist’s epistemological “god” and religion) has been dealing with a mere 1/20th of all that there is in the universe.

Likewise, dark matter (thought to make up 27% of the universe) is “completely invisible to light and other forms of electromagnetic radiation, making dark matter impossible to detect with current instruments” (National Geographic).

The admitted ignorance is extraordinary. Yet all that is fine and dandy, while Christians are mocked and derided and considered simpletons simply because we have believed all along that God is an eternal spirit, who created the world? What is the difference? Not much that I can see ... 

If there is any reply at all to this analogical argument, we’ll almost certainly be told that “dark energy is just now being investigated by science. Give it time; science always discovers and explains things in due course.” I don’t disagree all that much. Science does do that: though not as completely as the average atheist would make out (it being his or her religion and idol and [usually] sole epistemological guide).

But even if dark energy and dark matter are adequately, plausibly explained and much better understood by science in the near future, it makes no difference at all as to my present argument. The fact remains that conventionally understood matter makes up only 5% of the universe — so they tell us. Science has had up till very recently, literally nothing to tell us about 95% of the universe: all of which is other (spirit? energy?) than what we have known up till now as “matter,” with protons and neutrons and the whole nine yards.

And yet Christians (along with many reputable philosophers through the centuries, and virtually all religious views) are faulted for having believed in a non-material Spirit-Creator God, for 2000 years: following the ancient Israelites, who believed it for some 18 or more centuries before we did? 

Obviously, non-material entities, or whatever we call them, have been a far more important aspect of the universe than we (least of all materialist atheists) had ever imagined. Christians have nothing whatsoever to be ashamed of in this regard.

The Council Fathers seated during the Second Vatican Council

Vatican II and the Rise of Atheism

COMMENTARY: The Council described the growing phenomenon as ‘among the most serious problems of this age,’ though one wonders what progress has been made in understanding, let alone addressing, contemporary atheism.