Monday, July 30, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
I’ll be in Australia next week for the CAEC speaking tour I announced recently. Blog activity will be sporadic at best until I return. You can find information about the tour here, and a YouTube promo here. The Catholic Weekly of Sydney has run an interview with me that you can read here, and a separate radio interview can be heard here.
Thursday, July 19, 2012
The Aquinas Institute in Wyoming will, over time, be publishing the works of Thomas Aquinas in an affordable hardcover format, both in Latin and whenever possible in bilingual Latin/English editions. Their initial offerings are the complete Commentaries on Paul’s Letters, the Summa theologiae, the Commentary on John, and the Commentary on Matthew. The pre-order period has been extended to August 8th.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
As most of my readers probably know, I was an atheist for about a decade -- roughly the 1990s, give or take. Occasionally I am asked how I came to reject atheism. I briefly addressed this in The Last Superstition. A longer answer, which I offer here, requires an account of the atheism I came to reject.
I was brought up Catholic, but lost whatever I had of the Faith by the time I was about 13 or 14. Hearing, from a non-Catholic relative, some of the stock anti-Catholic arguments for the first time -- “That isn’t in the Bible!”, “This came from paganism!”, “Here’s what they did to people in the Middle Ages!”, etc. -- I was mesmerized, and convinced, seemingly for good. Sola scriptura-based arguments are extremely impressive, until you come to realize that their basic premise -- sola scriptura itself -- has absolutely nothing to be said for it. Unfortunately it takes some people, like my younger self, a long time to see that. Such arguments can survive even the complete loss of religious belief, the anti-Catholic ghost that carries on beyond the death of the Protestant body, haunting the atheist who finds himself sounding like Martin Luther when debating his papist friends.
Monday, July 16, 2012
A year ago today I put up a post with the title “So you think you understand the cosmological argument?” It generated quite a bit of discussion, and has since gotten more page views than any other post in the history of this blog. To celebrate its first anniversary -- and because the argument, rightly understood (as it usually isn’t), is the most important and compelling of arguments for classical theism -- I thought a roundup of various posts relevant to the subject might be in order.
Classical theism is the conception of God that has prevailed historically within Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Western philosophical theism generally. Its religious roots are biblical, and its philosophical roots are to be found in the Neoplatonic and Aristotelian traditions. Among philosophers it is represented by the likes of Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Maimonides, and Avicenna. I have emphasized many times that you cannot properly understand the arguments for God’s existence put forward by classical theists, or their conception of the relationship between God and the world and between religion and morality, without an understanding of how radically classical theism differs from the “theistic personalism” or “neo-theism” that prevails among some prominent contemporary philosophers of religion. (Brian Davies classifies Richard Swinburne, Alvin Plantinga, and Charles Hartshorne as theistic personalists. “Open theism” would be another species of the genus, and I have argued that Paley-style “design arguments” have at least a tendency in the theistic personalist direction.)
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
David Oderberg has revamped his website and given it a new location. Update your bookmarks accordingly. Take note also of his new Metaphysica article, “Hume, the Occult, and the Substance of the School.” Here’s the abstract:
I have not been able to locate any critique of Hume on substance by a Schoolman, at least in English, dating from Hume's period or shortly thereafter. I have, therefore, constructed my own critique as an exercise in ‘post facto history’. This is what a late eighteenth-century/early nineteenth-century Scholastic could, would, and should have said in response to Hume's attack on substance should they have been minded to do so. That no one did is somewhat mysterious. My critique is precisely in the language of the period, using solely the conceptual resources available to a Schoolman at that time. The arguments, however, are as sound now as they were then, and in this sense the paper performs a dual role—contributing to the defence of substance contra Hume, and filling, albeit two hundred years or so too late, a gap in the historical record.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Over at Big Questions Online, physicist Stephen Barr addresses the question of the relationship between quantum physics and theology. Take note of the discussion board attached to the article, to which Barr has contributed. (And if you haven’t watched Barr’s lecture on “Physics, the Nature of Time, and Theology” from the Science and Faith Conference at Franciscan University of Steubenville last December, you should.)
Thursday, July 5, 2012
There has been a lot of talk in the blogosphere and elsewhere about former atheist blogger Leah Libresco’s recent conversion to Catholicism. It seems that among the reasons for her conversion is the conviction that the possibility of objective moral truth presupposes that there is teleology in the natural order, ends toward which things are naturally directed. That there is such teleology is a thesis traditionally defended by Catholic philosophers, and this is evidently one of the things that attracted Libresco to Catholicism. A reader calls my attention to this post by atheist philosopher and blogger Daniel Fincke. Fincke takes issue with those among his fellow atheists willing to concede to Libresco that an atheist has to reject teleology. Like Libresco, he would ground morality in teleology, but he denies that teleology requires a theological foundation.