The Last Superstition: A Refutation Of The New ...
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I argue in The Last Superstition that in fact there is not, and never has been, any war between science and religion at all. There has instead been a conflict between two entirely philosophical conceptions of the natural order: on the one hand, the classical teleological and essentialist vision inaugurated by Plato and Aristotle and developed by Thomas Aquinas and the Scholastic tradition in general, on which purpose or goal-directedness is as inherent a feature of the physical world as mass or electric charge; and the modern \"mechanical\" vision of Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, and Hume, according to which the physical world is comprised of nothing more than purposeless, meaningless particles in motion. As I argue in the book, on the classical teleological and essentialist picture, the existence of God, the immortality of the soul, and the natural law conception of morality are rationally unavoidable. Modern atheism and secularism have thus always crucially depended for their rational credentials on the insinuation that the modern, mechanical picture of the world has somehow been established by science.
Called by National Review \"one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy,\" Feser is the author of On Nozick, Philosophy of Mind, Locke, The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction, Neo-Scholastic Essay, and Five Proofs of the Existence of God, the co-author of By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed: A Catholic Defense of Capital Punishment, and the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Hayek and Aristotle on Method and Metaphysics. His primary academic research interests are in metaphysics, natural theology, the philosophy of mind, and moral and political philosophy.
Feser argues that contemporary secularists certainly know what they are against, but are less certain about what they actually stand for. The secularist values freedom, rationality and science; but then, so do Christians. What the secularist really means is that he values rational objections to Christianity, freedom from religious ethics, and the rather quaint, outmoded historical thesis that there is perpetual conflict between science and Christianity. Secularism has no distinctive vision to offer the world, no deep insight into ethics or meaning. This stands in sharp contrast to a philosophical tradition that Feser values, and argues passionately for: scholasticism in general, and the theology of Aquinas in particular.
Feser aggressively rejects this charge, arguing that scientists cannot help talking about goals, purposes and essences in nature. Physicists rely on idealizations, like frictionless surfaces; their experimental methods discover mathematically exact regularities in highly artificial circumstances. Science is less about observing and measuring regularities in nature than it is about discovering the universal natures and inherent powers in things. It is in the essence of many things to behave in mathematically predictable ways. This would not have surprised many of the later scholastics who developed the experimental method; Feser points out that Galileo depended heavily on their work.
Edward Feser is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. Called by National Review \"one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy,\" he is the author of The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism, Aquinas, Scholastic Metaphysics, and many other books and articles.
All One in Christ lucidly explains the Church's clear and consistent condemnation of racism, showing that the condemnation is not a recent development but deeply rooted in centuries of papal teaching and Scholastic theology.
In 2010 Edward Feser wrote The Last Superstition: A refutation of the New Atheism. In conversation with me recently he said that one of the things that impressed people about the new atheism was its tremendous self-confidence which too many Christians were needlessly intimidated by.
NOTHING is so convenient as a decisive Argument of this Kind, which must at least silence the most arrogant Bigotry and Superstition, and free one from their impertinent Sollicitations. I flatter myself, that I have discover'd an Argument of a like Nature, which, if just, will, with the Wise and Learned, be an everlasting Check to all Kinds of superstitious Delusion, and consequently, will be useful as long as the World endures. For so long, I presume, will the Accounts of Miracles and Prodigies be found in all prophane History.
A WISE Man, therefore, proportions his Belief to the Evidence. In such Conclusions as are founded on an infallible Experience, he expects the Event with the last Degree of Assurance, and regards his past Experience as a full Proof of the future Existence of that Event. In other Cases, he proceeds with more Caution: He weighs the opposite Experiments: He considersPage 176which Side is supported by the greatest Number of Experiments: To that Side he inclines, with Doubt and Hesitation; and when at last he fixes his Judgment, the Evidence exceeds not what we properly call Probability. All Probability, then, supposes an Opposition of Experiments and Observations; where the one Side is found to over-balance the other, and to produce a Degree of Evidence, proportion'd to the Superiority. A hundred Instances or Experiments on one Side, and fifty on another, afford a very doubtful Expectation of any Event; tho' a hundred uniform Experiments, with only one contradictory one, does reasonably beget a very strong Degree of Assurance. In all Cases, we must balance the opposite Experiments, where they are opposite, and deduct the lesser Number from the greater, in order to know the exact Force of the superior Evidence.
Aeons have rolled into the ocean of eternity ere man first struck the mental flint that discovered to him the very presence of Life's Sphinx. The scales of superstition and ignorance fell one by one from his sight, till at last he dimly beheld the tangled skein. And as the light grew, and the waters of time clarified man's vision, his unsteady hand groped among the threads, tugging here and there, seeking the beginning or end, ever seeking in darkness. In vain he pleaded for aid, divine or human; in vain he implored. Yet not all in vain: his cries strengthened his voice, and his tears purified his sight. The agony of suffering was slowly piercing the tangle, and the enigma was imperceptibly dissolving in the tears of his great need. And lo! suddenly he beheld a beautiful maiden, and in her hand he saw firmly grasped the loose end of life's woof.
 George, whose \"refutation of Malthus\" is useful because it gives in epitome those of every one else, with exquisite consistency, suggests both these views; sometimes wondering ironically that this great truth never was discovered before; sometimes intimating that it does not amount to a great truth, because everybody knows all the truth there is in it. and governs himself accordingly. That Malthus actually stated all the truth there is in this, would never be suspected by a reader of George. 781b155fdc