Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Apologia interview

I am interviewed at some length in the Spring 2016 issue of The Dartmouth Apologia on the subjects of Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysics, classical theism, and related matters.  You can read the interview and the rest of the issue here.  And while you’re at it, check out the Apologia’s main website, where you’ll find past interviews and other features from the magazine.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Spiering on Neo-Scholastic Essays

In the March 2016 issue of The Review of Metaphysics, philosopher Jamie Spiering reviews my book Neo-Scholastic Essays.  From the review:

Feser has found that Aristotelian-Thomistic teaching is a strong, coherent system that can provide clarity and answers in vexing contemporary debates… Feser writes admirably, with a clear, direct style that is polemical but not uncharitable or contentious… These would make excellent texts to offer to students... The clarity may also be appreciated by professional readers as a refreshing change from the sometimes fusty level of detail in recent work on natural theology -- instead, Feser allows us to refocus on perennial issues…

Feser has a gift for seeing the heart of a problem, as well as a gift for clear expression and high-quality, fair polemic -- these factors, together, offer the best reasons to read anything written by him, and this work is no exception.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Craig on divine simplicity and theistic personalism

A number of readers have called my attention to a recent podcast during which William Lane Craig is asked for his opinion about theistic personalism, the doctrine of divine simplicity, and what writers like David Bentley Hart and me have said about these topics.  (You can find the podcast at Craig’s website, and also at YouTube.)  What follows are some comments on the podcast.  Let me preface these remarks by saying that I hate to disagree with Craig, for whom I have the greatest respect.  It should also be kept in mind, in fairness to Craig, that his remarks were made in an informal conversational context, and thus cannot reasonably be expected to have the precision that a more formal, written treatment would exhibit.

Having said that…

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Review of Hart

My review of David Bentley Hart’s The Experience of God appears in Pro Ecclesia, Vol. XXV, No. 1 (the Winter 2016 issue).  (Yes, the book has been out for a while, but the review was written almost a year ago.  The review doesn’t seem to be online at the moment, unfortunately.)

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Lofter is the best medicine

New Atheist pamphleteer John Loftus is like a train wreck orchestrated by Zeno of Elea: As Loftus rams headlong into the devastating objections of his critics, the chassis, wheels, gears, and passenger body parts that are the contents of his mind proceed through ever more thorough stages of pulverization.  And yet somehow, the grisly disaster just never stops.  Loftus continues on at full speed, tiny bits of metal and flesh reduced to even smaller bits, and those to yet smaller ones, ad infinitum.  You feel you ought to turn away in horror, but nevertheless find yourself settling back, metaphysically transfixed and reaching for the Jiffy Pop.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

The smell of the sheep (Updated)

Being insulted by the pop atheist writer John Loftus is, to borrow Denis Healey’s famous line, like being savaged by a dead sheep.  It is hard to imagine that a human being could be more devoid of argumentative or polemical skill.  Commenting on my recent First Things exchange with atheist philosopher Keith Parsons, Loftus expresses bafflement at Parsons’ preference for the Old Atheism over the New Atheism.  Unable to see any good reason for it, Loftus slyly concludes: “Keith Parsons is just old.  That explains why he favors the Old Atheism.”  He also suggests that Parsons simply likes the attention Christians give him.

Well, as longtime readers of this blog will recall from his sometimes bizarre combox antics, Loftus certainly knows well the reek of attention-seeking desperation.  Sadly, being John Loftus, he tends to misidentify its source.

Friday, April 1, 2016

A note on falsification

Antony Flew’s famous 1950 article “Theology and Falsification” posed what came to be known as the “falsificationist challenge” to theology.  A claim is falsifiable when it is empirically testable -- that is to say, when it makes predictions about what will be observed under such-and-such circumstances such that, if the predictions don’t pan out, the claim is thereby shown to be false.  The idea that a genuinely scientific claim must be falsifiable had already been given currency by Karl Popper.  Flew’s aim was to apply it to a critique of such theological claims as the thesis that God loves us.  No matter what sorts of evil and suffering occur in the world, the theologian does not give up the claim that God loves us.  But then, what, in that case, does the claim actually amount to?  And why should we accept the claim?  Flew’s challenge was to get the theologian to specify exactly what would have to happen in order for the theologian to give up the claim that God loves us, or the claim that God exists.