Quote of the Day


“The mainstream Western religious tradition itself very firmly rests on and embraces reason and science.

“That tradition also insists that religious conviction and moral virtue must be adopted of one’s own free will, not imposed by force; and while it holds that some of the things people choose to do are morally unacceptable, secularists who also profess to believe that there is a difference between right and wrong, hold the same thing. The Protestant John Locke and the Catholic Second Vatican Council (to take just two examples) endorsed religious toleration and democracy, and on theological grounds at that, while secularists are none too happy with democracy when, say, it results in school boards that mandate the teaching of ‘Intelligent Design’ theory alongside evolution.

“So what, pray tell, is distinctively ‘secularist’ about reason, science, free choice, toleration, democracy, and the like? Nothing at all, as it happens. The fact is that secularists are ‘for’ reason and science only to the extent that they don’t lead to religious conclusions; they celebrate free choice only insofar as one chooses against traditional or religiously oriented morality; and they are for democracy and tolerance only to the extent that these might lead to a less religiously oriented social and political order. Again, the animus against religion is not merely a feature of the secularist mindset; it is the only feature.”

David Bentley Hart from ATHEIST DELUSIONS:

“I suspect that our contemporary ‘age of reason’ is in many ways an age of almost perfect unreason, one always precariously poised upon the edge of – and occasionally slipping over into – the purest barbarism.

“I suspect that, to a far greater degree than we typically might imagine, we have forsaken reason for magic: whether the magic of occult fantasy or the magic of an amoral idolatry of our own power over material reality. Reason, in the classical and Christian sense, is a whole way of life, not the simple and narrow mastery of certain techniques of material manipulation, and certainly not the childish certitude that such mastery proves that only material realities exist.

“A rational life is one that integrates knowledge into a larger choreography of virtue, imagination, patience, prudence, humility, and restraint. Reason is not only knowledge, but knowledge perfected in wisdom. In Christian tradition, reason was praised as a high and precious thing, primarily because it belonged intrinsically to the dignity of beings created in the divine image; and, this being so, it was assumed that reason is also always morality, and that charity is required for any mind to be fully rational.

“Even if one does not believe any of this, however, a rational life involves at least the ability to grasp what it is one does not know, and to recognize that what one does know may not be the only kind of genuine knowledge there is.”

For those of you unfamiliar with the name, Edward Feder is that most rare of rarae aves an atheist philosopher who talked himself into the Catholic faith merely by the power of philosophical argumentation.

He was dissatisfied with the naturalist account of certain philosophical problems (cf. if it were true that the cosmos is nothing but matter in motion, how could we ever be certain that this were so?) and slowly came to the conclusion that naturalism has no sound philosophical foundation.

Upon a second and more thorough examination of Aristotle and Aquinas during his maturity, he came to the conclusion that modern philosophy dismisses much of the classical tradition without understanding it (I can attest that this is true — someone on my blog recently dismissed Anselm’s ontological argument on the grounds that Hume had disproved it). Then he began to realize the arguments were stronger and sounder, once understood in context, than they are first appeared, and finally was shocked to find that the arguments were sound.

On the one hand, I am mildly surprised, because my own conversion was not through philosophical argumentation but by divine intervention; but on the other hand, I am not surprised at all, because the Catholic Church holds and teaches as a matter of doctrine that man can reason his way to believing those truths about God which do not require revelation to reveal, such as His benevolence, immaterial nature, unity and simplicity, providence, omniscience, omnipotence, and necessity.

I came across Mr Feser’s account of his road away from atheism here: