“I do not regard true philosophical atheism as an intellectually valid or even cogent position; in fact, I see it as a fundamentally irrational view of reality, which can be sustained only by a tragic absence of curiosity or a fervently resolute will to believe the absurd. More simply, I am convinced that the case for belief in God is inductively so much stronger than the case for unbelief that true philosophical atheism must be regarded as a superstition, often nurtured by an infantile wish to live in a world proportionate to one’s own hopes or conceptual limitations.
When I say that atheism is a kind of obliviousness to the obvious, I mean that if one understands what the actual philosophical definition of “God” is in most of the great religious traditions, and if consequently one understands what is logically entailed in denying that there is any God so defined, then one cannot reject the reality of God tout court without embracing an ultimate absurdity.
This, it seems to me, ought to be an essentially inoffensive assertion. The only fully consistent alternative to belief in God, properly understood, is some version of “materialism” or “physicalism” or (to use the term most widely preferred at present) “naturalism”; and naturalism – the doctrine that there is nothing apart from the physical order, and certainly nothing supernatural – is an incorrigibly incoherent concept, and one that is ultimately indistinguishable from pure magical thinking.
The very notion of nature as a closed system entirely sufficient to itself is plainly one that cannot be verified, deductively or empirically, from within the system of nature. It is a metaphysical (which is to say “extranatural”) conclusion regarding the whole of reality, which neither reason nor experience legitimately warrants. It cannot even define itself within the boundaries of its own terms, because the total sufficiency of ‘natural’ explanations is not an identifiable natural phenomenon but only an arbitrary judgment.”
– David Bentley Hart i The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss
“By the time Aquinas and the other Scholastics were done refining and drawing out the implications of the Aristotelian system, it was evident that it entailed nothing less than the entire conception of God enshrined in classical monotheism, the immortality of the soul, and the natural law system of morality. To acknowledge the truth of the Aristotelian metaphysical picture of the world is thus unavoidably to open the door to everything the Scholastics built on it. In short, Aristotle’s revenge is also Aquinas’ revenge; and for that reason alone, contemporary secular intellectuals cannot allow themselves to acknowledge it. For the project of the early moderns is their project too.
But that project is built on a lie. To quote a famous Confucian proverb, “When the finger points at the moon, the idiot looks at the finger.” The modern secularist is, as it were, positively fixated on the finger – unsurprising given that, if (as he falsely assumes) there really are no fixed natures and natural ends in the world, no formal and final causes, then nothing could naturally point beyond itself to anything else. In fact, the material world points beyond itself to God; but the secularist sees only the material world. The material side of human nature points beyond itself to an immaterial and immortal soul; the secularist sees only the brain and body. The sexual act points beyond itself to marriage and family; the secularist sees only the sexual act. And so on, and so on. What else can one say? It’s the moon, stupid.”
– Edward Feser i The Last Superstition
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