“Edward Feser: Scruton on the New Atheism”

Tom Gilson

Vice President for Strategic Services, Ratio Christi Lead Blogger at Thinking Christian Editor, True Reason BreakPoint Columnist

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4 Responses

  1. Holopupenko says:


    Somewhat off-topic: There’s another dimension to Feser’s “things will get much worse” point that I think is missed—one that connects back to all the discussions on this blog regarding moral relativism, the basis for an objective moral principles, as well as any objective basis for truth as such. In particular, I focus upon Feser’s point “any consistent development of [a mechanistic or anti-teleological] worldview necessarily undermines the very possibility of morality or rationality.” (The meaning of “mechanism” is in the physicalist or materialist sense: the only existents are material entities and their associated physical phenomena, which further means there is only one kind of existent; for those waiting to spring upon this, the so-called “greedy reductionism” is a non-starter because its terms aren’t properly defined, nor will I pursue such rubbish.) The anti-rationalism perspective of mechanism is particularly damning to secularists whose worldview is buoyed by the anti-scientific nonsense of materialism and yet claim to be “bright” or far more “reasonable” than any form of faith. But I digress…

    Here’s my point: St. Thomas, drawing upon St. Augustine, insists that we can do no good without grace. Being saved by grace—the central implication of the Christological confession of Philippians 2:11—means that every part of our being is saved: we are beings called to love God per Luke 10:27… including our minds! But without grace, we’re stuck flaying around with partially-true arguments and partially-good works not directed to our Summum Bonum. The latter, in St. Thomas’ words, means doing a good proportioned to our natures. Atheists and moral relativists can do good works, and they certainly do. BUT, especially for the latter, they can’t even properly and objectively call them goods. (What possibly could it mean—really—for a materialist or moral relativist to use terms such as “good”? It’s certainly not the silly idea of “desire utilitarianism” one of your readers suggested we could “mechanistically” [my term—harkening to the above] “certainly practice” [his term].) Moreover, we know God’s grace doesn’t destroy but rather perfects our natures, and it is only natures dwelling in His grace through faith that are able, to put it crudely, think straight and do good properly understood. St. Thomas does a much better job on this point here.

  2. Holopupenko says:


    My BIG Bad!! The beginning of the third sentence of the second paragraph of my last comment should read: “But without grace, we’re stuck flaying around…” Could you please correct that, Tom?

  3. Tom Gilson says:

    Got it. Thanks for the comments!

  4. Holopupenko says:

    One more point on why the deep anti-rationalism of atheists and their variously-related friends that flock together are dangerous to humanity: We have a shared psychology, a shared spirituality, a common humanity… find a creature that cannot be appealed to at that level, and the best explanation is that such a creature is not the product of a different culture, but that it is incomplete in its humanity or defective in its humanity or outside the natural order of that humanity: insane, profoundly retarded, too young, in a drunken stupor, in a drug-induced state, or having sustained a traumatic injury rendering him insensate,… or an atheist. But find a mature critically-thinking adult, healthy anywhere and everywhere in the world, and that human being (in virtue of being a rational being) will recognize certain precepts as being unchallengeable, the truth of them will be evident on their first expression. Were it otherwise, it would be impossible even to enter into trade, even to summon sufficient credulity to enter into any transaction, to believe that the party on the other side will fulfill the terms of any agreement. In order for reward and punishment and the rule of law to make any sense at all, one must be dealing with someone who recognizes himself as having the ability to do or forebear from doing certain things on the basis of a principle that acted upon might result in a reward or punishment. Heterogeneity of cultural difference does not extend to rationality itself… except in the case of atheists, naturalists, multiculturalists, moral and epistemological relativists, postmodernists, etc. One cannot truly reason with such ideologically-burdened persons because they undermine reason itself. Aristotle knew this 2,400 years ago, and his advice was to walk away from and ignore such lunacy.

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