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The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism [NOOK Book]

Overview

The central contention of the “New Atheism” of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens is that there has for several centuries been a war between science and religion, that religion has been steadily losing that war, and that at this point in human history a completely secular scientific account of the world has been worked out in such thorough and convincing detail that there is no longer any reason why a rational and educated person should find ...
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The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism

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Overview

The central contention of the “New Atheism” of Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens is that there has for several centuries been a war between science and religion, that religion has been steadily losing that war, and that at this point in human history a completely secular scientific account of the world has been worked out in such thorough and convincing detail that there is no longer any reason why a rational and educated person should find the claims of any religion the least bit worthy of attention.
     But as Edward Feser argues in The Last Superstition, 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” vision of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, 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 it happens, on the classical teleological 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.
     Yet this modern “mechanical” picture has never been established by science, and cannot be, for it is not a scientific theory in the first place but merely a philosophical interpretation of science. Moreover, as Feser shows, the philosophical arguments in its favor given by the early modern philosophers were notable only for being surprisingly weak.
      However, not only is this modern philosophical picture rationally unfounded, it is demonstrably false. For the “mechanical” conception of the natural world, when worked
out consistently, absurdly entails that rationality, and indeed the human mind itself, is illusory. The so-called “scientific worldview” championed by the New Atheists thus inevitably undermines its own rational foundations; and into the bargain (and contrary to the moralistic posturing of the New Atheists) it undermines the foundations of any possible morality as well. By contrast, and as The Last Superstition demonstrates, the classical teleological picture of nature can be seen to find powerful confirmation in developments from contemporary philosophy, biology, and physics; moreover, morality and reason itself cannot possibly be made sense of apart from it.  The teleological vision of the ancients and medievals is thereby rationally vindicated – and with it the religious worldview they based upon it.
     Winner of the 2008 Book of the Year in Religion from ForeWord Magazine and the only 2008 Editors’ Choice for Religion from the American Library Association’s Booklist, The Last Superstition remains the most cogent and powerful refutation of the New Atheism extent.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781587314537
  • Publisher: St. Augustine's Press
  • Publication date: 8/15/2012
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 175,296
  • File size: 537 KB

Meet the Author

Called by National Review “one of the best contemporary writers on philosophy,” Edward Feser teaches philosophy at Pasadena City College in Pasadena, California. He is the author of On Nozick, Philosophy of Mind: A Short Introduction, and Locke, and editor of The Cambridge Companion to Hayek. He has also written for such publications as City Journal, Crisis, National Review, and New Oxford Review.
 

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Table of Contents


Table of Contents
1. Bad Religion
The "New Atheism"
The old philosophy
The abuse of science
Religion and counter-religion
Things to come
2. Greeks Bearing Gifts
From Thales to Socrates
Plato's Theory of Forms
Realism, nominalism, and conceptualism
Aristotle's metaphysics
A. Actuality and potentiality
B. Form and matter
C. The four causes
3. Getting Medieval
What Aquinas didn't say
The existence of God
A. The Unmoved Mover
B. The First Cause
C. The Supreme Intelligence
4. Scholastic Aptitude
The soul
Natural law
Faith, reason, and evil
5. Descent of the Modernists
Pre-birth of the modern
Thoroughly modern metaphysics
Inventing the mind-body problem
Universal acid
A. The problem of skepticism
B. The problem of induction
C. Personal identity
D. Free will
E. Natural rights
F. Morality in general
Back to Plato's cave
6. Aristotle's Revenge
How to lose your mind
The lump under the rug
Irreducible teleology
A. Biological phenomena
B. Complex inorganic systems
C. Basic laws of nature
It's the moon, stupid
Notes
Index
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