Sunday, November 27, 2011

TLS on radio

I’ll be on the Catholic Answers Live radio show tomorrow at 7 pm ET to discuss The Last Superstition.  (You might be able to find podcasts of earlier radio interviews by following the links you’ll find here, though I believe most of them are no longer available.)

UPDATE: The podcast is now available here.

166 comments:

Anonymous said...

Anyone wondering why Truth Over Faith has changed his name need only check out Vox Day's takedown of him. It's funny, really. He was humiliated so much that other atheists pretty much disowned him, so now he's changing his name.

It won't be long before someone outs his actual email and RL name. He's not exactly bright.

Anonymous said...

Incidentally, you just have to google around a little bit to find out who he is. For one thing, he's a vegan, so you just know he's completely, utterly out of his gourd. (Get it?)

I'll understand if you delete all these, Ed, but the vegan's recent name change really indicates that VD struck a nerve with him.

Anonymous said...

Well, the thing with TruthOverfaith aka kilo papa is that he's incredibly predictable and boring. You'd expect a normal person to make at least a single funny joke, but he's so dim-witted that reposting the same thing (usually some silliness regarding Christ or the Immaculate Conception) on a dozen blogs every night is the best thing he can do.

He probably thinks that he's some sort of master troll who makes those little xians cry with his oh so blasphemous posts, when in reality people just click on the "delete icon" and go on with their lives while he spends the rest of his life playing video games and sipping Mt. Dew in his parents' basement.

Anonymous said...

Veganism = zero testosterone.

Anonymous said...

"Jesus was a vegan!!!!"

Sure, the sort of vegan who eats and distributes fish for meals, disposes of pigs. That sort of vegan.

So, what are your thoughts on animal testing, TruthOverFaith? Me, I'm all in favor of it, being a Christian who supports science. And of course I enjoyed a delicious chicken fried chicken tonight.

By the way, I loved this one:

"I am vegan because animals do not belong to us. They have lives and feelings just like people do, and it is cruel to use them in such a way for our own benefit.
Also, humans are not supposed to eat meat. Our bodies are not designed to digest meat. Our teeth are not designed properly and our digestive system is 10x less acidic than a carnivore's because they need more acid to digest flesh. Starch digestion begins in our mouths and in a carnivore, digestion doesn't start until the food gets to the small intestine."

L O L. We are not designed properly to eat meat because (random "fact" he heard on a PETA site). Science, ladies and gentlemen.

Truth over faith. Oh the irony. ;)

Anonymous said...

So is it impossible for a blogger to ban IP addresses?

Anonymous said...

All I want to know is: if we tune in, will Ed's voice turn out to be disappointingly different from how we've imagined it??

Anonymous said...

What do you mean, Anon @8:57? He's on YouTube.

Anonymous said...

Better not to tune in, in case he sounds different to the way I imagine him to sound. Yo, transcript any1?

Anonymous said...

TruthoverFaith should take on Maddox, the internet guy who dislikes vegans.

man with a computer said...

These podcasts are somewhat underrated. But going on the media is a great way of popularizing the books.

Now that I see that LvM Institute podcast, I wonder if Feser has considered working on a book on politics/political economy vis-a-vis Catholic Social Thought and Natural Law.

There's so much to write about.

BeingItself said...

Listening to the first hour prior to Feser. What a bunch of superstitious non-sense. Exorcisms? Are you kidding me? Is this Catholicism?

Josh said...

About to tune in! Good luck!

Brian said...

"What a bunch of superstitious non-sense. Exorcisms? Are you kidding me? Is this Catholicism?"

What do you mean? How could you be surprised? Exorcism is simply a part of Christianity - Christ performed more exorcisms in the New Testament than any other miracle... combined. The Rite of Exorcism is, I believe, a sacrament.

How is that superstitious, though? Are you aware that superstition is actually a sin, prohibited by the Church? Maybe you are so psychologically predisposed toward atheism that you, when you encounter something that does not fit your view, you think it "supertitious."

Anonymous said...

LMAO, why is Sean loincloth being giving so much time to get on a soapbox instead of philosophical arguments.

awatkins69 said...

Shawn stole all my time...

How about that moral argument, professor?

Edward Feser said...

Hey Alfredo,

I wondered if that was you. There is this post from a few months ago:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/07/does-morality-depend-on-god.html

Did you have a question I don't address there?

faris said...

Excellent interview, Dr Phasor

Too much time for the tedious lawyer, not enough philosophy. Maybe you will be on again?

awatkins69 said...

Haha, yeah, they got me in and out pretty quick there! Well, I wasn't even planning on getting into this on a general radio show, but since there is a little more room here, do you think we can posit a more close connection between morality via the doctrine of the eternal law?

I was reading Jacques Maritain, and he says that because all law is a promulgation of reason, that therefore there must be an eternal reason behind the eternal law; and since the natural law is nothing more than our participation in the eternal law, there must be some Reason behind the natural law. This seems to make the connection more direct. What do you think about this? Can the atheist still have the content and objective moral values without their having the force of law?

Also, when the host was refuting Shawn by implying his atheism couldn't ground morality. It seems certainly compassion, which is an emotion, cannot, though maybe reason can if understood in a Thomistic sense. Would you basically disagree with the host's point?

The link helps though, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Feser, I was wondering you if or anyone for that matter how to listen to the radio interview that he did tonight? Thanks! -Varin

Anonymous said...

Dr "Phasor".... hehe. :) Cool nick.

The Deuce said...

Hi Dr. Feser,

I wasn't able to listen to it live last night, so I figured I'd do it this morning. Unfortunately, they don't appear to have put the podcast up for download at the show's page here: http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/deconstructing-atheism-6393

Do you know if they're planning to? I was really looking forward to it.

Anonymous said...

HI Ed,

I'm a big fan of yours and have 3 of your books. While listening to the show and your appropriate criticism of Dawkins' unwillingness to publicly debate prominent philosophy of religion scholars like Craig I began wondering when we might get the pleasure of hearing you enter the verbal debating ring. I'd love to see you take down Dawkins.

Is this something you are considering doing anytime soon?

Alyosha said...

The Deuce,

I missed the live program too, and must wait for the podcast to be released. I'm not sure how it has been lately, but in the past it has taken them a couple of days to post them. It should be up soon.

Pattsce said...

It's up at

http://www.catholic.com/radio/shows/deconstructing-atheism-6393#

by the way. Click on "Listen" or "Download" at the top there. Phazor.

The Deuce said...

Listening to it now.

So, how long does this Shawn guy get to keep deconstructing himself? Non-stop question-begging and wholly emotional argumentation (which he seems to think are transmogrified into rational arguments by attaching the label "reason" to them). "Ed, how dare you be so mean as to assume that Christianity is true and other religions are false, unlike atheists like me who are compassionate enough to realize that all religions are false and atheism is true?"

I've said it before, but I consider the prevalence of this sort of atheist, and their thinly disguised motivations, to be auxiliary evidence for God.

Josh said...

Boy, who was the real guest on the show?

DNW said...

Ok,

I listened to about two thirds of the show and finally gave up when the host refused to hold Sean's feet to the fire and require him lay out the logic of how exactly it is that "reason" inexorably leads to Sean's "moral imperative" of inclusiveness and compassion.

Instead Sean was allowed to jabber mindlessly on like some atheist Thomas Gumbleton (if that is not already an example of a definite description) about wanting a gentle world, one of inclusion and legal recognition and yada yada yada ... All of which of course implies - "policy-wise" don't you know - the imposition of a concomitant yoke of legal obligations and cost sharing sacrifice on those who do not stand to benefit either directly or indirectly; and their additional acceptance for no good reason of life interfering policies laid on everyone who might be unfortunate enough to be called upon to underwrite Sean's play-world goal of a reality gentle enough to suit, well, Sean.

Why, to hear Sean talk, you would think that there is some kind of actually existing essential human nature which some sky god demands that we all recognize; and that as a result of that, a social hygiene policy of say, foresightedly aborting certain "gay" fetuses, might somehow be an objectively less moral choice than politically paying for the medical costs of their dysfunction later.

I guess gentleness is the point at which logical reduction properly ceases and everyone is expected to genuflect?

So, no kudos to the host. Despite his superficially even-tempered tones and his noises about keeping things on topic, he allowed Sean's attacks on Catholicism to throw him, and to divert him from the task of forcing Sean to logically justify the airy-fairy moral predicates he was bandying about.

The host should have done so.

Or at least allowed Edward Feser the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

Sean (aka Dawkins Jr. of the Richard Dawkins Foundation) went on and on about compassion, rightness, and moral imperatives. But surely he must be aware of his leader's famous words:

"The universe we observe has precisely the properties we should expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference." - Richard Dawkins

What kind of foundation is this for the aforementioned trio? On what basis does Dawkins brand Craig's views as morally repugnant, vilify him in the press, and then duck the debate?

Are these people as dishonest as they seem, or is it just sheer cognitive incapacity?

TimL said...

This Shawn guy is embarrassing himself.
He knows what he's doing - rapid fire objections hoping that none can be addressed.

I like how he says "I'm such a happy guy" but immediately gets boiled when he thinks he's being ignored and constantly butts in.

Crude said...

I like how he says "I'm such a happy guy" but immediately gets boiled when he thinks he's being ignored and constantly butts in.

Whenever atheists of the Cult of Gnu strain start to go off on how happy they are (at least in response to the "maybe the guy who is constantly ranting, cursing, and fuming about religion isn't very happy" charge), it always seems as legitimate as Ren's happiness.

TimL said...

Shawn "I'm Such a Happy, Sneering, Condescending, Interrupting, Argumentative" Guy

Anonymous said...

Thank you for bringing up what should be an incredibly obvious point by now: IF Richard Dawkins were the bastion of rationality and open-mindedness that he espouses as some natural outcome of his atheism, why oh why is he so unwilling to deal with WLC? after all, he's dealt with the greatest classical philosophers of all time in a mere few pages of one book. What is one more philosopher to refute with such ease, right?

...right?

Is this guy seriously a representative of the Richard Dawkins foundation? To an extent, I would consider it an improvement over its founder, but still, it baffles the mind...

TimL said...

Maybe it's just me.... but I think it's a good thing when people like Shawn rant and rave on.
You want to alienate listeners, even ones who might have been sympathetic to your plea, start pounding that podium.... hop from topic to topic in rapid succession, emit a sneering chuckle whenever you hear something you don't like.

Listening to Shawn is like a kid dry humping his first girlfriend. It's awkward, ugly and a jumbled mess.

man with a computer said...

Manuel Noriega, the former dictator of Panama, used to slash the podium with a machete after finishing his speeches.

I think that's a good analogy for what this guy is doing.

James Drake said...

I enjoyed very much what I was able to hear of Ed. I had to catch it on the podcast because of a conflict or I would have called in, and tried to urge the call screener to pass a note to the host that Sean needed to get the boot quite a bit sooner.

Felix said...

This was an disappointing radio interview. I was expecting Prof Feser to talk more about the book, it's underlying themes, and maybe even some of his reflections in debates with atheists or his blog in general. Instead a whole chunk of the hour was taken up by that idiot Sean who jumped from one argument to another and avoiding the question (which was at the end, never really answered). The show was barely saved from the point where Prof Feser started talking about the multiverse. But the show lived up to its title: "Deconstructing atheism", which Sean, not Prof Feser, did a sterling job of.

Aquinas3000 said...

Oh dear, don't tell me you are a fan of Austro Libertarian economics Ed! Oh well that youtube video is six years old so perhaps it is out of date.

Will said...

It was a shame that Sean used the program as a soap box for 'Why Catholicism is nonsense' rather than demonstrating that atheism, and in particular the the atheism of Dawkins and his own atheism was/is defensible. All he managed to do was bluster about how Craig is a genocidal maniac and how moral and happy he was/is as a 'non-religious' person. I wish though the topic could have been more strictly 'Deconstructing Atheism' rather than the bluster of this Dawkinsian moron, but still we still have TLS and Aquinas, which do that masterfully.

Tom Esteban said...

That was disappointing. I love Catholic Answers Live and it was me who requested through Patrick that Dr.Feser get on the show - but that was a terrible show. I don't have a clue why Sean was allowed to ramble on and on and on and on with his red herrings and fallacies. I was expecting Dr.Feser to jump in and tell him off for expecting to get by with such poor arguing. Sean's entire time was absolutely stunning though as an example of what kind of rubbish atheists go through in order to get the slightest advantage. Hop-skipping-jumping from one point to another, all the while question begging like there's no tomorrow. I loved how almost every defense of his own position was "my position is xyz because it is reasonable".

As for his reason why Dawkins wont debate Craig? Pathetic.

"Why should I be up on stage with someone who thinks genocide is okay?"

What rubbish. Honestly, if he believes that himself he is deluded. That is a schoolboy argument at best; at worst he is an idiot for the argument that Dawkins and Craig would get into would be precisely centered on whether or not God killing anybody is justifiable which itself hinges on whether or not the Christian God exists.

That was a painful radio show. I honestly believe I could take Sean on in a debate not only because he doesn't know much at all but because he argues like a typical 16 year old angry atheist on the internet. It is boring, and it's becoming a meme.

Will said...

Over on RichardDawkins.net they're all given Sean the high five for putting down so 'brilliantly' those 'so called former atheist', intolerant, Catholics who can only appeal to authority. (Does that sound familiar? Edward's arguments against atheists or in favour of the five ways are ONLY appeals to authority, just like ALL catholics only ever appeal to authority (it's not appealing to authority some how when you cite Dawkins as the bastion of reason, or if lots of modern philosopher's don't believe in God)).

The combox is full of personal attacks on Edward and also strangely the same sense of disappointment at the lack of substance in the show. They don't seem to realise that the lack of substance was Sean's own pathetic attempts at arguing, and his shifting around. They're complaint over a RD.net is that Edward never addressed all the myriad of stupid assertions on the part of Sean. But if Sean had in fact kept to the point (is new atheism in particular justified in its own smug, self-satisfied, sanctimonious stance) we might have had a substantive hour.

I almost thought about signing on to rebut these guys but there's little point. They just can't or don't understand Edward's main thesis viz. that the new atheist project is riddled with philosophical flaws that a freshman in his first philosophy class can refute, let alone professional philosopher's of religion. That stupid refutations like 'What caused God?', or 'What about an evil god' or 'The Catholic church is just like Herr Himmler', are just not going to cut it as serious arguments against classical theism.

BeingItself said...

Why do Edward Feser and others here want Dawkins to debate WLC on the existence of god?

After all, Feser's god and Craig's god are different (imaginary) beings.

Suppose Craig 'won' the debate. That would do nothing to bolster the likely existence of Feser's god. In fact, it would undermine it.

Alyosha said...

Just listened to it. Sean's contribution was disappointing. One aspect of the New Atheist psyche that I think has received too little recognition, could be legitimately called philosophical mooching.

He seems to think that he can call into a program, shotgun them with questions and accusations which cannot be adequately addressed in the given context, and then act like they owe him an explanation, all while refusing to address the questions posed to him. It's a form of passive intellectualism coupled with an entitlement complex.

He must exert no mental effort of his own to answer other's questions or defend his own position. Apparently, we are to accept it as the default. So, he can doubt and call it "intelligence". He can make bald assertions and call them "sophisticated responses". He can insult and call it "realism".

But, what is interesting is that everyone else must bear the weight of proof and rebuttal. He assumes his position is default, but no one else can. He will not answer questions posed to him, but he claims that his questions should be answered. He will neither provide proof nor refute argument, but you are to provide proofs for every question that crosses his mind and refute every bald assertion he makes.

They are not intellectuals, because they cannot bear the burden of engaging their opponents intellectually.

They are moochers, because their opponents are expected to fill a void which they have left.

Alyosha said...

BeingItself,

Why do Edward Feser and others here want Dawkins to debate WLC on the existence of god?

A couple of reasons. 1) it would unmask Dawkins' for a sham. 2) Some of us wonder why Dawkins is "refuting" cosmological arguments when, by his own account, he has never even heard of its most prominent contemporary proponents(Such as WLC). 3) it would just be fun.

Suppose Craig 'won' the debate. That would do nothing to bolster the likely existence of Feser's god. In fact, it would undermine it.

Not at all. I guarantee you, dear one, that Craig schooling Dawkins in a debate wouldn't even touch classical theism. Let alone undermine it. Just because Craig's position is more robust and coherent than Dawkins' doesn't mean that it is altogether true! I dare say, we classical theists would enjoy the debate and carry on as usual.

Edward Feser said...

I had no idea until the last minute either who Faircloth was or that he had been invited on the show. It soon became clear that the guy didn't know what the hell he was talking abut -- note e.g. his painfully inept comments on mechanism -- couldn't stick to the point, and couldn't give an argument (as opposed to a battery of mere assertions) to save his life. He's merely a political hack and really had no business being on a show purportedly devoted to philosophy. I might as well have been "debating" Paris Hilton.

The most I could do was try to steer him back to the subject at hand, i.e. atheism vs. theism. Which, of course, he wouldn't stick to. Since he'd been invited by Catholic Answers Live and I wasn't the host, I'm afraid I couldn't do anything about it, sorry.

Edward Feser said...

Oh dear, don't tell me you are a fan of Austro Libertarian economics Ed! Oh well that youtube video is six years old so perhaps it is out of date.

Well, as you probably know, I haven't been a libertarian for a long time. But even when I was I never bought the Mises/Rothbard line. I was more of a Hayekian.

Charlie 2na said...

The host really should have put a fork in Shawn. It was clear that he had no intention of discussing anything. He wanted to throw a few sucker punches and then sprint from the ring.

It actually was a pretty bad show. I credit the host for giving the opposing view some time but all of the time? Shawn went on more than Feser was able to.

And for such a happy atheist he sure seemed pretty jumpy and mouthy.

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody, I got the opportunity to finally listen to the radio program with Dr. Feser and I must say that the debate as to turned out to be between him and Shawn Faircloth was amusing yet also tedious simultaneously because of how much time he got over making statements of a rhetorical nature than directly addressing the question posed by Feser about why Dawkins wouldn't debate Craig. Also I wondered as to why they had a lawyer of all people to represent the Dawkins Foundation than someone who was actually well-versed in the topic? Just amazing, plain and simple. -Varin

BeingItself said...

Alyosha,

My bad. I foolishly assumed that your desire for a WLC vs Dawkins debate had something to do with truth.

-------

I agree that Sean Faircloth was clueless and embarrassing in this situation. I blame the host. Faircloth is a politician and a lawyer. He is not an intellectual. His role in the secular movement has been one of a cheerleader and fundraiser.

Anonymous said...

I now know for sure who Faircloth was, here is his info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sean_Faircloth -Varin

DNW said...

Edward Feser said...

I had no idea until the last minute either who Faircloth was or that he had been invited on the show. It soon became clear that the guy didn't know what the hell he was talking abut -- note e.g. his painfully inept comments on mechanism -- couldn't stick to the point, and couldn't give an argument (as opposed to a battery of mere assertions) to save his life. He's merely a political hack and really had no business being on a show purportedly devoted to philosophy. I might as well have been "debating" Paris Hilton.

The most I could do was try to steer him back to the subject at hand, i.e. atheism vs. theism. Which, of course, he wouldn't stick to. Since he'd been invited by Catholic Answers Live and I wasn't the host, I'm afraid I couldn't do anything about it, sorry.
November 30, 2011 8:40 AM "


That's another thing ... or two. Who was the guest? Was there one or were there two?

It seems to me that there was much more that might have interestingly been said about the assumptions and the "logic" of mechanism, the epistemic incoherence of positivism, and the lack of critical thought that characterizes atheistic humanism, or sentientism, or whatever the hell it is that the mystery religion variety of atheists embrace.

Instead we see that the supposed guest is introduced to a surprise guest, who then launches off on a puling spiel seemingly inspired by the sentiments famously expressed by Rorty in "Universality and Truth", and widely reproduced his wiki entry.


"The fundamentalist parents of our fundamentalist students think that the entire ‘American liberal establishment’ is engaged in a conspiracy. The parents have a point. ... we liberal teachers no more feel in a symmetrical communication situation when we talk with bigots than do kindergarten teachers talking with their students ... When we American college teachers encounter religious fundamentalists, we do not consider the possibility of reformulating our own practices of justification so as to give more weight to the authority of the Christian scriptures. Instead, we do our best to convince these students of the benefits of secularization. ...So we are going to go right on trying to discredit you in the eyes of your children, trying to strip your fundamentalist religious community of dignity, trying to make your views seem silly rather than discussable. We are not so inclusivist as to tolerate intolerance such as yours ... I don’t see anything herrschaftsfrei [domination free] about my handling of my fundamentalist students. Rather, I think those students are lucky to find themselves under the benevolent Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, and to have escaped the grip of their frightening, vicious, dangerous parents ... I am just as provincial and contextualist as the Nazi teachers who made their students read Der Stürmer; the only difference is that I serve a better cause.”

While Sean's view of "science" might well be different from Rorty's, his approach to truth and human solidarity or social gentleness and inclusion, whatever that is supposed to be or based upon, looks to be practically the same; and with as little theoretical justifiability.

A philosopher might have effectively picked up on that, responded to it. If the host of the show had done his job and given the real guest, the chance of doing so.

Alyosha said...

BeingItself,

My bad. I foolishly assumed that your desire for a WLC vs Dawkins debate had something to do with truth.

And it does. It has everything to do with it. I said that it would unmask Dawkins for a sham, but that just is a matter of getting to the truth... publicly.

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

>My bad. I foolishly assumed that your desire for a WLC vs Dawkins debate had something to do with truth.

I reply: Let me be the first to say the reason for debating Dawkins was he would have been easy prey for Craig. He is an idiot. He can refute anti-Evolutionary Young Earth Creationism. That is his skill set. Nothing more.

Of course I have no sympathy for him either. If I was incompetent in the area of evolutionary biology but went acting like I knew what I was talking about and attack evolution. Became popular. An expert like Dawkins would be well within his rights to debate me and Pimp slap my arse into the middle of next week.

If not for the sake of Evolutionists but for that of thoughtful and principle critics of some aspects of Evolutionary theory(like Atheist Jerry Foder).

Charlatan Atheist my be good in the short run for their cause but in the long run they are more a liability then a help.

Same for us Theists.

>I agree that Sean Faircloth was clueless and embarrassing in this situation. I blame the host.

At the risk of getting all Star Wars geeky. You have just taken your first step into a larger world.

If you can't believe in God at least believe in & use Reason. It's close.

Charlie 2na said...

Hi BeingItself,
If WLC were to debate Dawkins and win would it really matter for you?
I know you're saying "well, what would it matter for a classical theist?".
But, regardless if Feser or WLC were to debate and beat Dawkins it wouldn't impact you.

And rightfully so, your belief or lack of belief is probably not the product of two people arguing the topic. It's more than likely the result of extensive thought and reading on the topic.

Your belief is hopefully not the result of a shoddy apologetic from Dawkins. Let Dawkins get exposed and embarrassed in debate. The point is that while you may have very valid reasons for your belief.... Dawkins, based off of his own words, does not.

The Deuce said...

I liked how Shawn started off complaining about Ed saying that atheists have a mechanistic view of the world. What next? Are atheists going to start complaining about people accusing them of not believing in God?

BeingItself said...

Ben says:

"If you can't believe in God at least believe in & use Reason."

I would believe in a god if compelling evidence or a good argument were available.

But I think your comment exposes what is the core error made by you and Feser. Human beings are not "the rational animal". If there is a capital 'R' thing called Reason, it's certainly not available to me or you.

There are better and worse ways to reason, however.

If you really care that your beliefs accurately map reality, then you need a reliable method to construct that map. For a start, try reading Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Anonymous said...

BeingItself: "I would believe in a god if compelling evidence or a good argument were available."

What would you consider a good argument or compelling evidence?

BeingItself said...

If during my evening stroll the stars rearranged to say "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son", that would surely give me pause and make me re-think my worldview. Of course, the new positions of the stars would have to be corroborated by other people and astronomers.

Or suppose my arms and legs were amputated, and then after praying to Yahweh my arms and legs grew back. That would be evidence that there might be something to the Yahweh story.

But, as you know nothing like this has ever happened. But keep hope alive!

Edward Feser said...

A philosopher might have effectively picked up on that, responded to it. If the host of the show had done his job and given the real guest, the chance of doing so.

Well, if I had been debating someone like Rorty -- an actual philosopher or intellectual of some sort, capable of making an argument -- then we could have had an exchange of the sort you're describing. But with Faircloth it would have been a waste of time even if I had had 20 minutes to reply, because there were no arguments to respond to. There was just an endless stream of "Why Catholicism, what about Judaism, what about Hinduism, it's not nice to say they're wrong, what about abortion, what about homophobia, what about oppressing women, what about Craig's defense of genocide, what about how happy we atheists are, what about what about what about..."

How is one supposed to respond to such a barrage of drivel? And in such a short space? Launch into a mini lecture on natural law theory, or comparative religions, or biblical exegesis, or what have you, and try to apply it to some substantial claim you could pull out of Faircloth's ramblings before he interrupts yet again with some other sweeping statement out of left field?

In fairness to the host, I think that that is precisely why he let Faircloth ramble on. Any rational listener could see that Faircloth was just making more of a fool of himself the longer he talked. But yes, there is a point of diminishing returns.

Alyosha said...

I also think we should not be too hard on the host. He did try multiple times to keep Faircloth on topic. Personally, I would have cut his mic at some point. But I think Patrick did try to make it clear that Faircloth was rambling and the conversation needed to get back on topic.

BenYachov said...

>Or suppose my arms and legs were amputated, and then after praying to Yahweh my arms and legs grew back. That would be evidence that there might be something to the Yahweh story.

As Eric Retain once said that wouldn't prove God at all.

I agree & I may grace you with the reason later if I get bored with FALLOUT NEW VEGAS.

Tom Esteban said...

Gotta love Patrick, I think perhaps some are right, that he was letting him ramble on just to make a point. A brilliant move; but sad, because I had hoped to hear more of Dr.Feser.

I guess it all started off badly when Sean said that he rejects the idea that the atheist metaphysical worldview is mechanistic because he "is happy". He honestly believed that Dr.Fesers point about the atheist metaphysical position being mechanistic meant that atheists in their daily lives are robotic. When I heard that I knew it was all downhill. One might as well say "I refute your charge that theism is teleological, because today I got up and didn't know what I wanted to do with myself!". Amateurish.

Dr.Feser showed great patience. Sean introduced about 10 unrelated topics. It was as if he was a 19 year old who just read Dawkins book and some anti-Catholic Jack Chick tracts and wanted to air all his thoughts in one go and say "Answer that!". And the sad thing is that he truly believes that something quite seperate, like, for instance, the Papacy, is related to the existence of God.

If I called into a show with Dawkins and said, "Yes, but answer me this if you think God doesn't exist: why do you drive a Ford?" I would expect Dawkins to laugh at me. Then again, I did read parts of his book, so I am not sure about that.

The Deuce said...

Being:

Human beings are not "the rational animal". If there is a capital 'R' thing called Reason, it's certainly not available to me or you.

There are better and worse ways to reason, however.

If you really care that your beliefs accurately map reality, then you need a reliable method to construct that map.


This is contradictory. The only way to tease apart "better" ways of reasoning that "accurately map reality" from "worse" ones that don't is to (*drom roll please*) use reason to tease them apart - which implies that we already have a capacity (Let's call it "reason" - capitalize it if you like) that is geared towards the pursuit of truth (aka mapping reality), and that we are therefore the rational animal. To even be able to read a book like "Thinking, Fast and Slow" and to be able to recognize its claims and advice as valid, sound, and objectively conducive to right thinking about reality implies that we already have the ability to do so. We have biases and other things that tend to obstruct the proper use of reason, which we frequently must recognize and compensate for in order to use it reliably, but there would be no way to do so if we did not possess it.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

I did not say those two experiences would 'prove' that there is a god. Rather, they would constitute compelling evidence that would shift my current position on the likelihood of a god-like being existing.

BeingItself said...

The Deuce,

At no point did I say or imply that humans are unable to reason.

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

Then you are going to have to learn philosophy to explain what you mean by "Human beings are not "the rational animal". If there is a capital 'R' thing called Reason, it's certainly not available to me or you."

Otherwise you are just spouting ambiguous platitudes that have no content.

There have been reported miracles at Lourdes of a woman growing back her whole face and one with a limb that was hanging on by thin bit skin that completely healed.

One guy in the middle ages who hacked off his leg by accident and prayed and had it reattached.

Of course the GOD HATES AMPUTEES Cult of the GNU moves the goal post from "There is no reports of God healing amputees thus he hates them" to "Those are fake! So why doesn't God heal amputees?". At this point I tell them to go cut something else off their body specifically if they are male.

Of course thousands of people including Commies saw the sun dance at Fatima.

If your limbs grew back Dawkins would simply say "You are a hopeful evolutionary monster/mutant whose latent reptilian genes activated" from stress brought on by religious anxiety.

The road to God is not that easy. God is not a moral agent who owes us easy either.

Thank God.

Brian said...

BeingItself:
"But, as you know nothing like this has ever happened. But keep hope alive!"

Have you been looking? I suggest looking at the miracles that are studied and used to beatify and canonize saints. If miracles are "good evidence," and I agree that they are, the Church is like Scrooge McDuck swimming in his money bank. It is an embarrassment of riches.

Aquinas3000 said...

Good to hear Ed. Maybe I'll send you a review a Thomist mentor of mine sent me on Woods book. This person did his PhD in philosophy at the Angelicum on the topic of Aristotle and St Thomas principles applied to modern economics.

Anonymous said...

BeingItself said… Rather, they would constitute compelling evidence that would shift my current position on the likelihood of a god-like being existing.

Really? I rather doubt that. But hey, by all means feel free to supply some evidence to the contrary. If it's compelling enough I might shift my current position on the likelihood of your not coming up with feeble excuses.

Proph said...

Dr. Feser,

I look forward to the future post in which you savagely review Sean Faircloth's "Attack of the Theocrats." Very, very much.

Anonymous said...

Patrick Coffin did an uncharacteristically rotten job as host. He could not decide whether he wanted to:
(a) Take on Shawn himself
(b) Let him ramble, or
(c) Force him to focus

In the end it became a wild jumble of all 3, with Feser patiently waiting, which was all he could do.

I disagree that Faircloth was uneffective. He did exactly what lawyers and politicians want to do: throw in a bunch of sucker punches, monopolize the conversation, change the subject, and set the agenda.

Patrick owes Ed an apology.

Matthew G said...

While I was somewhat frustrated with Faircloth myself, I was kind of hoping that the reaction to his behaviour would be less hostile. But I guess it's fair game.

By the way, I always believed that it was pronounced "Feeser". "Dr. Phaser" sounds more like a comic book villain.

"Allow me the pleasure of introducing you to: Blade! Laser! Blazer!"

Proph said...

I think now Dr. Feser needs to clarify the pronunciation of his last time. I had always been pronouncing it "FESS-er," like "fester" minus the "t." Evidently it is far from clear this is the case.

Edward Feser said...

It's like "phaser" from Star Trek.

Charlie 2na said...

Don't listen to Prof Feser...

It's "Fee, sir" as in. "you have a late fee, sir".

Charlie 2na said...

"While I was somewhat frustrated with Faircloth myself, I was kind of hoping that the reaction to his behaviour would be less hostile. But I guess it's fair game."

Less hostile?
I thought they were far too accomodating to him. Try that on any other call-in radio show and you'll promptly be cut off.

Charlie 2na said...

"I disagree that Faircloth was uneffective. He did exactly what lawyers and politicians want to do: throw in a bunch of sucker punches, monopolize the conversation, change the subject, and set the agenda."

I don't think that's an effective approach at all when you're trying to show that atheists are just a happy, friendly bunch who come humbly, hat in hand, to disagree with brash generalizations. Only to bark out many disparate points and snicker and sneer whenever the opposition is trying to answer your many challenges upon challenges.

DNW said...

Tom Esteban said...

"... I guess it all started off badly when Sean said that he rejects the idea that the atheist metaphysical worldview is mechanistic because he "is happy". He honestly believed that Dr.Fesers point about the atheist metaphysical position being mechanistic meant that atheists in their daily lives are robotic. When I heard that I knew it was all downhill...."

That was a startling moment, and I admit is one that deserves to be highlighted as one considers what was really going on there.



Edward Feser responded in part ...


" ... if I had been debating someone like Rorty -- an actual philosopher or intellectual of some sort, capable of making an argument -- then we could have had an exchange of the sort you're describing. But with Faircloth it would have been a waste of time even if I had had 20 minutes to reply, because there were no arguments to respond to." [instead] There was just an endless stream of "Why Catholicism, what about Judaism, what about Hinduism, it's not nice to say ...

How is one supposed to respond to such a barrage of drivel? ...

In fairness to the host, I think that that is precisely why he let Faircloth ramble on. ... But yes, there is a point of diminishing returns."

As with the remarks of Esteban, I would have to admit that such a take is reasonable, especially given the show's context and its inherent limitations.

But like someone watching a football game or bout in the ring, and seeing the referee aware but unwilling to really call a penalty on an open foul, I had to get up and walk away.

For example at a couple of points, one was at 3:03 or thereabouts I think, you did in fact directly challenge Faircloth to justify his value judgements.

Faircloth didn't; instead engaging in a rhetorician's trick of buttressing one undemonstrated assumption with another more airily and emphatically delivered.

But instead of your receiving a properly refereed chance for a follow-up demand for the logic behind that blustering and freefloating assertion, the host stepped in the way of the properly expected counter-punch.

Finally, I do realize that the show was Catholic Answers, and not the "Let's Drive Nails into the Heads of Atheist Political Progressives with their own Philosophical Spikes Show". And, that that is not what you Catholics are about anyway: operating as you do on the passumption that atheist progressives have the very souls and intrinsic human value which they deny as a matter of principle.

Thus unlike me, your goal is not to grab their glabrous spindle arms behind their backs and force their simpering mealy-mouths over the spout of their own nominalism and relativism hydrants: and while holding them fixed there, open up the release valve full force.

But still ...

machinephilosophy said...

That was a prepared formula of tactics by Faircloth, folks. Very instructive show. As I keep saying, it's a chess of remarks, and you have to be ready with a corresponding series of conditional triggers---equally interruptive soundbite retorts---in such situations.

I think Ed did very well against a prepared script-strategy and a bad-strategy moderator.

The moderator is actually quite sharp in a number of areas that most talk-show hosts are not, but he needs to go over a transcript of that show meticulously, and reconstruct his approach for similar situations in the future.


awatkins69,

"Can the atheist still have the content and objective moral values without their having the force of law?"

As long as you're not claiming anyone but maybe yourself is "obligated" by them, I don't see why not. But in that case, there's not much left for "objective" to mean. I would just drop the "moral" and "objective" crap, and just have your content and values on your own and presumably be happy with that.


Deuce,
"Ed, how dare you be so mean as to assume that Christianity is true and other religions are false, unlike atheists like me who are compassionate enough to realize that all religions are false and atheism is true?"

That's the explicitness that gets slid behind the curtain in these robo-speeches of the propagandists. Excellent posts and comments. I'm taking notes.


BeingItself,

"If you really care that your beliefs accurately map reality, then you need a reliable method to construct that map."

Do we get to ignore methodological and epistemic questions about that statement itself? If so, I'm in!

Anonymous said...

It's 'phaser' because he has a German last name. Aber, Ich weiss nicht, ob er kann Deutsch spricht.

BenYachov said...

Nobody who speaks German can be an evil man. I heard it on the Simsons so it must be true.

BeingItself said...

"There have been reported miracles at Lourdes of a woman growing back her whole face and one with a limb that was hanging on by thin bit skin that completely healed."

Really?! A reported miracle? It must be true? Now I believe in Yahweh!

Machinephilosophy,

Is it you position that reliable methods of obtaining knowledge are not preferable to unreliable methods if you care whether your beliefs are true?

machinephilosophy said...

"Is it you position that reliable methods of obtaining knowledge are not preferable to unreliable methods if you care whether your beliefs are true?"

what's reliable in the first place? I don't believe you even touched on that.

And what's the epistemic basis of any preference about methods? That too has not even been mentioned.

Why do I have to point out all this question begging and ignoring of self-referential issues when they could have easily been stated up front?

Is it your position that ignoring such issues will get you a free pass?

Not while I'm around, pal.

Maolsheachlann said...

It's incredible how effective the "mock and guffaw" approach of the Dawkinsites can be, though. I remember when I was an agnostic still finding my way to faith, I rather nervously weighed in on a thread at the Dawkins forum about a TV debate between RD and the Irish Catholic philosopher Gerard Casey. The sheer unprovoked hostility and ridicule I provoked knocked me sideways, and I'm ashamed to say how much it intimidated me-- ridiculous as it seems in retrospect.

BenYachov said...

>Really?! A reported miracle? It must be true? Now I believe in Yahweh!

And with that line Beingitself turns back into a common Gnu.

Pathetic waste of space

Deverogn said...

"It's like "phaser" from Star Trek."

THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING. My friend and I had "Feser's Quest" bits going and everything (referencing to the classic? NES game: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Addams_Family_(video_game_series)#Fester.27s_Quest).

I'm not sure I can like your philosophy anymore, Professor Feser; I feel like I don't even know you. Maybe that flying spaghetti monster argument is good after all!

Brian said...

"BeingItself," you are a disgusting human being. You don't seem to be stupid, so here's hoping you acquire the good-will, charity, and overall moral character that is needed to engage in dialogue.

BTW, "PHASER?" MIND BLOWN.

Terence M. Stanton said...

A.M.D.G.

I was greatly looking forward to this show. It is unfortunate that an anti-Catholic bigot was allowed to rant and rave for a third of it. I would like Catholic Answers to have Dr. Feser back on and simply let him speak for an hour.

Anonymous said...

Maolsheachlann said: "The sheer unprovoked hostility and ridicule I provoked knocked me sideways, and I'm ashamed to say how much it intimidated me-- ridiculous as it seems in retrospect."

Boorish behaviour from common uncultured, boors seeking herd justification for their narrow minded, bigoted worldview.

Clint Douzat said...

If the interview was longer I would have loved to hear Dr. Feser refute all points Sean brought up. They were the usual atheist talking points of course, but it would have been great to hear a rebutal. All in all it was a good interview. I wish that I would have known about this! I would have loved to call in and ask a few possible objections I have to natural law to see Dr. Feser's response. I know a few others who read Feser and have the same concerns.

Basically my question is why isn't shaving your head considered immoral under natural law? Hair has being and thus it is good. It has a purpose (warmth, protecting the head). So why is it ok to frustrate the natural purpose of the hair by shaving it off?

I read "The Last Superstition" and there are several objections that Feser deals with in the book about natural law, but not this particularly. What are the chances of Dr. Feser writing a full length book on natural law? I and several others I know are dying for Feser to write a book on natural law.

Matthew G said...

"I thought they were far too accomodating to him. Try that on any other call-in radio show and you'll promptly be cut off."

I mean the reaction here, in the comments.

grodrigues said...

@Deverogn:

"I'm not sure I can like your philosophy anymore, Professor Feser; I feel like I don't even know you. Maybe that flying spaghetti monster argument is good after all!"

I am with you on this. Phaser? PHASER? How can a man whose last name is a trekkie laser gun be taken seriously? I mean if it was Skywalker or Chewbacca that would be acceptable (and if it was Yoda, and Prof. Feser had green ears, backwards he spoke and wielded a mean lightsaber, that would be deserving of high praise), but phaser? You lost all your street cred, man. You are a phake. I will be asking admission into the Cult of Gnu.

BenYachov said...

Phasers are cool & I like bagging on Trekkies as much as any Star Wars Nerd.

BeingItself said...

Machine,

Answer the question.

Ben,

You said something ridiculous. My ridiculing response was appropriate.

Brian,

What are you whining about?

Anonymous said...

BeingItself said: "Machine,
Answer the question."

The question makes no sense. Please answer Machine's question first. Please post that as your next reply.

machinephilosophy said...

BeingItself,

Answer your own begged questions, lazyass. You're the one making grandiose unargued claims.

Apparently, you don't even read the relevant atheist literature, which has thoroughly refuted your own tactic of making claims without argument, and then blaming any challenger for not arguing -their- counter-claims, while your original claim continues to get a free ride.

You're imitating a fundy Bible-banger and you don't even realize it. Can't you find some other flavor of bigotry to mimick?

Syphax said...

I tried to enjoy the podcast, but I just don't feel like Feser got the kinds of questions that allowed him to really flesh out his ideas. That second caller was just insufferable and I just don't think Feser was able to counter a non-point with a valid response. What a disappointment.

BenYachov said...

@BeingItself

What machinephilosophy said.

I mean what part of ""Those are fake! So why doesn't God heal amputees?"

or

"If your limbs grew back Dawkins would simply say "You are a hopeful evolutionary monster/mutant whose latent reptilian genes activated" from stress brought on by religious anxiety."

Do you not get?

BenYachov said...

If God really doesn't exist Gnu's are still weak minded and mentally inferior fundies.

Anonymous said...

Ben really hits below the belt sometimes.

BenYachov said...

Anon

I do not believe Atheist automatically ='s Gnu.

But against the willfully irrational. Bellow the belt, in the face, across the jaw etc.

Anonymous said...

"But against the willfully irrational. Bellow the belt, in the face, across the jaw etc."

But how can you consistently tell if someone is being irrational? Psychoanalysis over the internet is and always has been a perilous endeavor.

DNW said...

Maolsheachlann said...

It's incredible how effective the "mock and guffaw" approach of the Dawkinsites can be, though. I remember ... I rather nervously weighed in on a thread at the Dawkins forum about a TV debate between RD and the Irish Catholic philosopher Gerard Casey. The sheer unprovoked hostility and ridicule I provoked knocked me sideways ..."

That is of course what it is intended to do. Just as dictators engage in tantrums, sometimes because of their own intemperance and some other times because they calculate a likely effect; so too polemicists sometimes bark because they are in the throes of group excitement, and at other times because they think it is an effective and "time-saving" tactic in dealing with demurrals.

Dawkins says that Craig is unworthy of debate because Craig refuses to condemn as wrong the "genocide" supposedly recorded in the Bible. How Dawkin's proves the extermination of people who say, approve the killing of their own children for the sake of benefits they expect to derive from some storm or fertility god, is wrong, remains unsettled. But from Dawkin's point of view: "So what?"

Dawkins, like his radio mouthpiece the other day, or like Rorty, may simply have decided that it is his own will or preference that it be considered so, and that no amount of logical analysis can effectively bear on the matter either way.

Following this principle, then, the proper social tactic is not really so much about debate and "reasoning" to a universally evident conclusion, as it is about the ultimate and effective insinuation of "your kind" into public institutions, gaining firm control over access, and by then operating the levers as an instrument to produce the effects you desire. Mockery is a part of that. Why, it's no more than good Darwinian strategy.

And just as long as the Christians or Tea Party types, or old fashioned liberals don't catch on or react until it's too late for their indignant and wounded protests to mean much, it will work just fine.

So, in my opinion, Christians need to begin taking these people much more seriously as regards what they say they believe about man and nature - *and by logical implication themselves* - and quit viewing them as being "just like me but misled".


Now, I know that to view them that way - "just like me" - is an essential part of your religious value system and reflects your anthropological predicates. But I think that you will miss the really radical alien-ness that lies at the core of some of them unless you are prepared to grant them their premisses at least to the extent of working out what it would mean for you in the context of a democratic society if you were to fall under as Rorty says, the "Herrschaft [domination] of people like me, ".

Or I could be wrong. Maybe they are just harmless fat boys eating cheese puffs in their mom's basements; or, middle aged dweebs with scant-beards seeking nests in academia. And all that any of them need is a good shaking to wake up.

But then if I really believed that last paragraph, I wouldn't have bothered commenting in the first place.

BeingItself said...

Machine,

I think you are hallucinating. What grandiose unargued claim have I made?

Anon,

Specify which question please. Thanks.

Ben,

I was asked what would be needed for ME (not Dawkins) to believe in a god. I gave 2 specific examples. You responded by mentioning reports of miracles at Lourdes. The world is lousy with reports of miracles. You may may be persuaded by such feeble evidence. I am not.

Anonymous said...

BeingItself: MP's post of December 1, 2011 3:41 PM.

BenYachov said...

>I was asked what would be needed for ME (not Dawkins) to believe in a god.

You gave an example notoriously used by the GOD HATES AMPUTEES crowd. I showed why even with such evidence in your face other determined skeptics would no be persuaded.

You like the typical Gnu assumed I was making an argument for miracles & belief and responded in typical Gnu fashion.

You can't believe in miracles if you have a philosophy that says there cannot be miracles.

Also if you believe in philosophical Scientism and or Positivism that is also a problem.

You should look into why you think either of these views are true and or false then go on from there.

You need to study philosophy.

So go study and un-Gnu yourself.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

I do not have a 'philosophy' that there can't be miracles. I gave two examples of miracles that would shift my current belief about the probability of there being any gods or god.

Based on my lived experience so far, I think the probability of Yahweh existing is low.

When the available facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir? (h/t John Maynard Keynes)

Anon,

Machine asked me "what's reliable in the first place?" That is a long and drawn out argument.

But before we have that argument, I still need to know two things:

1. Do you care whether your beliefs accurately map reality?

2. Do you agree that reliable methods are preferable to unreliable methods?

If the answer is not an unqualified yes and yes, then further conversation is pointless.

machinephilosophy said...

What's pointless is your idiotic notion that you can make a statement, and when challenged, blame -others- for not arguing -their- points.

This was pointed out by a number of atheist scholars at least 30 years ago, but the lazy dumbass Gnu's didn't quite catch on, and probably never will.

We theists aren't the philosophical babysitters for your ignorant posturing bluffs.

equesatrum said...

"Based on my lived experience so far, I think the probability of Yahweh existing is low."

This is the whole problem. It's not about a 'probability' that God exists. It's about examining the classical arguments and figuring out if they work or if there is a problem with the logic involved (notice 'logic' =/= 'science'). You can't even say if there's a 'probability' the arguments work. They either do or they don't. If you're looking for 'scientific evidence', then as they say on the internet, 'you're doing it wrong.'

Alat said...

Jumping into the conversation here.

You can't believe in miracles if you have a philosophy that says there cannot be miracles.

That's true: having a philosophy that accepts the possibility of miracles is a precondition. But it's not enough the demonstrate that any single one actually happened. Miracles could be possible in principle and nonexistent in practice.

I'm familiar with the Miracle of the Sun at Fátima. If you ask me what I think are the odds that some 50,000 people had a delusion at the exact same time, I'd say it would be ridiculously low. But that's still greater than the chance that the Sun actually danced, for the simple reason that neither I, nor anyone in this thread, was at Fátima that day in 1917. All we have is... hearsay.

To me, in fact, the theistic position would be more consistent if there were no miracles to begin with. (As in, "God can do miracles, but in practice He does not do it because He doesn't want to"). This would obviate the problem of explaining why did God care so much about the people assembled at Fátima in 1917 that He gave them a miracle (and thereby also gave them tangible proof of His existence), but refuses to do so to save the soul of, say Richard Dawkins. If the Archangel Michael came down from Heaven to have a chat with him, I'm sure even Dawkins would convert. ( And think of the PR value of such a conversion! (: )

This is the whole problem. It's not about a 'probability' that God exists. It's about examining the classical arguments and figuring out if they work

That's true, but kind of misses the point. Even Dr. Feser has acknowledged that there **are** genuine atheists. By "genuine atheists" I mean people who studied the arguments in good faith and were unconvinced by them. That some people disagree with the arguments is no proof that they don't work, I know - but if reasonable people who spend their lives studying the arguments can disagree on their worth, it seems ... ungodly of God to condemn people to everlasting punishment when He hasn't even given them the possibility of all being trained philosophers of religion to begin with. This situation sounds like a divine lottery to me - or perhaps the strict predestination of Calvinism was right on the mark.

machinephilosophy said...

"Do you agree that reliable methods are preferable to unreliable methods?"

Depends on whether or not your method preferability question itself has a meaning beyond your own mere preference.

Or has your own Reliability Preference Methodology Bible issued some Epistemic Commandments for all minds at all times and points in space?

"If the answer is not an unqualified yes and yes, then further conversation is pointless."

An if-then conditional prohibiting unqualified affirmative dogmatism? Don't you think conversational pointlessness gets a wee bit lonely without the unsung criterial system of inference being demanded of every other notion except itself?

May the Blessings of The Unique Privileged Epistemic Status of Selected Propositions be with your stumblingly preferential whims.

Also, I don't recall saying the conversation ever had any point in the first place. Maybe you could explain what you're meaning by point, and then millions can throng to your Teleology of Conversation.

You're the one who keeps parroting this lock-step self-exempting and self-referential contradictions and then all epistemic justification and blame is on everyone else except yourself.

And all this time I thought it was just a great way to ride the Inferential Gravy Train. Boy, was I wrong!

As long as I don't have to do any actual thinking or reasoning or explaining or justifying assumptions on my own, I'm all for this method! It could save the world!

Isn't liberation from religious hypocrisy wonderful?

BeingItself said...

Machine,

I'll take your answers as a 'no' and a 'no'.

Mr. Green said...

Clint Douzat: Hair has being and thus it is good. It has a purpose (warmth, protecting the head). So why is it ok to frustrate the natural purpose of the hair by shaving it off?

How much warmth and protection one's head needs varies, and of course once cut hair grows back, so even shaving it all off does not necessarily mean you'd be damaging your head. (If it did lead to problems but you shaved yourself bald anyway, say, out of vanity, then that would be at least slightly sinful.) Of course, part of the purpose of hair seems to be aesthetic, so that should also be taken into account. I expect it's also relevant that hair is composed of dead cells — after all, it's not moral to cut off a toe (unless there's some kind of emergency). Prudence and practicality seem to allow us a fair amount of discretion in this case.

(And count me in among the people who hope the Profeser writes a book on natural law!)

Mr. Green said...

DNW: How Dawkin's proves the extermination of people who say, approve the killing of their own children for the sake of benefits they expect to derive from some storm or fertility god, is wrong, remains unsettled.

I think most people who kill their children nowadays are serving some infertility god, but in any case I haven't heard Dawkins complaining. (Not that he has any grounds to, as I understand his beliefs, but one way or the other he's hypocritical.)
And hence I refuse ever to debate him!

machinephilosophy said...

"I'll take your answers as a 'no' and a 'no'."

And I'll take that as your admission that you're in way over your head and will continue to not actually engage the issues with any specificity because all you have is a set of unargued claims that function as your Invisible Conversation-Ruling Friend.

Maybe your friend is saying something like: "Stay vague, my friend."

Brian said...

Alat said:

I'm familiar with the Miracle of the Sun at Fátima. If you ask me what I think are the odds that some 50,000 people had a delusion at the exact same time, I'd say it would be ridiculously low. But that's still greater than the chance that the Sun actually danced, for the simple reason that neither I, nor anyone in this thread, was at Fátima that day in 1917. All we have is... hearsay.

Several things.

We have much more than "hearsay." Hearsay is information reported by a person with no direct knowledge of the fact or facts being asserted. In fact, what we have is eyewitness testimony, including several journalistic reports. The evidence is so strong that the Miracle of the Sun is simply a fact of history - to doubt it, one might as well deny the very possibility of historical knowledge or even any knowledge.

Now, what may be more interesting than the fact of the event itself is that it was predicted to the exact day and hour three months in advance by illiterate peasant children. So whether one seeks a natural or supernatural explanation for the Miracle of the Sun (and I think natural explanations are all ridiculous), its divine character is sealed by the prediction. No atheists and very few Catholics realize the importance of the prediction.

Alat said:

To me, in fact, the theistic position would be more consistent if there were no miracles to begin with. (As in, "God can do miracles, but in practice He does not do it because He doesn't want to"). This would obviate the problem of explaining why did God care so much about the people assembled at Fátima in 1917 that He gave them a miracle (and thereby also gave them tangible proof of His existence), but refuses to do so to save the soul of, say Richard Dawkins. If the Archangel Michael came down from Heaven to have a chat with him, I'm sure even Dawkins would convert. ( And think of the PR value of such a conversion! (: )

I do not see how that presents an inconsistency for the "theistic position," especially given a correct theological understanding of miracles. But even without that understanding, at best, that would only be a curiosity - why does God not reveal himself to skeptics? That may be an interesting question, I guess, but it has no logical import on the existence of God.

A more interesting question, to me, is why the **** Richard Dawkins does not convert given that God has revealed himself through the events at Fatima and elsewhere? If he wants a miraculous motive for his assent, he ****ing has one. Stop being a whiny *****.

Brian said...

btw, besides extrinsic evidence, such as the prediction of a miracle and its fulfillment with the Miracle of the Sun, what is far more impressing to me is the intrinsic evidence, such as the comportment of the visionaries. These were children of ten years and younger! Woa! I could not imagine going through the ordeals that challenged them from the beginning. And yet they persisted and never once backed down or contradicted themselves. Just amazing.

Anonymous said...

Hey TruthOverFaith.

Had a burger tonight. Delicious stuff. Well-done too. Will have chili tomorrow.

Thought you should know. ;)

Anonymous said...

BeingItself you're not seriously willing to engage Machine, are you?

BeingItself said...

Machine,

You are the one that is afraid to engage. Still waiting for you to point out what grandiose claims I have made.

You are afraid to even say whether you care if your beliefs are true. It's pathetic.

If your current gig isn't paying the bills, you have a bright future writing for Social Text.

Clint Douzat said...

Mr. Green,
Those are some good points you've raised. Especially that hair is dead. But is it scientifically accurate to label hair as "dead"? I mean I know it's not alive. If hair is really just dead cells then I think that would be a pretty important factor in defending natural law on that point. Just want to make sure. Another thing to point out about hair is that it- like finger nails and ear wax- grows at a perpetual rate. It never stops growing. So clearly we couldn't simply let our hair grow for ever out of fear of frustrating it's natural purpose because allowing it to grow forever would certainly inhibit it's natural purpose eventually.

Another question I have is what about tonsils? When I was very young I remember many kids in my class getting checked out of school to go get their tonsils removed. Their tonsils weren't causing them trouble at that time, rather it was a preventive step so that their tonsils didn't cause them trouble in the future. Why is it permissible to frustrate the natural purpose of the tonsils (whatever that is) so as to prevent agitation at a later age?

These are the reasons I would love Dr. Feser to write a full length book on Natural law. I feel like there really is something to natural law, I just have a few questions like this.

Pattsce said...

Clint Douzat,

I would like to see a book specifically on natural law by Dr. Feser as well, but the questions you have raised here were addressed directly in The Last Superstition. I don't remember if you said you'd read it. Here is a portion from it that answers your questions:

"One also frequently hears objections along the lines of "Wouldn't this theory entail such absurdities as that it is immoral to prop up a table with one's leg, or to get a hysterectomy to save a woman's life, or to clean the earwax out of one's ears?" No, no, and no. Natural law theory does not condemn using a natural capacity or organ Other Than for its natural function, but only using it in a manner Contrary To its natural function, frustrating its natural end. ... having one's legs amputated to make some sort of bizarre political statement, or throwing up one's food so as not to gain weight Would frustrate nature's purpose and thus be condemned by natural law theory as immoral. Amputating a leg or removing other organs to save a person's life, though, would not be ruled out by natural law theory, since these organs and their functions are metaphysically subordinate to the overall purpose of sustaining the life and activities of the organism as a whole, and can thus be sacrificed if this is the only way to prevent the loss of that life. Finally, as long as the earwax is able to perform its natural function of protecting the ear canal, there is nothing immoral in cleaning away the excess." Pages 148-149.

I think what you're doing is getting confused about an individual thing's purpose absent the context of that thing. The various body parts on the body point toward the flourishing of the human as a whole. They have to flourish themselves in order to help the human flourish of course, but they are there solely for the purpose of the greater human being. They are "subordinate" to the human.

So, all things being equal, you may alter your body to make sure You flourish. Surviving is always a part of flourishing, so most medical procedures intended to save/protect the life would be morally licit. Likewise, any minor change to things like hair, etc. would be acceptable, as long as they are not done in order to frustrate the end of the Human---since maintaining the human is their end to begin with.

In other words, perhaps, the natural end of the parts on your body is human activity and survival; all your body parts are pointed at the maintenance of the human. You can do anything to your body that doesn't frustrate That natural end, the flourishing of you.

BenYachov said...

@BengItself
>I do not have a 'philosophy' that there can't be miracles.

Rather it seems you don't have a concious philosophy at all. As Miglley & Dennett(both Atheist Philosophers) both said that makes you a slave to your unconcious and unexamined philosophical presupositions.

>I gave two examples of miracles that would shift my current belief about the probability of there being any gods or god.

"Probability"? Did you say "Probability"? That implies empiricism which comes from Hume. Which is one step away from Scientism and or Positivism.

A Theistic Personalist deity might be subject to such an inquiery but since no Thomist believes in such a "god" that is a non-starter.

>Based on my lived experience so far, I think the probability of Yahweh existing is low.

Except you envision YHWH as a being alongside other beings to be discovered like Bigfoot or exoplanets. Catagory mistake!

>When the available facts change, I change my opinion. What do you do, sir? (h/t John Maynard Keynes)

I start with first principles. You dive in without any philosophy but the unconcious one you hold which you have clearly never examined.

That's Gnu behavior not rational Atheistic Behavior. No rational informed Atheist would invoke "Probability" with a Thomist about God. Just as no rational Atheist would invoke polemics against Young Earth Creationist beliefs to a room filled with convinced Theistic Evolutionists.

Non-starters.

You really have to learn philosophy & if you are going to make excuses why you won't or don't have time then F*** off. You are wasting our time.

It's that simple. dguller is learning Thomistic philosophy. He's worth talking too.

What is your malfuction?

TimL said...

Mr. Green,

Hair is not composed of dead cells.
The main 'thing' hair is made of is a protein called keratin.
And a protein is neither dead nor alive.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

You believe in a god. I do not. I have encountered no compelling arguments or evidence to think such a being exists.

You obviously think such arguments or evidence are available. Show me.

BenYachov said...

>You believe in a god.

No I do not believe in "a god" at all.

>You obviously think such arguments or evidence are available. Show me.

Are you going to learn any philosophy or not? If not you are wasting my time.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Repeatedly typing "learn philosophy!" is not an argument.

Clint Douzat said...

Pattsce,
Thanks for the response. I have read The Last Superstition and those parts from it you quoted do address certain objections, but not necessarily the one I brought up. Perhaps the earwax example is closest to the head shaving question. Although it's hard to imagine cleaning ear wax out of your ear even a small sin, it is at least conceivable because from what I understand ear wax does have a purpose and it's not healthy to have an ear with out wax. I can understand how it could be sinful if someone was so adament about not having earwax that they ended up doing their ear damage by not allowing the earwax to play the role it plays. However, I simply don't see this as completely analagous to hair. While the two situations are similar I don't think they are completely identical. Hair has a natural purpose and if we shave our heads then this frustrates the natural function of hair.

You say that our parts are subordinate to our whole bodies and thus certain minor changes like cutting hair is perissible. From what I understand this is the "principle of totality", that when a part of the whole is damaged and needs to be amputated in order for the whole to continue living it is permissible in these circumstances because they exist to serve the whole, not vice versa, and so when the life of the whole is at risk it would be ok to frustrate the natural function of the part. So I agree that the hair is subordinate to the whole, but it seems that we can only appeal to that principle when the part is *damaged* or *defective*. In the case of hair it is not damaged or putting the life of the whole at risk so I don't think we can appeal to that principle.

I'm playing devils advocate here, these are some concerns I have. I'm trying to be as critical as I can so as to be satisfied and confident with natural law. I've read the Aquinas passages on natural law, but he gives a more basic and fundamental approach and doesn't get into the nitty gritty details.

BenYachov said...

>Repeatedly typing "learn philosophy!" is not an argument.

So that is a "no" then?

Then from now on you should not be treated anymore seriously then any other clueless Gnu Troll wannabe.

Like the jerk who "debated" Dr. Feser only less intelligent.

You have nothing too offer.

Useless as teats on a bull.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Waiting for your argument.

BenYachov said...

>Waiting for your argument.

Would you waste your time arguing about Punctuated Equilibrium with a troll who doesn't know the difference between, Darwin, Lemark, Gould or Dawkins & dogmatically refuses to learn anything about Evolution?

That is who you are to us.

You still think "god" if he exists is just "a being" along side other beings.

Pathetic!

BenYachov said...

>BeingItself you're not seriously willing to engage Machine, are you?

No he is not.

He's like someone who demands you prove quantum mechanics to him while he simultaneously refuses to learn any physics but irrationally demands you prove it too him.

If you refuse this irrational demand he claims "victory" and says "Ha! You have no proof!".

Gnu's are beyond predictable.

They are also mentally inferior.

BenYachov said...

BTW has anyone noticed Clint's criticisms and questions?

That is worth responding too but then again unlike Beingitself or Tops or djindra he has clearly done his homework.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

Waiting.

BenYachov said...

No, you are not waiting.

BeingItself said...

Ben,

This is from well-known and respected Christian philosopher Peter Van Inwagen:

"If there are such things as the following, they are concrete: cabbages, kings, bits of sealing wax, electrons, tables and chairs, angels, ghosts, and God."

I am fairly certain that PvI knows more philosophy than you. So it is possible to be both philosophically educated and also to think that God is a concrete being.

But that dispute is between you and PvI.

Yelling that others are just stupid or not educated enough to understand your arguments is a convenient, yet completely transparent and cowardly, dodge.

Pattsce said...

Clint,

I agree that natural law theorists do have a problem of not getting to the "nitty gritty" as you call it. By that, I assume you mean everyday application. Theoretically that is what the Catholic church does, but again, you have to search and search to get practical application of natural law. It is probably a deficiency to the theory today actually, because the modern world often comes up with the absurd examples Feser addresses and doesn't think about it beyond that (even though those examples can be dealt with). Also, the modern world has given us very unique moral questions that often go unaddressed (at least I rarely see them addressed and have to work through them on my own).

Feser goes on about your earwax example, though, and addresses some of your concerns. From the rest of the section I quoted before: "And even the overenthusiastic Q-Tip user is not committing some major sin, but at worst acting contrary to wisdom in a very minor way (as even your doctor will tell you). Natural law theory does not entail that every frustrating of nature's purposes is a serious moral failing. Where certain natural functions concern only some minor aspect of human life, a frustration of nature's purposes might be at worst a minor lapse in a virtue like prudence."

I think that that is correct at any rate. Anyway, I don't think you have to appeal to the principle of totality, though. At least not the way you're doing it. If you read what I wrote before, I said that as long as you don't frustrate the ultimate end of a thing, the action is morally permissible. Hair's ultimate end, as any body part, is the survival and flourishing of the person. Today, we probably don't need so much hair because we have clothes and air conditioners, etc. But hair would still have the end that our technology fulfills (most of the time, anyway). As such, you would Not be frustrating the ultimate end of hair by cutting it off. (Don't think the ultimate end of hair is to grow as hair, but that the ultimate end is to help humans to survive.)

Again, the standard is that you can do anything to your body, as long as that anything does not frustrate the ultimate end of the body. That is true whether you are amputating a leg because it's going to kill you or cutting your hair because you want a sweet mohawk. Neither would frustrate the ultimate end, survival, so both would be morally permissible.

BenYachov said...

>This is from well-known and respected Christian philosopher Peter Van Inwagen:

Who is not a Thomist thus why is he relevant here?

>I am fairly certain that PvI knows more philosophy than you.

I would never dispute that but you know nothing. Not one thing & you are too cowardly or lazy to learn it seems.

>So it is possible to be both philosophically educated and also to think that God is a concrete being.

What does this have to do with anything? Plantinga and Swimburne are both philosophically educated but believe God is a Theistic Personalist being alongside other beings. They aren't classic Theists either.

So what? It's not like you understand Inwagen vs Plantinga vs Davies vs McCabe vs Feser vs a hole in your fat head.

>But that dispute is between you and PvI.

I'm sure he could make a respectable argument. But how does this absolve you from your refusal to learn philosophy and maintain you kneejerk arguments based on ignorance?

>Yelling that others are just stupid or not educated enough to understand your arguments is a convenient,

No it is objectively a fact you don't understand philosophy & you refuse to learn. You equivocate between radically different god concepts. You make no coherent arguments & you ask questions that are at best ambiguous at worst category mistakes.

>yet completely transparent and cowardly, dodge.

Project much?

If you don't learn philosophy that's fine but you can't come here and argue religion with anybody & be taken seriously. You are another djindra, J, Stone Tops, Trueoverfaith etc.

You will never be a dguller & you will never be taken seriously.

Live with it.

Timl said...

BeingItself, don't you find it ironic that you're blaming Ben for not making concrete claims and challenges while you contorted and ignore Machine?

BeingItself said...

Machine resorted to po-mo style nonsense. What's to engage?

Ben has resorted to bluster and name calling, which he always does.

machinephilosophy said...

BeingItself,

You don't dare talk about specifics of your Little Bo Peep "reliable method" crap because you know you'd be exposed as the fraud you are.

Plus, you're boring loops of evasive and red herring statements ensures you'll never get beyond your tiresome psychological shadowing of your own epistemic Asperger Syndrome.

Twenty years from now you'll be putting out the same bait and switch posturing, probably recycling the exact same statements in the exact same sequence, like a hamster on a cognitive treadmill.

I hash out my method through argumentation. You hide from argumentation to protect your sham insinuations about method from being exposed for being nothing more than empty-headed posturing.

The real problem for you, however, is that you're notoriously boring and I'm not, something your perpetual ignorance will never be able to do a thing about.

Be sure and continue to not talk specifics about your "reliable method" bluff. That way, you can avoid all possible criticism and just keep making arbitrary claims and judging others like a fundy-thumper. No analysis required at all---for life!

TImL said...

While I think Ben is doing name calling.

I do think that you're making excuses so as not to deal with that Machine said. Because I don't see it that way at all.

TimL said...

How about this, BeingItself.

Two very simple things.
1) You say Machine is just throwing out postmodern fluff.... so show it. Show were his comments are just "postmodern nonsense". That's not complicated. If I were to say "Feser's throwing out Aristotelian concepts" I'd be able to show exactly where he was doing that (and I don't mean this in a negative way, simply that, I'd be able to highlight those concepts).

2) Even if Machine was indeed deluding himself with absurd concepts about the nature of reality he still is making a very specific request of you.... so answer it. Who cares if he unravels into this absurd nonsense, there's still a very concrete challenge to you.


None of this is an absurd task to ask of you.

Anonymous said...

epistemic Asperger Syndrome.

11/10 good one sir.

Clint Douzat said...

Pattsce,
I suppose I can see the point about all parts of the person are oriented towards the flourishing and survival of the person. I’m tempted to agree with you about the fact that we don’t need as much hair today because of our technological advances whether it be a heater or simply a hat on your head. However this view would at least seem to validate in vitro fertilization, which is trouble for Catholics like myself and Dr. Feser. In vitro fertilization bypasses the sexual act and uses technology to accomplish the purpose of sex by implanting into the woman. Now I grant that it is obvious that procreation is much more central to human flourishing then hair could ever be and thus in vitro fertilization would frustrate the natural fulfillment and flourishing of the human person. However I can’t shrug off the feeling that frustrating the natural purpose of hair is permissible but frustrating the natural purpose of the sexual act is immoral- is trying to have it both ways. Maybe I will just go back and reread Fesers’ section on Natural law in TLS and try to rethink.

I’m not saying there isn’t a way around this objection, I’ve just yet to see a response to it as satisfying as I have seen for other aspects of the natural law and other parts of Aquinas’ theology. I do think some important facts are that hair is growing non-stop and needs to be curtailed in order to function properly, as you say the purpose of hair isn’t just to grow and grow, hair does have an aesthetic aspect, we have less hair then we did many thousand years ago, we don’t need hair as much today as we did several thousand years ago (I think), and men lose their hair after a certain age.

BenYachov said...

>While I think Ben is doing name calling.

I am & I don't apologize for it. How can I not mock willful stupidity and hypocrisy?

I am only flesh and blood.

BeingItself refuses to learn philosophy. He refuses to get out of the comfort zone of his low brow Dawkins level polemics against religion and Theism.

I had hoped for him when he recognized how foolish the Dawkins Lawyer was on the Radio. Not foolish for not believing in God but for the lame reasons he gave for rejecting religion and the panic in his replies.

Beingitself is no better then him at this point.

He could be so much more but he clearly chooses not to be.

Pattsce said...

Clint,

I think you bring up some really excellent points, and some of them make me realize that the standard I identified is perhaps too sweeping, or at least too mechanical and physical-focused. As a Catholic, I too reject In Vitro. I do think it can be distinguished, though.

First, I Do think the desire to have a child, especially for a married couple, is a good desire. So, the ultimate Aim of masturbating and collecting the semen is a good one. And because I focused so much on the ultimate end in context of the human, I understand how someone would say "well, as long as he has the goal of eventually getting the semen to connect with the egg, no matter how he does it, it would be permissible."

But this clearly seems wrong, as masturbating would be forbidden by natural law, and accordingly, in vitro would be forbidden. (In vitro is forbidden also because it results in the death of many fertilized eggs, but that's not really at issue here, because we could conceive of a way in which that wasn't the case. The focus here is on the actual sexual act.). So, maybe it's important to go into why masturbation would be wrong. (I feel kind of like a jerk talking about why masturbation is wrong, especially to someone who is probably older than me, but bear with me.) First off, masturbation would be wrong because it obviously frustrates the natural end of sex---getting the semen into the woman. That much seems pretty clear. But masturbation seems wrong for More than just this reason. It seems wrong because it's a sexual act completely separate from a sexual union.

For example, we can imagine a couple where the husband goes off into his room and masturbates to pornography, as his wife waits in the other room for him to finish and come back to put the semen he collected (no idea how) into her vagina. (I apologize for how graphic this seems.) I think all of us would naturally be appalled by that scenario. We would probably say "they're not even having sex." And I think we'd be right, even though such an action would address (as you pointed out) the first reason why masturbation is wrong (in that it frustrates the semen getting into the vagina).

It seems like, at least to me, that sexual acts serve more of a purpose than Just getting the semen into the vagina (even though this may be a requirement of any sexual act). I think this is where people get the notion of a "unitive purpose" of sex. I think there is a great deal to this that looking just at the plumbing seems to ignore. I think natural law thinking tends to do this to a person. It makes a person think "well, here is this physical object, and this physical object is for X, which leads to Y, so..."

In the case of masturbation, of course, the unitive purpose is clearly being frustrated. It's a truly solitary act. We see research all the time identifying what happens in the brain when people have sex with one another. We see women who give themselves sexually to men who are devastated when he decides to have sex with another woman.

Emotions are real things that have ends, even though they don't look like eyes or hands, where the ends are obvious. I think the problem as well is that emotions and unitive purposes seem too touchy-feely. And I certainly get that. But I think looking at the human being holistically is the only way to really understand its end. I mean, the emotions that women have during pregnancy and after giving birth clearly serve a purpose (mainly to rear the child), and most people recognize them as valid and important. I think the same should apply to the actual sexual act, which creates an incredible amount of emotions.

Pattsce said...

Continued:

At any rate, if any of what I said was true, in vitro (or any other extra-sexual act intended at procreation) Would frustrate the natural end of sex. While it would likely not frustrate the end dealing with the sperm reaching the egg, it would frustrate the other unitive end. (I think you then may run into the question of using technology to Aid the getting of the semen into the vagina During the sexual act (or maybe even after the sexual act if you collect the semen and then place it in the woman after sex), and I think it makes sense that people are split over this.)

As is probably obvious, hair doesn't have anything like that second purpose. It barely actually even has the first purpose (even though that is there). That's why it is permissible (and seems obviously permissible) to chop it off. I would like to go on the record, though, as saying that I don't Necessarily support mohawks, despite my last post. Getting a mohawk could be wrong for other reasons, like being an unhumble blowhard who walks around with a mohawk, but it is not wrong in that it is immoral to cut hair.

At any rate, I think there is a lot going on here, and I completely agree that it is confusing (I'm not always convinced by my own arguments even). I would love either Dr. Feser to write a book on this (most preferred, because I really appreciate how he keeps the issue grounded in philosophy) or to be pointed to someone who does write on these things who understands both the nuances of natural law and the complexities of the modern world. Preferably someone who is more philosophically -minded. If anyone knows of anyone, do let me know.

Patrick Coffin said...

Hosting a live radio show involves dozens of quicksilver decisions per hour. Every single day I wonder if things would be better or worse if I had or had not done something a different way. (BTW, Sean was only one caller in an hour's worth of radio.) Next time we hit the topic, callers like him will not get the same platform.

For those wondering, yes, I let Sean Faircloth unspool for longer than normal for a couple of reasons: I wanted the audience, especially atheists, to get a gander at the poop-deck-puddle depth of the man Dawkins deputizes to speak for him, and to showcase his inability to answer a simple question. This is the level of competence of the Director of Strategy for the Richard Dawkins Foundation?

I also wanted to highlight the fact that Catholic Answers Live exists to explain and defend the very canards and caricatures that Sean was spewing.

I thought Ed handled himself very well. Sean swaggered onto the playground like a bully, but was surprised to be suddenly getting shoved against the chain link fence by his "victim."

At Dawkins' website, I posted in response to the request by one atheist for his fellow unbelievers to jam our phone lines. Junior high games plus anger plus intolerance. These combox Gary Coopers prove to be cowards as soon as you call them out onto the square.

Anyway, there is more Dawkins-related news, but I don't want to steal Ed's thunder. I'm sure he'll be blogging about the situation so far soon enough. And I expect him to return to the program in the new year.

Thanks to everyone here for their critical comments. The show gets better with each bit of feedback even if (especially if) it makes me wince.

Happy Second Sunday of Advent.

Patrick Coffin
Host
Catholic Answers Live
www.catholic.com/radio
www.patrickcoffin.net

Brian said...

Patrick, you da man.

Pattsce said...

Yes, nice response, but Prof. Feser, what is this Dawkins-related news?

Anonymous said...

Woah...did Feser land a debate with the Richard Dawkins??

Feser, no offense to you, I'm sure you're a knowledgeable guy. But Dawkins is something else. Take in his criticisms and be considerate with them. I will warn this: If you get too testy with him you won't be the first PhD Philosopher who was sent home packing after trying to debate with the guy.

Also, he studied at Oxford University, which is one of the biggest and best college campuses out there. You don't just "get in" to their program. It's about as complicated as cracking the genome (before it was cracked of course).

Anonymous said...

"If you get too testy with him you won't be the first PhD Philosopher who was sent home packing after trying to debate with the guy."

Actually... yes. Yes, he would be the first. Dawkins doesn't tend to debate PhD Philosophers. Rather, he didn't when he was actually debating. He aimed for bumpkins.

One of the few times he aimed at someone with a higher pay grade (Lennox) he got floored. Twice.

Pattsce said...

Wait, where are people getting this information? Also, the "dude, be careful, he went to Oxford!" guy. Come on.

Edward Feser said...

Whoa, whoa! I've been out of town for a few days and I come home only to have to stop (hopefully) a false rumor from metastasizing. There's no debate and there's no big news. Just a little bit of Dawkins folly I'll blog about shortly.

Anonymous said...

Pattsce:

"and come back to put the semen he collected (no idea how) into her vagina."

This is often done with HIV sero-discordant couples, where the man is HIV free, while his wife has HIV. A syringe is used to inject the semen into the vagina. Sperm washing can also be done first in cases where the woman is the HIV negative one.

Pattsce said...

Clint,

I just reread that long thing I wrote above, and I realize

"As is probably obvious, hair doesn't have anything like that second purpose. It barely actually even has the first purpose (even though that is there)."

is probably super confusing. I don't mean to say that hair has the "first purpose" of getting semen into the vagina (I'm not That unfamiliar with sex). I was simply pointing out that while sex has a physical And spiritual end, hair only has a physical one. I'm sure you got that, but rereading what I wrote, I said to myself, "wait, that's not what I meant..."

DNW said...

December 4, 2011 4:13 PM
Edward Feser said...

Whoa, whoa! I've been out of town for a few days and I come home only to have to stop (hopefully) a false rumor from metastasizing. There's no debate and there's no big news. Just a little bit of Dawkins folly I'll blog about shortly.
December 4, 2011 8:40 PM"


I can't imagine what value a debate with Dawkins would actually have.

It would in all likelihood simply result a slightly different version of the Faircloth comedy.

At best it would be a debate over the value or place of philosophy, in a Dawkinsian world: where naturalism is held to be the legitimate default position, and (to steal a formulation) metaphysics is nothing more than disguised supernaturalism and philosophy nothing more than either linguistic analysis or disguised metaphysics.

And even if it did resolve into a linguistic analysis of the logical justifiability of say, Dawkins' employment of certain predicates, I imagine that once he caught onto what was going on, he would quickly shift footing ASAP, by trying to jump back into the polemical security of the "default position".

And any accusations of logical circularity leveled aginst him would simply be shrugged off with references to principles rooted in pragmatism.

I think that the arguments seen here over the status of the principles of logical inference pretty well show that when it comes right down to it, the basic framework for these discussions cannot even be agreed upon; even when the supposed issue in dispute has been clearly formulated.

Now, I suppose that if we lived in a more libertarian environment that radically limited the claims which some might legally level against the life energies of others, then all this would be more or less academic.

But because we live in a political environment where "inclusion" and "affirmation" and "solidarity" and "commitment to a shared fate" have replaced mere arm's length tolerance as associative and even juridical principles, these philosophical questions assume an importance more existential, than academic.

Maolsheachlann said...

I agree, DNW. On a radio interview with the Irish journalist David Quinn, when faced with a demand as to the origin of free will, Dawkins simply said: "I'm not interested in free will". And on a talk show on which he was a guest, a caller raised a version of CS Lewis's "argument from reason". He replied that we couldn't start questioning the validity of our mental operations because "that way lies madness". Fair enough, neither of those were formal debates and he was possibly stuck for time, but he does seem to shrug off philosophical questions entirely.

DNW said...

Maolsheachlann said...

... On a radio interview with the Irish journalist David Quinn, when faced with a demand as to the origin of free will, Dawkins simply said: "I'm not interested in free will". ... He [elsewhere] replied that we couldn't start questioning the validity of our mental operations because "that way lies madness". ... does seem to shrug off philosophical questions entirely."

Yes, I agree that the approach is to shrug off philosophical questions; and as part of that shrugging off, bracket the entire notion of valid inferences as entailing a question that has been shown to be unresolvable or trivial.

This then, leads us to some complexity of issues; wherein in order to make sense of what's going on, we have to step back and look at the character of the debate itself.

Ardent naturalists as you well know, arrive at any discussion of reality with a constellation of doctrines which are at radical variance with those held by someone like C.S. Lewis or even Bertrand Russell.

We can all make our own list of traditional principles of interpretation that have been overthrown. But I think that in each and every case the overthrow of these principles, such as real intelligibility, the supremacy of reason, the efficacy of the rules of inference, are bits of fallout from a more radical and comprehensive eruption: which is the negation of the concept of mind, and that of reason as being at the pinnacle of an existential hierarchy. Feser has likely been saying this for years.

The modern naturalist then, ultimately operates on the basis of unquestioned appetite. His justification if any, of the propriety of this, is that he does not admit in the first place that wants can have any cosmic meaning.

What then, given that, would be the point of trying to figure out if this or that urge is ordinate or disordered, consonant or contradictory to some end when "it" all reduces to mindless flux, flow, and impulse anyway?

Since there is held to be nothing behind the screen, why bother to look? It's all about loci of appropriation, ingestion and ejection.

The naturalist is about implementing means of "enjoying" the ride, not figuring out where it is going; since he is convinced that goes nowhere at all.

So, from my perspective, the only thing one can do in debating such people is to lay out what the costs of satisfying their wants is likely to entail for those who are tasked with providing the energy for any such realization; and to expose their unabashedly emotive deployment of a pseudo-moral language as part of what they must admit is just Darwinian survival or adaptive strategy.

Their vocalizations are to be interpreted on the basis of their own theory of mind and meaning.

You might not be able to argue with a termite boring at the foundations of your dwelling, but in adopting its own principles of interpretation you can seek to understand its survival and expansion strategies as a first step in deciding how you wish to ultimately deal with it.


There remains for me however, an interesting logical question that does not seem to go away: given that the naturalist ultimately believes that his wants or urges are justified by their own existence and not on the basis of consonance with some "higher" principle; and given that reason is reduced by him to the servant or instrument of such urges in what is finally a veil of unknowing; what is the thing that manifests the urges? And on the reductionist's own analysis, which of them - if either - turns out to be real?

And what entitles such a phenomenon, this "locus of want" to respect? I think that Dawkins would eventually have to admit that nothing does ... apart from your own evolutionarily derived and socially conditioned habits of reacting to an illusion.

Bear that in mind next time you look at an image of him.

Alyosha said...

Patrick,

Thank you for commenting! You run an excellent show. I'll be looking forward to the next time Dr. Feser gets on! Hopefully someday in the not-too-distant future!

The Deuce said...

Woah...did Feser land a debate with the Richard Dawkins??

I'd be surprised. It would be the first recorded case, on Richard's part, of an adult eunuch growing testicles.

Alat said...

Thanks for the response to my comment, Brian. I took so long to answer because I was away.

You highlight the problem in this passage of yours:

Why does God not reveal himself to skeptics? That may be an interesting question, I guess, but it has no logical import on the existence of God.

If your concept of God includes His being all-loving and His having a desire for man to be saved, His refusal to reveal himself to skeptics IS of logical import to the question of His existence (or of His having these two characteristics).

I mentioned the miracle of Fatima because it is the strongest example I'm familiar with. But I think you missed my point.

If God was willing to make a miracle in Fatima, it show He does not absolutely refuse to prove His existence directly. (Same for the raising of Lazarus, the parting of the Red Sea, you name it). If so, why doesn't He, say, spell out the Apostle's Creed in the stars to please "BeingItself"?

You may retort, "but that would be making demands of God, and you can't do that, remember Satan's temptation of Christ, etc". I can very well see why a believer would not think this to be a grave problem.

For an unbeliever, though, this IS a great problem because it creates a radical inequality between human beings whom, we are told, God loves equally. Someone who has directly witnessed a miracle has a source of information about God which is entirely lacking for those who have only heard about a miracle - no matter how credible the chain of transmission.

If you have direct experience of God's existence, you can still, of course, fail to achieve salvation through your shortcomings. You may even leave the faith (golden calf, etc.). And you'd be punished for it all right. But those who DON'T have this experience, and must make their decisions based on wholly human sources (for the chain of transmission of the miracle of Fatima, or of the divinity of Christ, is entirely human), will also face the same prospect - without the same information on which to base their decisions. This is why I said it would be more consistent of theism if God could, but refused, to offer any direct proof of His existence.

Thanks for reading.

Alat said...

By the way, I'd be grateful if the thoughtful theists in here suggested works that could answer or clarify the problem I have mentioned above.

Roy IV said...

I finally got the chance to listen to this. Very disappointed with the amount of time given to the Dawkins disciple. Sorry they wasted your time, Doc.

Ismael said...

It;s over 1 year later, but... ok I do not know how but I missed it first time around.


LOL I though the guy, Sean, who spoke for Richard Dawkins did NOT even understand you!

I think he understood 'mechanistic worldview' as 'being sad about the world'... he was really rambling... and when you mention Craig... he went ballistic haha.


He really seemed to not understand an iota... and was filled with prejudice...

I was actually hoping for some sort of intelligent response... a provocative question, at least... but nope, zero, zit.

Well shame on me for putting my hopes so high!


I might as well have been "debating" Paris Hilton.

I think Paris Hilton might have been more receptive to dialogue...


It's like "phaser" from Star Trek.

Then we ought to coin a new phrase:

Set your Feser on 'kill'!


I wish Mr. Dawkins would debate you Dr. Feser... but dreams are dreams.

---

The other callers were a bit better than Sean, but not by much... still any dialogue is welcome!