Wednesday, November 30, 2011


The Montréal Review kindly runs a précis of The Last Superstition in their latest edition.  While you’re over there, do browse through TMR’s website -- lots of interesting pieces on philosophy, religion, politics, history, science, literature, you name it.

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.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Palmer on libertarianism

My review of Tom G. Palmer’s recent book Realizing Freedom: Libertarian Theory, History, and Practice appears in the latest issue of Reason Papers, now edited by Carrie-Ann Biondi and Irfan Khawaja.  (For the full contents of the current issue and of archived issues, go here.)

Friday, November 25, 2011

TLS and formal causes

The website Apologetics 315 kindly reviews my book The Last Superstition.  I’ll let you check out the nice things said about the book for yourself and cut to the reviewer’s main criticism:

Feser convincingly shows throughout the book that Final Causation is inevitable.  Even if someone might say they don't believe in it, no one can really escape it.  But once the Final Cause is firmly established, Feser tries to sneak in the Formal Cause as well, by piggybacking on top of it.  This seemed insufficient.  Based on what Richard Dawkins in particular has written, evolution itself undermines the Formal Cause.  He claimes [sic] that there is no static 'Form', because life is constantly and mindlessly changing.  Although Feser tackled the Final Cause aspect of this line of thinking extremely well, this reviewer would have liked to hear more about why Dawkins and others are mistaken about Formal Causality specifically.  Especially since so much rests on it.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

What part of “nothing” don’t you understand?

While we’re on the subject of bad cosmological speculations:  A reader asked me some time back to comment on this little video from New Scientist, which summarizes some of the claims made in an article from the July 23 issue on the theme “Why is there something rather than nothing?”  The magazine has been sitting on my gargantuan “to read” stack for a few months, and I've finally turned to it for some light reading.  And boy is it ever light.  Could anything possibly be as bad as the cringe-making pseudo-scientific amateur philosophizing on this subject we had reason to examine a few months ago?  Oh yes.  Oh my goodness, yes.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Broken Law (Updated)

So, a year after promising a reply to my detailed critique of his “evil god challenge,” Stephen Law’s long-awaited response (see the combox remarks he links to) mostly comes to this: You just don’t get it.  Go re-read my paper and this article by Wes Morriston.

“Courtier’s reply,” anyone?

Though he dismisses them as “awful,” Law does not respond in any substantive way to the points I made in my critique.  He does offer a few brief remarks intended to clarify his position, but they serve only to reinforce, rather than answer, my objections.  I’m not going to repeat everything I’ve said before -- if you haven’t already, go read my original post on Law (since which I’ve written a few other relevant posts, which I’ve linked to here).  But you might recall that the problem with Law’s position is as follows.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reading Rosenberg, Part III

Continuing our look at Alex Rosenberg’s The Atheist’s Guide to Reality, we come to Rosenberg’s treatment of the question “Where did the big bang come from?”  As serious students of the cosmological argument for the existence of God are aware, most of its defenders historically (including key figures like Aristotle, Aquinas, and Leibniz) are not arguing for a temporal first cause of the world.  Their claim is not that God must have caused the world to begin (though some of them believe that He did, for independent reasons) but rather that He must continually be sustaining the world in existence, and would have to be doing so even if the universe had no beginning.  But there is a version of the cosmological argument that does argue for a temporal first cause of the world, namely the kalām cosmological argument.  Rosenberg does not explicitly address any specific version of either argument, but he is, in effect, trying to rebut them both.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reading Rosenberg, Part II

We saw in part I of this series that Alex Rosenberg’s new book The Atheist’s Guide to Reality is less about atheism than it is about scientism, the view that science alone gives us knowledge of reality.  This is so in two respects.  First, Rosenberg’s atheism is just one implication among others of his scientism, and the aim of the book is to spell out what else follows from scientism, rather than to say much in defense of atheism.  Second, that it follows from his scientism is thus the only argument Rosenberg really gives for atheism.  Thus, most of what he has to say ultimately rests on his scientism.  If he has no good arguments for scientism, then he has no good arguments either for atheism or for most of the other, more bizarre, conclusions he defends in the book.

So, does Rosenberg have any good arguments for scientism?  He does not.  In fact, he has only one argument for it, and it is quite awful.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Crickets still chirping... (Updated)

Over a year ago, in the combox of a post on another topic, a reader asked for my opinion of Stephen Law’s “evil-god challenge” to theism.  In the same combox, I dashed off some brief remarks in response.  To my surprise, Law called attention to my off-the-cuff remarks over at his own blog, and offered a testy response in my combox.  He suggested that I read his article on the subject and told his own readers: “I have rattled [Feser’s] cage with a comment… Wonder if he'll respond?”

Well, I did read his article and I did respond both to the article and to his combox remarks, non-polemically and in detail.   Over a year later, I am still waiting for Law’s reply – a reply he said he would write.  Wonder if he’ll ever get to it?