Thursday, May 28, 2009

Woods on TLS

In the latest issue of Catholic World Report, Thomas Woods kindly reviews The Last Superstition. From the review:

“A crushing reply to the string of recent books by the so-called New Atheists… a stunning work…

The Last Superstition is a persuasive and powerful argument in defense of theism and Aristotelian metaphysics. It is sophisticated enough to convey to professional philosophers the seriousness and rigor of the theistic argument, while still being clear enough for the intelligent layman to understand. Indeed, it gives the layman the indispensible knowledge he needs to defend theism against the smart alecks who try to intimidate him but who themselves, as Feser shows, represent far more bluster than substance.

The presumption these days is to ask, ‘If you’re so smart, why are you religious?’ In light of Edward Feser’s indispensible book, a better question would be, ‘If you’re so smart, why are you still an atheist?’”

By the way, Woods, the author of many fine books and articles on history, politics, economics, and religion, has most recently published the best-selling Meltdown, a must-read presentation of the Austrian School analysis of the current economic crisis.


  1. Hello. I have not yet read The Last Superstition but I have ordered it and I am assured it will arrive within a few days. However, if you wouldn't mind indulging my impatience, I have one question about the book. I understand that it is a defence of theism but does it also defend any particular tenets of theist religion?

    I am, I suppose, an atheist. However, I am one by default rather than as a result of carefully considering theist and atheist arguments. No-one has yet convinced me of theism but this is perhaps because I have until recently ignored both religious arguments and those of the so-called New Atheists rather than because there are no convincing theist arguments to be made.

    Over the last few months I have come to realise that theism is more rational than I thought. I am not yet convinced but I have been devouring relevant books and articles and would not be surprised to find that in a few more months I decide that theism really is the rational conclusion.

    However, I have not yet, in anything that I have read, discovered how one goes from theism to religion. If we take Christianity as an example (but only because it is the religion with which I am most familiar) then how does one get from an Aristotelian metaphysics implying theism to the dogma of the Resurrection?

    I do not expect you to attempt to answer that question in a single blog post! However, any pointers to relevant books or articles would be received very gratefully.

    Thank you for writing a fascinating blog.

  2. Heya, Cealdecote.

    I think Ed's been pretty explicit that TLS is not a defense of any particular religion. It's a fantastic book, and you'll get a better understanding of scholastic (particularly Aquinas') thought, but it's not a specific defense of any specific faith.

    I'll let others throw in their recommendations for specific books arguing for particular faiths first, but I figured I could at least help you realize what to expect from TLS. (Ed also has a book coming out later this year on Aquinas in particular, which may - I am not sure - cover a more Catholic-centered argument.)

  3. Cealdecote: "However, any pointers to relevant books or articles would be received very gratefully."

    If you can afford it, or find a less expensive way to obtain a copy, you should definitely take a look at the recently released and highly lauded The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland. It's a bit advanced (especially the chapter concerning the ontological argument) but well worth it. Here's the table of contents (chapter 11 specifically pertains to Christianity):

    Notes on Contributors

    Introduction: William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland (Talbot School of Theology)

    1. The Project of Natural Theology: Charles Taliaferro (St. Olaf College)

    2. The Leibnizian Cosmological Argument: Alexander R. Pruss (Baylor University)

    3. The Kalam Cosmological Argument: William Lane Craig (Talbot School of Theology) and James D. Sinclair

    4. The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe: Robin Collins (Messiah College)

    5. The Argument from Consciousness: J. P. Moreland (Talbot School of Theology)

    6. The Argument from Reason: Victor Reppert (Glendale Community Collegeand Grand Canyon University

    7. The Moral Argument: Mark D. Linville

    8. The Argument from Evil: Stewart Goetz (Ursinus College

    9. The Argument from Religious Experience: Kai-Man Kwan (Hong Kong Baptist University)

    10. The Ontological Argument: Robert E. Maydole (Davidson College)

    11. The Argument from Miracles: A Cumulative Case for the Resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth: Timothy McGrew (Western Michigan University and LydiaMcGrew


    A more affordable resource would be In Defense of Natural Theology: A Post-humean Assessment. This has a slightly different focus in that it makes vigorous individual and cumulative arguments that set Hume's attacks on natural theology in fresh perspective and that offer new insights into the value of teleological, cosmological and ontological arguments for God's existence.

    Last, you can check out the many free resources on Reasonable Faith. This is the website of William Lance Craig, one of the editors of the first book I mentioned above, and also the author of Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed.

  4. Crude, thank you for the clarification. I didn't think TLS contained a defence of any specific faith but I wasn't sure. It was recommended to me as a defence of theism (and that is why I ordered it) so there's no disappointment there. However, I am also quite curious about the derivation of dogma from theism so I thought here would be a good place to ask. Indeed it was!

    T'sinadree, thank you very much! I'm not sure my budget can stretch to the first volume you mention but I shall certainly take a look at the others.

  5. Speaking of the Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, my work is being compared to it.

    I think the sub-title is a bit misleading. Skeptics think "a former preacher" never knew much to begin with, while Christian philosophers think "a former preacher" cannot challenge them. Maybe with these kinds of recommendations things may slowly change