The political roots of atheism

Atheists are always invoking science, but notice how often their arguments and rhetoric use political language.  God allegedly “oppresses” human beings, taking away their “freedom.”  They say that God is “immoral,” that, in the words of John Lennon, if we imagine no religion, “the world would live as one.”

In fact, as Nick Spencer shows in Politico, the origins of atheism in the West had little to do with the rise of science; rather, it grew out of radical political movements.  Marxism, of course, but before that the mindset of the French revolutionaries, with their anti-clericalism and opposition to the Catholicism that was allied to the old royal order.  Many of these revolutionaries were Deists, but others took the next step of atheism.   There were, however, some countries–such as the United States–in which the church did not oppose the new “liberal” ideas, so that atheism had little traction.   After the jump, a link to Mr. Spencer’s article and an extract. [Read more...]

A Christian case against Natural Law

As we posted earlier, many Christians are approaching moral issues in terms of natural law philosophy in an attempt to make a case before the secular world.  But Orthodoxy theologian David Bentley Hart argues that this is futile, that divine revelation is necessary for any kind of moral clarity.  Read the pro- and the con- argument (after the jump).  Which one do you think makes the better case? [Read more...]

Natural Law reconsidered

Natural law as a grounding for morality  is basic to Roman Catholic ethics, though it is variously embraced or rejected by Protestants.   As contemporary society tries to normalize sexual behavior long considered not just immoral but unnatural, natural law ethics have come back into vogue among those who insist that sexual morality is not just a narrow religious conviction but something applicable to everyone.

Protestant philosopher R. J. Snell has written a new book that attempts a new formulation of natural law, one grounded in love.  After the jump, an excerpt from the book that first explains what we mean by natural law.  (And note how the concept that nature has a “design”–c.f. the intelligent design movement–is integral to the idea.)

Later, I intend to post something on the Christian case against natural law theory, and we can weigh the issues. [Read more...]

Catholic, Calvinist, and Libertarian

David Brat, the Virginia economics professor who overthrew House Majority leader Eric Cantor in the Republican congressional primary, calls himself a “Calvinist Catholic libertarian.” Let’s hope Pope Francis doesn’t burn him at the stake!  But what could that possibly mean?

Does that make him, in effect, something like a Lutheran, holding to a sacramental spirituality that expresses salvation by grace alone, with a strong emphasis on Christian freedom?  Or is he trying to combine beliefs that can’t be combined?

Or is it mainly a matter of his social and economic theory? Julie Ingersoll explains that, after the jump. [Read more...]

Natural law vs. nominalism

Fr. Patrick Henry Reardon, an Orthodox priest, gives a lucid explanation of the difference between “natural law” and “nominalism” when it comes to moral philosophy.  He does so in a way that makes it nearly impossible to believe that Luther was a nominalist, as he is often accused of being.  Fr. Reardon also goes on to criticize his fellow Orthodox who believe that since church weddings are sacramental, the world outside may conduct marriage any way it pleases. [Read more...]

Anti-American conservatism?

Conservative think-tanker Peter Wehner cites recent speeches by Wayne La Pierre, Ben Carson, and Michelle Bachmann that describe America as a fundamentally corrupt neo-Nazi police state.  That is exactly what the New Left of the 1970′s said.

Read Mr. Wehner’s warnings against this mindset and this rhetoric after the jump.  And then consider. . . .Certainly, conservatism used to be associated with patriotism.  But is there something healthy about conservatives losing that America-right-or-wrong nationalism?  How can we strike a healthy balance between love of country and being able to criticize it? [Read more...]


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