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Was Bertrand Russell Right About Thomas Aquinas?

Bertrand Russell was one of the most prominent philosophers of the 20th century, and an outspoken skeptic. His bestselling book A History of Western Philosophy (which was cited as one of the reasons for his 1950 Nobel Prize in Literature) contains a short chapter in which he examines St Thomas Aquinas’ life and work, concluding with the following, damning remark: There is little of the true philosophic spirit in Aquinas. He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever... Read More

How Human Free Will Harmonizes with “Sufficient Reason”

This article’s sole purpose is to defend free will against the claim of those who maintain that free will is metaphysically impossible, because it somehow violates the principles of sufficient reason and causality. Arguments Against the Harmony The most forceful argument against free will’s possibility is the claim that it violates Thomistic metaphysics’ understanding of the principle of sufficient reason. That principle states that every being must have a sufficient reason for... Read More

How We Know the Human Soul is Immortal

In a 2015 video, I facetiously argued that, based on his own philosophical assumptions, Dr. Richard Dawkins does not actually exist. Of course, I firmly believe he does. But, my point was that, given his view of the universe, in which things are merely interacting aggregates of subatomic particles, there is no place for substantial unities above the level of whatever ultimate particles compose the cosmos. A substantial unity is a thing whose entire nature is the same throughout. Every... Read More

The Top 5 Problems with Contemporary Christian Apologetics

I spend a lot of time criticizing contemporary Christian apologetics. Since I am myself a Christian apologist, that might seem a bit strange. But it is, in fact, simply a practical outworking of my commitment to what I call the 50/50 Rule: 50/50 rule: devote as much time to (a) defending the beliefs of your opponents and critiquing your own beliefs as you devote to (b) critiquing the beliefs of your opponents and defending your own beliefs.... Read More

Does Good Conversation Really Require an Open Mind?

Over the years, I have often heard atheists pose the question, “What kind of evidence would it take you to give up your Christian belief?” In many cases, the assumption behind the question seems to be that the Christian should have some clear threshold of evidence in mind. And failure to state what that threshold is would call into question the rationality and intellectual seriousness of the Christian. Atheists aren’t the only ones posing this kind of demand. I recently came across... Read More

Just What Are Men and Women, Anyway?

Sometimes, the most important questions are the basic ones. Back in 2011, I argued that the most important question in the gay-marriage debate was “What is marriage?” The next year, Robert George, Ryan Anderson, and Sherif Girgis published a book exploring just that question: What Is Marriage?: Man and Woman: A Defense. But in the face of contemporary questions of transgenderism and gender identity, it turns out that we need to ask a yet more-basic question: what... Read More

Speaking the Truth in the Beauty of Love: A Guide to Better Online Discussion

EDITOR'S NOTE: This talk was delivered by Dr. Bryan Cross, a Strange Notions contributor, at Franciscan University on July 29, 2017. Although the original audience was primarily Catholic, most of Dr. Cross' advice applies equally well to all readers at Strange Notions, Catholics and atheists alike. We're sharing it given our special commitment here to "speaking the truth in love," to rational, charitable discussion. Enjoy!     I. Introduction   A number of years ago, before... Read More

Whatever is Moved is Moved By Another

“Motion is the act of a being in potency insofar as it is in potency.” - Aristotle, Physics Book III, 201a10-11 In his famous First Way of proving God’s existence, St. Thomas Aquinas says, “It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion.”1 But, are things really in motion? Most people would think that motion in the world is too obvious to doubt. Yet, some, based on theories of modern physics, claim that physical change in the universe is... Read More

Why an Infinite Regress Among Proper Causes is Metaphysically Impossible

Presuppositions, definitions, and purpose: This article presupposes the metaphysical first principles of non-contradiction, sufficient reason, and causality, which I defended earlier in a Strange Notions article. By the principle of sufficient reason, I mean that every being has a sufficient reason for its being or becoming. This principle is recognized by virtually all mankind as essential to reality’s intelligibility. By causality, I mean that every effect (a being whose sufficient... Read More

“Brute Facts” vs. “Sufficient Reasons”

The metaphysical principle that every thing must have a sufficient reason for its being or coming-to-be is challenged by those who claim that some “brute facts” exist, that is, things for which there are simply no reasons at all. The opponents of sufficient reason’s universality claim that science works quite well by finding reasons for many things, even though we allow that one thing or some things might turn out just to be “brute facts,” that is, things without a reason. But... Read More

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