Skepticism and Faith

Rational Responses to Skepticism is not a book for everyone. If one expects it to be another apologetics book filled with historical and scriptural analysis, he is badly mistaken. Rather, this volume is a rigorous rational defense of the intellectual foundations for Christianity in general and of Catholicism in particular.

[For those who cannot access Rumble, here is another link].

Following Vatican Council II, most of the previously orthodox Catholic colleges and universities slowly abandoned their firm commitment to the Catholic intellectual heritage, especially by decreasing both the number and traditional content of required theology and philosophy courses – and even by changing theology courses into what they called “religious studies.” This tendency was especially evident in their failure to continue to teach the Thomistic philosophical sciences, such as logic, philosophical psychology, metaphysics, natural theology, and natural law ethics. Such courses were routinely replaced by far fewer ones, which were then taught using an historical method inherently inimical to the truth status of competing historical positions. This, in turn, has led to generations of otherwise educated Catholic college graduates who have little or no real understanding of the Church’s intellectual heritage, and especially, its unequalled contributions offered by the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

Rational Responses to Skepticism’s intended mission is to restore significant respect for that all-important Catholic intellectual tradition. Since it is a compilation of forty-one separate essays – each one intended to be read on its own, it is not a daunting challenge to read for most educated persons. But, it contains rigorous intellectual defenses of foundational truths essential to authentic religious revelation, that is, to Christianity, and specifically, to Catholicism.

The book contains sections refuting scientific materialism and proving man’s spiritual nature. It gives a rigorous explanation of basic intellectual certitudes, such as the metaphysical first principles of being and causality. From these it proceeds to prove God’s existence and properties as well as addressing the problem of evil and the objective foundation for a natural law ethics whose authority is God himself. Finally, it examines the rational truths underlying religious revelation, including the scientific possibility of a literal Adam and Eve, a unique exposition of the demonstrable miracles of Fatima, and even an explanation as to why the possible existence of space aliens does not disturb any of the preceding objectively demonstrated truths.

As an example of the kind of content found in this volume, I will now present a brief summary of its first chapter, so that the reader can judge for himself the book’s value as a substantive resource for answering the skepticism and confusion which is the hallmark of the present age.

The first chapter of my book, Rational Responses to Skepticism (2022), is entitled “Naturalism’s Epistemological Nightmare.”

The purpose here is simply to give some indication as to the content of that chapter – the full content of which is found in the book itself.

There are many who think that there are only two types of knowledge: (1) that based on religious faith, and (2) that based on scientific knowledge. Effectively, this makes natural science sound like the only really rational basis for truth, while things, like the Bible, are followed without any real rational proof. No room is left for anything like having rational foundations for religion. You can be religious or you can be rational and scientific. But, you cannot be both. The classical philosophical foundations for religious faith are overlooked in this all too prevalent mindset.

Materialism is the view that all that exists somehow extends in time and space, whether in the form of subatomic particles or waves. Naturalism claims that all that exists can be known by empirical verification – thus excluding supernatural entities, such as the God of classical theism. Essentially, they amount to the same thing.

The problem with naturalism which I now consider lies in its epistemology, that is, the science that considers whether and how true knowledge is possible. According to naturalism, all that is real is found in physical reality. Natural science studies that reality from the immense reaches of the limits of outer space down to the incredibly small physical entities of subatomic particles and waves.

But, the method of natural science presupposes observation of the physical world.

We observe with our eyes light from the farthest stars and galaxies, some 13.8 light years distant. We call such distance measurements, “light years,” since it take a year for light to travel some 5.8 trillion miles to reach our eyes. That is why we say we are looking back in time when we look at distant stars. What we really see is not the star as it appears in the universe at this moment in time, but rather, as it appeared many years in the past. What we really are seeing is merely the light from that distant – possibly long extinct star – as that light now strikes our eyes.

But, wait! It turns out that that light we see strikes the outer eye only to pass through its lens and reaches the retina at the back of the eye. Yet, the retina, in turn, does not end the process, but rather, sends a nerve impulse through the optic nerve to the back of the brain, what is called the occipital lobe. As a result, science says an image is formed in the back of the brain – and that is what we really are “seeing,” when we see that distant star! So it is with every external object of sight. All we are really seeing according to this scientific reasoning is images formed in the back of the brain through a chain of causality starting with the external object, but ending deep within the brain itself, where “images” of external objects are actually experienced by us.

If this “scientific” explanation of vision is correct, then the truth is that we never see external objects at all. Rather, all we really know is internal images of things which we experience as external to us, but which are really merely internal brain representations we hope accurately depict external reality.

And yet, the whole story of science is allegedly the discovery of the nature of physical objects in a real material world external to our bodies – a world in which our bodies are but the least infinitesimal piece of a cosmos claimed to be about 93 billion light-years in diameter!

All this means that, while natural science claims to take its observations from external things in the physical world, the logic of its own explanation for visual experience leads to the paradoxical conclusion that we never really experience that physical world at all. We actually experience only events taking place inside our heads!

This absurd conclusion is forced, not by natural science itself, but by trying to think the content of that science in terms of purely physical things. Physical things are extended in space. This forces any explanation of seeing into a causal-chain straight jacket in which external objects must be traced in their effects to changes inside the body which, by definition, are distinct from and other than the objects we think we observe scientifically.

The simple fact is that we would not even know we have a brain or inside of our heads except that someone has done anatomical dissections of the head and found the brain. But, to do that we must accurately observe external objects. Yet, our scientific analysis leads us to the contradictory conclusion that we actually are not seeing the head or brain themselves, but only an “image” of such organs deep inside the “unseen” brain itself!

In philosophical terms, the view that we directly know external reality itself is what is called “epistemological realism.” But, if all we claim to know are solely images or ideas of things inside our heads or brains, that is called “epistemological idealism,” since only the idea or representation of the thing is known, not the thing itself.

As seen above, this paradoxical or contradictory situation arises, not because of our actual experience (which is one of seeing the external world itself), but because of a complicated analysis made in terms of physical mechanisms, such as light beams, eyes, optic nerves, and insides of brains.

But, unless we can actually make physical observations of external things themselves, natural science is impossible, since that is its very method!

This absurd result arises from trying to explain the whole process of vision in purely physical terms, as if nothing exists but physical mechanisms. The bottom line is that the philosophy of materialism leads to absurd conclusions. Therefore, materialism must be a false belief. But, if materialism is false, then non-material entities must exist. Somehow, sense perception of the external world requires the use of powers that are not mere mechanisms of physical things, that is, of things extended in space.

Because this self-contradictory line of reasoning arises as a direct result of the assumption that everything is physically extended in space, it must be that something non-material — something not extended in physical space — must exist.

In a word, the validity of natural science itself requires first that one cannot be a philosophical materialist. Otherwise, natural science entails that we cannot know the external physical world which it allegedly uses as the subject matter of scientific observation and inferences. Materialism or naturalism leads its own much-beloved natural science into an epistemological nightmare!

Later chapters of Rational Responses to Skepticism explain more exactly just how non-material sensory powers and other non-material realities must exist and play a central role in our understanding of the true nature of the world in which we live. The foregoing is simply a sample of the kind of reasoning one may expect in the entire volume – a volume that contains rigorous defenses of central portions of the entire Catholic intellectual tradition. My hope is that this book may serve as a valued reference volume for most well-educated Catholics as well as Catholic university philosophical and theological faculty and students.


Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, where he also served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. He is the author of three books, Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s ExistenceOrigin of the Human Species, and Rational Responses to Skepticism: A Catholic Philosopher Defends Intellectual Foundations for Traditional Beliefas well as many scholarly articles.


Featured: The Allegory of the Faith, by Johannes Vermeer; painted ca. 1670.


Islam and Psychiatry

In 1965, a book entitled, Sociologie des maladies mentales (Sociology of Mental Illnesses) by Georges Bastide was published. This book, densely written, was hailed, upon its publication, by the ethnopsychiatrist Georges Devereux, by the psychiatrist Robert Castel and even by the sociologist Alain Besançon, who was particularly laudatory: “Vast readings, patient clarification of entangled concepts, sharply critical of the results, confrontation with what is confrontable, bold conclusions as to the substance, modest in expression.”

What is True

But Georges Bastide’s project was anything but modest—he wanted to found the sociology of mental illness. He asked the question with a somewhat technical elegance: “Can we make room for social factors in the etiology of mental illnesses?” And of course, if so, which one?

To do this, he began by “establishing the register” of the disciplines involved in the question of mental illness. This is commendable. It is a question of avoiding confusion or even conflicts between researchers, and of guaranteeing the independence of the various human sciences and disciplines concerned: social psychiatry, which is concerned with the morbid social behavior of individuals suffering from mental disorders; the sociology of mental illness, which is interested in communities and groups—particularly those that form spontaneously or not in psychiatric hospitals; ethnopsychiatry, which establishes correlations between ethnic facts and types of illness.

We must add disciplines (“sciences” at the time, but that was “early days”) that were a bit specialized: “ecology,” which brings to sociology some of the most important aspects of the human condition, which brings to the sociology of mental illnesses the recognition of a particular spatial distribution of organic and functional psychoses (but which does not manage to grasp the causes). And industrial psychiatry, which, as its name indicates, is interested in psychopathologies linked to industrialization, and they are numerous, and sometimes serious.

The sociology of mental illness has a history whose conceptual evolution goes from Comte to Durkheim and from Freud to Sullivan and Parsons. Bastide clearly identified the two main types of theoretical approaches that divide the discipline: some that start from psychiatry and go towards sociology, others that go from sociology towards psychiatry. The sociologist reserves the right to re-establish the communication network between the three fields thus delimited, theoretically and practically.

Let us summarize the hypothesis: we cannot understand mental illness or the mentally ill if we do not take into account the society in which both are integrated. Or do not fit in. If madness can have organic causes—lesions, biochemical disorders, hereditary factors, etc.—it also has social causes, which need to be recognized and which is a matter of sociology: if an old man is vulnerable to madness, is it because he is old or because society rejects the old?

In other words, the influence of the environment must be recognized in the psychogenesis of mental illness, even its “organogenesis.” Today, this is obvious, and even a dogma. But it is still necessary to establish some foundations.

Why is this book, which is more than fifty years old, still of interest to us?

In addition to the fact that it constitutes one of the most accomplished, the densest, the most documented works of the time on questions that interest us—madness and mental health—it interests us because obviously our society presents some clinical signs of pathological features. Not to mention, of pure madness.

The Normal and the Pathological and the Family

All peoples distinguish several types of abnormality and all know what a mental disorder is.

It is society that designates the sick to be treated, and it is up to the psychiatrist to find the causes and the reasons for the illness. In order to distinguish the madman from the healthy man, it is necessary to rely on an external criterion, the consensus that the healthy man meets in terms of behaviors shared with the other members of the group (the normative character of health). Hence the theorization (or paradigm) in terms of deviant behaviors or conformity behaviors—those that make social life possible (and those that can also make it impossible).

But if we admit that society comes into play in the genesis of mental illness, the question that arises is that of the more or less pathogenic character of the societies in which men are called to be born, to grow up, to fight for most often, or sometimes to integrate into when they emigrate.

It is the ethnopsychiatrist Georges Devereux who put forward the idea that there are social neuroses.

Industrial society is one that eliminates waste. The unproductive is waste: it is for this reason that the madman is designated for the social “trash,” and that, in a world dedicated to rationalization and planning, he is the only one who can make a protest heard (like that of Nietzsche or Antonin Artaud). The misfortune is that this protest cannot be heard, because it is formulated in a way that is neither intelligible nor, above all, admissible. What remains is silence; in other words, superb isolation. The mental illness is in some way the translation of this marginalism of the values rejected and repressed by society.

As isolation, or if one prefers insularity, is a general feature of our civilization, and even a real ideology, (with, on the one hand, the wild competition for the improvement of one’s social status which pushes one to seek participation, and on the other hand the cultural norms which push one to withdraw), schizophrenia appears as a perfect model of sociological category offering to men the shell that they must secrete around them to be able to maintain, on the peripheries, the systems of “blocked” values. It is indeed the “norms” and the “values” which constitute a base of references from which a system of recognition (and exclusion) is built.

It is not difficult to admit that if the individual participates in a global society and in a culture of which he is one of the “cogs,” he is more deeply influenced by the groups of which he is a part, rather than by the larger community. And the most profound influence is obviously that of the family. We all know that it is within the family that insurmountable conflicts are set up, which generate psychopathology; overcome most of the time, but not always, unfortunately.

In this respect, the family is also a “group” which has its laws, its norms, its prohibitions, its taboos; in short, a system for defining what is allowed, what is tolerated, what is admissible or inadmissible.

But there are two ways of looking at the family. From the point of view of Durkheim and most French sociologists, it is a social institution, organized and controlled by the State through civil status—or by the Church—which considers the conjugal bond as irreducible. The rupture of the marriage contract is not free; it is surrounded by guarantees; it must be formalized to become valid. From the dominant point of view of North American sociology, it is a social-group structuring, according to certain cultural norms; a set of inter-individual relationships between husband and wife, between parents and children, between brothers and sisters, possibly between the three generations. European countries are increasingly tending to open up to this perspective, which, if not exclusive of the first, can enter into competition, then into conflict and contradiction. Until today, when the anthropologically normalized and normative family institution (one man and one woman), are eroded by recent laws.

There were thus two possible psychiatries of the family, depending on whether one considers it from the institutional or relational perspective.

No need to be a great expert to announce that pathologies will multiply and undoubtedly worsen.

Religion: An Integrative Force

Among the sociological variables of mental illness, we also find religion, or more exactly the religious group.

If this family is Catholic, Protestant, Jewish or Hutterite, it will intervene in the constitution of a healthy psyche, but also in the structuring of psychopathologies, even neuroses or psychoses.

Bastide takes again the hypothesis of Durkheim, who conceived religion as an integrative force and who had established that suicides varied in inverse reason of the more or less integrating character of religion. But he rightly questioned the notion.

“Should we understand it as a simple statistical fact of belonging to a group whose faith one may not live, which simply marks the origin and the fact of being baptized? Or should we give this word its full meaning; that of the mystical experience lived in the depths of the soul?”

Only in the second case does religion retain an integrative function. It would have no effect on those who are not Christians and do not participate in the life of the churches. Bastide rightly points out that France has many atheists who behave in a Catholic way and who live according to the values of their ancestors: they have only secularized Christian ideals without changing their mentality.

Is it possible to establish some correlations between a certain type of mental illness and the various confessions?

Yes, answers the anthropologist, but without much theoretical significance. If the values and norms that constitute the religious culture of an ethnic group dominate in the etiology of mental illnesses, (the family factor being determined by the ethnic-religious cultural traditions, at least at the time), these variables are weighted by the “social class” variable.

Moreover, psychic conflicts resulting from religious identification are rare and in cases encountered, the interest in religious things follows the illness and does not precede it. It is not the religion that is important but the individual’s reaction to it. Clearly, it is the illness or the neurosis that is prior to the religion. “The neuroses can transform religion into a pathological construction and the psychoses into feeding the delusions. But it is not the religion which creates the one and the other.”

It would be appropriate to inform a large part of our contemporaries about this.

In the 1960s, especially in Italy, psychiatrists and members of the clergy collaborated on these difficult questions. It was a question of “saving” religious life from what could jeopardize it (intra-family conflicts, the inhumanity of industrial relations) and which could eat away at it from within and make it fail in neurosis. One sought in the community spirit or the discipline of the Churches—(Christian asceticism)—a ” dominium ” of the affective life—in particular of the impulsive life—a protective environment, an education of the spirit and an orientation towards a healthier world. Even more “holy.”

All this is still very true, in any case for the Christian religion which largely molded and configured the European culture and mentality and thus French. At least until the last forty years.

But then what about Islam in a sociology of mental illness? And what about Muslim immigration, since it is clear that it is with this specific immigration that the European peoples are confronted.

The “Culture Shock”: “The Poplar Quarrel”

A famous quarrel pitted André Gide and Maurice Barrès against each other about rootlessness. It is known as the “Poplar Quarrel” because it uses the botanical analogy. Barrès stressed the harmful effects of rootlessness; Gide saw in it the sine qua non condition of creativity—except that the two cultures between which Gide saw himself divided were those of Normandy and Neustria… There is undoubtedly a more violent duality.

What does sociology say about the question?

Everything obviously depends on the predispositions—robust personalities are enriched by this double culture. And they usually learn to exploit both of them skillfully.

In any case, there is always a crisis and this crisis for some may be difficult or impossible to overcome. Learning new cultural mechanisms is difficult after the plasticity of childhood. The new social environment is perceived as hostile, because one does not manage to master it, even if only symbolically through the shared language. More seriously, the new environment is not perceived as different but as contradictory. Anxiety and hostility are the consequences of these difficulties.

In our case, the “European” social body evolved from a Christian society, with associated values and also virtues (even in counterfeits), the morality sometimes a little narrow and puritanical—to a “secularized” society; then secular one; in other words, essentially atheist. And since a few decades, Europe became anti-Christian and even Christianophobic.

In other words, Muslims found themselves faced with a changing society, with which they had less and less affinity, to the point of no longer recognizing themselves at all in the values displayed. The new anthropological foundation only reinforced their deep aversion for a society that they perceive as perverse, immodest and deeply revolting.

Studies, fifty years ago by Georges Bastide, showed that in the case of mixed marriages, the parent belonging to a different civilization pulled the child towards his culture, which made the child internalize a double system of contradictory standards. The disorders resulted from the conflict of cultures, not from family conflicts.

It is known, for example, that the close relationship of sons to their mothers generally delays Americanization (i.e., integration). However, no one is unaware of the hold of the maternal imago in all cultures and societies, but particularly in Muslim society. It is the male child who allows the mother to finally exist. Many psychoses appear not when there is a rupture of the family or internal tribal bonds but where the abnormal rigidity of these pre-social bonds prevents the individual from freeing himself from the law of his family circle, or his restricted group remained foreign to the social community. This is exactly the situation of the Muslim family, tribal, rigid and especially more and more alien to the society that surrounds it.

In the case of a marriage between Muslim and French (of Christian tradition but most often without any knowledge of his or her religious tradition), the Muslim parent has no need to “pull” the child to him or her. The community force acts. The child will be “Islamized.”

This so-called “moderate” Islam is in reality a dormant, muted Islam. It guarantees a possible functioning in European society, according to schizoid modalities (very widespread, whatever the religion) which allow to live, to have a job. The virus is in a way “dormant.” But in the face of the mutations of our societies, and their deviated ethics, radicalized and radicalizing Islam begins to shake the whole edifice. A very deep violence comes out of it, linked to the anguish of psychological disintegration of personalities which have been structured according to modes of which we know very little. Ethnopsychiatrists have been interested in traditional cultures, but relatively little in the disorders of the Muslim population. The proof is that in 1965, Islam was not included in religious variables, nor in any variables at all.

A Psychiatry of Transplantation and Uprooting?

It is obvious that a “crisis of transplantation” is inevitable, whatever the modalities in which it takes shape.

The migration of Muslim communities is not a migration like any other. The men and women who arrive in Europe belong to a completely different civilization. The basic personality built in a Muslim society obeys rigidities and defines a mentality. The new environment can only reshape a mentality that is “compatible” with the host country, if the person does not live withdrawn in a reconstructed environment. However, it takes months before a person or a family is integrated; in other words, before they have a home, a job, a stability that is not based on parasites. The time to feed many feelings of frustration, powerlessness, envy no doubt. The perfect ground for developing mental disorders.

However, the reality that is ours is striking. “Ghettos” are not the sole responsibility of the host country, but also of the need of migrant communities to reconstitute something of their country of origin.
Even if one emigrates to improve one’s social status, the change is marked by a decline in status. We know that Germany has integrated skilled men and women with low wages and trainee status. If at first, given their situation, these doctors, computer scientists and others are happy about the “chance” they have been given, it is not certain that in the long run their appreciation does not change. However, the descent in the social scale occupies an important place in the genesis of mental disorders.

How can the old European lands, de-Christianized, and having to face attacks of a great violence that aim at destroying the anthropological base which constitutes the only common element with the Muslim community, face without risk of collapse such a terrifying aggression?

Durkheim had provided a still effective framework by distinguishing four types of solidarity: mechanical solidarity, organic solidarity, forced solidarity (which defines colonial and slave societies, and apparently ours), and finally anomie. He analyzed the phenomenon of suicide within this framework that he had elaborated. In societies with forced or anomic solidarity, there is an abnormal increase in the suicide rate. This is the case in our societies. Anomie, by developing anxiety (the ambition without brake, the amplitude of the unrealizable projects, or, today, the confusion between unrealizable dreams and projects), by multiplying the failures is particularly apt to multiply the number of suicides.

It seems to me that what we are witnessing is less a clash of civilizations than a clash—very brutal and very violent—of mentalities.

Christianity used to mediate (in an often anomalous, diffuse, sometimes rather soft way) between the Muslim community and French society. Contrary to the efforts to make people believe that we have the same God, which is not the case; but we had common or similar ethical positions in matters of sexuality, an “altruism” whose roots were undoubtedly not comparable, but which in practice are similar: almsgiving, prayer. But blinded by her internal affairs, by the post-conciliar crisis, by the preoccupation to show the world her brand new modernism, the Church remained blind to the essential.

The retreat of Christianity has left Islam facing an increasingly libertine, impudent and shameless secular society, which is now seen not as different and compatible at least on the essentials, but as radically “contradictory.

And then came Muslim migration.

A Shock of Mentalities

From now on, we have to face a community, which not only does not wish to integrate itself into our society but which intends to “disintegrate” it. The madman does not invent his madness: he uses the symptomatological stereotypes that the society or the community to which he belongs provides him. He needs them to give signs. The world of madness not only feeds on images and signs borrowed from the surrounding world, but it keeps the formal laws of this world. Faced with a European madness, understood as the triumph of pure subjectivity, we have today a new pathological disorder: the “jihadist” madness, the madness of the Muslim world understood as the triumph of the religious group.

What better sign than to blow oneself up, in other words to disintegrate? The jihadist with his belt of explosives gives himself to be seen and heard by two types of audience: the Muslims, to whom he addresses himself to show the strength of his faith, and to the society he wants to destroy. And as well to his instructors.

We have two “matrices” to generate mental disorders.

On the one hand, a society suffering from dementia and suicidal madness, which no longer wants to encourage life, support old age, regulate the aggressiveness of dominant males and look after the weakest. And on the other hand, a society that pretends to freeze the roles of men and women, to control social behaviors, to fossilize effort, to forbid women any public life, to forbid them any social mobility and even any education.

They are two faces of the same unheard-of violence: convulsive fury on one side; ideological lies and mass propaganda on the other.

And between them? Ecumenical dialogue and SREM (Department of Muslim Relations) for the Churches, and for the State, ELCOs (Teaching Languages and Cultures of Origin).

In other words, nothing.


Marion Duvauchel is a historian of religions and holds a PhD in philosophy. She has published widely, and has taught in various places, including France, Morocco, Qatar, and Cambodia. She is the founder of the Pteah Barang, in Cambodia.


Featured: Pelerinage aux lieux dits saints de la ville de La Mecque en Arabie Saoudite—Le Hajj (Pilgrimage to the holy places of Mecca in Saudi Arabia—The Hajj), by Alfred Dehodencq (1822—1882); painted ca. late 19th century.


The Disturbing Rise of Satanism in France

Impiety does not surprise any more in France. In the name of secularism, Wayside Crucifixes are being torn down and statues of the Virgin are being removed. Alas, there is nothing new in this since the sacrileges committed by the anti-Christian Revolution of 1789. On the other hand, a new and particularly disturbing phenomenon seems to be emerging—the public worship of Satan.

Twenty years ago, the idea that the devil could be honored in our squares and streets would have made people smile in Descartes’ country. Witchcraft and diableries seemed to belong definitively to the past, when the French still believed in God. However, by a ruse of which history has the secret, here is that Satan makes his return, without even bothering to hide his hideous face.

Witches, Ghosts and Demons

This phenomenon began with the spread to France of Halloween, the Anglo-Saxon holiday celebrated on October 31 of each year.

Before the advent of Christianity, the Celts celebrated Samain on that night, one of the four great festivals of their calendar, when the dead returned to haunt the living. Over time, Samain-Halloween has become a dark celebration where all creatures—real or imaginary—associated with evil are honored: witches, zombies, vampires, ghosts and of course demons. It is also the occasion of the most important Satanic Sabbath of the year.

When witches and ghosts appeared in the French streets, most commentators saw it as a strictly commercial operation or the resurgence of an innocent folklore to entertain children in the greyness of autumn. However, it was the first time after centuries of Christianity that the Devil was celebrated more than God in France. The Feast of All Saints and the commemoration of the faithful dead were suddenly eclipsed by a grotesque cult of evil figures from Hell.

The Triumph of Hellfest

After the advent of Halloween came the triumph of Hellfest, a metal music festival that has been held every year near Nantes since 2006. For three days, hundreds of thousands of people from all over Europe flock to Clissons to listen to bands with names that evoke, among others, Behemoth, Belphegor, Black Sabbath, Dark Funeral, Deicide or Impaled Nazarene.

The band Mayhem in the song “A Grand Declaration of War” vomits its anti-Christian hatred: “Christianity. Religion of pity. God of the sick. We don’t declare peace, we declare war.” The group Belphégor incites to kill Christians: “Christians to the lions! Burn crosses. Jesus Christ, son of fetid smell. Jesus Christ, castrated savior.” The band Marduck in the song “Jesus Christ sodomized” advocates the death of priests: “Piss on Christ and kill the priest, follow nature—praise the beast.” The band Dark Funeral pledges allegiance to Satan, whom they take as their father: “Lord of the Underworld, unholy father. Your wish is my command. I will cut the lying throat, Christian blood will fall to the ground.” The group Impaled Nazarene, in the album, In Absence of War calls for the desecration and even death of Christian children: “We will hunt you down one by one. We will destroy all your religious relics. We will set fire to places of worship. We will slit the throats of all your children.”

In 2022, with more than 420,000 paid admissions, Hellfest became the largest festival in France in terms of attendance.

A Circle of Hell in our Cities

Without fanfare, Satanism is insidiously spreading in the urban landscape, as it is the case in Nantes. This year, the capital of the Pays de la Loire region exhibited a series of dark and threatening silhouettes in front of one of the city’s churches, as part of the Voyage à Nantes event. One of them, with hairy feet and horns on his head, seems to lead a little group, with a shepherd’s crook in his hand.

“Unnamed characters escape from a final judgment, bursting into laughter. A mayor of ceremony-wolf and his cane open a ball where animals, humans and hybrids do not know what to do… These characters gesticulate and parade in a kind of last disarticulated and agitated parade straight out of a macabre dance,” we read in the presentation-catalog of Voyage à Nantes.

However, that’s not all—Nantes also hosts Charon’s Wheel, a creation of the American artist Peter Hudson. The work in question is a gigantic wheel in the shape of an eye, with a triangular base—which forms a triangle around the wheel, referring to the deist and Masonic symbol of the eye of providence—around which twenty skeletons wave and hang. The name “Charon” refers of course to the boatman who, in Greek mythology, leads souls to the Underworld by making them cross the Styx. After Nantes, Charon’s Wheel of Hell will be exhibited in Paris.

The ideology of the Enlightenment and that of Progress have made us believe in the inevitable and definitive advent of a rationalist, positivist and atheist society. However, while the death of God is proclaimed everywhere, Satan reappears. Atheism is thus only a bridge that has led, in the space of a few centuries, the Eldest Daughter of the Church (France) to the unthinkable—the worship of Satan. “He who is not with me is against me,” Our Lord warned us.


Antoine Bellion writes from France. This articles through the kind courtesy of Avenir de la Culture.


Featured: Hell, in the Missal of Raoul du Fou, Normandy ca. 1479-1511.

The Anthropological Problem in Eschatology

The Question of Man

In our time, it is becoming increasingly clear that it is man himself who is in question. And at the same time, it is becoming increasingly clear that we are living at a critical, extremely critical moment in history—and it is possible (and even likely to be so) that we are living in the end times.

Epidemics and wars are mowing down millions of human lives. In the Special Military Operation (SMO) the world is brought to the brink of a nuclear war, which, if started, could end humanity’s existence.

At the same time, the horizons of the post-human future are becoming clearer in philosophy and science. The Singularity theory, the transfer of the initiative to a strong Artificial Intelligence, the success of genetic engineering, the improvement of robotics, attempts to merge people and machines (creation of cyborgs)—all this calls into question the very species of man, proposing to turn this page of history and decisively enter the era of posthumanism, transhumanism.

In such a situation, it is extremely important to address the anthropological issue anew with the utmost seriousness. If man is on the verge of extinction, annihilation, fundamental and irreversible mutation, then what is he after all? What was he? What is his essence and his mission? By approaching the limit, man can better review his own forms, and thus grasp his eidos, his essence.

Such a review can be done in many different ways. It all depends here on the original point of view. Each scientific or ideological paradigm will proceed from its own structures. In this paper we aim to make sense of man primarily in the context of Christian eschatology. But in order to clarify how Christian doctrine represents man, his nature and his destiny in the last times, it is necessary first to make an excursion into a more general problematic of religious anthropology in general.

Humanity’s Dualism at the Last Judgment

The end of the world in the Christian tradition (as well as in other versions of monotheism) is described in some detail. The culmination of all world history will be the moment of the Last Judgment. And here we encounter the main feature of eschatological anthropology: dualism, the final division of humanity into two groups, represented by the images of lambs (cattle, flock—πρόβατον) and goats (ἔριφος). The lambs are the elect who receive a good answer at the Last Judgment. The goats are the damned, doomed to eternal destruction. The lambs go to the right, to salvation; the goats go to the left, to damnation.

Matthew’s Gospel describes this division this way (Mt 25:31-36):

31 When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
31 Ὅταν δὲ ἔλθῃ ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου ἐν τῇ δόξῃ αὐτοῦ καὶ πάντες [a]οἱ ἄγγελοι μετ’ αὐτοῦ, τότε καθίσει ἐπὶ θρόνου δόξης αὐτοῦ·

32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
32 καὶ συναχθήσονται ἔμπροσθεν αὐτοῦ πάντα τὰ ἔθνη, καὶ ἀφορίσει αὐτοὺς ἀπ’ ἀλλήλων, ὥσπερ ὁ ποιμὴν ἀφορίζει τὰ πρόβατα ἀπὸ τῶν ἐρίφων,

33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left.
33 καὶ στήσει τὰ μὲν πρόβατα ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ τὰ δὲ ἐρίφια ἐξ εὐωνύμων.

34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
34 τότε ἐρεῖ ὁ βασιλεὺς τοῖς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ· Δεῦτε, οἱ εὐλογημένοι τοῦ πατρός μου, κληρονομήσατε τὴν ἡτοιμασμένην ὑμῖν βασιλείαν ἀπὸ καταβολῆς κόσμου.

35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
35 ἐπείνασα γὰρ καὶ ἐδώκατέ μοι φαγεῖν, ἐδίψησα καὶ ἐποτίσατέ με, ξένος ἤμην καὶ συνηγάγετέ με,

36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.”
36 γυμνὸς καὶ περιεβάλετέ με, ἠσθένησα καὶ ἐπεσκέψασθέ με, ἐν φυλακῇ ἤμην καὶ ἤλθατε πρός με.

This formulation suggests that the division occurs among the nations (πάντα τὰ ἔθνη), but tradition interprets it as a division among people on a deeper—ontological—principle. Sheep are those whose nature turns out to be good. The goats—and here a clear reference to the ancient Hebrew rite of casting out the scapegoat—are those who have moved decisively to the side of evil.

Eschatology thus sees the end of human history not as a unity, not ex pluribus unum facere (from many one), but precisely as a division, a division, a fundamental fork.

Humanity at the Last Judgment is bifurcated, and finally and irreversibly. The result of humanity’s existence in time is its distribution into two sets, which in this very bifurcated state enters eternity. It is no longer a stage, not an intermediate position, but precisely an irreversible end. The end of man is the absolute and irrevocable decision of God at the Last Judgment.

Thus, eschatology strictly states that the omega point for humanity will be its bifurcation, the division into sheep and goats. On the damned—as scapegoats—will be symbolically placed all the sins of humanity, and as such they will be separated from the rest, whose sins will, by contrast, be forgiven by divine Grace.

The Particular Unity of the Church

So, the end of man will be his bifurcation. Biblical tradition begins human history with Adam and Paradise. Man was created as one, and his division into man and woman (Eve’s creation) was the prelude to the fall into sin and further fragmentation. The end result of the entire historical process will be the Last Judgment. We can say that the general vector of history moves from unity to duality.

In this, Christian teaching is based on the fact that in the final stages of sacred history, the process of fall into sin was overcome by the voluntary sacrifice of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who restored—but on another ontological level—the original unity, uniting scattered people into a new wholeness—the Church of Christ. The unity of the Church restores the unity of Adam and forms the part of humanity which at the Last Judgment will be numbered among the sheep, the flock of Christ. But this unity is not mechanical. It is not the result of adding up everyone. Only the saved are included in the unity and wholeness (synodality) of the Church as emphasized in the Creed (“I believe… in the one holy and apostolic Church”). This is what the Gospel parable about those invited to the wedding feast tells us— ” For many are called, but few are chosen (Mt. 22:14).” After all, the unity of the Church consists of the fellowship of the elect—the saints, the saved, those who have accepted Christ, and those who have remained faithful to this choice until their last breath. Sinners, on the other hand, do not inherit the Kingdom of God; they are cast out of it. They have no part in the “next age.” Their fate is utter destruction, the disappearance into the abyss. Therefore, the unity of the Church does not include those who have voluntarily renounced it.

Unity by Subtraction

This theme of the unity of the Church, which does not include sinners, is saturated with a fundamental metaphysical meaning. Unity is usually understood as an addition, that is, the addition of all the parts, which is intended to recreate some whole. This is partly the meaning of “synodality,” that is, “gathering together.” By putting everything together, we would have unity. But in the case of the anthropology of the Last Judgment, this is not quite so, or even not at all.

The unity of the Church includes the saints, the righteous, and the saved. But—it excludes sinners, or rather absolute sinners—unrepentant and unredeemed by loved ones and saints.

This problem came to a head in connection with Origen’s doctrine of Apocatastasis, that is, the strictly Platonic understanding that the unity (split at the beginning of the manifestation of the world) process will be fully restored at the end of time, including repentance of the fallen angels, and even the devil himself, thus forgiving them. Here, indeed, unity is thought of as first the scattering and then the gathering together of all that is scattered, including sinners and Lucifer.

But this doctrine was rejected by the Church. And this is clearly no accident; rather, a completely different understanding of unity is emphasized. Unity includes the saved and excludes the damned. Unity is subtraction, not addition. Those who go the way of the goats take on the negative side of creation. What is, is affirmed as such, but it involves a kind of purification from what is not. And men and angels who have taken the path of evil take it upon themselves to become bearers of non-existence.

Theology is based on a radical gap between the two natures—the nature of God and the nature of the world He created. Their separation becomes explicit at the moment of the beginning of creation, and is subject to judgment at the moment of its end. That is, metaphysically there is 1 and 1, one God and one creation (as not God). To affirm the oneness of each unit, one must deny the existence of the other. God is so superior to creation that there is, even when there is no creation. Thus, this oneness of God equates the world with nothingness. Hence creation ex nihilo.

But there is also a satanic unity of the world opposed to God. For the world to be one and the same, there must be no God. This is what the devil is going for—and also the entire depiction of the world of the European New Age. The unity of the world is ensured by the nonexistence of God.

In both cases, unity is the result of the negation of the second unity, that is, subtraction. One of the units of the formula 1+1 must be subtracted, taken with a minus sign. To get unity from 2 you must subtract 1. One must gather that which belongs to the unit of God and deny that which belongs to the unit of the devil. Or vice versa.

Hence the main problem of eschatological anthropology. At the Last Judgment, the cursed part of humanity is subtracted from humanity, becoming a collective—cathedral!—”scapegoat.” And it is this condemnation of sinners that constitutes the fullness of the assembly of the righteous. All humanity is humanity minus those who have sided with Satan. And it is the act of subtracting that makes this humanity complete.

In the act of creating something that would not be God in nature, there must be involved both something of God and something not of God, that is, nothing. Something of God mixes with something that is not of God—like soul with body, spirit with dust. And this mixing is not unity. It is only a task given to the subject. In choosing spirit, the subject chooses the Church, unity with God, in His direction. By choosing the opposite, that is, dust, matter, materialism, the subject chooses nothing. The righteous man purifies spirit from matter; the sinner purifies matter from spirit. By subtracting each other from humanity, the two parts build the ontological foundation of eschatological anthropology. The unity of the righteous represents the synodality of being, which surrenders itself to God, the true One and Only. The aggregation of sinners forms the army of the damned, the cathedral of nothingness. A collective of scapegoats.

The Scapegoat

We should look more closely at the Gospel image of the separation of sheep and goats. There is clearly a distinct reference to the Old Testament sacrificial rite in which one goat was separated from the sacrificial animals (sheep and bulls), which became the “scapegoat” (Hebrew for “azazel”— עֲזָאזֵֽל—the expression לַעֲזָאזֵֽל—literally, “for complete removal”). In the Septuagint this expression was translated as ἀποποπομπαῖος τράγος, Latin caper emissarius.

The book of Leviticus gives this description of Aaron’s sacrifice (Lv. 16:21-22):

21 and Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins; and he shall put them upon the head of the goat, and send him away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness.

21 καὶ ἐπιθήσει ᾿Ααρὼν τὰς χεῖρας αὐτοῦ ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ χιμάρου τοῦ ζῶντος καὶ ἐξαγορεύσει ἐπ᾿ αὐτοῦ πάσας τὰς ἀνομίας τῶν υἱῶν ᾿Ισραὴλ καὶ πάσας τὰς ἀδικίας αὐτῶν καὶ πάσας τὰς ἁμαρτίας αὐτῶν καὶ ἐπιθήσει αὐτὰς ἐπὶ τὴν κεφαλὴν τοῦ χιμάρου τοῦ ζῶντος καὶ ἐξαποστελεῖ ἐν χειρὶ ἀνθρώπου ἑτοίμου εἰς τὴν ἔρημον,

כא וְסָמַךְ אַהֲרֹן אֶת-שְׁתֵּי יָדָו, עַל רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר הַחַי, וְהִתְוַדָּה עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲוֺנֹת בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֶת-כָּל-פִּשְׁעֵיהֶם לְכָל-חַטֹּאתָם; וְנָתַן אֹתָם עַל-רֹאשׁ הַשָּׂעִיר, וְשִׁלַּח בְּיַד-אִישׁ עִתִּי הַמִּדְבָּרָה.

22 The goat shall bear all their iniquities upon him to a solitary land; and he shall let the goat go in the wilderness.

22 καὶ λήψεται ὁ χίμαρος ἐφ᾿ ἑαυτῷ τὰς ἀδικίας αὐτῶν εἰς γῆν ἄβατον, καὶ ἐξαποστελεῖ τὸν χίμαρον εἰς τὴν ἔρημον.

כב וְנָשָׂא הַשָּׂעִיר עָלָיו אֶת-כָּל-עֲוֺנֹתָם, אֶל-אֶרֶץ גְּזֵרָה; וְשִׁלַּח אֶת-הַשָּׂעִיר, בַּמִּדְבָּר.

On other occasions, the “scapegoat” was thrown off a cliff. This ritual clearly resonates with the Gospel account of how Jesus Christ healed a demoniac in the country of Gadara, commanding the demons to come out of him and inhabit a herd of pigs grazing nearby. The demons obeyed, and the entire herd rushed to the precipice and tumbled from it into the abyss. In this case, the role of the “scapegoat” is played by the herd of pigs, which took upon themselves the sins for which the demon-possessed suffered.

According to tradition, a piece of red woolen cloth was tied to the goat to be sent off to the desert. Part of it the Old Testament priest tore off during the passage of the goat through the city gates and hung it in public view. If God accepted the cleansing sacrifice, the cloth would miraculously turn from red to white.

It is important to note that the scapegoat was separated specifically from the sacrificial animals, which were considered clean, and it represented a special sacrifice. The complex symbolism of the scapegoat, associated it with the fallen angel, Satan, but remained entirely within the structure of Jewish monotheism. In the apocryphal book of Enoch (8:1), Azazel appears as the name of one of the “fallen angels.”

In ancient Greece, a similar ritual was associated with the ritual execution of a criminal who took the sins of the community (φαρμακός, κάθαρμα, περίψημα). In this, we can likely recognize echoes of the ancient cults of Dionysus. [The French philosopher René Girard based his philosophical system on an analysis of the scapegoat figure, in his books, The Scapegoat, Violence and the Sacred, I See Satan Falling Like Lightning].

It should be emphasized here that the final fate of humanity at the Last Judgment divides it into a sacrifice pleasing to God (the sheep, and not by chance the lamb symbolizes Christ himself) and those who are sent away, separated, cut off, fall away from the main flock (humanity). The goats are not pleasing to God, are not accepted by Him, and therefore are rejected—perishing without a trace in the wilderness or falling into the abyss.

Here we may recall the story of the two children of Adam (the unity of mankind), Abel and Cain. Abel’s sacrifice is accepted and Cain’s is rejected. The creation of Eve (the division of man), which led to the eating of the forbidden fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (again the duality opposite to the unity of the tree of life) and the birth of the two brothers Cain and Abel (the story of the first murder) are all initial prototypes of the final human story, the last sacrifice at the Last Judgement.

Thus, at the end of the world, humanity’s duality, manifested in its irreversible division, becomes fully explicit, obvious, but implicitly this division began already in paradise.

The Division of Angels

However, even before the creation of man, a similar division occurs at the level of the angels. Created immortal, incorporeal and eternal spirits, angels are divided into two halves (Ps. 90/91:7):

A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand: but it shall not come nigh thee
πεσεῖται ἐκ τοῦ κλίτους σου χιλιὰς καὶ μυριὰς ἐκ δεξιῶν σου πρὸς σὲ δὲ οὐκ ἐγγιεῖ
יִפֹּל מִצִּדְּךָ ׀ אֶלֶף וּרְבָבָה מִימִינֶךָ אֵלֶיךָ לֹא יִגָּשׁ׃

Here, too, the original unified angelic nature is dissected. Part of the angels are faithful to God and retain their supreme position in creation. The second part, under Danica (Hebrew בֶּן-שָׁחַר “son of the dawn,” Greek ἐωσφόρος, Latin Lucifer) or Satan (Hebrew שָׂטָן—literally, “adversary,” “enemy”) rebels against God and His creation, and as a result of the battle of angels, in which the good angels are victorious, he falls to the very bottom of existence—the realms below the bottom of creation.

Thus, the history of man and his separation echoes the fate of the higher incorporeal entities, the angels, who are also divided into two irreconcilable halves. In a sense, this is the logical result of the freedom that God has fully given to His creation. Every being endowed with intelligence and will, whether human or angel, is capable of consciously making a fundamental choice—to be with God or without Him, and without Him, in the end, means against Him; that is, the way of rebellion and godlessness. Such a choice inevitably leads to the abyss and turns the subject’s being into a rejected victim, that is, a scapegoat.

According to the teaching of the Church, the Last Judgment will determine the final fate not only of human beings, but also of angels. [And the angels who kept not their principality, but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day (The Epistle of the Holy Apostle Jude 1:6)]. It is then that Jesus Christ, along with the good angels and saints, will also condemn the evil angels, who shall share the fate of the goats, the “scapegoats,” and finally perish in the abyss.

Thus, eschatological anthropology is inextricably linked to angelology. People and angels have a similar fate—both are given the fullness of mind and will and, therefore, the ontological fullness of freedom. And with the support of this freedom, both determine their own destiny—to become God’s accepted sacrifice or rejected. From indefinite unity, the path of the intelligent creature leads to the ultimate and irreversible bifurcation of the Last Judgment.

The Common Destiny of Men and Angels

The commonality of the destinies of humans and angels is an essential element of religious anthropology. Both begin in unity and end in separation. Both are fully endowed with freedom, intelligence, and will. But they belong to two different dimensions—humans are endowed with a dense body, which angels are not, and are therefore mortal (in body). Angels do not have bodies and do not depend on a dense shell—they maintain their existence from the beginning to the end of creation. Therefore, their choice is not in time, but in eternity—Danica fell in the very origins of time, and falls on the continuation of the entire history of the world and will finally be overthrown at the Last Judgment. Angels have a different scale, but the same ontological problematics as humans.

This scale, in addition to temporality, is also reflected in the fact that the angels, being free from the body, are able to control the bodily elements of the world. Hence their power. The Apocalypse gives a picture of the end times, when angels, faithful to God, inflict world plagues on mankind. And Satan, the fallen angel, is called by the apostles “the prince of this world” (Jn 12:31) and even “the god of this age” (2Cor 4:4), which emphasizes the enormous scope of his power in controlling the processes of the cosmos.

It can be said that the history of man goes from the unity of Adam to the final separation at the Last Judgment in the horizontal—temporal—dimension. The “history” of the angels is vertical. It is organized along the axis of eternity, which permeates creation once and for all. That is why the devil appears already in paradise, and in the end times he takes almost complete power over the world. And they have a common end—the Last Judgment. At the beginning and end of world history, the fate of angels is extremely close to the fate of people, and the eternal vertical of creation with the horizontal of time. And this leads us to be more attentive to both dimensions, the anthropological and the angelological, which can never be completely separated from each other. At the beginning and end of history, the respective moments—unity and bifurcation—unite angels and humans fully. But even in the intervening epochs—as well as in the different slices of the angelic vertical—humans and angels are in close proximity to one another.

Most importantly, human history and the destiny of angels are defined by a fundamental code of bifurcation. In eschatology this becomes fully explicit. It is at the end of time at the Last Judgment that the whole truth about the fall of the angels will be revealed. Similarly, the entire content of man’s being in time will also be revealed—the secret will be revealed [Mt 10:26; Mk 4:22; Lk 17).

The commonality of humans and angels is structured by a fundamental duality: Humans, occupying the middle—horizontal—layer of creation, move to the final separation gradually—in the course of the historical process, reaching its culmination at the moment of the Last Judgement (here human duality is manifested in absolute degree). The fall of angels takes place vertically and instantaneously—in the context of a created eternity, always simultaneous for any moment of historical time. This is why the dualism of angels is permanent. It is always there, from the beginning of time to its end; but the final condemnation of fallen angels will coincide with the Last Judgment.

In other words, the dualism of humanity is implicit in the course of history, while the dualism of angels is explicit in relation to any moment of human history—the choice of people unfolds in time, the choice of angels is instantaneous. At the same time, the dualization of humanity unfolds in the context of the once and for all accomplished fall of the angels. Both dimensions create the volume of the ontological process, which, in fact, is sacred history.

The Anthropology of the Psalms (Avdeyenko ‘s Interpretation)

This fundamental dualism of anthropology (as well as angelology) is brought to sharp focus by the contemporary Russian Bible scholar, philosopher, and theologian Yevgeny Avdeyenko. In his interpretation of the Psalms and the Book of Job, he gives a detailed interpretation of the entire ontological scope of human duality, interpreting the biblical texts in this way. Avdeyenko emphasizes that the Psalter plays such an exceptional role in Christian tradition and liturgy precisely because it presents the fundamental structure of man, and King David appears as the most vivid example of man as such—summarizing the ontological history of Adam and anticipating the new Adam of Christ. The entire content of the Psalms is a narrative of the structure, nature and destiny of man as such. And this is precisely its enduring significance.

Avdeyenko’s contrasting emphasis on the anthropological nature of the Psalms is accompanied by another crucial point: in his reading, the Psalter opens as a fundamentally dualistic narrative where the main content is the opposition between two zones of existence—light and darkness, good and evil, the heavenly realm and the underground hell (Sheol)—right down to its lowest layer, the abyss of Abaddon. God is one, but precisely because He is one and only He is one, being is essentially dual. This will be fully revealed in the division of the Last Judgment, but for Avdeenko this same dualism predetermines the entire content of anthropology and sacred history, of which the Psalter is the semantic mediator.

Anthropological (as well as angelological) dualism for Avdeyenko is not postponed until the final chord of the end times; it operates initially and without interruption and is the main key to comprehending religion as such. Here it is appropriate to recall what we said about the vertical along which the fall of the angels has forever passed, is passing and will continue to pass. Man—Adam, David—is always placed in the middle of this vertical, where the choice is possible in time. The finalization of this choice will coincide with the end of time. But the impact of the two opposing poles man always feels—in every moment of his existence. He always faces the choice of Cain and Abel, the faithful Apostles or Judas, the archangel Michael or Danica. In contrast to the angels, whose choice has always been made and made unambiguously, man has until his last breath the possibility of changing his ontological camp—” Turn away from evil and do good: seek after peace and pursue it” (Ps 33:15). And then he has only to wait for the Last Judgment.

Man’s dualism includes time. This is the core of his moral nature. Man is never mechanically doomed to be good or evil. It is a choice made throughout a person’s life. This is what the Psalms tell us, as Avdehyenko discusses at length.

Children of Light and Children of Darkness

Anthropological dualism is already found in a purely Christian context in the Apostle Paul. In his First Letter to the Thessalonians, he writes:

5 For all you are the children of light, and children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

5 πάντες γὰρ ὑμεῖς υἱοὶ φωτός ἐστε καὶ υἱοὶ ἡμέρας. οὐκ ἐσμὲν νυκτὸς οὐδὲ σκότους·

6 Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do; but let us watch, and be sober.

6 ἄρα οὖν μὴ καθεύδωμεν [b]ὡς οἱ λοιποί, ἀλλὰ γρηγορῶμεν καὶ νήφωμεν.

7 For they that sleep, sleep in the night; and they that are drunk, are drunk in the night.

7 οἱ γὰρ καθεύδοντες νυκτὸς καθεύδουσιν, καὶ οἱ μεθυσκόμενοι νυκτὸς μεθύουσιν·

8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, having on the breastplate of faith and charity, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.

8 ἡμεῖς δὲ ἡμέρας ὄντες νήφωμεν, ἐνδυσάμενοι θώρακα πίστεως καὶ ἀγάπης καὶ περικεφαλαίαν ἐλπίδα σωτηρίας·

In John’s Gospel, Jesus himself speaks of the “children of light” (John 12:36):

36 Whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light. These things Jesus spoke; and he went away, and hid himself from them.

36 ὡς τὸ φῶς ἔχετε, πιστεύετε εἰς τὸ φῶς, ἵνα υἱοὶ φωτὸς γένησθε. Ταῦτα ἐλάλησεν Ἰησοῦς, καὶ ἀπελθὼν ἐκρύβη ἀπ’ αὐτῶν.

Paul’s division into “sons of light” (υἱοὶ φωτός) and “sons of darkness” (υἱοὶ σκότους) draws our attention to the same anthropological dualism. Those who are with God, with Christ, those who believe in light are the humanity of Abel, Noah, the forefathers, the saints, and the martyrs. They, being in time, prepare with their being the sacrificial animals of the Last Judgment—the sheep, the lambs. This is the humanity of light. But people do not become such by predestination, by birth, or by rigid mechanical conditions, but by their own free will. Only those who are absolutely free can choose between light and darkness. And this is why Paul calls Christians precisely to “become” sons of light, to become them—to be awake, to stay awake, to awaken from the inertia of everyday life. To be “sons of light” means to become “sons of light,” to put ourselves into “sons of light. Jesus Christ himself says the same thing in John’s Gospel—”Believe in the light, that you may be sons of light.” If you believe, you will become sons. No one is born a son of light knowingly. Man always, personally, determines his own nature—placing it either above himself—in the realm of the faithful angels, or below himself—giving himself to the attraction of Danica, sinking into Sheol, slipping into the abyss of Abaddon. And if a man falls, turning away from the light, he becomes a “son of darkness,” a “son of night.” Again, he is not born, but he becomes—constituting his being himself with the support of freedom—mind and will. No one can be forced to become a “son of light” or a “son of darkness.” There is always a choice. Man is this choice himself. This, in fact, is what the Psalms and the Gospels tell us, and what the Bible as a whole tells us.

Anthropology and the Physics of the Resurrection

The Last Judgment occurs after the resurrection of the dead. Christian teaching specifies that “not all will die, but all will be changed.” The apostle Paul writes (I Cor 15:51-52):

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall all indeed rise again: but we shall not all be changed.

51 ἰδοὺ μυστήριον ὑμῖν λέγω· [a]πάντες οὐ κοιμηθησόμεθα πάντες δὲ ἀλλαγησόμεθα,

52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall rise again incorruptible: and we shall be changed.

52 ἐν ἀτόμῳ, ἐν ῥιπῇ ὀφθαλμοῦ, ἐν τῇ ἐσχάτῃ σάλπιγγι· σαλπίσει γάρ, καὶ οἱ νεκροὶ ἐγερθήσονται ἄφθαρτοι, καὶ ἡμεῖς ἀλλαγησόμεθα.

The dualism of eschatological anthropology will be fully revealed, after this fundamental metamorphosis of humanity, when the resurrected dead will coexist with the changed—clothed in incorruptible flesh—of the living.

To better understand the meaning of the resurrection of the dead, the expectation of which is included in the “Creed” of the Christian, and therefore is an integral part of all doctrine, we should turn to the phases of creation. The eschatological processes partly repeat the phases of creation in reverse order. Creation comes from God and is directed outward (toward Him). The end of time brings creation back to God, puts it in the face of God—bringing it to His judgment. This return is the universal resurrection, where the entire content of the history of the world is recreated instantly and simultaneously.

But resurrected humanity requires different ontological conditions compared to the world in which we find ourselves. These conditions can be summarized as the physics of resurrection. Other laws are in effect here—beyond the usual time and space. The apostle Paul says this about the physics of the resurrection (I Cor 15:39-44):

39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but one is the flesh of men, another of beasts, another of birds, another of fishes.

39 οὐ πᾶσα σὰρξ ἡ αὐτὴ σάρξ, ἀλλὰ ἄλλη μὲν ἀνθρώπων, ἄλλη δὲ σὰρξ κτηνῶν, ἄλλη δὲ [a]σὰρξ πτηνῶν, ἄλλη δὲ ἰχθύων.

40 And there are bodies celestial, and bodies terrestrial: but, one is the glory of the celestial, and another of the terrestrial.

40 καὶ σώματα ἐπουράνια, καὶ σώματα ἐπίγεια· ἀλλὰ ἑτέρα μὲν ἡ τῶν ἐπουρανίων δόξα, ἑτέρα δὲ ἡ τῶν ἐπιγείων.

41 One is the glory of the sun, another the glory of the moon, and another the glory of the stars. For star differeth from star in glory.

41 ἄλλη δόξα ἡλίου, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα σελήνης, καὶ ἄλλη δόξα ἀστέρων, ἀστὴρ γὰρ ἀστέρος διαφέρει ἐν δόξῃ.

42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption, it shall rise in incorruption.

42 Οὕτως καὶ ἡ ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκρῶν. σπείρεται ἐν φθορᾷ, ἐγείρεται ἐν ἀφθαρσίᾳ·

43 It is sown in dishonour, it shall rise in glory. It is sown in weakness, it shall rise in power.

43 σπείρεται ἐν ἀτιμίᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δόξῃ· σπείρεται ἐν ἀσθενείᾳ, ἐγείρεται ἐν δυνάμει·

44 It is sown a natural body, it shall rise a spiritual body. If there be a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

44 σπείρεται σῶμα ψυχικόν, ἐγείρεται σῶμα πνευματικόν. Εἰ ἔστιν σῶμα ψυχικόν, [d]ἔστιν καὶ πνευματικόν.

These are the properties of the resurrected body—it is

  • incorruptible,
  • in glory,
  • in power,
  • spiritual.

So also the Second Coming of Christ takes place in power and in glory. Hence the expression Savior-in-Power (Majesta Domini, Pantocrator), referring to the figure of Jesus Christ, the Almighty, seated on the Throne in Heaven. Here incorruption and the spiritual nature of the world are revealed directly as an area of direct experience. The moment of the Last Judgment reveals a special ontological dimension.

Eternal Creation

The physics of resurrection will become clearer to us if we carefully trace the steps of the cosmogonic process.

The main ontological difference in religion is the creator-creation pair, God and the world. God is eternal, unchanging, primordial, uncreated. The world is placed in time, that is, finite, limited, and created. This is the basis of theology and the whole Church tradition.

In addition to this main distinction, however, we should already distinguish at least two levels, two sections—the corporeal and the spiritual. We are talking about the created spirit, not the Holy Spirit, who is God and the Third Person of the Holy Trinity. To this area of the spirit belong the heavenly paradise and the angelic ranks, as well as the assembly of those holy people who, through their faith, their exploits, works and deeds, have attained the spirit, having been transformed into a new nature—have become in the full sense of the word “sons of light.”

The other zone of the created world is the corporeal realms, denser and grosser than the spiritual worlds.

The laws of time and space apply to bodily creation and determine the life, forms, and timing of bodies and bodily phenomena. Spiritual worlds are governed by other laws. There is not what we understand by “time” and “space” as applied to the world of bodies. Spiritual worlds are creation, not God. Thus, in part they are like the corporeal world (they are created and finite), but in part they are closer to God Himself (there is no time and space). This is why Christ himself says, “the kingdom of God is within you.” This realm of the spirit is not subject to the laws of time and space (so it, being all-encompassing, is able to fit inside the human heart). Compared to the totality of the history of the corporeal world, the spiritual realm is eternal. Such are the angels—the intelligent spirits, the “second lights. They belong to this spiritual dimension—vertical in relation to the corporeal cosmos. They can be everywhere at once and at any moment. They are not subject to death and decay. But at the same time, they are fundamentally finite; they once were not and once will not be. It is said that “the heavens will pass away.” In the same way, spiritual creation will pass away. Compared to bodily creation it is eternal. Compared to God’s true eternity, it is finite and relative.

In the process of creation, the spiritual world comes first—it begins with it. Spiritual beings—angels—are created first and help God to order creation. The corporeal world—with time and space—is formed in the next stage. In the cross of creation, the vertical of created eternity is drawn first, and only then the horizontal of the corporeal world. Man is central to this cross—he stands in the center of the corporeal world and in the middle of the vertical of eternal creation—between the good and evil angels.

At the end of time, this process will take place in the opposite direction. First, the corporeal world will be elevated to the celestial-spiritual world and this is the moment of the resurrection of the dead. And then this resurrected—eternal—creation will appear before the Last Judgment. Horizontal time will ascend to vertical eternity.

Thus, the resurrection is not a return to earthly bodily life, but to the structures of spiritual creation. Hence the properties of resurrection physics of imperishability, power, glory, spirit. These same attributes are characteristic of angels. Christ responded to the Sadducees who denied the resurrection (Mk 12:25):

25 For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.

25 ὅταν γὰρ ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῶσιν, οὔτε γαμοῦσιν οὔτε γαμίζονται, ἀλλ’ εἰσὶν ὡς ἄγγελοι ἐν τοῖς οὐρανοῖς·

This comparison does not imply immortality; but the resurrection body itself will change its nature, becoming a spiritual, heavenly body and imperishable (though finite) in comparison to ordinary earthly bodies.

Eternal Resurrection

Since the resurrection of the dead, or the changing of those living whom the Second Coming will catch on earth, precisely recreates a spiritual, eternal creation, it should be noted that the moment of resurrection cannot be uniquely coupled with the structure of time. Resurrection time does not come as ordinary time does. In a certain sense, it is a special time and accordingly this spiritual world of created eternity is always there—from the beginning of the world to the end. Likewise, there are always angels—spiritual beings. They do not come into the world as corporeal men and do not leave it. They are only visible or invisible. Likewise, there are people who will be resurrected. In order for them to be resurrected, they must already be—be in some sense always. Not necessarily in time and in body, but necessarily in conception, in their sense. In order to be resurrected someday, one must be resurrected always—in this vertical dimension, resurrected in the spirit.

This is precisely what Christianity asserts. Christ will not simply resurrect everyone by his rising from the dead—but has already resurrected everyone, because he has recreated, renewed creation, restored its spiritual structure.

In every human being, underneath the ordinary physics is the physics of the resurrection. Beneath the physical man is the spiritual man, belonging to the resurrection world, the Kingdom of Heaven.

The resurrection, while not an event in time, is an event in eternity, that is, it is always active. And so it is now.

The line between the living and the dead in the resurrection optics is erased. All are equally confronted with the fundamental problem of choice. Bodily life—precisely because of its extreme distance from God—offers unique opportunities to prove devotion to God—despite the fact that the very conditions of earthly existence compel one to deny His existence. But man cannot be completely devoid of mind and will, that is, of involvement in the world of the spirit. Otherwise, he would be a machine or an animal. Therefore, in the depths of every human soul there is an area of fundamental choice. This is the territory of the body of glory, the body of resurrection. It exists not only afterwards, but now, always. It is located—like the original Adam—on the vertical between the Archangel Michael (who is like God) and the fallen angel, the devil, the Danite, the “son of the dawn.” It is this ontological location of his heart—on the line of eternal creation and, accordingly, in the realm of the resurrection—that makes man human.

Eschatological anthropology does not refer to the future in the usual sense, but to the eternal present.

Importantly, the Creed speaks of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ:

and will come again with glory to judge the quick and the dead
Καὶ πάλιν ἐρχόμενον μετὰ δόξης κρῖναι ζῶντας καὶ νεκρούς

Here it should be pointed out that Christ will also judge the “living,” not just the resurrected dead. But these will be special “living” ones—already “changed” (ἀλλαγγησόμεθα—from the verb ἀλλάσσω), according to the Apostle. What is this change?

It restores man’s “body of glory,” his “spiritual body,” without him having to go through three successive phases—birth in body, death, resurrection. Such a change, albeit as an extreme case, is possible precisely because of man’s inherent nature of “creaturely eternity.” At the deepest level of his being, he is already resurrected, and it is possible to actualize this “resurrection” either through death or bypassing it. Saints, martyrs, and those Christians who have most fully developed their Christian identity are able to approach this state of “resurrection” even before the Last Judgment. Associated with this is the appearance of imperishable relics and other relics. The very bodies of the saints are transformed, falling out from under the material conditions of time. This means that the spiritual man, the man of power, the body of glory, is already in everyone, and this is the way of the Christian—to change while still alive, so as to come as close as possible to the ontological conditions of the Last Judgment. We must try to stand before that Court as early as possible, without waiting for the fulfillment of time. And the very will to change human nature accordingly brings closer the Second Coming of the Savior.

Such a change in life means becoming a “son of light,” awakening and irrevocably separating one’s destiny from the “sons of darkness,” from the state of meaningless and insensitive sleep.

Modernity Through the Eyes of Tradition

Now let us turn to a completely different section of anthropology—to the way modern Western philosophy and science present man, his essence and nature. We practically always start with modern notions, which we take for granted (“progress obliges”), and through their prism we turn to other—for example, pre-modernist—notions. This is done with a certain amount of condescension. If we do this, then any religious anthropology, and especially its eschatological section, will look like naive and arbitrary generalizations. But here’s the interesting thing. If we look from the opposite side and try to assess the anthropological theories of modernity through the eyes of a man of Tradition, a shocking picture will open before us.

If history is a process of splitting humanity into sheep and goats, i.e., actualization through a sequence of acts of free choice of people’s will towards in the sons of light or the sons of darkness, the last centuries of Western European civilization, retreating further from God, religion, faith, Christianity and eternity, will look like a continuous and worsening process of sliding into the abyss, a massive transition to the Danica side, a conscious and structurally verified vector of direct God-fighting. European Modernity is the way of the goats; that is, the compulsive invitation to societies and peoples to become scapegoats at the Last Judgment. From the very beginning, Western European civilization of the New Age has been built on a rejection of religion, first through the relativization of its teachings (deism) and later through outright dogmatic atheism. Man is now thought of as an independent material-psychical phenomenon, a bearer of rationality. God appears as an abstract hypothesis. In New Age culture, it is not God who creates man, but man invents “God” for himself in a naive search to explain the origin of the world. This approach leaves no place at all for spiritual worlds or angels in existence. All spirituality is reduced to the human mind.

In parallel, the very act of creation and created eternity are rejected. The idea of the structure of time and history changes accordingly. Heaven and the Last Judgment are presented as “naive myths” that do not deserve any serious attention. The emergence of man is described as a stage in the evolution of animal species, and human history as a gradual social progress leading to ever more perfect forms of social organization with ever-increasing levels of comfort and technical development.

This picture of the explanation of the world and man is so familiar to us that we rarely think about its origins and the assumptions on which it is based. But if we nevertheless turn to them, we see that it is a radical rejection of the ontology of salvation, a desire to categorically forbid man to create his being in the realm of eschatological sheep. The New Age paradigm turns its back on God and Heaven, and accordingly moves inward. In religious topology, it is an unequivocal choice of hell, a slide into the abyss of Abaddon. And beneath the formally atheistic and secular world order, the image of the fallen angel, which is the true origin of God-fighting initiatives, is becoming increasingly clear. The devil draws humanity to himself at all stages of sacred history, beginning with the earthly paradise. But to the full extent he manages to seize power over mankind and become the true “prince of this world” and “the god of this age” only in New Age.

Postmodernity: The Return of the Devil

The transformation of anthropology in an openly satanic vein is particularly evident in its later stages, in what is usually called the Postmodern. Here New Age optimism is replaced by pessimism, and humanism is abandoned altogether. If the New Age (Modern) rebelled against God, religion, and sacredness, the Postmodern goes further and calls for the elimination of man (anthropocentrism), scientific rationality and the final destruction of social institutions—states, families—up to the rejection of gender (gender politics) and the transition to transhumanism (transferring the initiative to Artificial Intelligence, creating chimeras and cyborgs through genetic engineering, etc.). If in Modernity the movement towards the civilization of the devil was outlined and expressed in the dismantling of traditional society, Postmodernity brings this trend to its logical end, directly implementing the program for the final abolition of humanity.

The program of the final transition to the object as a triumph of materialism is especially and vividly presented in the modern direction of Western philosophy—critical realism or object-oriented ontology (OO). It openly proclaims the demolition of subjectivity and an appeal to the Absolute External (Quentin Meillassoux) as the last foundation of reality. At the same time, many philosophers of this school directly identify this figure of the Absolute External with Satan or his counterparts in other religions—in particular, with Ahriman of Zoroastrianism (Reza Negarestani).

Thus, collectively, Modern and Postmodern represent a single trend aimed at placing humanity on the path of the rejected victim, the scapegoat, and by the time of the Last Judgment, which is denied, let it fall into the abyss of irreversible damnation.

The denial of religious anthropology and its eschatological apotheosis already contains a program of scapegoating, and as secular culture becomes more entrenched, developed and explicit, especially in Postmodernity and Transhumanism, this program becomes explicit and transparent. We can say, in simplified terms, that at first the New Age mocks the existence of God and the devil, rejecting the existence of the vertical as the axis of creation; and then in Postmodernism the devil and the lower half of the vertical return and make themselves known in full. But there is no longer a God (“God is dead,” cried Nietzsche, “we have killed him, you and I”) who could help humanity. He was discarded at a previous stage; this remains unchallenged in the Postmodern. All that remains is the devil, leading humanity down the broad road of damnation, cynically (Satan likes to joke) called “progress.”

The Armageddon of Our Hearts

If we now combine these two perspectives, eschatological anthropology and the conceptions of man in Modernity and especially in Postmodernity, we get quite a comprehensive picture. It will become evident that we are in the final stage of the end times in the immediate vicinity of the moment of the Last Judgment. There is nothing arbitrary or speculative in this statement. If we take the vertical of the world into account, this is the position humanity is in at every moment of its history: the Last Judgment and the resurrection of the dead are always close to man at every moment and in every place of his existence. But in the general dimension as applied to all mankind this event takes place once and for all—when both dimensions, the vertical and the horizontal, meet in the most complete and unvarnished way. And if at the Final Judgment whole masses of people happen to be totally unprepared for this, and moreover have been brought up in the attitude that nothing like this can happen, because only matter and its material derivatives exist, they are very likely to be among those who will be sent into the abyss. This is especially true of those who, succumbing to the hypnosis of progress, will go so far down the road of dehumanization that they will completely lose touch with human nature itself, and thus with the possibility of choosing the good part, which is always possible while we are dealing with humans—however difficult that choice might be in certain circumstances. But when the transhumanist project is fully realized and humanity irreversibly migrates into the zone of posthumanity (this is what modern futurologists call the Singularity moment), severing ties with its nature, the world and history will end, as witnesses will be removed from the center of reality. At the same time there will be no emptiness, but the exposure of eternal creation and the angelic vertical in its entirety—this will be the moment of the Second Coming, the resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. Until this happens, the division of humanity into sheep and goats acquires a particularly intense dramatic expression.

The masses are increasingly becoming “sons of darkness,” turning away from faith in the true divine light. They are opposed by the “sons of light,” who remain faithful to God, to the Savior, to the vertical. Both of them, despite the fact that the figure of the angel has long ago disappeared from the holistic picture of the world, consciously or not, find themselves extremely close to the angelic poles, separated from eternity and to the end of the world, as far away from each other as possible. For the goats, this means that they become literally possessed by the devil, turning into his helpless instrument and losing all autonomy. This is what it means to become “sons of darkness,” scapegoats, God’s rejected sacrifice. But it is also extremely difficult to remain faithful to heaven and light in such an extreme situation, and this desperate situation of the “little flock” needs the special support and guardianship of God and the guardian angels. At some point, the everlasting vertical battle of angels coincides with the last war of mankind, in which the “children of light” meet directly with the “children of darkness” in the immediate run-up to the Last Judgment. This is what is described in the Bible as the battle of Armageddon. It is impossible to describe it in purely earthly, rational terms, because it includes the ultimate volumes of theological, metaphysical, and ontological content.

The SMO has the most direct relation to eschatological anthropology. No one knows the exact timeline, especially because we are not talking about an event placed in time, but about that hard-to-imagine state of the world in which time directly collides with eternity, and accordingly, forever ceases to be the time it was before. Here begins the “future age,” facing along the vertical of being. Subliminally all this has already happened and is happening now, but it will be fully revealed in the Apocalypse, which in Greek means “revelation,” “discovery.” The hidden becomes manifest. This is how the mystery of man’s duality is resolved. And every person becomes a direct and immediate participant in it—because the front line runs not only in earthly geography, but strictly through our hearts.


Alexander Dugin is a widely-known and influential Russian philosopher. His most famous work is The Fourth Political Theory (a book banned by major book retailers), in which he proposes a new polity, one that transcends liberal democracy, Marxism and fascism. He has also introduced and developed the idea of Eurasianism, rooted in traditionalism. This article appears through the kind courtesy of Geopolitica.


Featured: The Last Judgement, by Fra Angelico; painted ca. 1435—1440.

Why Turbo-Capitalism wants to de-Christianize the West

In keeping with the theoretical framework outlined in my book, Minima mercatalia. Filosofia e capitalism [Small Business. Philosophy and capitalism], absolute-totalitarian capitalism or turbo-capitalism, as it has been implemented since the sixties of the “short century,” acts by annihilating every limit that can hinder or even slow down its logic of development and reproduction. This logic consists in the colonization without residue of the real and the symbolic, according to the rhythm of omni- mercantilization [conversion of everything into market and commodity], whose only teleological orientation is the unlimited and boundless will to power, and whose foundation is the destruction of every material or immaterial limit—turbo-capitalism becomes absolutus, “perfectly complete,” as soon as it becomes “liberated from” (solutus ab) every limit that can contain it, discipline it and, perhaps also, halt its advance. The incessant demolition of frontiers and bastions of resistance to this conversion of everything into a market is what, with total intentionality, is celebrated as “progress” by the new mental order generated by the completely new world order under the banner of capital.

In contrast, “regression” [“involution”] is the term with which the order of the dominant discourse delegitimizes every figure of the limit or, more simply, of non-alignment, with respect to the enveloping global movement that transforms everything into merchandise, reifying the world and life. And this, in post-1,989, is valid both for “material” and political elements stricto sensu, such as the national sovereign State (which I dealt with in Glebalizzazione. La lotta di classe al tempo del populismo [Glebalization: The Class Struggle in the Time of Populism]—“glebalization,” the serial production of new exploited, underpaid and precarious servants)—the last bastion of popular sovereignty and of the autonomy of the political; and for the properly spiritual dimension linked to cultural identities (at the center of my Difendere chi siamo. Le ragioni dell´identità italiana [Defend Who We Are. The Reasons for Italian Identity], to critical thought (which I studied in Pensare altrimenti [Think Otherwise]) and, especially, to the religion of transcendence.

That unlimitedly self-empowered will to power, in order to be able to realize itself, must colonize the entire planet, following the dynamics of what we usually call “globalization” (a pious name for the new figure of all-inclusive imperialism), and must, “uno motu,” take hold of each and every conscience, provoking the destruction of any cultural and spiritual sovereignty, specifically the dis-identification (the annihilation of all identity) and the de-divinization of the world (the neutralization of all sense of the sacred and of transcendence).

In this perspective, Christianity is in every way incompatible with the new spirit of capitalism since, apart from guarding the sense of the sacred and of transcendence, it lives historically in concrete institutions which, like the Church of Rome, have their own autonomy and, if you will, their own political as well as spiritual sovereignty. So that the so fashionable slogan “war of religion,” with which the postmodern discourse tends to liquidate tout court all religion of transcendence, insofar as it can be assimilated to the fanaticism of potentially terrorist revolts, can perhaps be replaced by the opposite locution “war against religion,” a formula with which, by means of a gestalt reorientation of thought, we refer: A) to the already evident incompatibility between religion of transcendence and atheistic religion of the market, between Christianity and capitalism; and B) to the no less adamantine “war”—now open, now underhanded—that the civilization of markets has declared on the religion of transcendence “ut sic.”

The “retreat of Christianity” is also explained, in part, in connection with the struggle against religion led by the materialistic and spiritless inspiration characteristic of the technocratic order. In the context of this “war against religion,” which is deliberately concealed under the rhetoric of the “war of religion” from the sphere of the globalized free trade zone, Christianity is granted only one possibility: to adapt to relativistic nihilism by pretending to remain itself and thus to lead the faithful and the West itself into the abyss of the nothingness of the civilization of the markets. In other words, and in accordance with what has been pointed out, turbo-capitalist globalization asks Christianity either to allow itself to be “killed” by the nihilism of techno-capitalist civilization, or to “commit suicide” by voluntarily diluting itself in this nothingness; that is, to redefine itself as a mere appendix of the civilization of the markets, assimilating and spreading the same relativistic and nihilistic vision of the world, stripped of any link with transcendence and the sacred, to ultimately end up being transformed into a megaphone of the same political, social and economic conception based on the dogmas of the sans frontières market, the free circulation of merchandise and commodified people, the neoliberal and American-centric one world, and the whims of consumption with rainbow tones for the ruling classes, improperly designated with the noble title of “civil rights.”

In short, globalization asks Christianity, sic et simpliciter, to continue to exist by renouncing its being and becoming an integral part of the very project of globalization founded on the fanaticism of the free market. And when attempts are made to escape this destiny, recovering the spirit of transcendence and the sacred, of tradition and the divine, as occurred during the brief but heroic pontificate of Ratzinger, the clash between Christianity and capitalism becomes irreconcilable. There is shown, in all its crudeness, the real enmity that pits the religion of the sacred against the nihil of the “horrendous order”—as Pasolini called it—of the civilization of capital; an enmity that, in this case, has been resolved in favor of the latter, through the restoration—with the appointment of “Pope” Bergoglio—of a new and more stable compromise of Christianity’s submission to the neoliberal oligarchic bloc. Pope Ratzinger was the extreme and epic attempt of Christianity to reverse its own tendency of evaporation and self-dissolution, resisting nihilistic relativism, thanks to a recovery of the heart of Christian doctrine and tradition, and vindicating in the full sense the reasons of the sacred, the eternal, the transcendent and the Corpus Christianorum.

In the preceding figure of “dialectical capitalism,” just as we have codified it in Minima mercatalia, religion was presented as an essentially dialectical element: it could justify both revolt in the name of the kingdom of heaven and subordination to the constituted power as an image of divine justice, depending on whether the “hot current” or the “cold current” of Christianity prevailed, to use Ernst Bloch’s syntax in Atheism in Christianity. At the time, religion could be used as an instrument of government and it was possible to find a bilateral agreement with it, as for example happened in Italy with the Lateran Pacts (1,929).

Absolute-totalitarian capitalism, for its part, not only no longer needs the religious phenomenon to prop up its own power, but it must get rid of it, recognizing it as an impediment—potential or real, depending on the context—to its own logic of development and reproduction. From a different plane, the Christian religion refers to a higher order that, however, should not necessarily always be understood as a structure of domination and power. Undoubtedly, in the past Christianity has represented an obstacle, because power also needed a religious justification. The power of truly totalitarian neo-capitalism and potentially superior to everything that has preceded it, no longer needs a “celestial” justification: it is strong enough to be self-sufficient. Furthermore, it fears that any possible reference to the higher order of the transcendent may turn out to be intrinsically contradictory, if only because of its appeal to a different and higher dimension than that of the totally colonized real in the form of a market.


Diego Fusaro is professor of History of Philosophy at the IASSP in Milan (Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies) where he is also scientific director. He is a scholar of the Philosophy of History, specializing in the thought of Fichte, Hegel, and Marx. His interest is oriented towards German idealism, its precursors (Spinoza) and its followers (Marx), with a particular emphasis on Italian thought (Gramsci or Gentile, among others). he is the author of many books, including Fichte and the Vocation of the Intellectual, The Place of Possibility: Toward a New Philosophy of Praxis, and Marx, again!: The Spectre Returns. [This article appears courtesy of Posmodernia].


Featured: “Christ Expelling the Money-Changers from the Temple,” by Nicolas Colombel; painted in 1630.

How “Creation” Implies God

Background to the “Creation” Dispute

There is nothing very new about the thesis of this article—for many proofs that God is Creator of all finite things have already been attempted—often with great success. Moreover, we know as an article of Catholic faith that the existence of God can be known with certainty by the light of natural human reason (Denzinger’s Enchiridion Symbolorum, 1806). Yet, what may be somewhat novel about this article is that I will attempt to prove God’s existence by means of a series of diverse considerations about the very meaning of the term, “creation.” Moreover, I will examine certain presumptions about creation which have been made by atheists, i.e., by those who deny the very conclusion which is presently being sought.

Any self-respecting atheist must deny that the world is created by God. And yet, this very fact, namely, that the atheist feels called upon to deny the reality of creation, is itself significant—so much so, that this universal reaction of atheism will itself serve as the point of departure for our investigation.

Astronomer Robert Jastrow has commented upon the strange situation now confronting his fellow astronomers (many of whom appear to be scientific materialists). Jastrow observes, “…I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy—partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues” (Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers,1978, 11).

Jastrow proceeds to explain the enigma confronted by modem scientists:

”The essence of the strange developments is that the Universe had, in some sense, a beginning—that it began at a certain moment in time, and under circumstances that seem to make it impossible—not just now—but ever—to find out what force or forces brought the world into being at that moment…. the astronomical evidence proves that the Universe was created twenty billion years ago in a fiery explosion, and in the searing heat of that first moment, all the evidence needed for a scientific study of the cause of the great explosion was melted down and destroyed” (God and the Astronomers, 11-12).

More recent estimates of the time of the universe’s birth now place it some 13.7 billion years ago.

Scientists today pursue the vision of Grand Unified Theories which attempt to unify the fundamental forces of nature as different aspects of the same force. Senior physicist at the Argonne National Laboratory’s High Energy Physics Division, David S. Ayres, remarks that the “Grand Unified Theories offer detailed insight into the processes which occurred at the instant of creation ….” (Argonne News, 1984, 8-9).

For centuries, atheistic materialists had blandly assumed the eternity of the world while denigrating the peculiarly Judeo-Christian belief of creation in time as a vestige of religious mythology. Science seemed squarely in the atheist’s corner until the recent advent of the Big Bang theory—a theory whose scientific underpinnings have come to be regarded by most scientists today to be quite secure. The 1965 discovery of the apparently vestigial fireball radiation of the Big Bang by Amo Penzias and Robert Wilson of the Bell Laboratories has left the theory, at the present time, with “no competitors” according to Jastrow (God and the Astronomers, 14-16).

Small wonder, then, the “peculiar reactions” of many astronomers, as noted’ by Jastrow! What he refers to are the efforts made by many of his fellow scientists to ignore and refute the mounting evidence in favor of the Big Bang.

Jastrow describes the situation thus:

“Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the Universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind—supposedly a very objective mind—when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the articles of faith in our profession. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases” (God and the Astronomers, 16).

The reactions to the possibility of a Big Bang began shortly after World War I—and from a rather surprising quarter:

“Around this time, signs of irritation began to appear among the scientists. Einstein was the first to complain. He was disturbed by the idea of a Universe that blows up, because it implied that the world had a beginning” (God and the Astronomers, 27).

It is not here suggested that Einstein and all others who opposed the Big Bang theory were atheists. Certainly, Einstein himself appears to have embraced the conception of God propounded by Spinoza (God and the Astronomers, 28).

And yet, conversely, it is manifestly evident that scientific materialists would be in the forefront of those astronomers who would feel uncomfortable in the face of a new theory which seemed to challenge their most fundamental convictions. While it is not suggested that the physical theory of the Big Bang necessarily implies the theological doctrine of creation, nonetheless it is quite understandable that even the appearance of such an implication should cause more than a ripple of resistance among those both philosophically and scientifically indisposed to the notion of creation in time. Yet, we shall see that our concern in this paper will extend to a much broader notion of creation—a notion not restricted merely to that of “having a beginning in time.”

In point of fact, just when most of the scientific community has gotten comfortable supporting the relatively recent Big Bang theory, we are suddenly reminded by new evidence that the history of science is littered with the intellectual corpses of bygone universal beliefs. True science is never dogmatic. What actually happens is that a generally accepted scientific hypothesis is sometimes greeted by new sets of data that contradict its basic premises and soon a new, and quite different, scientific hypothesis replaces the formerly reigning one.

We now learn that findings from the new James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) appear to contradict the “standard model” for galactic expansion, which has accompanied the Big Bang hypothesis. It turns out that distant celestial objects, now being seen for the first time through the use of the JWST, do not conform to Big Bang expansion model expectations. Instead of distant galaxies being huge and having a certain amount of “red shift” in their light, the Webb telescope is showing us the exact opposite! The number of disc galaxies is some ten times that of standard galaxy expansion models. Moreover, distant galaxies are being found to be unexpectedly smooth, small, and old. In fact, more and more data seems to contradict what had been predicted based on the massive galactic expansion model assumed to follow from the Big Bang.

This has led some astronomers to actually reject the Big Bang hypothesis altogether!

Still, two points must be made clear:

  1. While frequently associated theses, the fact remains that the Big Bang hypothesis is separate from the cosmic expansion model. Moreover, the Webb telescope data does not in itself address the cosmic microwave background radiation which has long been taken as evidence for the Big Bang.
  2. For purposes of this article, much more important is the fact that the Big Bang hypothesis belongs to the subject matter of natural science, not philosophy. Contending physical hypotheses concerning the origin and development of the universe must be evaluated by astronomers and other physical scientists. That is not my task. Philosophically, I will show that, whether the universe began in time or not is entirely irrelevant to the philosophical question of whether it is created by God.

I need to determine the proper philosophical meaning of “creation” as well as whether the universe was created in that properly philosophical meaning.

The Eternal Enigma

The central question which this article seeks to address is simply the age old puzzle: “Why does anything exist at all?” The believer immediately responds with a simple affirmation of his faith: “Things exist because God exists to make them.” But the atheist is driven to the logical alternative of insisting on the aseity of the Universe: “Things simply explain their own existence; their very fact of existing is its own explanation. Moreover, the Universe has always existed in some form or other, and hence, needs no God to have created it.” Some atheists and agnostics attack the principle of explanation itself, suggesting that not everything may need a sufficient reason or that, perhaps, the principle is limited in scope to the observable phenomena.

In one of human intellectual history’s less ingenuous moments, Karl Marx simply refuses to grant intellectual legitimacy to any question put to the very existence of the world. He labels such inquiry “…perverse…” since it implies “…the inessentiality of nature and of man …. ” Marx insists that for socialism “…the real existence of man and nature has become practical, sensuous and perceptible…” and, hence, such a question “…has become impossible in practice” (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, 1961, 112-114).

Still, examples of those willing to address directly the central issue are not difficult to find. The problem as to why things exist at all is clearly posed by Kai Nielsen (who was himself an atheist):

“Indeed, ‘Why is there anything at all?’ is an odd question, but in certain philosophical and perhaps even religious moods it is natural to ask: Why is it that any of the things that make up the universe actually exist? They do, of course, but why is this so? There might have been nothing at all!” (Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice: A Modern Introduction to Philosophy, 1971, 180).

Or again, as F.E. Copleston put it in his famous 1948 British Broadcasting Corporation debate on the existence of God with Bertrand Russell:

“Well, I can’t see how you can rule out the legitimacy of asking the question how the total, or anything at all comes to be there. Why something rather than nothing, that is the question?” (The Existence of God, ed. John Hick, 1964, 175).

John Hospers puts succinctly the theistic response to the given existence of the world (not that he holds it himself):

“Why, indeed, does any universe at all exist—why is there a universe at all rather than simply nothing? For this you have no explanation at all. But I do. I hold that there is a necessary being, God, and that since he exists necessarily all contingent existents (and that includes everything in the universe) owe their existence to this necessary being and are explained by the fact that this necessary being exists” (John Hospers, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 2nd edition, 1967), 440.

But in a contrary response to this same most basic question, as Roy Wood Sellars puts it,”…the modem materialist stresses the aseity as against the contingence notion of creationalism” (A History of Philosophical Systems, ed. Vergilius Ferm, 1950, 425).

The meaning for the materialist of this “aseity” is put with clarity by Nielsen: “…all other realities, if such there be, depend for their existence on these physical realities, but these physical realities do not depend on any other realities for their own existence” (Reason and Practice, 334).

Hospers elucidates in his own manner the claim that the universe simply explains itself and needs no further explanation:

“…this is just a “brute fact”—the universe has such-and-such laws, and if those are ultimate (underived), we can’t derive them from any other ones….If we have once arrived at a basic or underived law (not that we ever know that we have), then it is self-contradictory to ask for an explanation of it” (An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, 442).

What Hospers means here is that the ultimate laws of the universe, by definition as ultimate, require no further explanation. They are self-explanatory.

Again, Anthony Flew challenges the position that God is any greater an intelligible explanation of the universe that is the universe itself:

“No reason whatever has yet been given for considering that God would be an inherently more intelligible ultimate that—say—the most fundamental laws of energy and stuff; much less for postulating the actual existence of such a further and extraordinary entity, instead of somehow contenting yourself with the alternative idea that the world we know is—in the vertical dimension-not dependent on anything else, and that it is also, in some state or other, probably eternal and without beginning” (Anthony Flew, God: A Critical Enquiry, 96).

The atheistic alternative explanation to claiming that the universe is its own explanation is the claim that not everything needs an explanation. That is to say, the principle of sufficient reason itself is attacked. Again Nielsen puts the case succinctly:

“It would only follow that there is a necessary being if it were true that there is a complete explanation that would give us an adequate explanation of why anything exists at all. Why should we assume or even believe that we actually have such an explanation?”

“It is certainly very natural to reject the principle of sufficient reason and to say that it has not been established that there must be or even that there is (if only we could discover it) an explanation for everything. Some events or states of affairs may never be explained. There may even be some things that are inexplicable” (Reason and Practice, 181).

I do not intend here to reiterate and refute the monumental errors of idealism and process philosophy which provide the most substantive attacks on the principles of sufficient reason and causality. Those who sincerely seek the most exhaustive and convincing defense of these principles are referred to Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange’s classical treatment in the latter part of the first volume of God: His Existence and Nature (1934, 181-194). I have offered my own defense of these transcendental first principles on the Strange Notions website.

It suffices to point out that it seems a bit hypocritical that scientific materialists should ultimately retreat behind a denial of rational principles when it is they who dare to mock all others as being “irrational” and “unscientific.” It is indeed curious that those who demand a scientific explanation for everything should, in this singular instance, fail to see the need for any explanation whatever! One cannot but compare such selective abandonment of rational principles to the curious biological doctrine that spontaneous generation never occurs except, of course, when the evolutionist has need of it in order to initiate the process of evolution itself!

In the end, the consensus of atheists and theists who address the basic question of existence, as well as the dictates of right reason, present the following stark alternatives: Either God (the Infinite Being) exists, or else, the world (all finite being) explains itself, or else, not all things have full explanations. It is our contention that the latter two alternatives are not only absurd, but impossible.

“Creation” as Expression of Infinite Power

For those scientific materialists who refuse to follow the intellectually suicidal denial that there must be reasons for things, the universe must be conceived as self-existent, that is, it somehow explains itself. Moreover, these atheistic materialists clearly accept the metaphysical principle that “…from nothing, nothing comes to be….” (St. Thomas Aquinas, in I Physics, 14, n. 2), since they universally deny that the cosmos had an absolute beginning in time. Thereby they implicitly acknowledge that a universe which just “pops into” existence (out of no pre-existent state) is not only absurd, but impossible.

While it is evident that the natural intuition of the laws of being would require every intellect to affirm that being (the world) can only come from pre-existent being (a prior state of the world, or God), why is it the case that the reason of virtually every man, theist and atheist alike, sees in the notion of instantaneous creation of the world (out of nothing and using nothing) the exclusive mark of divinity itself? With but a modicum of metaphysical reflection, the human mind—theist and atheist alike—grasps that the act of creation is intelligible only as an expression of power—infinite power. And it is precisely this manifestation of power without measure which commands intellectual assent to the existence of God (in the traditional meaning of the term) as the sole adequate explanation or foundation for such power.

The average person who considers the matter will express the insight as follows: “To make something out of nothing can only be the act of an infinitely powerful being, God.” The professional theologian or philosopher will render this insight with greater precision by saying: “That something should come to be while presupposing no pre-existent matter or subject requires the infinite power of God.”

In each case what is affirmed is the absolute need for unlimited power as the only adequate explanation for the universe beginning to be in time. Yet the question remains, “How can we be so certain that the ‘popping into existence’ of the world requires the existence of an all-powerful God?” Is this inference simply the product of a primordial insight or intuition which is, at root, rationally indefensible? Are we ultimately reduced to a form of fideism here?

Still, if this be fideism, then the atheist must suffer it as well — given the firm tradition of atomistic materialism, tracing all the way back to Democritus in the fifth century B.C., which assumes that the universe has always existed, never having a beginning in time. That is why so many scientists held out long for the Steady State theory, which holds that the universe is eternal and largely unchanging.

Why Creation Requires Infinite Power

While there appears to exist a nearly universal intuitive recognition that the act of creating requires the infinite power of a Supreme Being, the attempt to give intellectual justification to this primordial insight is fraught with difficulty. For, even if one grants that the existence of the world had an absolute beginning in time and that this beginning must have an adequate explanation, it is not at once clear precisely why this phenomenon requires an infinitely powerful cause.

Is it because being infinitely transcends non-being? But then, the being of the world is itself only finite (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 7, aa. 2-4). Perhaps, alternatively, one should focus upon the fact that between non-being and being there is no middle ground. Hence the act which transcends this “gap” between non-being and being must be considered as literally immeasurable. Yet, no reputable thinker would dare to refer to a real relation between non-being and being—since a real relation always requires two real terms, and non-being is not real. In Summa Theologiae, I, q. 13, a. 7, c, St. Thomas refers to the merely logical character of the “… relations which are between being and non-being, which reason forms, insofar as it apprehends non-being as a certain extreme.” Hence, the metaphors about “transcending an infinite gap” from non-being to being begin to sound suspiciously poetic or mystical.

It is necessary to turn to the Common Doctor of the Church for illumination of a precise, scientific conception of exactly why creation requires infinite power. The following is neither poetry nor mysticism:

“It must be said that the power of the maker is measured not only from the substance of the thing made but also from the way of its making; for a greater heat not only heats more, but also heats more swiftly. Thus, although to create some finite effect does not demonstrate infinite power, nevertheless to create it from nothing does demonstrate infinite power…. For if a greater power is required in the agent insofar as the potency is more remote from the act, it must be that the power of an agent (which produces) from no presupposed potency, such as a creating agent does, would be infinite; because there is no proportion of no potency to some potency, as is presupposed by the power of a natural agent, just as there is no proportion of non-being to being” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 45, a. 5, ad 3).

The principle which St. Thomas employs here is laid down when he says, “…a greater power is required in the agent insofar as the potency is more remote from the act…” For, as power means the ability to produce being or to act, its measure is taken not merely from the effect produced but also from the proportion between what is presupposed by the agent in order to produce the effect and the effect produced.

Thus, to make a chicken from pre-existing chickens requires a certain measure of power. But to produce a chicken from merely vegetative life would require even greater power; and to produce a chicken from non-living matter yet greater power. But to produce a chicken while presupposing no pre-existent matter at all clearly would require immeasurably greater power. It is immeasurable, as St. Thomas points out, precisely because “…there is no proportion of non-being to being.”

Note that this argument does not rest upon an attempt to measure any supposed infinite relation between non-being and being. Rather, it is precisely the absolute lack of any relation whatever between non-being and being which demands an infinite power to create. For it is precisely the proportion of the potency to act which is measurable. The greater the distance (not physical distance, but remoteness or distinction in existence) between the potentiality and its act, the greater the power needed to actualize that potency. But such a proportion between some presupposed potentiality and its act is always measurable (in some sense), and therefore, is finite—since it is of the essence of the measurable to be finite and since a thing is measured only by its limits. But where there is no proportion, as between non-being and being, there can be no measure, and thus, no limit. The power required in that case knows no measure and no limit. It is therefore infinite.

Note well that St. Thomas does not argue from the remoteness of the potency from the act in the case of creation. Rather, he considers the “… proportion of no potency to some potency…”—for a creating agent presupposes no potency whereas a natural agent always presupposes some potency. He observes that there exists no such proportion just as “… there is no proportion of non-being to being.” A fortiori, the remoteness of no potency to the act of already created being becomes even more immeasurable (if that were possible).

Thus we have the rational explanation for the universal metaphysical intuition that it would require infinite power to create ex nihilo.

The True Meaning of “Creation”

If it were necessary to prove creation of the world in time in order to demonstrate the existence of God, it appears that such a task could never be accomplished by unaided natural reason. For even the most famous Christian apologist for God’s existence, St. Thomas Aquinas, concedes that reason alone cannot prove creation in time: it is simply an article of Catholic faith which is neither contrary to, nor demonstrable by, natural reason (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 46, aa. I-3; De Potentia Dei, q. 3, aa. 14 and 17; On the Eternity of the World, 1964, 2-73).

In fact, according to St. Thomas, the world could well have existed from all eternity—and yet it would still be a creature of God (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 46, a. 2, ad. I; Etienne Gilson, Elements of Christian Philosophy, 1963, 214).

One of his famous Five Ways to prove God’s existence, the Third Way, presupposes this very possibility in the logic of its argumentation. In fact, in Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 13, St. Thomas insists “… that the most efficacious way to prove God to exist is not on the supposition of the newness of the world, but rather on the supposition of the eternity of the world.” Thus, our belief in creation in time is just that—a matter of reasonable Christian belief.

The point of all this is simply to observe that, for St. Thomas, the notion of creation is quite distinct from the notion of beginning in time. After all, on the very supposition of an eternally existent God, could one deny the possibility that such a Being may have been creating the world from all eternity? And would not such a world be a creature in virtue of its being an effect of God despite its beginningless duration? In such a case, creation would be an ongoing production of the being of the world by God—with absolutely no reference to a beginning in time.

Moreover, grant that God did create the world in time. What then would be the relationship of the world to God in the next instant after the moment of creation? Or, the next day, or year, or twenty billion years? Could God cease causing the world and yet the world continue to exist? Certainly not. For, as St. Thomas observes, “With the cause ceasing, the effect ceases” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 96, a. 3, ob 3. Also, “Removing the cause removes the effect,” Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c). Creation must not be conceived as a once and for all time act. God must continue to create, or else, the cosmos would at once fall back into the nothingness from which it came (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. 1). St. Thomas refers to this continued act of creation as “conservation.”

“It must be said that the conservation of things by God is not through some new action, but through a continuation of that action by which He gives existence, which action is indeed without motion and time” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. I, ad 4).

In other words, a proper understanding of the term “creation” is conceptually distinct from the notion of “beginning in time.” For St. Thomas, the world is created, not because it began in time, but because of its radical dependence on the Supreme Being during every moment of its existence—past, present, or future.

We are thus left with three alternatives regarding the existence of the world: Either it came to be in time—thereby requiring an infinitely powerful Creator, or else, it has existed from all eternity as the created effect of that Creator, or else, it has existed from all eternity without the causation of such a Creator.

On the first two suppositions, the existence of an infinitely powerful God is at once granted and this investigation is ended. But it is the third alternative which now requires closer scrutiny.

For the existence of the world is itself an act whose being demands some explanation. Existence is an act. It is the very first act of any substance (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 104, a. 1, ad 3). And no substance is explained unless and until its substantial existence has been accounted for. Thus we may properly inquire as to the explanation of the existence of this finite world in which we find ourselves.

When we inquire as to the explanation or sufficient reason for a supposedly uncaused finite universe, it becomes at once clear that the need for some foundation in an infinitely powerful being is not escaped. For, just as there is no pre-existing potency for such a world which is created in time, so too, there is no pre-existing potency against which to measure the actually existing universe even if it has always existed (as atheists insist). Hence, its existential foundation, even if this is not conceived as a cause outside its own being, must manifest a power which knows no measure, i.e., it is infinite.

To put the matter in other terms, the power required to explain a being (or beings) is not dependent on whether that being is an effect (whether or not such effect happens to be produced in time). Rather, such power must be measured in terms of its being the reason why there is being rather than non-being. And, as St. Thomas points out, “…there is no proportion of non-being to being” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 45, a. 5, ad 3). Hence, the power requisite to explain the existence of the cosmos knows no measure — whether it began in time or not. Immeasurable or infinite power is needed to explain any existence at all — of anything.

But the world is clearly finite—since space and time are the limiting modes of material existence. Since the finite clearly cannot contain the infinite power needed to explain its own existence, it is evident that an infinite Being must exist.

Some Final Reflections

It may well be suspected that the foregoing demonstration of God’s existence is simply a variation of St. Thomas’s Third Way of the Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c., or else, perhaps, the argument which many have abstracted from his proof for God’s eternity which is presented in the Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 15. Yet it should at once be evident that neither of these demonstrations proceed from the same starting point as the present analysis. For, both of the aforementioned texts of St. Thomas take as their initial data the existence of things which are possible to be or not to be. But the present argument proceeds neither from the possibility nor from the necessity of the world—merely from its existence and from the need for a sufficient reason for said existence.

If it were possible for the world to be its own reason for existing, then there would be no need to posit the existence of a transcendent God. It is only when it is shown that the existence of anything at all requires infinite power that it becomes evident that the finite cosmos necessarily requires an Infinitely Powerful Being as the only adequate explanation of its existence.

Hence, the present argument proceeds, not from the possible, as such, but from an analysis of the creative power implicit in any being whatever—whether it be possible or necessary, finite or infinite. It is the factual existence of things which is at issue here, not their indifference to existence.

But it is precisely that indifference to existence manifested by the possibles which St. Thomas uses to prove their causal dependence. As he puts it in the context of the Contra Gentiles:

“Everything however which is possible to exist has a cause, since it is from itself equally [related] to two [contraries], namely, existence and non-existence. [Therefore,] it must be, if it appropriates to itself existence, that this is from some cause” (Summa Contra Gentiles, I, 15).

Again, the same point is made in the Third Way when St. Thomas insists “…that which is not does not begin to be, except through something which exists” (Summa Theologiae, I, q. 2, a. 3, c).

In both these cases, again, St. Thomas reveals the causal dependence of the possibles. But the present proof seeks not to reveal causal dependence except as incidental to the need for infinite power as the sole adequate foundation for all existents. Perhaps this point could be more adequately expressed by saying that God Himself, who is absolutely uncaused, nonetheless requires infinite power in order to render His own existence intelligible. That is why St. Thomas’s task in the aforementioned contexts differs from that of the present article.

In conclusion, the intellectual exploration completed in this article entails the following central points:

First, it was established that there exists, either explicitly or implicitly, among theists and atheists alike, a universal intellectual recognition that the theological notion of an absolute beginning in time of the world entails a creation ex nihilo whose sole adequate explanation would be an Infinitely Powerful Being, or God in the traditional sense of the term.

Second, the concept of “creation” itself was scrutinized so as to reveal that it may be properly distinguished from any notion of “beginning in time”—thereby demonstrating that the mere existence of any being whatsoever entails the presence of an act (esse) which requires infinite power to be posited “outside of nothingness.” (The central metaphysical task of this article has been to establish the philosophically scientific validity of this second step.)

Third and last, it was seen that such infinite power clearly cannot reside in any finite being and, that, therefore, it is absolutely necessary to admit the existence of an Infinitely Powerful Creator as the sole adequate explanation of the finite world.

The notion of “explanation” does not necessarily denote extrinsic causality in every case. While every being requires a sufficient reason, only those beings whose sufficient reason for existing is not totally within itself would require an extrinsic sufficient reason or what is called a “cause.” This means that, while an infinitely powerful God is required to cause the existence of all the finite beings in this finite world, yet God can still be said to be his own explanation, and yet not his own cause, since he is his own intrinsic sufficient reason for being.


Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, where he also served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. He is the author of two books, Aquinas’ Proofs for God’s Existence, and Origin of the Human Species, as well as many scholarly articles. [A, earlier version of this article appeared in Faith & Reason, 11:3-4 (1985), 250-63. Permission to print kindly granted by Christendom Educational Corporation, Christendom College, Front Royal, Virginia, 22630.]


Featured: “The Creation of the World and the Expulsion from Paradise,” by Giovanni di Paolo; painted in 1445.

Science Proves The Existence Of God

We are highly honored to present this conversation with Olivier Bonnassies, who is the co-author (with Michel-Yves Bolloré) of the recent and truly magisterial work, Dieu, la science, les preuves (God, Science, the Proofs). The work is a 600-page tour-de-force proof of God, drawing upon rational arguments and scientific evidence. The book throws down the gauntlet to atheism, leaving it little room to maneuver.

Olivier Bonnassies is a graduate of Polytechnique (X86), HEC (HEC start up institute) and the Institut Catholique de Paris. As an entrepreneur, he has created several companies. A non-believer until the age of 20, he is the author of some twenty books and videos and of several shows, scripts, articles, newsletters and websites on subjects often related to the rationality of faith.This interview comes through the kind generosity of our friends at La Nef.


La Nef (LN): How did you come to embark on the writing of such an imposing work on the current knowledge of the origins of the Universe and its consequences? And what skills do you have for such a work?

Olivier Bonnassies (OB): When I was 20, I was not a believer. I had studied science and was at the École Polytechnique. Then I set up my first company, which was starting to do well. But soon enough, I asked myself what it was all for. I asked myself the big questions: what is the meaning of life? What is its purpose? Where do we come from? Where are we going? I thought there were no answers to these questions, but I came across a book by Jean Daujat, a brilliant normalien, entitled, Y a-t-il une vérité (Is there any truth?) I was very surprised to find that he gave serious and very rational reasons to believe in God. I expected to find some flaw quickly. But, no. So, I decided to work seriously on the subject by doing four years of theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris to deepen my understanding. I became a Catholic, even though my family was very reluctant for me to do so. And in the years that followed, I continued along this path, trying to set up projects that made sense. That’s how I met Michel Yves, who helped with two intense projects: the construction of the Mary of Nazareth International Center in 2003, which has been one of the very first places of attraction in northern Israel for the past ten years, and the creation of the Aleteia news website in 2010, which has become the first Catholic website in the world.

Olivier Bonnassies.

In 2013, I gave a presentation on these topics to a senior high school philosophy class where my daughters were, which I recorded: it resulted in the video, ” Démonstration de l’existence de Dieu et raisons de croire chrétiennes” (Demonstrating the Existence of God and Christian Reasons to Believe)” which has 1.5 million views on YouTube. Michel Yves saw it and sent me an e-mail to tell me that it was very good, but that we could do much better, and that he had also been working on the subject for thirty years. So, we brainstormed about a collaboration, and then got to work in 2018. We dug into the subject again and again, with the help of about twenty good specialists. I hope that the surprise I had at 20 will be the surprise of the book’s readers—because there is indeed a body of converging, rational, and independent evidence that God exists.

LN: Formally, science explains the “how,” not the “why,” a role that belongs to philosophy. As such, science cannot “prove” the existence of God. Isn’t there a risk of confusion of genres and a methodological problem in using science to “prove” God?

OB: This is a question that often comes up, and it is important to take the time to answer it properly, even if there is the question of vocabulary and definition behind it.

For some people, the word “science” has been understood progressively in a more and more restrictive way, up to Popper’s criteria, which claim to exclude from it everything that is not falsifiable. But for the general public and in classical logic, science is first of all what scientists practice in a field of knowledge, and it is above all logos (rationality) applied to this field of knowledge, as the etymology of the name of most of the sciences clearly shows (in “-logy”). [Biology is rationality (logos) applied to the living; as well as cosmology, archaeology, geology, psychology, paleontology, ecology, oceanology, oncology, cardiology, dermatology, neurology, pharmacology, climatology, criminology, futurology, graphology, demonology, epistemology, ethnology, eschatology, theology, ontology, ophthalmology, etc.
The basis of science is the logos. And this is also true of logic!]

Today, there is also something new: it is the fact that many modern scientists feel the need to talk about God at the end of their scientific practices, especially when they explore the beginnings of the Universe and its fine tuning. This is how we were able to gather in our book dozens and dozens of quotes from Nobel Prize winners and great contemporary scientists who naturally come to talk about God in direct connection with their scientific research and discoveries. This is why it is difficult to say categorically on the basis of purely theoretical arguments that God is not within the scope of science and that it does not encounter Him.

Here is the summary, in two points, of the argument about the beginning:

  1. There was certainly an absolute beginning to time, space and matter, which are linked as Einstein showed. This is established by rationality (page 61 and page 91 and pages 515-517 of the book), thermodynamics (pages 55-72) and cosmology (pages 100, 165, 206, 210, 214, with in particular the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem), the Big Bang not necessarily being this absolute beginning even if it constitutes a very good illustration of it;
  2. The cause at the origin of this radical emergence is thus by definition non-temporal, non-spatial and non-material (page 91-92) and it had the power to generate everything and to regulate everything infinitely, precisely so that the atoms, the stars and man could exist.

With this very simple reasoning, we arrive quite exactly at the definition of what all philosophies and all classical religions call God. But at what point did we leave science? If you say that it is at point 2, isn’t it the characteristic of science to look for an explanation to emerging phenomena? Isn’t the principle of causality really part of science, the foundation of science?

From moment point on, the concrete problem for scientists, who want to remain atheists, is that they have to contest one of these two points, but it is not easy:

  • Some like Andrei Linde will try to deny the first one by imagining an “eternal inflation of bubble Universes.” But this is very speculative, unverifiable, and quite flawed, especially because it is increasingly clear, thanks to mathematics and physics, that infinity does not exist in the real world (see note on page 206).
  • Others like Stephen Hawking and Laurence Krauss will try to explain the cause or absence of cause by reasoning that is also very flawed, as is jokingly recounted in the book (page 168).

But beyond the fact that the atheist position is very hard to defend, it should be noted that the protagonists of these debates on the existence of God are neither philosophers nor sorcerers, but that they are all scientists who think they are looking for solutions within science.

It is therefore not right to make too tight a separation between science and philosophy. Plato, Aristotle, Newton, Leibniz and so many others did not set up such barriers between science, philosophy, metaphysics or theology. The separation of genres has only existed since the 17th century; but most of the early Greek philosophers were scientists. They all worked from this fundamental Logos; and their opponents were not the scientists, but the poets, who were interested in the Pathos. And it is on this Logos that all the sciences were established, including philosophy, which for a long time was called the “queen of sciences.”

[Science is rationality (Logos) applied to a field. Physics is rationality applied to the material world. Biology is rationality applied to the living world. The same goes for the other sciences: cosmology, archaeology, geology, psychology, paleontology, ecology, oceanology, oncology, cardiology, dermatology, neurology, pharmacology, climatology, criminology, futurology, graphology, demonology, epistemology, ethnology, eschatology, theology, ontology, ophthalmology, etc. Ditto with ideology, oenology, astrology, parapsychology, mythology, ufology… and logic (from Logos).]

Secondly, we must understand that science itself is full of philosophical principles. For example, if we remove the idea that the world is logical, rational and understandable, or the principle of causality, which is also a philosophical principle, or the principle of stability of laws, which is also a philosophical principle, we cannot do science anymore. Science stops.

Thirdly, it is necessary to see that, in their practice of science, the great scientists cheerfully mix theories, figures, equations and interpretations which belong, in all rigor of the term, to the domain of philosophy. But wouldn’t it be absurd to separate this from science? When Newton talks about “force,” when Maxwell talks about “field,” or when Bohr or Einstein discuss interpretations of quantum mechanics, they are in a way doing philosophy within science—but they are doing it in a very legitimate way, of course.

Fourthly, it is more and more clear that modern science, in all fields, opens up to a beyond of science, of which it cannot say anything—except that it exists. Everything that is tangible, calculable, observable, leads, within its own rational analysis, to the existence of something that is intangible, unobservable—but nevertheless necessary. This is explained on page 92, note 56: “If one analyzes footprints on sand, one can, within physical science, affirm that there is a cause for these footprints that do not come from the natural interactions of physical forces.

In the same way, when Alain Aspect’s experiment concludes that there is an entanglement between two particles that are 14 meters away from each other and that dialogue instantaneously, we demonstrate within physical science that there is something outside our space-time. It is still the case when Gödel, inside logic and the mathematical logics, concludes that there are necessarily non-demonstrable truths, which refer to an exterior of mathematics. The same type of “apophatic” reasoning also applies to the Big Bang, within cosmological science itself.”

Finally, it is very important to acknowledge the fact that today, science has invaded the field of metaphysics and that it is no longer possible to do serious philosophy without taking into account what science has brought about time, space, matter, vacuum, mass, atoms, reality, the beginning and the end of the universe, etc. For example, the word “atom” comes from the pre-Socratic atomists, Leucippus and Democritus, and then from the Latins like Epicurus; and it has been taken up by many philosophers after them.

But when, in 1905, Jean Perrin discovered the atom experimentally in Paris, and then its profound reality was revealed, we saw that the atom did not resemble at all that of the Greeks and of all the philosophers, who imagined it to be unbreakable, compact, etc. The atom of the real world has none of the properties that the ancients had attributed to it. A little later, science showed that time is relative to gravity and speed. This is now a proven reality, but no philosopher of the past had ever imagined this either. Can we therefore continue to do philosophy without science or outside of science? No!

In a letter from 1936, Einstein explains that there are many situations in which physicists today are led to enter into philosophy and do the work of a philosopher, because philosophers themselves cannot do it: “It has often been said, not without reason, that natural scientists are poor philosophers. If this were so, would it not be better for the physicist to leave philosophizing to the philosopher? This may be true in times when physicists believe they have a solid and unquestioned system of fundamental concepts and laws, but it is not so in times when the whole foundation of physics is being questioned, as it is today. In such an age, when experience forces him to look for new and unshakable foundations, the physicist cannot simply leave to philosophy the critical examination of the foundations of his science, because he is the best placed to know and feel where the problem lies.”

So, scientists naturally do philosophy within science. This is a fact; and it is wrong to say that science cannot prove anything. Concerning the beginning of the Universe and its setting in particular, science leads to three very clear conclusions:

There was a Big Bang. It is certain. It is possible to describe precisely what happened from 1 second (CERN has made it possible to go that far).
To describe positively what happened before is not possible at present. It may even remain forever impossible and outside our experience before 10-43 seconds: there are only very speculative hypotheses on these subjects, on which there is no consensus.

On the other hand, it is possible, on the basis of rationality, thermodynamics and cosmology (according to the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem—the Big Bang not necessarily being the absolute beginning), to affirm that there was an absolute beginning to time, space and matter; and therefore that the cause at the origin of this emergence is transcendent, non-material, non-spatial, non-temporal, endowed with the power to create and adjust everything. Now, this third conclusion is very important, because it is very close to what all philosophies and classical religions have always called “God.”

Science can therefore contribute to giving proofs of the existence of God.

These are real proofs, but they are “apophatic;” that is to say that we are talking about realities whose existence can only be deduced indirectly and which we can only qualify in a negative way, without having any direct positive knowledge of the nature of the causes in question. In spite of this, we can affirm with certainty the existence of these causes.

And we must also agree on the word “proof” which has a clear definition. A proof is, in a trial, “what serves to establish that something is true” (Google/Robert), a “material element” (Larousse) that allows to accredit a thesis and to invalidate its opposite; or “a fact or a reasoning that can solidly establish the truth” (Wikipedia). Thus, real-world evidence is never “irrefutable” or “absolute.” They are elements that accumulate in favor of a thesis with more or less strength. One can demonstrate that someone is guilty or innocent with such evidence; but it is not a matter of mathematical demonstration, nor of logical evidence, nor of certainties of the “checkmate-in-three-moves” type. On the other hand, when strong, convergent, rational evidence from independent fields accumulates, we arrive at a certainty “beyond all reasonable doubt,” as we say in the legal world.

This is exactly what we arrive at in our rational inquiry, which deals with a dozen independent fields, some of which are scientific, others not.

In short, the a priori theoretical distinctions do not hold; and, to see this, we must look at the real world. There are many a priori, prejudices, preconceived ideas. We have to be careful with these too-theoretical positions which are not right and which are upset by reality, such as: “Science is the “How?” and religion the “Why?” No, science and religion or philosophy are not “two separate magisterial,” as Stephen Jay Gould theorized with his “NOMA” (Non-Overlapping Magisterium). This is not true, as are many other preconceptions such as “science cannot say anything about God;” “it is impossible to prove God;” “if God could be proved, there would be no room for faith;” “if God could be proved, it would be the death of religions;” etc. All these preconceptions are not true. All these preconceived ideas are false.

The only people who believe them are materialists and fideists, for opposite reasons. Materialists think that religion has nothing to say about the real world, and fideists doubt natural reason and its reliability. But all this does not hold. Why not? Simply because if religion claims to speak about the real world and claims to be embodied in history, then there are many places where it interacts with science. If the Gospel says that there is “in Jerusalem, near the Sheep Gate, a pool called Bethzatha in Hebrew, which has five colonnades” (Jn 5:2) and that archaeology confirms this, this is not concordism, it is simply the fact that the Gospel is based on historical realities. And if the Hebrew people say that they believe by revelation that the universe began, that it was created out of nothing, that there are no demigods or sub-humans, and that no god dwells in springs, forests or pieces of wood, this is important because these are indispensable truths for men to have a true relationship with God. But of course, for this relationship to God to be true, it is important that all of this be consistent with reality.

LN: Some of our fellow citizens do not believe in God, not so much out of deep conviction as because they live in a materialistic context that does not encourage it. Do you think that recourse to science can convince these people? What audience, precisely, is your book aimed at?

OB: This book is not only for the curious: it is for everyone, because the question of the existence of God is one that everyone asks themselves one day or another. Nowadays, there are really good reasons to reopen the file rationally, to discover all its elements, to think about it. This book is an invitation to reflection and debate.

LN: You bring us to recognize the existence of God by showing that the Universe, having a beginning (the Big Bang), was created. In what way does a created Universe oblige us to postulate the existence of God?

OB: To say that everything has a cause is perfectly false—there is necessarily at least one necessary being who gives cause to everything that exists. It is easy to realize this by considering the whole of all the beings that exist. This whole cannot have a cause outside itself. Now, to be the cause of oneself is not possible. It is therefore that there is necessarily at least one necessary being. This is true at every moment, to give existence to everything that exists (vertical causality) but it is also true in time (horizontal causality). This is how all atheistic materialist doctrines, from Parmenides, Heraclitus, Democritus or Lucretius (author of the famous formula “ex nihilo nihil”) to Marx, Friedrich Engels, Lenin, Mao and Hitler, through Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Ludwig Feuerbach, David Hume, Jean-Paul Sartre and all the atheistic philosophers of the 19th century—or Baruch Spinoza, Auguste Comte, Ernst Mach, Svante Arrhenius, Ernst Haeckel, Marcelin Berthelot, Bertrand Russell, Francis Crick and all the atheist scientists of the pre-1960s—all of them always imagined that matter was somehow eternal in the past and that the Universe had never begun. But this position, which has never been rational, is less than ever tenable after modern scientific discoveries (thermodynamics, cosmology and the Big Bang illustration). Only God remains if we want to remain reasonable.

Note 54 on page 91 of the book shows why an infinite time in the past is impossible. Because if we count 0, 1, 2, 3… without ever stopping, we go towards infinity, but it will always remain a potential infinity that we will never reach. Thus, in mirror image, for the same reason that we cannot reach infinity in the future starting from today; we cannot start from infinity in the past to reach our time either: an infinite time in the past is therefore impossible (see the third point entitled “The Creator of time” in chapter 22). Today, science confirms this point that scientists did not accept one hundred years ago. Science has shown that space, time and matter had an absolute beginning. Through Relativity, Einstein showed that space, time and matter are inseparably linked and that one cannot exist without the other two. Thermodynamics has shown that entropy increases and leads, after a certain time, to the thermal death of the Universe, which cannot be infinite in the past. Cosmology, with the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which is based on the work of Penrose and Hawking on singularities, shows that there is necessarily an absolute beginning to the Universe. But the Big Bang, now confirmed, is not the proof of the beginning. It is only a good illustration of this absolute beginning.

LN: If science demonstrates the fact of the creation of the Universe, what does it teach us about how this creation took place, including, for example, the controversial question of evolution?

OB: This question is controversial, as you say. That is why we did not deal with it in our survey, which needed to select the discriminating questions, i.e., those on which one can easily make a decision. On evolution, there are two visions: the vision of Darwin and his (numerous) followers, according to which natural selection explains everything; and the vision of those who think that this principle is valid but that it does not explain everything. Those who are interested can read Life’s Solution by Simon Conway Morris, who presents seventy examples of convergence of complex organs, such as the human eye, and who concludes in a very convincing way that the laws of the Universe program the coming of man since the Big Bang.

LN: The second part of the book chooses to seek concordance between the Bible and science, insisting on coherence when there is any, and explaining, when there seems to be a contradiction; that it is necessary to depart from the literal meaning. Is there not a risk of concordism here, and would it not have been preferable to center this part on the astonishing fact that the Jewish people were the only people of antiquity to affirm a faith in a unique God transcending a physical universe created by Him?

OB: If we assume that creation and revelation have the same origin, then “concordism” is more likely to bring us closer to the truth than an overly “discordist” approach. But two things must be kept in mind which may seem to be in opposition. First, it is true that the purpose of the Bible is not primarily to give us a scientifically accurate account or a historical account in the modern sense of the term (which would not be of much interest), but to allow for a strong and truthful relationship with God. But secondly, Revelation speaks of the real world; it passes through truly historical events; and it is embodied in history. There are thus naturally many interactions between faith and reason which must concur on these points.

Why then this choice to speak about the Bible?

It is very strange to see that the Bible states truths that the Hebrew people knew but that all the other peoples—much more learned—were unaware of about God, men, nature and the Universe. It is also curious to see that the Jewish people are the only people of antiquity still present on Earth; or that a young man of 30, Jesus, who wrote nothing and died on a cross, became the one who had the most influence on the history of humanity, as Himself and the prophecies proclaimed. In this book, rationality is interrogated.

LN: The chapter on Fatima seems a little out of sync with the rest of the book. Why did you choose to devote a chapter to a Marian apparition?

OB: The miracle of Fatima (in 1917, in Portugal) is also, as we show in the book, a real, rational question about the existence of God. How is it that children announce, three months in advance, a miracle that everyone will be able to observe, at a very precise time? This well-documented event raises the question of whether it can be explained within a framework of materialist thought; that is, without a supernatural hypothesis.

LN: Doesn’t the great diversity of ethical systems throughout the world contradict the affirmation of the existence of a transcendent moral law common to humanity? Do not the consequences of original sin, which distort our moral judgment, prevent unanimity on this subject?

OB: Yes, but beyond this diversity, if there is no absolute outside the material Universe to found good and evil, then nothing can be sacred, absolute, good or intangible. In the case of a world without God, we are ultimately just an agglomeration of atoms, and crushing a child or a mosquito is ultimately equivalent: it is a simple reorganization of matter. Consistent atheists must believe this; but it is not easy.

LN: The answer to the objections of the materialists is particularly hurried on two of them, especially on the problem of evil. Why, in a book of nearly 600 pages, did it not go into this objection, which is the one usually put forward against the existence of God? Is it not because there is no totally satisfactory answer, since it remains a mystery?

OB: The objection “if there is a good and all-powerful God, evil is impossible” does not hold, either logically or in terms of probability. For the presupposition “if God is love, He must create a world without evil” is false. Serious atheists readily acknowledge this. To quote a few: “We may concede that the problem of evil does not, after all, demonstrate that the central doctrines of theism are logically inconsistent with each other” (John L. Mackie, atheist, 1982, The Miracle of Theism, Oxford University Press, p. 154). “Some philosophers have held that the existence of evil is logically inconsistent with the existence of a theistic God. No one, I think, has succeeded in establishing such an extravagant claim” (William L. Rowe, atheist, The Problem of Evil and Some Varieties of Atheism, 1979, p. 135). “It is now recognized on (almost) all sides that the logical argument is bankrupt (William P. Alston, “The Inductive Argument from Evil and the Human Cognitive Condition,” Philosophical Perspectives, Vol. 5, 1991, pp. 29-67).

Indeed, if God is love and if He seeks love, this presupposes free will. In reality, outside of Revelation, we are not in a position to judge whether God has or does not have good reasons for temporarily allowing suffering to exist in the world. Logical or intellectual arguments fall away, but the emotional issue remains very powerful. However, this is not the subject of our book, which does not talk about who God is, but only deals with one question: is there a creator God? And from only one angle: rationality.

LN: You devote a chapter to recalling the philosophical proofs of God’s existence (which have not changed since St. Thomas Aquinas), beginning by saying that they “have never interested anyone.” Why then devote space to them, and why are they of no interest to anyone if they are really convincing?

OB: Personally, the evidence I prefer is that of contingency. It seemed obvious to me that everything that exists must at every moment receive its existence from a cause; and that at every moment there is a first, necessary cause that maintains everything in existence. But after my conversion, I experienced that this proof did not convince many people. These philosophical proofs are very valid, but they don’t “make much of an impression;” i.e., they are not enough to convince. This is an observation. On the other hand, in addition to other elements, and in convergence with them, they are in my opinion very useful and contribute to establishing a rational and independent body of evidence.

LN: People often accuse believers of credulity; but you conclude, on the contrary, that it is materialism that is an irrational belief. Could you explain why?

OB: A coherent and rational materialist must believe that the Universe has always existed contrary to all evidence; that it is infinitely well-regulated by chance; that there is no good and evil; that the Bible, the destiny of the Hebrews, Jesus and the predictions of the children of Fatima, as well as the thousands of miracles and apparitions, the thousands of saints and the testimonies of personal encounters with God are also explained by illusions or by immense strokes of luck. This is really a lot to ask, and it is more than irrational. Everything converges. We must take the time to try to evaluate the probabilities. All this is actually impossible. It takes a lot of credulity to remain a materialist.


Featured image: “Creation of the Animals,” by Tintoretto; painted ca. 1551-1552.

Against The Normal

Within the Christianity of our time, the great spiritual conflict, unknown to almost all, is between a naturalistic/secular world of modernity and the sacramental world of classical Christianity. The first presumes that a literal take on the world is the most accurate. It tends to assume a closed system of cause and effect, ultimately explainable through science and manageable through technology. Modern Christians, quite innocently, accept this account of the world with the proviso that there is also a God who, on occasion, intervenes within this closed order. The naturalist unbeliever says, “Prove it.”

The sacramental world of classical Christianity speaks a wholly different language. It presumes that the world as we see it is an expression of a greater reality that is unseen. It presumes that everything is a continuing gift and a means of communion with the good God who created it. The meaning and purpose of things is found in that which is not seen, apart from which we can only reach false conclusions. The essential message of Christ, “The Kingdom of God is at hand,” is a proclamation of the primacy of this unseen world and its coming reign in the restoration of all things (apokatastasis, cf. Acts 3:21).

The assumptions of these two worldviews could hardly be more contradictory. The naturalistic/secular model has the advantage of sharing a worldview with contemporary culture. As such, it forms part of what most people would perceive as “common sense” and “normal.” Indeed, the larger portion of Christian believers within that model have no idea that any other Christian worldview exists.

The classical/sacramental worldview was the only Christian worldview for most of the centuries prior to the Reformation. Even then, that worldview was only displaced through revolution and state sponsorship. Nonetheless, the sacramental understanding continues within the life of the Orthodox Church, as well as many segments of Catholicism. Its abiding presence in the Scriptures guarantees that at least a suspicion of “something else” will haunt some modern Christian minds.

An assumption of the secular/naturalist worldview is that information itself is “objective” in character: it is equally accessible to everyone. The classical worldview assumes something quite different. “Blessed are the pure in heart,” Christ says, “for they shall see God.” The Kingdom of God is not an inert object that yields itself to public examination. The knowledge of God and of all spiritual things requires a different mode of seeing and understanding. St. Paul says it this way: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1Co 2:14).

This understanding disturbs the sensibilities of many contemporary Christians. Some go so far as to suggest that it is “gnostic” (by this they mean that the very notion of spiritual knowledge that is less than democratic is suspect). Sola Scriptura is a modern concept that posits the Scriptures as subject to objective interpretation. The Scriptures thus belong to the world of public, democratic debate, whose meaning belongs within the marketplace of opinion. The Scriptures are “my Bible.”

The classical model is, in fact, the teaching found in the Scriptures. It utterly rejects the notion of spiritual knowledge belonging to the same category as the naturalistic/secular world. It clearly understands that the truth of things is perceived only through the heart (nous) and that an inward change is required. It is impossible to encounter the truth and remain unchanged.

The classical model, particularly as found within Orthodoxy, demands repentance and asceticism as a normative part of the spiritual life. These actions do not earn a reward, but are an inherent part of the cleansing of the heart and the possibility of perceiving the truth.

The rationalization (secular/rationalist) of the gospel has also given rise to modern “evangelism.” If no particular change is required in a human being in order to perceive the truth of the gospel, then rational argument and demonstration becomes the order of the day. Indeed, modern evangelism is largely indistinguishable from modern marketing. They were born from the same American social movements.

The classical model tends to be slower in its communication, for what is being transmitted is the fullness of the tradition and the transformation of each human life. Evangelism, in this context, has little to no relationship with marketing. The primary form for the transmission of the gospel is the community of the Church. The Christian faith, in its fullness, is properly only seen in an embodied community of believers living in sacramental union with God through Christ by the Holy Spirit. In the early Church, the catechumenate generally lasted for as much as three years. The formation that took place was seen as an essential preparation for the Christian life. “Making a decision” was almost beside the point.

The struggle between classical/sacramental Christianity and modernity (including its various Christianities) is not a battle over information. The heart of the struggle is for sacramental Christianity to simply remain faithful to what it is. That struggle is significant, simply for the fact that it takes place within a dominant culture that is largely its antithesis.

A complicating factor in this struggle is the fact that the dominant culture (naturalistic/secular) has taken up traditional Christian vocabulary and changed its meaning. This creates a situation in which classical Christianity is in constant need of defining and understanding its own language in contradistinction to the prevailing cultural mind. The most simple terms, “faith, belief, Baptism, Communion, icon, forgiveness, sin, repentance,” are among those things that have to be consistently re-defined. Every conversation outside a certain circle requires this effort, and, even within that circle, things are not always easy.

Such an effort might seem exhausting. The only position of relaxation within the culture is the effortless agreement with what the prevailing permutations tell us on any given day. Human instinct tends towards the effortless life – and the secular mentality constantly reassures us that only the effortless life is normal. Indeed, “normal, ordinary, common,” and such terms, are all words invented by modernity as a self-description. Such concepts are utterly absent from the world of Scripture. Oddly, no one lived a “normal” life until relatively recently.

That which is “normal” is nothing of the sort. It is the purblind self-assurance that all is well when nothing is well.

God have mercy on us.

Father Stephen Freeman is a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, serving as Rector of St. Anne Orthodox Church in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He is also author of Everywhere Present and the Glory to God podcast series.

The photo shows a marginal pen-and-ink drawing from a letter by Olaf Stapledon, written to his fiance, dated October 3, 1918.

Bertrand Russell: Preliminary Remarks

Bertrand Arthur William Russell was born on May 18, 1872 into a privileged family. His grandfather was Lord John Russell, who was the liberal Prime Minister of Great Britain and the first Earl Russell. Young Bertrand’s early life was traumatic. His mother died when he was two years old and he lost his father before the age of four.

He was then sent to live with his grandparents, Lord and Lady John Russell, but by the time he was six years old, his grandfather also died. Thereafter, his grandmother, who was a strict authoritarian and a very religious woman, raised him.

These early years were filled with prohibitions and rules, and his earliest desires were to free himself from such constraints. His lifelong denial of religion no doubt stems from this early experience. His initial education was at home, which was customary for children of his social class, and later he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he achieved first-class honors in mathematics and philosophy.

He graduated in 1894, and briefly took the position of attaché at the British Embassy in Paris. But he was soon back in England and became a fellow of Trinity College in 1895, just after his first marriage to Alys Pearsall Smith. A year later, in 1896, he published his first book, entitled German Social Democracy, which he wrote after a visit to Berlin.

Russell was interested in all aspects of the human condition, as is apparent from his wide-ranging contributions, and when the First World War broke out, he found himself voicing increasingly controversial political views. He became an active pacifist, which resulted in his dismissal from Trinity College in 1916, and two years later, his views led him even to prison. But he put his imprisonment to good use and wrote the Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, which was published in 1919.

Since he had no longer had a teaching job, he began to make his living by giving lectures and by writing. His controversial views soon made him famous. In 1919, he visited the newly formed Soviet Union, where he met many of the famous personalities of the Russian Revolution, which he initially supported.

But the visit soured his view of the Socialist movement in Russia and he wrote a scathing attack that very year, entitled Theory and Practice of Bolshevism. By 1921, he had married his second wife, Dora Black, and began to be interested in education. With Dora he created and ran a progressive school and wrote On Education (1926) and a few later, Education and the Social Order (1932).

In 1931, he became the 3rd Earl of Russell, and five years later got a divorce and married his third wife, Patricia Spence in 1936. By this time, he was extremely interested in morality and wrote about the subject in his controversial book Marriage and Morals (1932).

He had moved to New York to teach at City College, but he was dismissed from this position because of his views on sexuality (he advocated a version of free love, where sex was not bound up with questions of morality). When Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany, Russell began to question his own pacifism and by 1939 had firmly rejected it, and campaigned hard for the overthrow of Nazism right to the end of the Second World War.

By 1944, he was back in England from the United States, and his teaching position at Trinity College was restored to him, and was granted the Order of Merit. He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1950. During this time, he wrote several important books, such as, An Enquiry into Meaning and Truth (1940), Human Knowledge: Its Scopes and Limits (1948).

His best-known work from this time is History of Western Philosophy (1945). As well, he continued writing controversial pieces on social, moral and religious issues. Most of these were collected and published in 1957 as Why I Am Not A Christian.

From 1949 onwards, he was actively involved in advocating nuclear disarmament. In 1961, along with his fourth and final wife, Edith Finch, he was again put into prison for inciting civil disobedience to oppose nuclear warfare. He spent his final years in North Wales, actively writing to the very last. He died on February 2, 1970.

His range of interests took in the various spheres of human endeavor and thought, for not only was he engaged with mathematics, philosophy, science, logic and the theory of meaning, but he was deeply interested in political activism, feminism, education, nuclear disarmament, and he was a ceaseless opponent of communism. His ideas have greatly influenced the world we live in.

So pervasive is his influence that contemporary culture has seamlessly subsumed the ideas he introduced so that we no longer recognize his impact.

For example, his ideas have forever changed, on a fundamental level, the way philosophy is done, the way logic is dealt with, the way mathematics and science are understood, the view we hold of morality, marriage, the nuclear family, and even the various attempts to stop the spread of nuclear arms – all these concepts owe their beginnings to Russell.

At the very heart of Russell’s thought lies the concept, first elucidated in The Principles of Mathematics, that analysis can lead to truth. By analysis he means the breaking up of a complex expression or thought in order to get at its simpler components, which in turn will reveal the meaning or truth.

Thus, the method involves moving from the larger to the more specific, from the macro to the micro. Russell arrived at this process by suggesting that mathematics and natural languages derived from logic. He extended his approach and stated that the structure of logic could be a useful tool in helping us understand the human experience, which in turn would lead to the working out of disputes.

Thus, in A History of Western Philosophy he shows how the structure of logic is consistent with the way the world works, namely that reality itself is paralleled in logic.

Therefore, this blending of logic and the need to arrive at the truth of reality highlights the second important concern for Russell, namely, metaphysics. In fact, both logic and metaphysics unite and give philosophy its unique approach to uncover truth, which for Russell leads to the understanding of the universe and us. It is this concept that he explores fully in Our Knowledge of the External World.

Although logic is essential to Russell’s philosophy, it is not synonymous with it. Rather, philosophy is to be seen as a larger construct, which certainly begins with logic, but ends with mysticism. It is certainly true that Russell denied the authority of organized religion all his life and preferred to live a life outside prescribed dogmas.

Nevertheless, he recognized the essential mystery that surrounds life, both in its particular representation in the life of humankind and in the larger sphere, namely, in the life of the universe. It is precisely this mysticism that disallowed him an ultimate denial of God existence, and therefore Russell never called himself an atheist; rather he labeled himself an avowed agnostic, or someone who does not know, and cannot know, whether God exists or not.

Thus, in philosophy he found a quest far greater than that embodied by religion or science, and he described this process in Mysticism and Logic.

 

The photo shows, “New York Movie,” By Edward Hopper, painted in 1939.

Atheism Is Rebellion

Atheism is rebellion – it is hardly a methodology of thought, truth, or even science. Unknown to its cheerleaders is the fact that atheism cannot overcome apoptosis – it is programed to commit suicide. Its genetic contradiction kills it. This is why atheism is now regarded as a genetic mutation, slotted for destruction.

Its death sentence – is simply this – it cannot build an equitable, just and good society in which humans will want to live. Morality is not brain-washing. As recent studies clearly, infants come equipped with a sense of right and wrong. In other words, the Socratic tradition had it right all along.

While nature has its own innate laws, described by science – humans are born with natural law. In other words, because humans are naturally moral, there is God.

Thus the entire effort of “proving” God by quantifiable methods is a false one. Ludwig Wittgenstein said it best, at the end of his Tractatus: “…if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched at all.”

To try to answer these problems (why a human has worth, purpose and meaning) with quantifiable methods (which is Scientism) is useless. Again, Wittgenstein points out that each is purpose-specific; it cannot be extended into all areas of life. If it is, then he says, “language goes on a holiday.” Thus, scientism is simply illogical, because it cannot be rational, and therefore wrong. Simone Weil understood this clearly, for she observed: “Science is not a fruit of the spirit of truth.”

And because of moral law, atheism is also not true. Since modernity is an age of confusion, because it is an age of relativism, truth is defined as opinion, personal preference, choice, or taste. Thus, atheism is simply all that – it is not a verifiable, quantifiable fact.

Each time, an attempt is made to disprove, or prove God, by way of science, language goes on a holiday. Therefore, atheism can only be opinion, taste, preference, choice, which is the only viable explanation possible.

Atheism also seeks to replace religion – and it simply does not have the logical means to accomplish what it seeks. It is deficient in a viable language that will satisfactorily explain the “problems of life.” And “language” means ideas.

If atheism truly wants to replace religion, then it must abandon the language of science and create one that properly explains why each human life is valuable, purposeful and meaningful. Humans as creatures with an innate natural law continually need these explanations. They do not only scientific ones, which can only be true according to their own purpose of quantification.

But since atheism is scientism, it is inherently unable to formulate a language for morality- because the result would then be religion. This is the fatal flaw. Death is the only possibility. It is like asking a tree to find a way to use dental floss.

Given this problem, the only possible way out for atheism is to do what Nietzsche does – declare the death of God – and then entirely abandon morality. To fully recognize that man is only an animal, and nothing ever more, destined for the dust, like any animal dead in the forest.

Second, atheism must fully embrace Hitlerism (this term is preferable to Nazism which was the political and social practice of Hitlerism. Nazism is dead, but Hitlerism is alive and well – and embodied by every atheist, whether s/he understands this or not).

This means that atheism needs to accept what a life without God fully entails. And that life cannot then be based upon morality, since that is simply brain-washing and an expression of weakness – that life must be based upon the full consequences of man being an animal – existing “beyond good and evil.” It was Simone Weil who very elegantly understood this connection and identified it.

So, here is the challenge for atheists – if they actually believe their opinions, tastes, and preferences – they have to accept that they must Hitlerism, which is the best and most accurate (and even courageous) explanation, or program, of living a life without God and denying natural moral law. Therefore, a true atheist must be unapologetically Hitlerian, which alone had the courage to describe what life without God is like.

The corollary to this is another question – after deny God, why do atheists then proceed to live like perfectly decent Christians, worrying about human rights, social justice, tolerance, fairness?

Should they not, instead, be striving to express their will to power – the destruction of the weak, the strengthening of the species, the struggle to survive? There can be no decency in atheism – because that is weakness – and weak animal lives for too long.

There is indeed an adolescent quality to atheists who frolic about having tossed off all authority – perhaps this is why the greatest “thinkers” of atheism tend to be academics – and yet they do not understand the consequences of their “thinking.”

First, atheism is simply a preference, a world-view, an opinion, which is unable to generate a particular type of society in which humans might want to live. Why? Because atheism is no more than a critique of normative thinking; it is not an alternative to it. There is reason why ideas are normative.

Therefore, atheism can only last for the life-time of the individual atheist. And studies by Eric Kaufmann bluntly point out that atheists just do not have enough babies to keep their world-view going into the future. Atheism will die with the atheists. Religious people have more babies, and therefore religion will keep on going.

Atheism needs to answer why this is. Historically, to exist and think without God is alien to what it means to be human. Archaeology points this out continually – even that civilization is not the result of economic forces, but rather of religious worship (as, say, in Gobekli Tepe). Farming, domestication, metallurgy, cities, social hierarchies, culture are the consequences of religion alone. Doubt is neither creative, nor generative – socially or biologically.

Second, the position of atheism is arrived at by way of reason, as expressed in scientism (which says that only quantifiable probabilities exist and are therefore true). But if atheism is correct, then rationality is simply the result of random chance, which is to say, it is the product of pure irrationality. How can rationality be created by irrationality? Atheism provides no answer.

Third, the famous philosophical question – why is there something, when there could be nothing? Physics tell us that all things are forever falling into entropy, which means that all objects prefer to be at rest rather be active.

Therefore, once the first accidental burst of creation happens, and random things get created, why do all things become self-generating? Why does life keep producing more life? Why the instinct for procreation, which is an on-going waste of energy, given that entropy is the normal state? In other words, why does life need to keep on going?

Fourth, if atheism is correct, then why must humans continue to exist on the earth? They have been nothing but trouble, and highly destructive to boot. Why did nature (which is viewed as all-wise) carry on with this experiment? What good have humans ever done to the planet?

Fifth, if atheism is correct, then man is certainly animal. But why would nature, in her wisdom, let evolve a creature that is so utterly unsuited to live in nature? All man has is intellect, with which to fashion the earth into a world in which he alone can exist. Why this disconnect creature and natural world?

Such unresolved questions also build internal contradictions within atheism. For example, why is it that atheists first deny the existence of God and regard religion as ignorance, superstition, and barbarity which has oppressed and imprisoned mankind, but then promptly behave, think, act, and live like good Christians? Why can they not embrace and “celebrate” their “animalness?”

An atheist is also a Darwinian nowadays, which means that men and women must be driven by instinct, which is the urge to survive and the will to power. Thus, an atheist must be a powerful predator, who seeks to destroy the weak.

Such is the true calling of an atheist, to be a strong animal, free of morality, which is part of the prison created by religion.

Thus, why live in family groups, why behave decently, why be nice, why worry about “human rights,” why love anyone other than your own self, why object to killing and murder, why not seek to destroy charity work (which only promotes life for the feeble), why have doctors and hospital who prolong life for the sick who should rightly die, why care for the elderly who are useless, why have education for all, why not kill the handicapped and the mentally challenged, why have prisons since criminals are only being good animals and they should be free to win even more power?

Indeed, are there any true atheists in the world?

There was one, and he wrote the best manual for the atheist, liberated from the prison of religion. This book made the author an instant millionaire, with worldwide sales. The appeal of the book was that it laid bare man as a true animal who survived through strength who had no need of God and morality.

The book was Mein Kampf, the author Adolf Hitler, who was a millionaire-writer long before he became the Fuhrer. He did create a purely atheistic culture, in which man the animal reigned supreme. It six years and about fifty million lives to destroy this atheist world. It is Simone Weil who made this insightful connection between atheism and Hitlerism.

But why does modernity need atheism?

First, it captures perfectly the relativist ethos that permeates the world today, with its denial of truth, history, morality in favor of opinion, taste, preference, choice.

Second, by being in a state of denial, atheism is a rebellious throwing off of constraints which has come to define freedom.

Third, as Charles Péguy observed long ago, there really is no such thing as atheism, because what passes for the denial of God is really an “auto-theism,” a deification of the self.

By removing God, man can worship himself. Thus atheism is attractive, because it is validated narcissism, for atheism has no interest in the future – it is merely the mirror with which to gaze upon oneself – in the illusion of an unending present.

The photo shows, “Echo and Narcissus,” John William Waterhouse, painted in 1903.