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Thursday, May 2, 2019

Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Plantinga receives the Templeton Prize in 2017 (Source)

Dr. Alvin Plantinga is an American analytic philosopher who has contributed in the fields of logic, philosophy of religion, and epistemology.

He was the John A. O'Brian Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame until his retirement in June 2010. Over his long and seasoned career, Dr. Plantinga has taught or lectured at Yale University, Harvard University, Boston University, Syracuse University, and several institutions of higher learning. Currently, he holds the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College.

From 1983-1986, Plantinga was president of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He has authored or edited over a dozen books in philosophy, and several dozen more in top-tiered philosophy publications in the U.S. and in the U.K.

In 2017, Plantinga was the recipient of the prestigious Templeton Prize. In accepting the prize, he said, "I hope the news of the prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, toward greater creativity, integrity and boldness.

He claims that belief in God can be rational without requiring arguments or evidence, claiming that it is difficult to prove that belief in God is irrational and possible to suggest ways in which belief meets the requirement of rationality. He demonstrates through logic that it is possible to hold theistic belief that meets the requirement of rationality.

Using logic, Plantinga also points out the fallacy of metaphysical naturalism, the belief that only natural laws and forces operate in the world. He was said, "If you believe in evolution and naturalism then you have reason not to think your faculties are reliable."

Plantinga on the Problem of Evil

In his book Knowledge and Christian Belief (2015) Plantinga writes:
“What I want to argue first is that if classical Christianity is true, then the perception of evil is not a defeater for belief in God for someone who is fully rational, someone whose cognitive faculties are functioning properly…Someone in whom this process was functioning properly would have an intimate, detailed, vivid, and explicit knowledge of God; she would have an intense awareness of his presence, glory, goodness, power, perfection, wonderful attractiveness, and sweetness; and she would be as convinced of God’s existence as of her own. 
“She might therefore be perplexed by the existence of this evil in God’s world — for God, she knows, hates evil with a holy and burning passion — but the idea that perhaps there just isn’t any such person as God would no doubt not so much as cross her mind. Confronted with evil and suffering, such a person might ask herself why God permits it; the facts of evil may be a spur to inquiry as well as to action. If she finds no answer, she will no doubt conclude that God has a reason that is beyond her ken; she won’t be in the least inclined to doubt that there is such a person as God. For someone fully rational, on [my] model, the existence of evil doesn’t so much as begin to constitute a defeater for belief in God” (pp. 121-122).

 Related reading: Alvin Plantinga: The Gifford Lectures; Alvin Plantinga Biography

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