Alvin Carl Plantinga (/ˈplæntɪŋɡə/; born November 15, 1932) is a prominent American analytic philosopher who works primarily in the fields of logic, justification, philosophy of religion, and epistemology.
From 1963-82, Plantinga taught at Calvin College before accepting an appointment as the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. He later returned to Calvin College to become the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy.
A prominent Christian philosopher, Plantinga served as president of the Society of Christian Philosophers from 1983-86. He has delivered the Gifford Lectures two times and was described by TIME magazine as "America's leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God". William Lane Craig wrote in his work Reasonable Faith that he considers Plantinga to be the greatest Christian philosopher alive. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was awarded the Templeton Prize in 2017.
Some of Plantinga's most influential works including God and Other Minds (1967), The Nature of Necessity (1974), and a trilogy of books on epistemology, culminating in Warranted Christian Belief (2000) that was simplified in Knowledge and Christian Belief (2016).
Alvin Carl Plantinga
|Born||November 15, 1932|
University of Michigan (M.A, 1955)
Yale University (PhD, 1958)
Kathleen De Boer (m. 1955)
|Institutions||University of Notre Dame|
|Doctoral advisor||Paul Weiss|
Plantinga was born on November 15, 1932, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Cornelius A. Plantinga (1908–1994) and Lettie G. Bossenbroek (1908–2007). Plantinga's father was a first-generation immigrant, born in the Netherlands. His family is from the Dutch province of Friesland, they lived on a relatively low income until he secured a teaching job in Michigan in 1941.
Plantinga married Kathleen De Boer in 1955. They have four children: Carl, Jane, Harry, and Ann. Both of his sons are professors at Calvin College, Carl in Film Studies and Harry in computer science. Harry is also the director of the college's Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Plantinga's older daughter, Jane Plantinga Pauw, is a pastor at Rainier Beach Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) in Seattle, Washington, and his younger daughter, Ann Kapteyn, is a missionary in Cameroon working for Wycliffe Bible Translators. His granddaughter Natasha Pauw lives at home with her parents. One of Plantinga's brothers, Cornelius "Neal" Plantinga Jr., is a theologian and the former president of Calvin Theological Seminary. Another of his brothers, Leon, is an emeritus professor of musicology at Yale University. His brother Terrell worked for CBS News.
After Plantinga completed 11th grade, his father urged him to skip his last year of high school and immediately enroll in college. Plantinga reluctantly followed his father's advice and in 1949, a few months before his 17th birthday, he enrolled in Jamestown College, in Jamestown, North Dakota. During that same year, his father accepted a teaching job at Calvin College, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In January 1950, Plantinga moved to Grand Rapids with his family and enrolled in Calvin College. During his first semester at Calvin, Plantinga was awarded a scholarship to attend Harvard University.
Beginning in the fall of 1950, Plantinga spent two semesters at Harvard. In 1951, during Harvard's spring recess, Plantinga attended a few philosophy classes at Calvin College, and was so impressed with Calvin philosophy professor William Harry Jellema that he returned in 1951 to study philosophy under him. In 1954, Plantinga began his graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he studied under William Alston, William Frankena, and Richard Cartwright, among others. A year later, in 1955, he transferred to Yale University where he received his Ph.D. in 1958.
Plantinga began his career as an instructor in the philosophy department at Yale in 1957, and then in 1958 he became a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University during its heyday as a major center for analytic philosophy. In 1963, he accepted a teaching job at Calvin College, where he replaced the retiring Jellema. He then spent the next 19 years at Calvin before moving to the University of Notre Dame in 1982. He retired from the University of Notre Dame in 2010 and returned to Calvin College, where he serves as the first holder of the William Harry Jellema Chair in Philosophy. He has trained many prominent philosophers working in metaphysics and epistemology including Michael Bergmann at Purdue and Michael Rea at Notre Dame, and Trenton Merricks working at University of Virginia.
He has honorary degrees from Glasgow University (1982), Calvin College (1986), North Park College (1994), the Free University of Amsterdam (1995), Brigham Young University (1996), and Valparaiso University (1999). He was a Guggenheim Fellow, 1971–72, and elected a Fellow in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1975.
In 2006, the University of Notre Dame's Center for Philosophy of Religion renamed its Distinguished Scholar Fellowship as the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship. The fellowship includes an annual lecture by the current Plantinga Fellow.
In 2012, the University of Pittsburgh's Philosophy Department, History and Philosophy of Science Department, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science co-awarded Plantinga the Nicholas Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy, which he received with a talk titled, "Religion and Science: Where the Conflict Really Lies".
In 2017, Baylor University's Center for Christian Philosophy inaugurated the Alvin Plantinga Award for Excellence in Christian Philosophy. Awardees deliver a lecture at Baylor University and their name is put on a plaque with Plantinga's image in the Institute for Studies in Religion. He was named the first fellow of the center as well.
He was awarded the 2017 Templeton Prize.
Plantinga has argued that some people can know that God exists as a basic belief, requiring no argument. He developed this argument in two different fashions: firstly, in God and Other Minds (1967), by drawing an equivalence between the teleological argument and the common sense view that people have of other minds existing by analogy with their own minds. Plantinga has also developed a more comprehensive epistemological account of the nature of warrant which allows for the existence of God as a basic belief.
Plantinga proposed a "free will defense" in a volume edited by Max Black in 1965, which attempts to refute the logical problem of evil, the argument that the existence of evil is logically incompatible with the existence of an omnipotent, omniscient, wholly good God. Plantinga's argument (in a truncated form) states that "It is possible that God, even being omnipotent, could not create a world with free creatures who never choose evil. Furthermore, it is possible that God, even being omnibenevolent, would desire to create a world which contains evil if moral goodness requires free moral creatures."
However, the argument's handling of natural evil has been more heavily disputed, and its presupposition of a libertarianist, incompatibilist view of free will has been seen as problematic as well. According to the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the argument also "conflicts with important theistic doctrines", including the notion of heaven and the idea that God has free will. J. L. Mackie sees Plantinga's free-will defense as incoherent.
Plantinga's well-received book God, Freedom and Evil, written in 1974, gave his response to what he saw as the incomplete and uncritical view of theism's criticism of theodicy. Plantinga's contribution stated that when the issue of a comprehensive doctrine of freedom is added to the discussion of the goodness of God and the omnipotence of God then it is not possible to exclude the presence of evil in the world after introducing freedom into the discussion. Plantinga's own summary occurs in his discussion titled "Could God Have Created a World Containing Moral Good but No Moral Evil", where he states his conclusion that, "... the price for creating a world in which they produce moral good is creating one in which they also produce moral evil."
Plantinga's contributions to epistemology include an argument which he dubs "Reformed epistemology". According to Reformed epistemology, belief in God can be rational and justified even without arguments or evidence for the existence of God. More specifically, Plantinga argues that belief in God is properly basic, and due to a religious externalist epistemology, he claims belief in God could be justified independently of evidence. His externalist epistemology, called "proper functionalism", is a form of epistemological reliabilism.
Plantinga discusses his view of Reformed epistemology and proper functionalism in a three-volume series. In the first book of the trilogy, Warrant: The Current Debate, Plantinga introduces, analyzes, and criticizes 20th-century developments in analytic epistemology, particularly the works of Chisholm, BonJour, Alston, Goldman, and others. In the book, Plantinga argues specifically that the theories of what he calls "warrant"-what many others have called justification (Plantinga draws out a difference: justification is a property of a person holding a belief while warrant is a property of a belief)—put forth by these epistemologists have systematically failed to capture in full what is required for knowledge.
In the second book, Warrant and Proper Function, he introduces the notion of warrant as an alternative to justification and discusses topics like self-knowledge, memories, perception, and probability. Plantinga's "proper function" account argues that as a necessary condition of having warrant, one's "belief-forming and belief-maintaining apparatus of powers" are functioning properly—"working the way it ought to work". Plantinga explains his argument for proper function with reference to a "design plan", as well as an environment in which one's cognitive equipment is optimal for use. Plantinga asserts that the design plan does not require a designer: "it is perhaps possible that evolution (undirected by God or anyone else) has somehow furnished us with our design plans", but the paradigm case of a design plan is like a technological product designed by a human being (like a radio or a wheel). Ultimately, Plantinga argues that epistemological naturalism- i.e. epistemology that holds that warrant is dependent on natural faculties—is best supported by supernaturalist metaphysics—in this case the belief in a creator God or designer who has laid out a design plan that includes cognitive faculties conducive to attaining knowledge.
According to Plantinga, a belief, B, is warranted if:
(1) the cognitive faculties involved in the production of B are functioning properly…; (2) your cognitive environment is sufficiently similar to the one for which your cognitive faculties are designed; (3) … the design plan governing the production of the belief in question involves, as purpose or function, the production of true beliefs…; and (4) the design plan is a good one: that is, there is a high statistical or objective probability that a belief produced in accordance with the relevant segment of the design plan in that sort of environment is true.
Plantinga seeks to defend this view of proper function against alternative views of proper function proposed by other philosophers which he groups together as "naturalistic", including the "functional generalization" view of John Pollock, the evolutionary/etiological account provided by Ruth Millikan, and a dispositional view held by John Bigelow and Robert Pargetter. Plantinga also discusses his evolutionary argument against naturalism in the later chapters of Warrant and Proper Function.
In 2000, the third volume, Warranted Christian Belief, was published. In this volume, Plantinga's warrant theory is the basis for his theological end: providing a philosophical basis for Christian belief, an argument for why Christian theistic belief can enjoy warrant. In the book, he develops two models for such beliefs, the "A/C" (Aquinas/Calvin) model, and the "Extended A/C" model. The former attempts to show that a belief in God can be justified, warranted and rational, while the Extended model tries to show that specifically Christian theological beliefs including the Trinity, the Incarnation, the resurrection of Christ, the atonement, salvation etc. Under this model, Christians are justified in their beliefs because of the work of the Holy Spirit in bringing those beliefs about in the believer.
James Beilby has argued that the purpose of Plantinga's Warrant trilogy, and specifically of his Warranted Christian Belief, is firstly to make a form of argument against religion impossible—namely, the argument that whether or not Christianity is true, it is irrational—so "the skeptic would have to shoulder the formidable task of demonstrating the falsity of Christian belief" rather than simply dismiss it as irrational. In addition, Plantinga is attempting to provide a philosophical explanation of how Christians should think about their own Christian belief.
Plantinga has expressed a modal logic version of the ontological argument in which he uses modal logic to develop, in a more rigorous and formal way, Norman Malcolm's and Charles Hartshorne's modal ontological arguments.
Plantinga criticized Malcolm's and Hartshorne's arguments, and offered an alternative. He argued that, if Malcolm does prove the necessary existence of the greatest possible being, it follows that there is a being which exists in all worlds whose greatness in some worlds is not surpassed. It does not, he argued, demonstrate that such a being has unsurpassed greatness in this world.
In an attempt to resolve this problem, Plantinga differentiated between "greatness" and "excellence". A being's excellence in a particular world depends only on its properties in that world; a being's greatness depends on its properties in all worlds. Therefore, the greatest possible being must have maximal excellence in every possible world. Plantinga then restated Malcolm's argument, using the concept of "maximal greatness". He argued that it is possible for a being with maximal greatness to exist, so a being with maximal greatness exists in a possible world. If this is the case, then a being with maximal greatness exists in every world, and therefore in this world.
The conclusion relies on a form of modal axiom S5, which states that if something is possibly true, then its possibility is necessary (it is possibly true in all worlds). Plantinga's version of S5 suggests that "To say that p is possibly necessarily true is to say that, with regard to one world, it is true at all worlds; but in that case it is true at all worlds, and so it is simply necessary." A version of his argument is as follows:
Plantinga argued that, although the first premise is not rationally established, it is not contrary to reason. Michael Martin argued that, if certain components of perfection are contradictory, such as omnipotence and omniscience, then the first premise is contrary to reason. Martin also proposed parodies of the argument, suggesting that the existence of anything can be demonstrated with Plantinga's argument, provided it is defined as perfect or special in every possible world.
Another Christian apologist, William Lane Craig, characterizes Plantinga's argument in a slightly different way:
According to Craig, premises (2)–(5) are relatively uncontroversial among philosophers, but "the epistemic entertainability of premise (1) (or its denial) does not guarantee its metaphysical possibility." Furthermore, Richard M. Gale argued that premise three, the "possibility premise", begs the question. He stated that one only has the epistemic right to accept the premise if one understands the nested modal operators, and that if one understands them within the system S5—without which the argument fails—then one understands that "possibly necessarily" is in essence the same as "necessarily". Thus the premise begs the question because the conclusion is embedded within it. On S5 systems in general, James Garson writes that "the words ‘necessarily’ and ‘possibly’, have many different uses. So the acceptability of axioms for modal logic depends on which of these uses we have in mind."
In Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism, he argues that if evolution is true, it undermines naturalism. His basic argument is that if evolution and naturalism are both true, human cognitive faculties evolved to produce beliefs that have survival value (maximizing one's success at the four F's: "feeding, fleeing, fighting, and reproducing"), not necessarily to produce beliefs that are true. Thus, since human cognitive faculties are tuned to survival rather than truth in the naturalism-evolution model, there is reason to doubt the veracity of the products of those same faculties, including naturalism and evolution themselves. On the other hand, if God created man "in his image" by way of an evolutionary process (or any other means), then Plantinga argues our faculties would probably be reliable.
The argument does not assume any necessary correlation (or uncorrelation) between true beliefs and survival. Making the contrary assumption—that there is in fact a relatively strong correlation between truth and survival—if human belief-forming apparatus evolved giving a survival advantage, then it ought to yield truth since true beliefs confer a survival advantage. Plantinga counters that, while there may be overlap between true beliefs and beliefs that contribute to survival, the two kinds of beliefs are not the same, and he gives the following example with a man named Paul:
Perhaps Paul very much likes the idea of being eaten, but when he sees a tiger, always runs off looking for a better prospect, because he thinks it unlikely the tiger he sees will eat him. This will get his body parts in the right place so far as survival is concerned, without involving much by way of true belief... Or perhaps he thinks the tiger is a large, friendly, cuddly pussycat and wants to pet it; but he also believes that the best way to pet it is to run away from it... Clearly there are any number of belief-desire systems that equally fit a given bit of behaviour.
Even though Alvin Plantinga believes that God could have used Darwinian processes to create the world, he stands firm against philosophical naturalism. He said in an interview on the relationship between science and religion that:
Religion and science share more common ground than you might think, though science can't prove, it presupposes that there has been a past for example, science does not cover the whole of the knowledge enterprise.
Plantinga participated of groups that support the Intelligent Design Movement, and was a member of the 'Ad Hoc Origins Committee' that supported Philip E. Johnson's 1991 book Darwin on Trial, he also provided a back-cover endorsement of Johnson's book:
Shows how Darwinian evolution has become an idol.
He was a Fellow of the (now moribund) pro-intelligent design International Society for Complexity, Information, and Design, and has presented at a number of intelligent design conferences. In a March 2010 article in The Chronicle of Higher Education, philosopher of science Michael Ruse labeled Plantinga as an "open enthusiast of intelligent design". In a letter to the editor, Plantinga made the following response:
Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence "intelligently designed". The hallmark of intelligent design, however, is the claim that this can be shown scientifically; I'm dubious about that.
...As far as I can see, God certainly could have used Darwinian processes to create the living world and direct it as he wanted to go; hence evolution as such does not imply that there is no direction in the history of life. What does have that implication is not evolutionary theory itself, but unguided evolution, the idea that neither God nor any other person has taken a hand in guiding, directing or orchestrating the course of evolution. But the scientific theory of evolution, sensibly enough, says nothing one way or the other about divine guidance. It doesn't say that evolution is divinely guided; it also doesn't say that it isn't. Like almost any theist, I reject unguided evolution; but the contemporary scientific theory of evolution just as such—apart from philosophical or theological add-ons—doesn't say that evolution is unguided. Like science in general, it makes no pronouncements on the existence or activity of God.
The attitude that he proposes and elaborates upon in Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism is that there is no tension between religion and science, that the two go hand in hand, and that the actual conflict lies between religion and naturalism. 
Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence "intelligently designed"
Premises (2)–(5) of this argument are relatively uncontroversial. Most philosophers would agree that if God's existence is even possible, then he must exist. ... the epistemic entertainability of premise (1) (or its denial) does not guarantee its metaphysical possibility.
2011 in philosophyAlvin Plantinga's free will defense
Alvin Plantinga's free will defense is a logical argument developed by American analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga, the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and published in its final version in his 1977 book God, Freedom, and Evil. Plantinga's argument is a defense against the logical problem of evil as formulated by philosopher J. L. Mackie beginning in 1955. Mackie's formulation of the logical problem of evil argued that three attributes of God, omniscience, omnipotence, and omnibenevolence, in orthodox Christian theism are logically incompatible with the existence of evil. In 1982, Mackie conceded that Plantinga's defense successfully refuted his argument in The Miracle of Theism, though he did not claim that the problem of evil had been put to rest.Argument from a proper basis
The argument from a proper basis is an ontological argument for the existence of God related to fideism. Alvin Plantinga argued that belief in God is a properly basic belief, and so no basis for belief in God is necessary.Argument from love
The Argument from love is an argument for the existence of God. The best-known defender of the argument is Roger Scruton.Argument from reason
The argument from reason is an argument against metaphysical naturalism and for the existence of God (or at least a supernatural being that is the source of human reason). The best-known defender of the argument is C. S. Lewis. Lewis first defended the argument at length in his 1947 book, Miracles: A Preliminary Study. In the second edition of Miracles (1960), Lewis substantially revised and expanded the argument.
Contemporary defenders of the argument from reason include Alvin Plantinga, Victor Reppert and William Harker.Augustinian theodicy
The Augustinian theodicy, named for the 4th- and 5th-century theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, is a type of Christian theodicy designed in response to the evidential problem of evil. As such, it attempts to explain the probability of an omnipotent (all-powerful) and omnibenevolent (all-good) God amid evidence of evil in the world. A number of variations of this kind of theodicy have been proposed throughout history; their similarities were first described by the 20th-century philosopher John Hick, who classified them as "Augustinian". They typically assert that God is perfectly (ideally) good; that he created the world out of nothing; and that evil is the result of humanity's original sin. The entry of evil into the world is generally explained as punishment for sin and its continued presence due to humans' misuse of free will. God's goodness and benevolence, according to the Augustinian theodicy, remain perfect and without responsibility for evil or suffering.
Augustine of Hippo was the first to develop the theodicy. He rejected the idea that evil exists in itself, instead regarding it as a corruption of goodness, caused by humanity's abuse of free will. Augustine believed in the existence of a physical Hell as a punishment for sin, but argued that those who choose to accept the salvation of Jesus Christ will go to Heaven. In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas – influenced by Augustine – proposed a similar theodicy based on the view that God is goodness and that there can be no evil in him. He believed that the existence of goodness allows evil to exist, through the fault of humans. Augustine also influenced John Calvin, who supported Augustine's view that evil is the result of free will and argued that sin corrupts humans, requiring God's grace to give moral guidance.
The theodicy was criticised by Augustine's contemporary Fortunatus, a Manichaean who contended that God must still be somehow implicated in evil, and 18th-century theologian Francesco Antonio Zaccaria criticised Augustine's concept of evil for not dealing with individual human suffering. Hick regards evil as necessary for the moral and spiritual development of humans, and process theologians have argued that God is not omnipotent and so cannot be responsible for any evil. The logic of Augustine's approach has been adapted by Alvin Plantinga, among others. Plantinga's adapted Augustinian theodicy, the free will defence – which he proposed in the 1980s – attempts to answer only the logical problem of evil. Such a defence (not a "theodicy" proper) does not demonstrate the existence of God, or the probable existence of God, but attempts to prove that the existence of God and the presence of evil (or privatio boni) in the world are not logically contradictory.God and Other Minds
God and Other Minds is a 1967 book by the American philosopher of religion Alvin Plantinga which re-kindled philosophical debate on the existence of God in Anglo-American philosophical circles by arguing that belief in God was like belief in other minds: although neither could be demonstrated conclusively against a determined sceptic both were fundamentally rational. Though Plantinga later modified some of his views, particularly on the soundness of the ontological argument and on the nature of epistemic rationality, he still stands by the basic theses of the book.Leon Plantinga
Leon B. Plantinga is an American musicologist specializing in music of the later eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. His writings have influenced scholarship on Clementi, Beethoven, and Schumann, and his textbook Romantic Music continues to serve as a standard textbook on nineteenth-century music in American universities. Having served as a faculty member of the Department of Music at Yale University from 1963 to 2005, he is now a member of the emeritus faculty. He is the brother of philosopher Alvin Plantinga and theologian Cornelius Plantinga.He is the author of Beethoven's Concertos: History, Style, Performance. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1999. [xi, 403 p. + 1 booklet of music examples, 108 p. ISBN 0-393-04691-5)List of epistemologists
This is a list of epistemologists, that is, people who theorize about the nature of knowledge, belief formation and the nature of justification.Metaphysical necessity
In philosophy, metaphysical necessity, sometimes called broad logical necessity, is one of many different kinds of necessity, which sits between logical necessity and nomological (or physical) necessity, in the sense that logical necessity entails metaphysical necessity, but not vice versa, and metaphysical necessity entails physical necessity, but not vice versa. A proposition is said to be necessary if it could not have failed to be the case. Nomological necessity is necessity according to the laws of physics and logical necessity is necessity according to the laws of logic, while metaphysical necessities are necessary in the sense that the world could not possibly have been otherwise. What facts are metaphysically necessary, and on what basis we might view certain facts as metaphysically but not logically necessary are subjects of substantial discussion in contemporary philosophy.
The concept of a metaphysically necessary being plays an important role in certain arguments for the existence of God, especially the ontological argument, but metaphysical necessity is also one of the central concepts in late 20th century analytic philosophy. Metaphysical necessity has proved a controversial concept, and criticized by David Hume, Immanuel Kant, J. L. Mackie, and Richard Swinburne, among others.
Metaphysical necessity is contrasted with other types of necessity. For example, the philosophers of religion John Hick and William L. Rowe distinguished the following three:
factual necessity (existential necessity): a factually necessary being is not causally dependent on any other being, while any other being is causally dependent on it.
causal necessity (subsumed by Hicks under the former type): a causally necessary being is such that it is logically impossible for it to be causally dependent on any other being, and it is logically impossible for any other being to be causally independent of it.
logical necessity: a logically necessary being is a being whose non-existence is a logical impossibility, and which therefore exists either timeless or eternally in all possible worlds.While many theologians (e.g. Anselm of Canterbury, René Descartes, and Gottfried Leibniz) considered God to be a logically or metaphysically necessary being, Richard Swinburne argued for factual necessity, and Alvin Plantinga argues that God is a causally necessary being. Because a factually or causally necessary being does not exist by logical necessity, it does not exist in all logically possible worlds. Therefore, Swinburne used the term "ultimate brute fact" for the existence of God.Naturalism (philosophy)
In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world." Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws."Naturalism can intuitively be separated into an ontological and a methodological component," argues David Papineau. "Ontological" refers to the philosophical study of the nature of being. Some philosophers equate naturalism with materialism. For example, philosopher Paul Kurtz argues that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles. These principles include mass, energy, and other physical and chemical properties accepted by the scientific community. Further, this sense of naturalism holds that spirits, deities, and ghosts are not real and that there is no "purpose" in nature. Such an absolute belief in naturalism is commonly referred to as metaphysical naturalism.Assuming naturalism in working methods as the current paradigm, without the further consideration of naturalism as an absolute truth with philosophical entailment, is called methodological naturalism. The subject matter here is a philosophy of acquiring knowledge based on an assumed paradigm.
With the exception of pantheists—who believe that Nature is identical with divinity while not recognizing a distinct personal anthropomorphic god—theists challenge the idea that nature contains all of reality. According to some theists, natural laws may be viewed as so-called secondary causes of God(s).
In the 20th century, Willard Van Orman Quine, George Santayana, and other philosophers argued that the success of naturalism in science meant that scientific methods should also be used in philosophy. Science and philosophy are said to form a continuum, according to this view.Nicholas Wolterstorff
Nicholas Wolterstorff (born January 21, 1932) is an American philosopher and a liturgical theologian. He is currently Noah Porter Professor Emeritus Philosophical Theology at Yale University. A prolific writer with wide-ranging philosophical and theological interests, he has written books on aesthetics, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and philosophy of education. In Faith and Rationality, Wolterstorff, Alvin Plantinga, and William Alston developed and expanded upon a view of religious epistemology that has come to be known as Reformed epistemology. He also helped to establish the journal Faith and Philosophy and the Society of Christian Philosophers.Omnibenevolence
Omnibenevolence (from Latin omni- meaning "all", bene- meaning "good" and volens meaning "willing") is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary as "unlimited or infinite benevolence". Some philosophers have argued that it is impossible, or at least improbable, for a deity to exhibit such a property alongside omniscience and omnipotence, as a result of the problem of evil. However, some philosophers, such as Alvin Plantinga, argue the plausibility of co-existence. The word is primarily used as a technical term within academic literature on the philosophy of religion, mainly in context of the problem of evil and theodical responses to such. Although even in said contexts the phrases "perfect goodness" or "moral perfection" are often preferred because of the difficulties in defining what exactly constitutes "infinite benevolence".Ontological argument
An ontological argument is a philosophical argument for the existence of God that uses ontology. Many arguments fall under the category of the ontological, and they tend to involve arguments about the state of being or existing. More specifically, ontological arguments tend to start with a priori theory about the organization of the universe. If that organizational structure is true, the argument will provide reasons why God must exist.
The first ontological argument in the [Western Christian] tradition was proposed by Anselm of Canterbury in his 1078 work Proslogion. Anselm defined God as "that than which nothing greater can be thought", and argued that this being must exist in the mind, even in the mind of the person who denies the existence of God. He suggested that, if the greatest possible being exists in the mind, it must also exist in reality. If it exists only in the mind, then an even greater being must be possible—one which exists both in the mind and in reality. Therefore, this greatest possible being must exist in reality. Seventeenth-century French philosopher René Descartes deployed a similar argument. Descartes published several variations of his argument, each of which centred on the idea that God's existence is immediately inferable from a "clear and distinct" idea of a supremely perfect being. In the early eighteenth century, Gottfried Leibniz augmented Descartes' ideas in an attempt to prove that a "supremely perfect" being is a coherent concept. A more recent ontological argument came from Kurt Gödel, who proposed a formal argument for God's existence. Norman Malcolm revived the ontological argument in 1960 when he located a second, stronger ontological argument in Anselm's work; Alvin Plantinga challenged this argument and proposed an alternative, based on modal logic. Attempts have also been made to validate Anselm's proof using an automated theorem prover. Other arguments have been categorised as ontological, including those made by Islamic philosophers Mulla Sadra and Allama Tabatabai.
Since its proposal, few philosophical ideas have generated as much interest and discussion as the ontological argument. Nearly all of the great minds of Western philosophy have found the argument worthy of their attention, and a number of criticisms and objections have been mounted. The first critic of the ontological argument was Anselm's contemporary, Gaunilo of Marmoutiers. He used the analogy of a perfect island, suggesting that the ontological argument could be used to prove the existence of anything. This was the first of many parodies, all of which attempted to show that the argument has absurd consequences. Later, Thomas Aquinas rejected the argument on the basis that humans cannot know God's nature. Also, David Hume offered an empirical objection, criticising its lack of evidential reasoning and rejecting the idea that anything can exist necessarily. Immanuel Kant's critique was based on what he saw as the false premise that existence is a predicate. He argued that "existing" adds nothing (including perfection) to the essence of a being, and thus a "supremely perfect" being can be conceived not to exist. Finally, philosophers including C. D. Broad dismissed the coherence of a maximally great being, proposing that some attributes of greatness are incompatible with others, rendering "maximally great being" incoherent.
Contemporary defenders of the ontological argument include Alvin Plantinga, William Alston and David Bentley Hart.Reformed epistemology
In the philosophy of religion, Reformed epistemology is a school of philosophical thought concerning the nature of knowledge (epistemology) as it applies to religious beliefs. The central proposition of Reformed epistemology is that beliefs can be justified by more than evidence alone, contrary to the positions of evidentialism, which argues that while belief other than through evidence may be beneficial, it violates some epistemic duty. Central to Reformed epistemology is the proposition that belief in God may be "properly basic" and not need to be inferred from other truths to be rationally warranted. William Lane Craig describes Reformed epistemology as "One of the most significant developments in contemporary Religious Epistemology ... which directly assaults the evidentialist construal of rationality."Alvin Plantinga distinguishes between what he calls de facto from de jure objections to Christian belief. A de facto objection is one that attempts to show that Christian truth claims are false. In contrast, de jure objections attempt to undermine Christian belief even if it is, in fact, true. Plantinga argues that there are no successful objections to Christian belief apart from de facto (fact-based) objections.Reformed epistemology was so named because it represents a continuation of the 16th-century Reformed theology of John Calvin, who postulated a sensus divinitatis, an innate divine awareness of God's presence. More recent influences on reformed epistemology are found in philosopher Nicholas Wolterstorff's Reason within the Bounds of Religion, published in 1976, and Plantinga's "Reason and Belief in God", published in 1983.
Although Plantinga's Reformed epistemology developed over three decades, it was not fully articulated until 1993 with the publication of two books in an eventual trilogy: Warrant: The Current Debate, and Warrant and Proper Function. The third in the series was Warranted Christian Belief, published in 2000. Other prominent defenders of Reformed epistemology include William Lane Craig, William Alston, and Michael C. Rea.Religious epistemology
Religious epistemology as a broad label covers any approach to epistemological questions from a religious perspective, or attempts to understand the epistemological issues that come from religious belief. The questions which epistemologists may ask about any particular belief also apply to religious beliefs and propositions: whether they seem rational, justified, warranted, reasonable, based on evidence and so on. Religious views also influence epistemological theories, such as in the case of Reformed epistemology.Reformed epistemology has developed in contemporary Christian religious epistemology, as in the work of Alvin Plantinga (born 1932), William P. Alston (1921-2009), Nicholas Wolterstorff (born 1932) and Kelly James Clark, as a critique of and alternative to the idea of "evidentialism" of the sort proposed by W. K. Clifford (1845-1879). Alvin Plantinga, for instance, is critical of the evidentialist analysis of knowledge provided by Richard Feldman and by Earl Conee.D. Z. Phillips (1934-2006) takes this further and says that the argument of the reformed epistemologists goes further and challenges a view he dubs "foundationalism":
The essence of the Reformed challenge is to accuse the foundationalist of claiming to have a criterion of rationality which, in fact, he does not possess. By means of this alleged criterion the foundationalist claims to discern which epistemic practices are rational and which are not. Non-rational practices, he claims, include those of religion.
Much work in recent epistemology of religion goes beyond debates over foundationalism and reformed epistemology to consider contemporary issues deriving from social epistemology (especially concerning the epistemology of testimony, or the epistemology of disagreement), or formal epistemology's use of probability theory. Other notable work draws on the idea that knowing God is akin to knowing a person, which is not reducible to knowing propositions about a person.Society of Christian Philosophers
The Society of Christian Philosophers (SCP) was founded in 1978. Past Presidents include William Alston, Robert Merrihew Adams, Alvin Plantinga, Marilyn McCord Adams, George I. Mavrodes, Peter van Inwagen, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Eleonore Stump, C. Stephen Evans, Robert Audi, Linda Zagzebski, and Michael C. Rea. Michael Bergmann of Purdue University is currently President of SCP, Justin McBrayer of Fort Lewis College is Executive Director, and Kevin Timpe of Calvin College is Treasurer.
The society is open to anyone interested in philosophy who considers himself or herself a Christian. Membership is not restricted to any particular "school" of philosophy or to any branch of Christianity, nor to professional or academic philosophers.
Meetings of the society are regularly held in conjunction with the American Catholic Philosophical Association, the Eastern, Central, and Pacific Divisions of the American Philosophical Association, and the Canadian Philosophical Association, and at the World Congress of Philosophy.
The society also publishes a quarterly journal, Faith and Philosophy, which addresses philosophical issues from a Christian perspective.Theistic science
Theistic science, also referred to as theistic realism, is the pseudoscientific proposal that the central scientific method of requiring testability, known as methodological naturalism, should be replaced by a philosophy of science that allows occasional supernatural explanations which are inherently untestable. Proponents propose supernatural explanations for topics raised by their theology, in particular evolution.Supporters of theistic realism or theistic science include intelligent design creationism proponents J. P. Moreland, Stephen C. Meyer and Phillip E. Johnson.Instead of the relationship between religion and science being a dialogue, theistic science seeks to alter the basic methods of science. As Alvin Plantinga puts it, this is a "science stopper", and these concepts lack any mainstream credence.Warranted Christian Belief
Warranted Christian Belief is a book written by Alvin Plantinga and published in 2000 (Oxford University Press). It constitutes, after Warrant: The Current Debate and Warrant and proper function, both published in 1993, the last part of his trilogy on epistemology.
In this book, Plantinga wants first to show that it is rational to accept Christian belief. Plantinga also proposes, with what he calls "the Aquinas/Calvin Model", an "account of the way in which Christian belief is, in fact, justified, rational and warranted".Warranted Christian Belief has been described as a "full-blooded defense of Christianity".
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