Some people believe Christianity is a crutch for the intellectually weak and lazy. Other people know about Alvin Plantinga

14 Feb

Some people will give you the sense that Christianity is for the intellectually weak, a crutch for the intellectually lazy, that Christianity survives and thrives because believers are simply ignorant of or plain don’t, can’t, or won’t seriously wrestle with the major intellectual problems and issues that have arisen in human thought for centuries.  Then those people are confronted with Alvin Plantinga.  And they must either reconsider their baseless charges, abandon the myth, or sidestep him before he shakes their own foundations.  Plantinga recently won one of the most prestigious awards in philosophy and is without question among the leading philosophers of our time.  From David Theroux at the Independent Institute:

The world-renowned philosopher Alvin C. Plantinga has recently received the prestigious Nicholas Rescher Prize for Contributions to Systematic Philosophy, awarded by the University of Pittsburgh’s Departments of Philosophy, History, and Philosophy of Science, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science. Plantinga is widely known for his work in the philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics and Christian apologetics, and he has revolutionized scholarly interest in Christian theism, shown naturalism/atheism to be self-refuting and incoherent, and set the new standards for the defense of free will, individual agency, consciousness, rational inference, science, objective truth and morality, and more. As a result, Plantinga has both directly influenced the entire field of philosophy and has mentored and inspired new generations of top scholars who are critiquing the reductionism, relativism, materialism, collectivism, scientism, positivism, determinism, and de-humanization of the modern era. In short, Plantinga has devastated the prevailing view in Western elites that human beings are merely “matter in motion” (i.e., purposeless, accidental, robotic products of a closed, natural world ruled solely by physical laws and that truth, reason, morality, and God are illusions).

Plantinga is the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, he has served as President of the American Philosophical Association (Western Division) and Society of Christian Philosophers, and he has delivered the Gifford Lectures in Scotland three times.

Plantinga’s work is of immense importance to all thinking in epistemology, ethics and economics, especially regarding individual action, entrepreneurship, free markets, civic virtue, and the rule of law. Plantinga has shown that those scholars who attempt to ground reality in naturalism are not just pursuing a futile quest leading to determinism and nihilism but are embracing views that defeat their very intellectual enterprise, including science itself. Unfortunately, many superb classical liberal and libertarian scholars remain unaware of Plantinga’s work and are oblivious of the profound weaknesses in their naturalistic assumptions. In this regard, I authored an earlier, preliminary paper, “Economic Science and the Poverty of Naturalism,” that discusses this dilemma and the crucial value of the critiques of metaphysical naturalism by both C.S. Lewis and Plantinga, especially as this is relevant to the corpus of economic reasoning in the Austrian School, Public Choice and other traditions within what Peter Boettke describes as “mainline economics” in his new Independent Institute book, Living Economics.

For example, Plantinga’s “evolutionary argument against naturalism” brilliantly argues that if evolution is true, it is an epistemic defeater for naturalism, leaving naturalism in ruin. The influential philosopher Thomas Nagel agrees and utilizes Plantinga’s work in his recent book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False (Oxford University Press). Nagel also recently and favorably reviewed Plantinga’s newest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford University Press), in the New York Review of Books.

Full read here

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