quarta-feira, 14 de dezembro de 2011

Alvin Plantinga’s New Book on God and Science

Philosopher Sticks Up for God
Published: December 13, 2011 (NY Times)

Growing up among Dutch Calvinist immigrants in the Midwest, Mr. Plantinga was used to intense theological debate. But when he arrived at Harvard as an undergraduate, he was startled to find equal intensity marshaled in favor of the argument that God didn’t exist, when classmates and teachers found the question worth arguing about.

Had he not transferred to Calvin College, the Christian Reformed liberal arts college in Grand Rapids, Mich., where his father taught psychology, Mr. Plantinga wrote in a 1993 essay, he doubted that he “would have remained a Christian at all; certainly Christianity or theism would not have been the focal point of my adult intellectual life.”

But he did return, and the larger world of philosophy has been quite different as a result. From Calvin, and later from the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Plantinga has led a movement of unapologetically Christian philosophers who, if they haven’t succeeded in persuading their still overwhelmingly unbelieving colleagues, have at least made theism philosophically respectable.

“There are vastly more Christian philosophers and vastly more visible or assertive Christian philosophy now than when I left graduate school,” Mr. Plantinga said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Grand Rapids, adding, with characteristic modesty, “I have no idea how it happened.”

Mr. Plantinga retired from full-time teaching last year, with more than a dozen books and a past presidency of the American Philosophical Association to his name. But he’s hardly resting on those laurels. Having made philosophy safe for theism, he’s now turning to a harder task: making theism safe for science.

For too long, Mr. Plantinga contends in a new book, theists have been on the defensive, merely rebutting the charge that their beliefs are irrational. It’s time for believers in the old-fashioned creator God of the Bible to go on the offensive, he argues, and he has some sports metaphors at the ready. (Not for nothing did he spend two decades at Notre Dame.)

In “Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism,” published last week by Oxford University Press, he unleashes a blitz of densely reasoned argument against “the touchdown twins of current academic atheism,” the zoologist Richard Dawkins  and the philosopher Daniel C. Dennett, spiced up with some trash talk of his own.

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