42 thoughts on “Alvin Plantinga: Science & Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies”

  1. Oh, my god. Christian philosophers are such sophists. Plantinga is not even the worst. Check out Lane Craig. Difference between him an Plantinga is that P isn't as smug, he has a better personality.

  2. I can't stand his view, but I have incredible respect for the man's ability to outwit me, and many others. Even if he is wrong, he presents decent arguments that, without sufficient skill to rebuff, succeed against many of his foes.

  3. Are you kidding? Plantinga gives a correct analysis of the ontological argument, but by doing that he shows that it has no force. He then goes on to conclude that it is a real victory, since it goes to show that the argument isn't selfcontradictory. But since no one ever claimed that, but only that the conclusion that god nec. exists doesn't follow (which he agrees), he has shown absolutely nothing new or remarkable. IMO that goes down as sophistry. Camouflaging nothing as something. Hehe.

  4. And Craig has written 1 short shit article on Newtonian time. He has produced nothing that is important or influential outside his little Christian brotherhood. I think Plantinga has more to offer philosophically, than Craig. For instance his arguments against Evolutionary theory deserves some attention. And he has done something in epistemology. But Craig is pure shit. Plantinga just isn't extraordinary, and he has produced no plausible theories at all. So, cudos for being analytical, but meh.

  5. Lastly, Craig isn't big in philosophy of religion. Nobody gives a fuck about attempts to prove Jesus was divine etc. That isn't the focus of main stream philosophy of religion – at least not outside certain american states. You won't find anything he believes in represented anywhere important. And if you do, it won't be the focus of that place's research. I suggest you go read some of his stuff and make up your own mind. I stand by my comments.

  6. Yes, but considering our status quo of knowledge that means nothing. He is one of the more likable christian philosophers, and I bet he is respectful of opponents (haven't seen him act smug or commit any outrageous things – the same can't be said of Craig). But still, the only nice stuff he has done is in epistemology, and even there it is just curiosa. Oh, and he has some fine views on modalities like logical pos/nec. But all his christian stuff is bs.

  7. It is precisely his views on time and his arguments that makes me see him as an amateur. Both texts are full of simple mistakes and display a profound lack of understanding. I know this isn't a real intellectual crime, but: it is also very easy to see why he bothers with the subjects. He needs an ad hoc hypothesis about time that can accommodate the proposition that god is endless while accepting that the universe had a beginning and that time is bound to the universe. The result sucks though.

  8. Ah, true, just remembered the argument. Yes, it follows, but the premise isn't acceptable for a non-christian. The force of the historical, fallacious argument is that no matter belief it seems to pressure you towards "god exists". But after a treatment with modern formalizations and a correct placement of the modal operators he needs to define "maximally great being" as one that is greater than any other being and exists in all possible worlds. Counter: it doesn't exist here, hence logical imp.

  9. My last point from the former post: since he goes on to define the property of Deity to include existence and greatness in all worlds, and since a non-theist won't subscribe to the existence of a Deity (or a being with those properties in this world), it flatly follows from that god doesn't nec. exist. The old argument, however, started with some common ground. Plantinga should have made a case that his def. was common sense (thus common ground and non circular argument), but it would fail.

  10. And he hasn't shown that if god is possible he is nec., since he hasn't shown that he has given a correct definition of god. For instance, if god actually exists, i.e. if the term rigidly designates whatever being created this universe, then Plantingas argument would show that he might not have been a god. That allpowerful, allknowing and benevolent means maximally great, and that maximally great means greater than anything AND existence in ALL POSSIBLE WORLDS, is not at all clear.

  11. He could make a case that God should be the greatest in all worlds he exist in, but it is still possible that there be a world in which he simply doesn't exist. So it is the sneaking in of "and if possible, he exists in all worlds" that is the problem, since it is a dirty trick that Plantinga never argues for. And no, it isn't accepted by philosophers of religion. Not in Europe at least. But perhaps abroad? I am not really into it anyways, so might not know all that moves and breathes there.

  12. Your assessment is altogether wrongheaded. Which being is greater, a being who exists in every possible world or a being who exists in only a subset of these possible worlds? The definition is actually inclusive of every possible world. The greatest conceivable being, on which the ontological argument is formulated, leaves no room for your scenario. This is easily understood on St. Anselm's concept. There is no rigid definition as you state it. If a being greater can be conceived, that is God.

  13. If Plantinga makes a case that God is the greatest in the worlds he exists in, this would include the actual world. A being who exists in the actual world is, by definition, greater than a being who merely exists in mind. It is a logically airtight argument.

  14. Man, I like this guy, but his N-E-R argument is very weak. At best (for him), he has no way to determine the likelihood that an organism's beliefs are correct so his assessment of 50% is arbitrary. What is more likely is that correct beliefs are more conducive to survival, e.g., if I eat food, avoid the lion, etc., I will survive. Additionally, if materialism holds, beliefs would be reflected in neurological structures and the two would not be separable in terms of their effects on survival.

  15. The difficulty lies in trying to rely on objective proof for everything.
    Atheists always make the mistake of demanding objective proof for the subjective, that is not a rational thing to do.

    "not everything that counts can be counted:" Einstein.

  16. "Even if he is wrong, he presents decent arguments that, without sufficient skill to rebuff, succeed against many of his foes"

    TRANSLATION: "I refuse to accept Professor Plantinga's valid logical argumentation and the necessary conclusions, because I am committed to atheism no matter the evidence".

  17. Thanks for uploading this video! I was wondering if you wouldn't mind uploading the handout from the lecture as well.

  18. Arguing from religious tradition is senseless. There is no compatibility between religion and science. Every year, as new discoveries are made, religion continues to be pushed farther out of the mainstream explanations for why we exist.
    100 years from now, religions will just be old tales. Just part of man's evolutionary process.

  19. Christian apologetics are so wearying. What does it say for a god that his book is so inaccurate and inconsistent that it needs an army of trained theologians to explain it. What they all really want to say is, "shut up and believe and, by the way, give me 10% of your money."

  20. To me all these debates and argumentations show again and again: in humans irrational motivation comes first. rational thinking most often has to serve the irrational foundation and therefore is shaped around it (mostly unconsciously). The non- analytical non-critical foundation is very likely and obviously influenced in childhood by the natural identification of children mainly with their parents and secondly with their whole "social uterus" which also consists of other influential adults and the peer group. This identification is rarely critically analyzed and doubted. In the Abrahamic religions a critical rational distance is even tabooed mainly if the distance is related to "God" with all it's claimed properties (different in different religions). So philosophical Christian apologetics is contradictory to the Bible (see e.g. 1 Corinthians 1:18-31 or Tertullian in "De Carne Christi" " about the resurrection (in which he believed): "prorsus credibile est, quia ineptum est" ("it is immediately credible–because it is silly" or "it is by all means to be believed, because it is absurd"))

  21. A philosopher who said in the beginning of his presentation that philosophers have to think about such things a brains in a jar and solipsism calls Gould's idea of thinking about "running the tape backwards" nonsense?

  22. While the Gods assembled

    The Gods had enough, with men’s nuttiness,
    couldn’t waste godliness with mortals’ trifles,
    became imminent to determine men’s future,
    decide whether to end the nuttiness, or men.

    The entire pantheon in Godly attire present,
    with an old sloppy, dressed like mortal too,
    “Hey you, fearless of getting thrown to dogs,
    who are you, daring to be among us Gods?”

    “Oh Gods, do not rush on me,” (The sloppy said,)
    “you created worlds, men know you all,
    Godly reverence is all yours, but as for me,
    I’m not known at all, though I created thee.”

    From the line, E. Ellymeu

  23. Almost right, just the wrong way around. Man created god in his image. Philosophers, like this guy, should stick to their caves where they can contemplate their navels and keep out of the way of scientists.

  24. The Genesis account backed by true objective science debunks both evolution and naturalism. Theistic evolution is a copout to the scientific consensus on origins. A dangerous one that sadly helps to lead many people to atheism. Science has become the god of many people. It is modern idolatry on an unprecedented scale.

  25. welllll…

    The argument beginning around 43:00. It boils down to arguing that if you really believe in evolution, then you don't have good grounds to trust any of your cognitive faculties. The reason: those cognitive faculties were evolutionarily selected for the purpose of helping you survive better, not for the purpose of giving you true beliefs. Since all your beliefs are ultimately derived from various cognitive faculties, you have no reason to trust any of them. So belief in evolution is self-defeating because it leads to radical skepticism.

    I think a good response to this argument is to point out the following: Plantinga's argument only works if it really succeeds in undermining the evolutionist's trust in the cognitive faculties that led her to believe in evolution in the first place. The way she came to believe in evolution ultimately rests on an empirical methodology. The cognitive faculties involved were various kinds of perception, memory, and logical reasoning, all used in standard ways, and cross-checked by the process of numerous scientists repeating these same observations, experiments, and chains of reasoning, using similar faculties in similar ways. Plantinga needs to convince the evolutionist that one of these faculties should not be selected by evolution to lead to reliable conclusions.

    I think if Plantinga were more specific about which of these cognitive faculties — perception, memory, or logical reasoning — he thinks evolution would select to lead to false beliefs, then his argument looks interesting, but ultimately empty. For example, scientists actively study the ways we misperceive things in phenomena like optical illusions. But I don't see any evidence that the such misperceptions might be present in the arguments leading to evolution. Or when it comes to memory, sure there are various ways that the human brain tends to misremember things. But the scientific method safeguards against this by having different researchers repeat experiments, by keeping lab notebooks, and in various other ways — it seems there would have to be some bizarre conspiracy for thousands of scientists to have misremembered their observations in just such a way that evolution was supported. And so forth.

    At least, that's how I think it plays out if Plantinga's talking about our cognitive faculties leading to "true" conclusions, where "true" is meant in the ordinary, everyday sense. Maybe instead Plantinga means "true" in some nonstandard sense. When he says that cognitive faculties won't lead to "true" beliefs under evolution, maybe he means "Look, maybe there's a whole side of the way the world is that we're blind to because this side of the way the world is was not relevant to our survival. Moreover, maybe if we were not blind to this side of the way the world is, we'd reach different conclusions about evolution." But when you put it that way, the argument sounds very speculative to me. Essentially, he's saying "It's possible that something is true but we have no reason to believe it's true." He's pointing out that this proviso should be tacked onto one's belief in evolution. But it's a vacuous statement — it's a proviso that implicitly goes with every one of our beliefs! So Plantinga has accomplished nothing more than reminding us that we don't know everything.

  26. Sounds like he is retconning Christianity with science. No, sorry, for religion you have to get it right the first time.

  27. Philosophy is what you do if you can't get a real job. If it makes Plantinga happy to be delusional, I don't care. It's just silly.

  28. How does he know that having accurate cognitive faculties isnt directly correlated with survival tho? The positive seems very intuitively true

  29. Haven't watched the video yet, but I'm too impatient to ask this question to any Plantinga fans that may see it: If my prediction is correct, at some point in this video Plantinga will state his self-defeater argument against naturalism+evolution, which he has presented before in many other places. I have never followed up the responding literature to this argument, so no doubt my question has been asked before by someone else and responded to by Plantinga in turn, nevertheless: Why can the naturalist+evolutionist not just plug the hole of warrant in her claims to know all she knows in an analogous way to how Plantinga plugs the hole of warrant with respect to belief in God in Warranted Christian Belief, as follows: 'via some naturalistic mechanism or other, we actually have warrant-basic knowledge of all the day-to-day things we take ourselves to know'? One possible response from Plantinga or a Plantinga-fan I might anticipate is as follows: 'it makes perfect sense for someone with a theistic view of the universe to postulate such warrant-basic faculties as the divine sense of Aquinas and Calvin, as since the universe and the cognitive faculties we have are all created by God, what would be wrong with God just decreeing that we will have such cognitive faculties that give us warrant-basic access to any domain of epistemic space whatever?. However', so the response would go, 'a naturalist+evolutionist has no such justification for postulating such warrant-basic faculties with respect to the things she claims to know, precisely because she also believes that all her cognitive faculties are in fact the product of naturalistic evolution, which', to collapse back down to Plantinga's intitial argument, 'are all generated from processes not aimed at truth'. I can imagine the naturalist+evolutionist responding in two different ways to this. The naturalist+evolutionist might respond that she is not postulating these warrant-basic faculties, rather just declaring them, as someone might declare goods at a check-in desk, and has no need to justify them to anyone, certainly no need to justify being confident of the beliefs these faculties produce, since they are warrant-basic faculties! She might accept that objecively the probability of developing warrant-basic faculties via the process of naturalistic evolution is inscrutable for her, but since she actually has these faculties, objective probability is of no import. If then asked why, given that on her warrant-basic faculties the objective probability of naturalism+evolution would itself be inscrutable, she does not withhold her assent to naturalism+evolution, she would of course point to all the scientific evidence for evolution and perhaps add that the objective probability of any metaphysical theory given her warrant-basic faculties is also inscrutable. The second response the naturalist+evolution might give to the objection that she has no justification in postulating such warrant-basic faculties in the first place is that, yes of course she is aware she believes that all her congitive faculties are the results of processes not aimed at truth, but nevertheless through some additional naturalistic mechanism, she does as it happens also have warrant-basic knowledge of the fact that the beliefs produced by said former naturalistically derived cognitive faculties are warrant-basic! What would be the problems with the naturalist+evolutionist's position here?

  30. Really like the Ad hominem attacks from atheists in the comments. It means Plantinga is spot on and his arguments rise a primal evolutionary survival reaction in them, yet they have to admit their "survival mechanism" is defending a belief they claim to be "truth" Damn son! Can atheism be more incoherent?

  31. Your god is imaginary, you're making this shit up, why don't you realize that? Moron. True beliefs are required to survive, else they aren't true beliefs, thus Evolution works to produce true beliefs and morality! We were being nice to each other on the plains of Africa millions of years before any god was invented because it contributed to our better survival! Your god couldn't do anything "he wanted to" because he's FICTION, your god DOES NOT EXIST in any logical reasonable sense. Evolution does NOT REQUIRE ANY GUIDANCE!! That WAS Darwin's Revelation!! Information is proved to come into the world from random processes that are constrained by selection pressures. Biomathematicians have examined random mutation and found that it is, indeed, totally random, we have tests for that. There can be NO such guidance to be found anywhere!! Your arguments have ALL been debunked decades, even centuries ago!! The poet, Percy Shelley, called you out on this!! Natural Selection is nothing but massive DEATH!! It is nothing but the playing out of random circumstances. Darwin totally explained the human eye in his Origin of Species. If you fall back on that you are a serious idiot. Behe has been totally repudiated by no less than HIS OWN UNIVERSITY!!!

  32. One of the main points of Plantinga's argument, the one by which successful adaptive behaviours have not to be necessarily related to the validity of the content of their believes is completely out of place! If one supposes there is any causal relation (feedbacks) between behaviours and the believes hold by the agents acting out those behaviours, it is clear that evolutionary process should enhance true believes, whereas wrong believes would fuel unsuccessful behaviours, being grounded on false conclusions. Furthermore, AI studies on distributed agents gave a great contribution to the contemporary epistemology showing that the meaning of signals (and hence words and languages) can be understood in terms of positive feedback loops relative to the intended goals of the communicating agents, such that the correctness of the behaviour is grounded on effective relations with fruitful paybacks by mates and environment.

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