Monday, August 2, 2010

Alvin Plantinga

I was looking through my copy of Plantinga's Warranted Christian Belief from Dr. Reiter's Epistemology class. We were fortunate enough to have a Philosophy professor in college who was not only a Calvinist, but whose doctoral thesis was on epistemology. At the time, I didn't appreciate our discussions of epistemology, Cornelius Van Til or Alvin Plantinga nearly enough, but now years later I am intensely grateful to have gained my Philosophy degree from an orthodox, believing Westminster man who loved Jesus Christ and studying epistemology.

Our initial encounter with Alvin Plantinga in class was in our "Atheistic Argument from Evil" class where we specifically discussed the so-called "problem of evil." In the class, we encountered Plantinga's answer to the problem from his book God Freedom and Evil, the infamous free-will defense where he discusses transworld depravity and other notions which I barely grasped (and still don't understand). All I knew was that if Plantinga used the free-will defense, then he was no bueno in my book.

All that to say, my first impressions of Alvin Plantinga weren't all that great. Even now, I don't feel like I understand Transworld Depravity (maybe some plainspoken genius can put it into English for me). However, piggybacking somewhat off of the Van Til post from yesterday, it occurred to me that Plantinga does a great deal of footwork which we Van Tillians can make use of in our apologetics - especially against agnosticism and naturalism.

Plantinga has a chapter in Warranted Christian Belief where he discusses the dual enemies of the Christian philosopher: agnosticism and naturalism. What I want to do in tomorrow's post is take a cursory glance at Plantinga's argument against Hume's brand of agnosticism. In a later post we'll look at Plantinga's (not entirely original - and yet devastating) argument that naturalism is self-defeating.

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