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12543RE: [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Christian Philosphy (almost) mainstream?

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    Mar 28, 2005
      Hi Riley,

      Actually, Plantinga is a Calvinist. From what I understand, he doesn't
      believe free will is philosophically incompatible with the absolute
      predestination of God. However he goes about it, though, he is certainly
      well-known in philosophical circles as a self-avowed Calvinist.


      >From: "Dan Fraas" <fraasrd@...>
      >Reply-To: covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com
      >To: covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com
      >Subject: [Covenanted Reformation] Re: Christian Philosphy (almost)
      >Date: Mon, 28 Mar 2005 22:57:56 -0000
      >Very interesting. This guy is saying some good things, but he falls
      >flat near the end of the article with his denial of the Calvinism of
      >his fathers, which leaves him stumped in explaining God's
      >character. It looks like he could really benefit from reading Van
      >--- In covenantedreformationclub@yahoogroups.com, Benjamin Hart
      ><benhartmail@y...> wrote:
      > > I'm suprised my local newspaper ran an article on my favorite
      >philosopher, picture and all!
      > > _____________________________________________________
      > >
      > > Protestant finds niche at Catholic university
      > > Magazine calls Notre Dame professor the best Christian philosopher
      > > By RICHARD N. OSTLING, Associated Press
      > > First published: Sunday, March 27, 2005
      > >
      > > SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- In a scientific era, is it still possible to
      >believe in God and such events as the Easter miracle of Jesus'
      > > Can a rational person see God as both all-powerful and benevolent
      >despite horrendous suffering in disasters like the Asian tsunami?
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      > > From the perspective of philosopher Alvin Plantinga the answers
      >are emphatic: yes and yes.
      > > A Protestant professor at the University of Notre Dame, Plantinga
      >applies modern analytic philosophy to the age-old questions about
      >God and the universe.
      > > An assessment in Christianity Today magazine called him "not just
      >the best Christian philosopher of his time ... (but) the most
      >important philosopher of any stripe."
      > > Even atheist opponents recognize his importance. William Rowe of
      >Purdue University and Michael Tooley of the University of Colorado --
      > who is co-authoring a book with Plantinga -- each consider him
      >among the top two or three defenders of traditional belief in God.
      > > A tongue-in-cheek lexicon edited by skeptic Daniel Dennett also
      >handed Plantinga a couple of backhanded compliments, defining
      >planting as "to use 20th-century fertilizer to encourage new shoots
      >from 11th-century ideas which everyone thought had gone to seed."
      >Meanwhile, to alvinize something is "to stimulate protracted
      >discussion by making a bizarre claim."
      > > Plantinga's best work is clear but hardly popular fare; it's
      >filled with modal logic and letter formulas that summarize the steps
      >in his rigorous arguments.
      > > Modern philosophy ponders how we know things like this: that other
      >people exist with thoughts and feelings like our own; that material
      >objects we observe are real; that the world existed more than five
      >minutes ago; that the future will resemble the past or that we can
      >rely upon our minds.
      > > Plantinga argues that common sense and science know that such
      >things are true -- and that they employ personal sympathy, memory,
      >perception and intuition in the process. Applying complex formulas,
      >Plantinga asserts that belief in God is equally reasonable.
      > > It's heavy stuff, but the philosopher tries to lighten the mood as
      >much as he can.
      > > He imagines Henry Kissinger swimming across the Atlantic in one
      >text, a possible world where Raquel Welch is mousy and others where
      >there never was a Raquel Welch. The actress, he notes, "enjoys very
      >little greatness in those worlds in which she does not exist."
      > > Plantinga's Roman Catholic campus, which decades ago hired no
      >Protestant philosophers, provides congenial surroundings for his
      >work. Notre Dame boasts the nation's largest philosophy faculty, and
      >scholars surveyed by PhilosophicalGourmet.com rate it first in the
      >English-speaking world for graduate study in the philosophy of
      >religion. Plantinga long led its graduate center in that field.
      > > At age 72, he still takes an hour most days for a workout to keep
      >his wiry 6-foot-2 frame in shape for his chief avocation, rock
      > > Back in 1951, Plantinga was a Harvard University scholarship
      >student surrounded by scoffers when one evening he experienced
      >a "persuasion and conviction that the Lord was really there and was
      >all I had thought."
      > > Shortly thereafter, he transferred to Michigan's faith-affirming
      >Calvin College, affiliated with his lifelong denomination, the
      >Christian Reformed Church. "As good a decision as I've ever made,"
      >he says. He then did graduate work at Michigan and Yale and taught
      >at Calvin before moving to Notre Dame in 1982.
      > > In his student days "everybody was predicting and giving lots of
      >learned reasons for Christianity just dying out."
      > > "Christianity didn't have any future in the academy," he said,
      >recalling what he himself felt at the time. "It seemed the thing to
      > > But now, "in philosophy, at least, Christianity is doing vastly
      >better than it did 40 or 50 years ago and that's probably true in
      >academia in general." One index: In 1978, Plantinga and five
      >colleagues founded the Society of Christian Philosophers. Today it's
      >an 1,100-member subgroup of the American Philosophical Association
      >that publishes a respected quarterly.
      > > Plantinga modestly avoids mentioning his own influence in
      >nurturing younger Christian thinkers.
      > > He notes that Christianity faces two intellectual competitors
      >today. Postmodern thought claims "there basically isn't any truth at
      >all," while atheistic naturalism says there is such a thing as
      >truth, but only empirical science delivers it.
      > > Plantinga sees "superficial conflict but deep concord between
      >Christian belief and science" and "superficial concord but deep
      >conflict" between science and atheism.
      > > He argues that if evolution was godless and operated only to
      >enhance reproductive fitness, there's no particular reason to think
      >the results of humanity's thinking processes are reliable. But with
      >God, he says, our minds are geared to discover truth, including
      >scientific truth.
      > > Plantinga addressed science and God last fall at Beijing and
      >Cambridge universities, and continues the theme in Scotland's
      >Gifford Lectures beginning April 12, a rare second invitation to
      >that prestigious forum.
      > > "As far as I can see there aren't any scientific results that are
      >incompatible with miracles," he asserts. Nor has any thinker,
      >ancient or modern, provided reasons why intelligent persons can't
      >believe in them, he says.
      > > Scientific laws state "the way in which God ordinarily treats the
      >stuff he's made. That doesn't mean he always has to treat it the
      >same way," Plantinga says.
      > > Especially in an era of quantum mechanics, science "doesn't
      >preclude someone's rising from the dead or turning water into wine,"
      >he continues. "These things are very unlikely, but of course we
      >already knew that." In fact, highly improbable events happen all the
      >time, he says.
      > > But if miracles in general are possible, how do we substantiate a
      >specific miracle like Jesus' resurrection?
      > > According to Plantinga, the initial probability of any such claim
      >is low, though it would obviously rise if Christians are right that
      >Jesus "is the incarnate second person of the Trinity."
      > > The external evidence, assessed by Oxford's Richard Swinburne and
      >others, includes the apostles' Easter testimonies and the dramatic
      >spread of their belief. Plantinga finds this convincing: "Maybe it's
      >not knockdown, drag-out 100 percent conclusive evidence, but it's
      >pretty strong evidence."
      > > Plantinga adds a factor emphasized by Aquinas and Calvin --
      >internal knowledge from the Holy Spirit that convinces an individual
      >such things are really true.
      > > For decades, Plantinga has argued it is reasonable to believe in
      >the monotheistic God affirmed by Christians, Jews and Muslims. He
      >focuses on his own Christian faith in the career-capping
      >work "Warranted Christian Belief" (Oxford).
      > > In Plantingese, warrant refers to the things we can really know,
      >as opposed to a "lucky guess" -- like thinking against all
      >probability that a hapless Detroit Tigers club will win the pennant,
      >and then they actually do. He also distinguishes between belief in
      >God and following an unwarranted idea (something we'd have no good
      >reason to believe), answering what he calls atheism's Great Pumpkin
      > > Ultimately, Plantinga sees a couple dozen good arguments for God's
      >existence, but admits nobody has airtight proof. That doesn't faze
      >him a bit.
      > > "There are plenty of other things we rationally accept without
      >argument," he said.
      > > Plantinga has beaten down many older cases made in favor of
      >atheism, which leaves the perennial problem of evil: How can God be
      >all-powerful and all-loving if he allows suffering?
      > > Plantinga says this also poses a problem for atheism, under which
      >it is hard to see how there can really be such a thing as evil if
      >the cosmos lacks a moral structure, besides which everyone believes
      >evil and good are real.
      > > The philosopher also contends that, logically, a good God could
      >have created a world without suffering only by denying the benefit
      >of free will to humans and supernatural demons.
      > > Tooley thinks Plantinga has won that part of the argument, but
      >still finds a benevolent God unlikely when we contemplate the actual
      >extent of suffering, for example in the tsunami. Plantinga considers
      >this atheism's strongest argument -- and understands the incredible
      >horrors wrought by such disasters and man-made evils like
      >totalitarian regimes -- but still thinks his logical arguments for
      >God prevail.
      > > In particular, he believes Christianity's unique message about the
      >crucified Son of God can calm these anxieties.
      > > "You may not know why God permits a given evil, and you're not
      >going to find out in most cases. But you do know this: He's in it
      >with us. He's willing to put up with suffering, too. ... He himself
      >pays a price. Maybe a price greater than any of us pays. Maybe a
      >price we can't even grasp." On the Net: http://www.nd.edu/~ndphilo/
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ---------------------------------
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