The New York Times breaks the shocking news that there are philosophers who—steady yourself!—believe in the existence of God. (What would Aristotle, St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Thomas Aquinas, or Etienne Gilson—to name just a very few—think of such insanity?) From the piece, "Philosopher Sticks Up for God", which is about the highly regarded philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, a Protestant (Calvinist) who is emeritus John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame:
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.
Mr. Dawkins? “Dancing on the lunatic fringe,” Mr. Plantinga declares. Mr. Dennett? A reverse fundamentalist who proceeds by “inane ridicule and burlesque” rather than by careful philosophical argument.
On the telephone Mr. Plantinga was milder in tone but no less direct. “It seems to me that many naturalists, people who are super-atheists, try to co-opt science and say it supports naturalism,” he said. “I think it’s a complete mistake and ought to be pointed out.”
The so-called New Atheists may claim the mantle of reason, not to mention a much wider audience, thanks to best sellers like Mr. Dawkins’s fire-breathing polemic, “The God Delusion.” But while Mr. Plantinga may favor the highly abstruse style of analytic philosophy, to him the truth of the matter is crystal clear.
Theism, with its vision of an orderly universe superintended by a God who created rational-minded creatures in his own image, “is vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism,” with its random process of natural selection, he writes. “Indeed, it is theism, not naturalism, that deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview.’ ”
Exactly right, as this blog has said in one way or another more than a few times. The really honest adherent of pure naturalism will ultimately have to doubt both the basis for his studies and the reasons for pursuing them. But the disciples of naturalism tend to hedge their bets, and many would rather focus on loudly attacking theism than staring into the deep abyss created by their own empty philosophical premises.
UPDATE (Dec. 15, 2011): Along similar lines, today's edition of The Telegraph has a short, interesting piece by atheist physicist-turned-Protestant theologian Alister McGrath about the so-called "God particle", science, and faith.
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