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Adam Couturier

John,

This paragraph is so well said, "My case against rationalism is purely theological. If reason alone is able to bring someone to belief in God, then belief in God is something someone in their right mind must have. In that case, belief in God, what I consider to be the counterfactual act of trusting in God (if it wasn’t counterfactual, then eschatology is an unnecessary locus theologicus), would not be a choice, but a logical consequence. It would be a situation of force majeure".

Great post!

dave b

John--thanks for alerting us to these pieces.

I find it difficult, though, to respond adaquately without being able to read the sources. A question though: is it the same thing to say that Christian belief can be rationally accepted AND that Christianity/theism has rational answers to all of life's mysteries. As you mention, Plantinga affirms the first but I would be surprised if he affirms the second. Are you perhaps being a little hard on Plantinga.

JohnFH

Hi Dave,

I just discovered that an extended form of Plantinga's B & C piece is available online, and more besides. I will revise and link appropriately.

No, Plantinga does not claim that Christianity/theism has rational answers to all of life's mysteries, but I have not been able to find occasions in which he highlights the fact that Scripture lets a range of questions stand, to be answered in another time and place.

As you may know, Plantinga regards belief in God as a properly basic belief, i.e., not dependent on other beliefs. Still, even a properly basic belief has to be compatible with, if not required by, the facts on the ground. The common assertion made by atheists that theism is not falsifiable and as such is not a properly formed hypothesis fails from more than one point of view (I've discussed this a bit already). On the other hand, Plantinga's own epistemology may be vulnerable here.

Plantinga is happy to point out instances in which naturalism is not only not required by the facts on the ground, but is not a good fit with them. My point is that there are facts on the ground that do not fit well with a Jewish or Christian world view either. In that case, the teams are tied from the point of view of reason alone.

Indeed, it is constitutive of biblical literature to face up to the counter-factuality of its hope, and not resolve attendant problems by means of rational argument. Perhaps I am exaggerating in turn, and minimize the role of rational argument in the teaching of Scripture, but I do so because, it seems to me, Plantinga over-reaches. By the way, I don't see this in Wolterstorff.

I would love to see the approaches of Wolterstorff and Plantinga compared.

Justin Anthony Knapp

John,

I very much appreciated your post and I'm interested in reading the source material.

As someone who was formerly convinced of the thoroughly rational nature of the universe and belief, I am becoming much more sympathetic to fideism. I am compelled more by the impossibility of what is morally necessary - e.g. love your neighbor as yourself - and the ineffability of God's essence personally, but your argument about God and coercive belief is worth considering once I've had sufficient rest.

It wouldn't be a comment from me if I didn't criticize something minute as well: it's "Antony" Flew, not "Anthony." As everyone well knows, there has never been a keen thinker by the name of Anthony.

-JAK

JohnFH

Thanks, Justin, for your encouragement and pointing out the spelling error, which I've corrected.

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