A Rational Defense of Belief in God

The New York Times recently posted a review of Alvin Plantinga’s book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and NaturalismIn it, Plantinga argues on philosophical grounds that, among other things, theism is not in conflict with science, that a belief in naturalism along with evolution is contradictory, and that “Faith…is another basic way of forming beliefs, distinct from but not in competition with reason, perception, memory, and the others.” It’s a dense, but great read. The video above is a short interview with Plantinga that is also illuminating.

From the book review:

Plantinga holds that miracles are not incompatible with the laws of physics, because those laws determine only what happens in closed systems, without external intervention, and the proposition that the physical universe is a closed system is not itself a law of physics, but a naturalist assumption. Newton did not believe it: he even believed that God intervened to keep the planets in their orbits. Plantinga has a lengthy discussion of the relation of miracles to quantum theory: its probabilistic character, he believes, may allow not only miracles but human free will. And he considers the different interpretations that have been given to the fine-tuning of the physical constants, concluding that the support it offers for theism is modest, because of the difficulty of assigning probabilities to the alternatives. All these discussions make a serious effort to engage with the data of current science. The arguments are often ingenious and, given Plantinga’s premises, the overall view is thorough and consistent.

The interest of this book, especially for secular readers, is its presentation from the inside of the point of view of a philosophically subtle and scientifically informed theist—an outlook with which many of them will not be familiar. Plantinga writes clearly and accessibly, and sometimes acidly—in response to aggressive critics of religion like Dawkins and Daniel Dennett. His comprehensive stand is a valuable contribution to this debate.

Related Reading

Read This Before You Drop the H-Bomb (“Heretic”) on a Fellow Christian

Image by yhoitink via Flickr Greg co-wrote the following article on heresy with Frank Viola for BeliefNet. Check it out! “Heretic.” It’s a favorite word that many Christians have no problem dropping on the heads of their fellow sisters and brothers. In common parlance, the term is used to describe any person who disagrees with “orthodox Christian teaching.”…

The Suffering of God

NYC.andre via Compfight This seems like a good follow-up post from what Greg posted yesterday. Charisma posted this reflection on the problem of evil and the suffering of God. It’s a great summary of our thinking about what accounts for the kind of world we see where tragedies like Newtown occur. From the article: C.…

When Science Starts to Smell Like Religion

Most of you know that, here at ReKnew, we try to come against some of the popular antagonism between the church and science. We think it’s a shame when christians pit themselves against legitimate scientific inquiry and discovery based upon a questionable reading of scripture. ReKnew strives to be a place where good science is…

Why Bart Ehrman Doesn’t Have to Ruin Your Christmas (Or Your Faith) Part 3

This is the third of several videos Greg put together to refute Bart Ehrman’s claims published in the article What Do We Really Know About Jesus? If you missed the first two installments you can find them here and here.

Thou Shalt Not Fear Science

Bev Mitchel is a person I’ve just recently been introduced to. He’s among an increasing chorus of scholars who believe it’s time for Evangelicals to stop being afraid of science and to instead seriously integrate it into our reading of Scripture and theological reflection. Here is a little piece he wrote for Jeff Clarke’s (very informative) website integrating…

The Cosmic Dance: Why Will This Book Benefit Me?

Greg took a few moments to describe how he hopes you’ll benefit from The Cosmic Dance. Discover how various branches of science demonstrate that life itself is a delicate dance between order and chaos. You’ll find that we’re wired to live on the edge in a place of creativity, spontaneity and significance in the adventure…