Alvin Plantinga


Started reading my first proper Plantinga today on divine omniscience, an essay my reader titles “On Ockham’s Way Out”. It’s amazing! Despite discussing something complicated (I find it so anyway) I can follow along and I even agree so far with what AP says.

Who else likes him? :slight_smile:


My friend Dr. Victor Reppert ( likes him a lot; come to think of it, you may know Vic, too, Qoh?

Practically every Christian apologist I either personally know or have heard of, at least likes him and usually admires him.

I respect Plantinga a lot; but I’m not very fond of the two things (somewhat related) that he’s most well-known for: his defense of properly basic beliefs, and his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (especially where he tries to use Bayesian Theory). Which is ironic, considering that (much like Dr. Reppert, and Plantinga in his own way) I’m a huge proponent of the theistic Argument from Reason. But then, I believe Plantinga is doing something almost as categorically opposite to Lewis (whose applications I find to be superior) as Cornelius Van Till’s reversed presuppositional attempt at the AfR (though still very different from VT’s, of course.)


Haven’t read the stuff on properly basic beliefs yet but it sounds completely off the wall (as does the EAAN). Still, I downloaded a lecture on the EAAN and found it quite impressive - are there any links to criticisms you endorse that I might be able to understand? There are articles on both later in my reader (I love cheap second hand books :smiley:)

I used to read DI a lot, then I realised I read too many blogs and needed to work harder :S


Nothing comes to mind; everything’s pretty technical. Also, I tend to hash things out with proponents and exponents, and it’s hard to point to succinct examples of this.

I would attach a paper I wrote last year (or 2006? I’ve slept since then… {g}) critically comparing Plantinga’s EAAN (as represented in his followup paper to Warrant And Proper Function, “Naturalism Defeated?”) to Lewis’ AfR from MaPS chp 3. But attachments aren’t allowed on this board, yet. (Or not .doc file attachments anyway.)

I’ll try sending it by private email. (ETA: uh, no, that wasn’t going to work either.)


Plantinga is absolutely wonderful as a person, as a Christian and as a philosopher. He is a model for other Christians in the field. The paper on omniscience to which you refer is, as I recall, good. My only memory of it is that he argues that even if we can give no account of how it is that God could know the future this is not a problem because (a) we know that God, being omniscient, does know the future (because an omniscient being would know of any proposition whether it was true or false and there are such things as propositions about the future), and (b) we cannot give an account of how God knows the past or the present and nobody thinks that this is a problem. I may be completely misremembering the article as it was about 10 years back I read it.

The idea of basic beliefs is not daft - it simply refers to beliefs that we hold that we do not hold on the basis of other beliefs or on the basis of reasons. For example, I may believe that there is a keyboard in front of me now. I do not believe that on the basis of an argument - I simply find myself believing it in certain situations (i.e., when I am appeared to in a key-board kind of way). Such beliefs are basic and, if it is not irrational to hold such beliefs then they are properly basic. What is controversial about Plantinga is his longstanding defence of the claim that for some people belief in God can be properly basic (i.e., rational to hold in the absence of any arguments or evidence).

I did once ask him what he thought about universalism and he avoided the Q. Tom Talbott tells me that Plantinga has some sympathy with the idea of universalism but I don’t know how much.

I don’t agree with him on everything but he is stunning!


To add a bit of detail: I don’t myself believe the idea of properly basic beliefs is ‘daft’; but I am certainly one of the dissenters who thinks our cognitively rational beliefs, however simple, are the result of general inferential trains we are actively engaging in. That doesn’t mean we are necessarily conscious of those inferences at any given time, and also it doesn’t mean that we (as individuals) are necessarily able to formally describe the inferences at any given time.

However, insofar as he is trying to defend the rationality of belief in God by people who cannot spell out formal grounding for their belief (as a protection against technical attacks from philosophers, for example), I agree with his attempt–even though I believe he is going about it the wrong way.


Gregory - see this video for Plantinga’s “sympathy” with universalism … re=related

Best, John


Great video John! Wow. Thanks for the link.



WHOA!!! :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth: :open_mouth:

Sorry, this was the first thing I read this morning… still on my first cup of java :wink: :laughing:


I’ll second that.


Great video. Strange that most prominent universalists or those sympathetic
to it are philosophers.


Is that the video where he said he didn’t believe in universal reconcilliation but didn’t disbelieve it either. I like that. I do think people should at least be open to the possibility that God will save all. I play at a few weddings and I know one of the favourite bible readings is 1 Corinthians 13 and I was struck by verse 7 where Paul says love “believes all things, hopes all things”(NKJV). When people argue for eternal hell to the exclusion of all else, I often think, we should at least hope for the salvation of all people even if it turns out not to be the case and shouldn’t attack those who voice that hope.


And the three things that remain when everything else has passed away are: Faith, Hope, and Love.

That says something!