Monday, January 12, 2015

Plantinga's critique of Kitcher's case for secularism



im-skeptical said...

Why does Plantinga feel it's necessary to begin his review with the obligatory gratuitous swipe at "new atheists"?

"Here he is more nuanced and less bombastic than the dreaded new atheists, who, as he suggests, overlook the central role religion plays in the lives of most of the world's population ..."

I might me more inclined to take him seriously if he was willing to read and understand what they have said, rather than just lashing out instinctively. This is what Christopher Hitchens says in God Is Not Great:

"Religion is part of the human make-up. It’s also part of our cultural and intellectual history. Religion was our first attempt at literature, the texts, our first attempt at cosmology, making sense of where we are in the universe, our first attempt at health care, believing in faith healing [and] our first attempt at philosophy."

At any rate, Plantinga doesn't agree with Kitcher any more than he does with Hitchens.

steve said...

I might be more inclined to take im-skeptical seriously if he was worth taking seriously.

Aragorn said...

I'll take Plantinga seriously, no matter what. As would most philosophers of note, for very good reasons.

im-skeptical said...

"I'll take Plantinga seriously, no matter what. As would most philosophers of note, for very good reasons."

His EAAN is still a joke.

steve said...

im-skeptical is still a joke, and not even a funny joke. Just a bad joke.

im-skeptical said...


I see that we have a mutual level of respect for one another.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I am not sure humanity can avoid debate.

Certainly Vic, Steve, and myself cannot.

Debate adds something to life, beyond mundane discussions about the weather.

Many forms of competitiveness exist of course, not just religious debate, but political, cultural, including addicting competition in the realm of sports and games of a wide variety. Vic and I have both spent our fair share of time playing chess for instance.

This brings me to secularism. Kitchner attempts to make the case for secularism, but why even go through the trouble? Secularism has won over even many Christians. A lot of what passes for Evangelical music and culture includes mimicking whatever is happening in secular music and culture, from Christian Contemporary Music and videos to Christian young-adult novels sold at Barnes and Noble.

Neither is the computer and the internet a strictly Christian invention. How many inventions today are? Or advances in scientific or medical or agricultural knowledge?

Edward T. Babinski said...

What have atheists (and others who are not "orthodox" or "Evangelical" or Calvinist" Christians) done for humanity?

If it were not for a host of scientists who happened to be either lapsed churchgoers, unorthodox Christians, heretics, apostates, infidels, freethinkers, agnostics, or atheists, and their successes in the fields of agricultural and medical science, hundreds of millions would have starved to death or suffered innumerable diseases this past century. Those agricultural and medical scientists “multiplied more loaves of bread” and “prevented/healed more diseases” in the past hundred years than Christianity has in the past two thousand.

Also, it has not always been the most orthodox of Christians who have changed the face of charity worldwide for the better. Florence Nightingale (the lady who helped make nursing a legitimate profession, and taught that no one should be refused admittance to a hospital based on their religious affiliation, and no patient should be proselytized in a hospital, but instead they should be allowed to see whichever clergyperson they preferred) was not an orthodox Christian, but instead a freethinking universalist Christian. (Ms. Nightingale also wrote a few steamy letters that suggest she may have been bi-sexual or a lesbian.) The founder of the International Red Cross (now called the International Red Cross and Red Crescent), Andre Dunant, was gay. Clara Barton, founder of the American Red Cross, was another freethinking universalist Christian. Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who spend years in Africa as a doctor and helped to publicize the plight of suffering Africans, was a liberal Christian and author of The Search of the Historical Jesus in which he concluded that Jesus was a man who preached that the world was going to end soon. And, Helen Keller (the woman who lost her sight and hearing to a bout with Scarlet Fever when she was very young, but who learned how to communicate via touch, and who proved an inspiration to several generations of folks suffering from severe disabilities) was both a Swedenborgian, and a member of the American Humanist Society.

Edward T. Babinski said...

I guess that sociologically speaking I'm for pluralism rather than either the Geneva of Calvin's day, or Puritan New England, or even some strictly atheist Marxist "worker's paradise."

Add to that what Robert Wuthnow, an Evangelical Christian, admitted in Books & Culture (a newsletter produced by the editors of Christianity Today), "Framers of modern democratic theory in eighteenth century Europe [and colonial America - ED.] were profoundly influenced by the religious wars that had dominated the previous century and a half. Locke's emphasis on tolerance and Rousseau's idea of a social contract were efforts to find unifying agreements that would discourage religious groups from appealing absolutely to a higher source of authority. The idea of civil society emerged as a way of saying that people who disagree with each other about such vital matters as religion could nevertheless live together in harmony."

I'm in favor of a greater recognition of all the questions in philosophy and theology rather than attempts to explain such questions away.


Christian Defenses of Atheism

Expanding Rainbow of Evangelical Christian Options For Interpreting the Bible Makes It Increasingly Difficult to "Tell the Difference Between Liberal and Evangelical Christian Scholars"

The Cosmos as Mystery. Intelligent Design? What does a wider study of nature reveal? How much jury-rigging or tinkering might I.D.ists be willing to admit was part of the "design?"

Israelites and Canaanites: How Different Were They?

People who don't know me often call me an atheist. But in all honesty... the scientific and NT questions simply run too deep for me to recite with both head and heart any of the creeds of Christianity

New Testament Questions Galore From a Wide Range of Christian and Non-Christian Biblical Scholars