Sunday, December 18, 2011

Alvin Plantinga on Science, Religion, and Naturalism

The River Raisin, in Monroe

There's a nice book review in the nytimes of brilliant philosopher Alvin Plantinga's new book Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. I've got the book and am reading through it now.  

From the article: "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.’ ”"       

From the book, we have Plantinga's purpose: "My overall claim in this book: there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism." (K 89)

I've just finished a section on Richard Dawkins. Dawkins has claimed this: “The evidence of evolution reveals a universe without design.” Plantinga asks: "What makes him think this is true? How does he propose to argue for this claim?" (p. 17) Plantinga thinks Dawkins does not deliver on his claim. Plantinga shows that Dawkins's reasoning is like this.

1. p is not astronomically improbable.
2. Therefore, p is true

By 'p' is meant: evolution is unguided.

But from 1, 2 does not follow.

Plantinga writes: "What he [Dawkins] shows, at best, is that it’s epistemically possible that it’s biologically possible that life came to be without design. But that’s a little short of what he claims to show." (p. 25) Plantinga again:

"Dawkins claims that he will show that the entire living world came to be without design; what he actually argues is only that this is possible and we don’t know that it is astronomically improbable; for all we know it’s not astronomically improbable. But mere possibility claims are not impressive." (Ib.)