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2017 година: награда Темпълтън

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Тазгодишният носител на награда Темпълтън е философът Алвин Плантинга. Безспорно е заслужил - един от най-влиятелните защитници на вярата в академичния свят и един от най-добрите философи на 20-ти век. Със своята работа по темата за свободната воля, 84-годишният философ ефективно разрешава логическия проблем за наличието на зло в света, който се използва от атеистите срещу вярата в Бог.
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On 25.04.2017 г. at 16:20, SAlexandrov said:
Тазгодишният носител на награда Темпълтън е философът Алвин Плантинга. Безспорно е заслужил - един от най-влиятелните защитници на вярата в академичния свят и един от най-добрите философи на 20-ти век. Със своята работа по темата за свободната воля, 84-годишният философ ефективно разрешава логическия проблем за наличието на зло в света, който се използва от атеистите срещу вярата в Бог.

Алвин Плантинга не е ли един от най-яростните поддръжници на тезата за Интелигентния дизайн? Прочее, Темпълтън са фондация с доста спорна репутация така или иначе.


Templeton abandons pretense of rationality, awards Templeton Prize to Alvin Plantinga, intelligent-design advocate

Reader Mark called my attention to the fact that John Templeton Foundation (JTF) has bestowed its annual Templeton Prize on someone who’s not only a deeply misguided religious philosopher, but also has promoted intelligent design and criticized naturalism. Yes, it’s Alvin Plantinga, an 84-year-old emeritus professor of philosophy at Notre Dame and also a professor at Calvin College (he’s a Calvinist of sorts).  I’ve written about Plantinga and his claims a lot on this site (go here to see what I’ve said): his main schtick is to claim that it’s not irrational to believe in God; that therefore it’s rational to believe in God; that the existence of God is a “basic belief” that doesn’t require empirical justification; that such belief comes from a divinely installed sensus divinitatis that allows us to detect truth; that because the truth-detector has to come from God, what it finds, like scientific “truths”, is incompatible with pure naturalism; that evolution was guided by GOD AND SATAN; that the God who installed our sensus is none other than Plantinga’s Christian God (surprise!); and that the presence of atheists, Hindus, Jews, and the majority of people with “false beliefs” simply had broken sensuses, which were due to, yes, the actions of SATAN!

Indeed, Plantinga does believe in the Hornéd One. Here’s a quote from his 2011 book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism, explaining why there is undeserved evil in the world (my emphasis):

But any world that contains atonement will contain sin and evil and consequent suffering and pain. Furthermore, if the remedy is to be proportionate to the sickness, such a world will contain a great deal of sin and a great deal of suffering and pain. Still further, it may very well contain sin and suffering, not just on the part of human beings but perhaps also on the part of other creatures as well. Indeed, some of these other creatures might be vastly more powerful than human beings, and some of them—Satan and his minions, for example—may have been permitted to play a role in the evolution of life on earth, steering it in the direction of predation, waste and pain. (Some may snort with disdain at this suggestion; it is none the worse for that.)

Yes it is the worse for that, for where’s the evidence for Satan? That’s some scholarly theodicy, no? And for such lucubrations, Plantinga got £1.1 million—more than a Nobel Prizewinner.

If you think I’m making up my claims about Plantinga’s views, read some of my posts on Plantinga’s claims or the section about his views in my book Faith Versus Fact (pp. 148-149 and 177-183. For a better refutation of the views that earned Plantinga his $1.4 million dollar prize, read pp. 22-73 of an underappreciated scholarly book attacking theism, The Non-Existence of God by Nicholas Everitt, who simply demolishes Plantinga’s piffle. (By the way, have theists read Everitt’s book? If not, then they’ve neglected some of The Best Arguments for Atheism.)

All of this casts doubts on Templeton’s claim to be increasingly down with science, for, after all, Plantinga is pretty much an intelligent design creationist. Although he’s waffled on this a bit in the past, he seems to have settled on ID creationism. I’ll quote Michael Ruse from The Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011, and, having read Plantinga’s book, I concur with Michael:

Now, Plantinga has given us a full-length treatment of his views on science and its relationship to religion. I can only say that either he has changed his mind in the last year [when said he didn’t dismiss Darwinism] or, shall we say, he was not being entirely forthcoming. There is a chapter of the book on Intelligent Design Theory and I challenge any independent person to read it and not conclude that Plantinga accepts this theory over modern evolutionary theory, especially the dominant modern Darwinian evolutionary theory. But read the chapter yourself if you have doubts about what I claim. Make your own judgment.

Remember, Ruse is usually soft on theists.

You can read Maarten Boudry’s review of Plantinga’s book here, a review that severely faults Plantinga for his “philosophical trickery” and his flawed arguments for God-guided evolution.

If you want to be charitable, you could argue that Plantinga adheres to a form of theistic evolution, in which God created and directed the process, but that’s still a form of theistic creationism, and of course there’s no scientific evidence for it (and there is evidence against it, like the randomness of mutation and the extinction of most species [or is that due to SATAN?]), so Templeton has put their imprimatur on an explicit denier of science. But even if you leave aside ID, Plantinga’s arguments that you can prove the existence of the Christian God through philosophy alone are wrong, an attempt that smacks of the Ontological Argument. You simply cannot establish the existence of a theistic entity through thought alone.

Here’s the announcement of Plantinga’s Big Prize from the National Catholic Reporter (click on screenshot to to go the piece), which parrots the JTF’s own announcement (right below it):


But it gets worse: here’s part of the JTF’s announcement (my emphasis):

WEST CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. – Alvin Plantinga, an American scholar whose rigorous writings over a half century have made theism – the belief in a divine reality or god – a serious option within academic philosophy, was announced today as the 2017 Templeton Prize Laureate.

Plantinga’s pioneering work began in the late 1950s, a time when academic philosophers generally rejected religiously informed philosophy. In his early books, however, Plantinga considered a variety of arguments for the existence of God in ways that put theistic belief back on the philosophical agenda.

Plantinga’s 1984 paper, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” challenged Christian philosophers to let their religious commitments shape their academic agenda and to pursue rigorous work based on a specifically Christian philosophical vision. At the same time, he was developing an account of knowledge, most fully expressed in the “Warrant Trilogy” published by Oxford University Press (1993 and 2000), making the case that religious beliefs are proper starting points for human reasoning and do not have to be defended or justified based on other beliefs. These arguments have now influenced three generations of professional philosophers.

Indeed, more than 50 years after this remarkable journey began, university philosophy departments around the world now include thousands of professors who bring their religious commitments to bear on their work, including Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers.

“Sometimes ideas come along that revolutionize the way we think, and those who create such breakthrough discoveries are the people we honor with the Templeton Prize,” said Heather Templeton Dill, president of the John Templeton Foundation, which awards the Prize. “Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work, but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy.”

Note the claim (mostly false) that Plantinga’s work has inspired serious philosophers to “bring their religious commitments to bear on their work”. That is, he’s given them a license to engage in confirmation bias: justifying post facto what they already believe and want to be true. That’s hardly a good way to do philosophy, but of course it’s the way philosophers of religion proceed.

Now if Plantinga were that influential, why are 62% of philosophers atheists—a frequency at least ten times higher than the general public as a whole? (Plantinga claims that the reason is that atheistic philosophers don’t want to believe in God rather than having good rational reasons for their nonbelief.)

Larry Moran at Sandwalk has written a number of critiques of Plantinga and his views on evolution, and you can see a list here. Here are two videos of Plantinga explaining his Prize-winning views. In the first, he emphasizes why, he thinks, you can’t believe in both naturalism and evolution. That’s because, as I said, Alvin can’t imagine how humans can have reliable mental faculties without God, and without those faculties you can neither accept science as a valid method of inquiry nor rely on its conclusions. Ergo, if you accept what science has found, you’re tacitly accepting the Christian God.

Plantinga, of course, neglects the possibility evolution could have given us the ability to draw rational conclusions from data, simply as a survival tool.

Here’s his argument for God as a “basic belief”, which boils down to this: “it seems to be right.” Now that’s powerful philosophy, philosophy based on his gut. I urge you to watch this to see what he thinks.

Below is a partial list of scholars—natural scientists, social scientists, and philosophers and historians of science—whose endeavors have been supported by the JTF. (You can see the full list here; there are hundreds of them.) I’ve listed names only of people I’ve heard of—and remember, I’m just a biologist.

These are good scientists and scholars, by and large, but they take money from an organization that promotes religion, natural theology, and antievolution. I ask them this with all due respect: do you really want to take money from a Foundation that’s devoted to watering down science with superstition?

I believe most or all of these people are holders or beneficiaries of current grants. There are many more who held JTF grants in the past.

Brian Greene and Tracy Day (World Science Festival)
David Sloan Wilson
Martin Nowak
David Albert
Max Tegmark
Kevin Laland
Alexander Vilenkin
Lee Smolin
Carlo Rovelli
Elaine Ecklund
Robert Pennock
Simon Conway Morris
Andrew Whiten
Niles Eldredge
Jon Entine
Paul Bloom
Marcus Feldman
Jennifer Wiseman (head of the AAAS DoSER project)
Scott Edwards
Robert Wright
Jeremy England
Gunter Wagner
Tanya Luhrmann

Apropos, here’s a tw**t from Dan Dennett:


h/t: John O.

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