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Plantinga’s Naturalism Defeater

Sunday, October 9th, 2011

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Way back in the distant past of 2010 Justin Brierly over at his show ‘Unbelievable?‘ moderated a discussion between philosophers Stephen Law and Alvin Plantinga. The topic of debate was Plantinga’s infamous argument that the conjunction of naturalism and evolution renders cognitive reliability improbable. The conjunction is therefore supposedly a defeater against believing in the truth of beliefs produced by our cognition; including the belief in naturalism and evolution. Naturalism, says Plantinga, thereby undermines itself.

Image of Alvin Plantinga released by Plantinga...

Alvin Plantinga - Image via Wikipedia

The discussion is interesting and well worth a listen. Although I think both sides could have made a stronger case. The moderation was mostly fair. However, I couldn’t help my bemusement that Plantinga was consistently ‘Plantinga; one of the world’s greatest philosophers of religion etc. ad infinitum‘ while Stephen Law had to make do with being just plain old ‘Stephen Law.’ I mean, sure, what do I know? Perhaps Plantinga just has these Übermensch qualifications to rival even The Stig while poor Law is inexorably left behind in the dust of mediocrity. But it did become increasingly comical in iteration as the show progressed.

The first part of the show was naturally dedicated to (more…)

Fractal Uncertainty

Wednesday, October 8th, 2008

evidently makes everything equally valid

by Heini Reinert

Image courtesy of A Tribe Called Möw

The good reverend, Bryan Griem, has been assaulted by a skilful acupuncturist with a vendetta. That is, at least if we are to take his review of Bill Maher’s new film, Religulous, as any reliable indication. If there had been any more knee-jerk reactions therein the man would have been positively river dancing. His stock-portfolio one-size-fits-all apologetics strike me as equally appalling in their condescension and unintentionally hilarious in their consequential absurdity. I would be hard-pressed, however, to care much about the poor, nerve-wrecked padre’s issues with the film. Although, I will say as much; the only way to truly please a theist as a non-believer is to stop being one – or, at the very least, to have the decency to stay ashamed and quiet about it. What concerns me, however, is the absurd view about the nature of knowledge and arrogance in the following excerpt:

Maher vehemently denounced what he deems arrogance on the part of people who speak with any certainty about spiritual matters, but that causes me to ask why Maher’s certainty of everyone else’s ignorance should be preferred. He is certain that nobody else knows anything for certain, but only their certainty is arrogant? Maher has not thought all of his logic through, nor has he done enough homework to get beyond the atheistic canards of the past.

I can just about imagine Rev. Bryan Griem (more…)