Sunday, March 4, 2012

High Marks to Plantinga's New Book

I finally finished reading Alvin Plantinga's new book, Where the Conflict Really Lies;  Science, Religion, and Naturalism.   I must give it very high marks and recommend it almost unhesitatingly.   Plantinga's main goal is to show that there is superficial conflict, but deep concord between science and theism; and superficial concord, but deep conflict between science and naturalism.  I think, for the most part, he succeeds in accomplishing this goal.  I especially recommend reading chapter 9:  "Deep Concord:  Christian Theism and the Deep Roots of Science," where Plantinga very systematically lays out his case.

I do have a few misgivings.  As I've mentioned before (here and here), it's not clear to me that Plantinga is correct in thinking that there is no conflict between Darwinism and guided evolution.  Further, he does not discuss what has become a hot topic in Christian thinking:  how to resolve the apparent conflict between geneticists, most of whom maintain that the human population never had fewer than several thousand people, and the traditional understanding of the Fall, which says that our current sinful nature resulted from the rebellion of Adam and Eve.  I, for one, am curious how Plantinga would suggest going about resolving this apparent conflict.

There are other parts of his book that I want to think over before I give my wholehearted endorsement to them.  It's not clear to me that Plantinga gave a satisfactory reply to the multiverse "answer" to the fine-tuned universe argument.  And I'm not sure that I agree with his suggestion that design arguments should best be viewed as "design discourses", instead.  If I have time, I hope to explore these issues in the near future.

But meanwhile, if you're looking for a good book that discusses the relationship of science and religion, I can't think of a better book to recommend.

 P.S. I suppose I'll also consider criticisms leveled at Plantinga's book by others.

1 comment:

Ron Krumpos said...

Plantinga's book is primarily directed to atheists (especially naturalists), but has lessons for apologetics as well. Most religious people respect science and all use its findings. Many scientists are religious, some very much so. Both science and religion, however, have limitations which should be mutually respected.

In my free ebook on comparative mysticism, "the greatest achievement in life," is a quote by Albert Einstein: "...most beautiful and profound emotion we can experience is the sensation of the mystical. It is the sower of all true science. To know that what is impenetrable to us really exists, manifesting itself as the highest wisdom and most radiant beauty - which our dull faculties can comprehend only in their primitive form - this knowledge, this feeling, is the center of all religion."

E=mc², Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, is probably the best known scientific equation. I revised it to help better understand the relationship between divine Essence (Love, Grace, Spirit), matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). Unlike the speed of light, which is a constant, there are no exact measurements for consciousness. In this hypothetical formula, basic consciousness may be of insects, to the second power of animals and to the third power the rational mind of humans. The fourth power is suprarational consciousness of mystics, when they intuit the divine essence in perceived matter. This was a convenient analogy, but there cannot be a divine formula.