Where the Conflict Really Lies between Alvin Plantinga, Jay Richards, and William Lane Craig

by Max Andrews

For a greater context and understanding of the current discussion please be sure to read Alvin Plantinga’s most recent book, Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism. It was published in December of 2009 but I qualified for an early release, I don’t know how, and received my copy November 1st of that year.  I finished reading it within a week.

Within the last week or so there has been a lot of discussion between Plantinga, Jay Richards, and William Lane Craig.  I recently did a post sharing Plantinga’s response to Jay Richards. The heart of the conflict is defining the terms, primarily ‘Darwinism.’  I don’t really disagree with what everyone is saying on their own terms but I would agree with Jay, that Plantinga and Craig are not using Darwinism in the correct sense.  Plantinga uses the randomness in Darwinism, in a theistic context, to me compatible with guidance.

Jay also sent a Question of the Week to Craig concerning the same thing.  Be sure to read Jay’s full question but here’s Craig’s response:

Thanks for these trenchant comments, Jay! Lest distressed readers miss the forest for the trees, we agree on the central point: that insofar as a person claims that the evidence of evolutionary biology has shown that the evolutionary process, based as it is on genetic mutations and natural selection, is undirected, purposeless, or non-teleological, he is making a claim that hopelessly outstrips the scientific evidence and so is unjustified. The remaining question is: is this vaunted claim, as I suspect, really philosophical, though masquerading as science, or is it, as you believe, in fact part and parcel of the scientific theory itself? If I am right, we should chastise biologists who transgress the bounds of science in making such a philosophical claim; whereas if you are right, we should reject the scientific theory which makes such a claim. In either case, the claim itself is rejected as unjustified; but are we rejecting a philosophical claim or a scientific claim?

Continue reading…

To get a real good sense of what Plantinga’s arguing without reading the book here’s a video of a presentation Plantinga delivered at Biola University.


3 Comments to “Where the Conflict Really Lies between Alvin Plantinga, Jay Richards, and William Lane Craig”

  1. I think your publishing date is wrong 2011 by me reckoning :). That said I did wonder about who “jay” was in this weeks Q&A and if it was THAT jay. That’s interesting to know.

    Of course I think Craig and Plantinga are correct.
    I’m two thirds of the way though Where the conflict lies (and sadly no it hasn’t taken 2/3 of a week :( LOL ).
    I’m beginning to understand Plantinga epistemology project and I like it.
    The only choice I have now is what to read after I finish it.

    Good God or Warrant the Current Debate.??? Hmmm decisions decisions.

    • I’d go with Good God! Baggett’s putting out a new book before the next one in the Good God series (Three volume set). His new book is on free will.

      Anyways, I agree with Jay on this issue. I got to spend a lot of time with Jay back in 2010 when I studied evolution and ID with the Discovery Institute and I think Craig and Plantinga are making the same errors in defintitions Jay claims they are.

      Also, where do you see a wrong publishing date? What I see looks correct.

  2. I don’t think it’s Dec 09 unless it took forever to get the thing printed. I was looking for it in the stores in NY when I was there last Nov. (I really thought NY would have better Xtian book stores). I remember you getting yours from amazon earlier and blogged on it here.

    Oh no max ID has infected your brain. I’ll go back and have another look at the differences between the views. I think Jay is talking about ‘what IS going on’ where WLC and Plantinga are talking about ‘what should be going on’. If you get my drift.

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