In the last few posts I drew from the thought of philosopher Alvin Plantinga, who has worked in epistemology (study of knowledge) and metaphysics (study of the things that undergird reality, or ultimate reality), among other areas.
In other words, he thinks and writes about what we know, or at least what we think we know. In fact, it’s that latter clause which is, in a sense, the whole reason that “epistemology” exists. We might say that Plantinga has tried to figure out what we know, or can know, about the ultimate reality.
And what do you do for a living?
Plantinga began his work when western philosophy was not very friendly to theists – he says that any philosopher who was also a Christian was careful to conceal the fact, and kept his nose buried in his work. It seems to me that such an environment must have been a kind of crucible for a Christian philosopher, who would have to make his beliefs stand up in a rigorous and hostile world.
He did ultimately reveal his Christian faith, whether or not he ever hesitated in doing so – God and Other Minds, Warranted Christian Belief, Faith and Rationality, among others, comprise his philosophical output.
So what do I want with the man? A private audience, for a start.
In the meantime, I want to borrow his notion of belief in God as “properly basic.” Whereas I have borrowed the Kalam Cosmological Argument from William Lane Craig in preceding posts, and dwelt on the implications of the argument, Plantinga offers that we can know God exists without ever having to “prove” it by argument. He argues that no argument is needed to rationally believe in God.
Indeed, he notes that most people who believe in God seem not to arrive at that belief by argument, by carefully constructed syllogisms. Rather, it is as if they have another sense, another cognitive faculty which responds to the proposition, “God exists”, as though it were evident without any other support.
You can read Warranted Christian Belief to really dive into Plantinga’s thought; else, stay tuned, and I’ll give you the backwash version.