Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Alvin Plantinga's Refutation of "The God Delusion"

Alvin Plantinga is without question one of the great scholars in the world in any discipline. I remember well reading his careful work on Anselm when I took a graduate course in Philosophy at Carolina. It was the gold standard in the field. It still is to a great extent. Thus when Alvin Plantinga weighs in on a highly philosophical treatise like Richard Dawkin's "God Delusion" you know you are in for something substantive. Here below you will find Plantinga's review of the book for Christianity Today's Books and Culture Section, with permission from CT.

The Dawkins Confusion
Naturalism ad absurdum.
by Alvin Plantinga

The God Delusion

The Dawkins Confusion
Naturalism ad absurdum.
by Alvin Plantinga

The God Delusion

The God Delusion
by Richard Dawkins
Houghton Mifflin
416 pp., $27

Richard Dawkins is not pleased with God:

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all of fiction. Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic-cleanser; a misogynistic homophobic racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal….

Well, no need to finish the quotation; you get the idea. Dawkins seems to have chosen God as his sworn enemy. (Let's hope for Dawkins' sake God doesn't return the compliment.)

For the rest of this review article please follow this link:


Neil said...

Great review by Plantinga. Ironically, Dawkins' reasoning sounds a lot like Intelligent Design. He just seems to find the complexity of the universe to be so spectacular that no being could be complex enough to make it. Indeed.

Science continues to show that the universe is even morely complex and fine-tuned than we thought. That typically leads people to one of two polar views: 1) This is so complex that is had to have been designed by God or 2) It is so complex that no one could have designed it. ("For the wisdom of the world is foolishness in God's sight")

Philip said...

Also see: Alister McGrath & Joanna Collicutt McGrath, The Dawkins Delusion? (SPCK, 2007).

Liam said...

And also Deluded by Dawkins? - By Andrew Wilson. It's a great, accessible, fair and even handed Christian response. Highly recommended.

Beloved said...

I'm no philosopher, and even less of a scientist, so I had to think very hard and re-read several paragraphs throughout his review. BUT, in the closing paragraphs, it all came together beautifully for me. I find it very humorous, though, that it took that much philosophical jargon (I don't use that term derogatorily) to say what I've known as common sense for years, namely, that naturalism and athiesm are self-defeating, and therefore impossible. But I suppose it's a good thing that there are truly brilliant people out there who can go tit-for-tat with deluded scientists and atheologians like Dawkins.

Beloved said...

P.S. That Philip Jenkins book you recommended to me... was it The Next Christendom (2007) or The New Faces of Christianity (2006), or something else?

Ike said...

Dawkins labels the "God hypothesis" as "too easy," or a "cop out." This is a....curious, line of reasoning (to me). Since when is the truth of a thing contingent upon how difficult it's essence is to ascertain? I didn't get that memo. Dawkins may be a brilliant evolutionary biologist, but he's batting .180 in the philosophical/theological realm.

I would like to learn how Darkins came to his conclusion that Christianity was "invented by St. Paul." Sure, a few scholars maintain this, but I'm interested in how a biologist draws this conclusion. Is it through intensive study, or an a priori dismissal of any notion that the NT has any historical worth because of a preexisting conviction so strong that its truth requires the falsity of conclusions drawn from other disciplines? I guess we'll never know. :)

Thanks for the heads up on Plantinga's review, Ben.

James Alan Gibson said...

Although, one may question the propriety of calling Dawkins' book *highly* philosophical. Plantinga says as much when he says, "Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class." Of course, Plantinga is right about this.

Stephan said...

I just have to say that Richard Dawkins has a similar blog spot on his website, and some of the views expressed here might be helpfull to those bloggers searching for the truth in the "wrong" places. And lets remember that even Dawkins is a image bairer of God, and God loves him just as much as he loves you and me.

ephphatha said...

Neil, it does seem odd to me what Dawkins is arguing. It sounds like he's saying the more complex something is, the less likely it is to be designed. Yet just the opposite seems to be the case. It is BECAUSE of complexity that we ordinarily infer design. Maybe Dawkins means that the more complex something is, the more likely it is to be designed until you get to a certain level of complexity, beyond which the more complex something is, the less likely it is to be designed.

Beloved, I don't think Plantinga was arguing that atheism and naturalism are self-defeating, and therefore impossible. I think he's arguing that BELIEF in atheism and naturalism is self-defeating, and therefore can't be rational to believe.


RC Metcalf said...

I read Al's review and loved it! You may be interested in a new book that has just been published in response to Sam Harris. It is entitled "Letter to a Christian Nation: Counter Point" by RC Metcalf. It is available through Amazon and B&N or through the author's website at Please let others know about this important work!