Saturday, February 06, 2010

The Greatest Christian Philosopher of our Day Retires

May 20–22, 2010
University of Notre Dame
Center for Continuing Education (McKenna Hall)

In 1980, Time magazine reported on the remarkable resurgence of religious philosophy. Using a 'kind of tough-minded intellectualism', Christian philosophers, it was reported, have stemmed the rising tide of strict empiricism. This quiet revolution was led by Alvin Plantinga, John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, whom the article describes as 'the leading philosopher of God.'

It would be difficult to overestimate the hostility towards theism among professional philosophers over the past seventy years. The swell of empiricism was thought to sound the death knell of religious belief. From the 1930s to the 1960s religious philosophers went into hiding. What happened from the 1960s to the 1980s to so radically transform the face of philosophy? Few philosophers today fail to recognize the courageous, original and powerful work of Alvin Plantinga as the impetus behind this revolution in philosophy. His first book, God and Other Minds, was an astonishing and potent defense of the rationality of religious belief. His next two major works, The Nature of Necessity and God, Freedom and Evil, included an original argument for the existence of God and a novel and universally recognized solution to the problem of evil.

Plantinga, who taught for twenty years at Calvin College, was one of the co-founders of the Society of Christian Philosophers in April 1978. The society has since grown to over 1,100 members and is the largest single-interest group among American philosophers. In 1984 the society initiated its own scholarly journal, Faith and Philosophy. His inaugural lecture for the O'Brien Chair of Philosophy, 'How to Be a Christian Philosopher', was published as the lead article in the premier issue of Faith and Philosophy and changed the course of Christian philosophy. Philosophers from such leading universities as Yale, Harvard, Rutgers, UCLA, Princeton, and Oxford attribute their subsequent scholarly projects in Christian philosophy to that lecture.

He has lectured around the world and has been admirable in his devotion to furthering philosophical research in developing countries, such as China, Russia, Romania, and Poland.

Plantinga has helped make religious belief once again a rationally acceptable option. His enduring contributions are: the free will defense in response to the deductive argument from evil, the ontological argument for the existence of God, the rationality of belief in God without the support of arguments, and a theistic theory of knowledge.
Those interested in creating intellectual breathing room for religious belief are grateful to the work of Alvin Plantinga.

We will honor Alvin Plantinga with a retirement celebration that looks back on his tremendous accomplishments and forward to the future of the above topics as they’ve been influenced by Plantinga.

This conference is generously supported by the John Templeton Foundation, the Society of Christian Philosophers, Calvin College, and the University of Notre Dame.

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