This audiobook is a long-awaited major statement by a pre-eminent analytic philosopher, Alvin Plantinga, on one of our biggest debates - the compatibility of science and religion. The last twenty years has seen a cottage industry of books on this divide, but with little consensus emerging. Plantinga, as a top philosopher but also a proponent of the rationality of religious belief, has a unique contribution to make. His theme in this short book is that the conflict between science and theistic religion is actually superficial, and that at a deeper level they are in concord.
Plantinga examines where this conflict is supposed to exist - evolution, evolutionary psychology, analysis of scripture, scientific study of religion -- as well as claims by Dan Dennett, Richard Dawkins, and Philip Kitcher that evolution and theistic belief cannot co-exist. Plantinga makes a case that their arguments are not only inconclusive but that the supposed conflicts themselves are superficial, due to the methodological naturalism used by science. On the other hand, science can actually offer support to theistic doctrines, and Plantinga uses the notion of biological and cosmological "fine-tuning" in support of this idea. Plantinga argues that we might think about arguments in science and religion in a new way - as different forms of discourse that try to persuade people to look at questions from a perspective such that they can see that something is true. In this way, there is a deep and massive consonance between theism and the scientific enterprise.
©2011 Oxford University Press (P)2014 Audible Inc.
Solid reading for those wanting to understand the issues underlying the conflict among naturalists and theists and how science and theism are at root allies.
This is a powerful and well written book that directly engages the fault line in western intellectual discourse between theism and naturalism that has been so disputed since the enlightenment and the amazing development of modern science. It is not a history of that development but an analytic philosophical exploration of the issues at stake in the claims of naturalism or reductive materialism and of a theistic description of reality. The arguments are clearly and forcefully presented, often complete with logical formulae, and with a clear mastery of all the technical tools of modern analytic philosophy.
Along with the forceful argument, however, there is also a self-deprecating sense of humor and a use of everyday illustrations that make Plantinga's investigation of issues easy to follow.
He argues that the fundamental character of the relationship between science and a theistic understanding of reality have been misunderstood in most recent discussion. There is no substantial conflict between science and theism, but that in fact the real conflict is between the great intellectual edifice of science and naturalism or reductive materialism.
The book is very well read and easy to follow with a few exceptions. Logical formulae do not lend themselves to being easily understood when read orally. The book requires thoughtful concentration, but well repays the effort required.
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