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.
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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.
I believe this is an excellent book and a great contribution to the debates of our time. However the performance of an audiobook makes or breaks the work. While the vocal quality of the reader is good in this audiobook it is unfortunately very frustratingly clear that he doesn't understand what he's reading. His arbitrary inflection throughout betrays a lack of comprehension and forces the listener to have to do a lot of extra work to understand it himself. It is worse than listening to monotone and makes the audiobook not at all worth the purchase.
This is a very well written book, but it uses many logical proofs in the form of "If A, then B-C, C then B-D..." Very difficult these proofs in an audio book.
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.
If you're not use to listening to philosophy books, this might be hard
The dismantling of the atheist claim of having a high probability to know
Not too much, it's not his fault he had to read some of the probability equations and form logic
Plantinga's personality does shine through in his writing
Plantinga once again shows himself to be a master philosopher in this book. On a scale of 1 to 10 of it being academically written it is probably an 8 on average. There is some form logic and probability equations that might jumble some up, but overall this can be understood fairly well. Like reading the made up language in "A Clockwork Orange" to more you stay in it the better it is to understand the flow of thought.
Plantinga deals a large part of the book in his comfortable spot of negative argumentation - aka laying out the other side's position and defeating it. It is quite interesting and he represents the sides well. I've recently heard debates where atheists have defined their terms like "knowledge" and it is spot on to what Plantinga represents it as. It's interesting to see how much of an impact post modernism has had in the world and where knowledge isn't defined by a 1 or a 0 but by a probability number - one that can never reach either 1 (100%) or 0 (0%). And Plantinga makes the case that's where their downfall resides in.
Plantinga only uses about 3 chapters to make his positive case which is interesting. However, I wish he would have dedicated more of the book to it and then coming up with possible charges that would be thrown at them and his responses to them. From what is there a compelling case can be made that bolsters statements that I've heard William Lane Craig make about the knowledge of God being a basic belief. Plantinga falls back on his Reformed epistemology which is good though he expands the areas of "ability to do science", "ability to reason", and "morality" claims and breaks them into further sections. He mostly deals with the ability to do science aspect but ability to reason is closely tied. He leaves out the case for morality but that's no surprise as that's not what the book is willing to cover.
Plantinga once again shows himself to be a master of his craft and he doesn't hold harsh tones and seems willing to give up secondary claims to critique in order to drive home the better position he's holding as his base. The writing can be a bit long and dry in places and Plantinga spends a little too much time on the negative side of the argument (which is needed for sure) and there are some areas where he's expecting the audience to know where he's coming from. If you're used to reading philosophy or advanced apologetic books, this is a good one. For those who are wanting something a bit more easy, there are a good number of books coming out/are out that will still cover this subject as well. Final Grade - B
NOTE FOR AUDIO BOOK VERSION - If you're not use to listening to philosophy books with form logic and probability equations, this might be hard.
as Christian, I found this book very interesting with the arguments of intelligent design that Mr. Plantiga presented, this book it does require a bit of attention for a times also the narration of Mr Murray was good too..
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