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McMullen versus Plantinga

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I'm about 24 years late to the party, but I've recently learned that Ernan McMullin, of the University of Notre Dame, wrote a fascinating take-down of an essay by Alvin Plantinga. This must have been big news in the world of Christian theologians/apologetics in 1991.

Plantinga was easily the better known of the two: he was once (in 1980, or eleven years before McMullin took him on) described by TIME as "America's leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God."  The exchange may have seemed to some like a hopeless mismatch, a case of "Alvin v. the chipmunk." 

The essay of his that drew McMullin's ire was titled "When faith and reason clash: Evolution and the Bible." 

Plantinga writes that "[In] all the areas of academic endeavor, we Christians must think about the matter at hand from a Christian perspective; we need Theistic Science." Theistic science will come to conclusions that a science devoted to methodological naturalism will reject, and when that happens Theistic science is the superior sort.

Plantinga accepts the fact that the universe, and the planet earth, are very old, much much older than "young earth creationists" would like. And this fact imposes limits on how he can interpret scriptures he deems to be divinely inspired.

Otherwise, though, Plantinga rejects the results of the not-so-theistic sorts of science, contending in particular that it is unlikely the various forms of life on earth have a common ancestor.

McMullin, too, is a Christian, and he responds to Plantinga as one within the family, but he makes it clear how unfortunate is the whole idea of a specifically "theistic" science. Go here for that.  


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