Alvin Plantinga: Science & Religion – Where the Conflict Really Lies

Date(s) - October 2, 2013
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Scarfe Building Room 100, UBC

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Alvin Plantinga @ UBC October 2, 2013

Posted on April 10, 2013 by gcarkner

Dr. Alvin Plantinga, former John O’Brien Professor of Philosophy, Notre Dame University;

currently Jellema Chair in Philosophy, Calvin College.

Topic:  Science & Religion: Where the Conflict Really Lies

 Wednesday, October 2, 2013.     Scarfe Building Room 100, UBC


Taking Christian belief as C.S. Lewis’s ‘Mere Christianity’, I’ll argue that there is no real conflict between science and Christian belief. I’ll go on to argue that there is a real conflict between science and naturalism, the thought that there is no such person as God or anything like God.  So if we take naturalism to be a religion or a quasi-religion, then there is indeed a science-religion conflict; it’s not between Christianity and science, however, but between naturalism and science.

Like any Christian (and indeed any theist), I believe that the world has been created by God, and hence “intelligently designed”. As far as I can see, God certainly could have used Darwinian processes to create the living world and direct it as he wanted to go; hence evolution as such does not imply that there is no direction in the history of life. What does have that implication is not evolutionary theory itself, but unguided evolution, the idea that neither God nor any other person has taken a hand in guiding, directing or orchestrating the course of evolution. But the scientific theory of evolution, sensibly enough, says nothing one way or the other about divine guidance. It doesn’t say that evolution is divinely guided; it also doesn’t say that it isn’t. Like almost any theist, I reject unguided evolution; but the contemporary scientific theory of evolution just as such—apart from philosophical or theological add-ons—doesn’t say that evolution is unguided. Like science in general, it makes no pronouncements on the existence or activity of God.


Dr. Plantinga is professor emeritus of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, was described by Time magazine in 1980 as “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God.”  He is the author of numerous articles and several books, including God and Other Minds: the Rational Justification of Religious Belief (Cornell 1967), God, Freedom and Evil (Eerdmans 1974),Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford 2000) and Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (Oxford 2012 from which he draws this lecture).  Among many honors, Plantinga is the past president of the American Philosophical Association, Central Division, and the Society of Christian Philosophers, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. With a PhD in Philosophy from Yale University, Alvin Plantinga is widely known for his work in philosophy of religionepistemologymetaphysics and Christian apologetics. He delivered the Gifford Lecturesthree times, was a Guggenheim Fellow, 1971–1972. In 2012, the University of Pittsburgh’s Philosophy Department, History and Philosophy of Science Department, and the Center for the History and Philosophy of Science awarded him the Rescher Prize.

 Samples of Plantinga’s talks, debates and good humour  Debate on UK Radio Where the Conflict Really Lies Biola U.

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