Science, Faith, and Dialogue: A Reflection on Alvin Plantinga’s Talk

alvin-plantingaAs I sat down to listen to Alvin Plantinga’s discussion last Monday, I messaged a philosopher friend letting him know I was at Shawnee State University ready to listen to Plantinga. He was surprised that Plantinga had been invited to a state university to lecture. So, I would like to thank the faculty at the SSU Philosophy Department for inviting Dr. Plantinga. The faculty appeared repaid for their choice, as the space prepared for the audience had to be increased to allow for those interested.

Those in attendance seemed a mix of students there for class credit, inquiring students and locals, and curious Christians. After Dr. Plantinga warmed the crowd with philosophical stand-up, he succinctly presented his argument that Naturalism and Evolution together as a belief system are unreliable. However, Theism, specifically in his view, Christianity, with its belief in a Creator and intentionality for Creation, combined with Evolution is not just a possibility but the most logical belief system. Therefore, he moves to the conclusion that Science and Religion are not oppositional, as most believe at this time, but that Science and the quasi-religion of Naturalism are the belief systems that truly oppose each other.

Additionally, he wove the Gospel throughout his lecture. Aligning himself with CS Lewis’ Mere Christianity and the core of the Christian faith as his reference point, he seized opportunities to inform those listening of the incarnation and of God’s role in redeeming fallen man and woman.

During the Q&A session, Dr. Plantinga fielded questions from self-described “Fundamentalist Christians”, students nearer to agnosticism/atheism, and those in between. It was enjoyable to watch his skill and training during this time. Quickly making distinctions in questions and presenting simple responses, Dr. Plantinga seemed to be enjoying himself. So did many of his hearers.

I hope and pray the non-Christians in attendance heard the Gospel message and the Christians in attendance heard that there is no need to fear Philosophy or Science. If we truly believe we have the Truths all are seeking, we should eagerly enter into the tough questions and dialogue. We must also be willing, as Dr. Plantinga demonstrated during his talk, to take the time to train and discipline our minds and hearts.

Adam Sylvia is a graduate of Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He currently resides in Wheelersburg, OH with his family.

One Response to “Science, Faith, and Dialogue: A Reflection on Alvin Plantinga’s Talk”
  1. Nicholas Meriwether says:

    Thanks for the review, Adam. I teach philosophy at SSU, and my colleague, Dan Johnson, and I were quite pleased that Plantinga was able to come. My estimate of the size of the crowd would be between 300-400 (I know, quite a range), and that 1/3 to 1/2 the attendees were students seeking extra credit, but that leaves many who came out of curiosity. And there was also a generous sampling of townspeople and local clergy.

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