Lesser mortals like me can’t claim to fully understand everything Alvin Plantinga writes in books like Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism. What we can do is pick up some high-protein food for thought, and possibly, along the way, improve our thinking habits in some potent ways. I read the book primarily as an audiobook, but also in the hardcover form.
First, some context. Plantinga is an analytical philosopher. He writes from a Christian worldview, but—at least in this book—isn’t really doing apologetics for Christianity or for creation doctrine, except maybe indirectly.
Rather, the book is focused on a single two-part question—and the author’s focus throughout is laser sharp. The question is this: Is there really any substantial conflict between science and “theistic religion,” and is there instead substantial conflict between science and naturalism?
Much of the time, Plantinga refers to Christian theism in particular, but he occasionally points out that most of what he is attempting to show applies to other theistic religions as well. His thesis is stated in the Preface:
There is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism. (ix)
Plantinga sums up what he means by naturalism. Also from the Preface:
"Jonathan Morrow of the Impact 360 Institute explains why he believes Gen Z can’t seem to commit to a Christian worldview. He lists two main reasons: the fear of being seen as judgmental and all that it encompasses, and what he calls the 'crisis of knowledge.' ... the belief that we can only glean knowledge from the hard sciences." - Christianity Today
How does a biblical worldview ground math? Is math a reflection of the mind of God (which we recognize because His creation is orderly, and to some degree reflects His nature)—similar to laws of logic being a reflection of the perfect mind of God?
First some groundwork: It seems highly presumptuous for us to assume that something reflects the mind of God, when the only way we can truly know the mind of God is through what He has told us in His Word. To make that argument means we are interpreting general revelation as providing specific content regarding His invisible attributes, eternal power, and divine nature, when Scripture only reveals that those three aspects are seen through His creation (which would include math).
The problem is that there is no (authoritative) hermeneutic for general revelation except for special revelation, and thus we cannot make authoritative claims of specificity regarding the extent of revelation within general revelation.
Instead, I prefer to rely on special revelation for specifics about general revelation—to be dogmatic on the content of general revelation only where special revelation gives us permission. For example, Genesis 9, Job 38-39, and Isaiah 40 describe processes of nature, and assert God’s sovereign control over those processes. The aspects that are revealed in those processes are related to His sovereignty, so I can dogmatically assert His sovereignty, because special revelation does so.
"To say that God’s Word is the foundation for all knowledge is to claim that Scripture must be the underlying basis or principle through which facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education are ultimately interpreted. This is the basis for 'thinking Christianly.'” - Acton
"Taking a hint from Hegel, Kojève devoted his life to preparing the way for the universal state he believed would crown the end of history. Yet what is most remarkable about Kojève’s conception of a new world order is the candor with which he acknowledged its dehumanizing qualities." - National Review
Reposted with permission from Proclaim & Defend.
Finding Truth is a relatively recent book (pub. 2015). Others have taken in hand to review it already. For a survey of the main argument of the book, you can see Challies’ review, here. For numerous reviews by readers, see Good Reads, here. In my review, I’d like to focus on ways this book can be useful to train our thinking, correct our own attitudes, and aid in evangelism. No book is without flaws (save the Bible); two stand out to me which I will note in due course.