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Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism [Kindle Edition]

Alvin Plantinga
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (75 customer reviews)

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Book Description

This book 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.

Editorial Reviews


"His thesis is both controversial and straightforward...His arguments are clear, forceful, and often compelling... The result is a feisty and formidable work, one that deserves a broad reception and careful evaluation." --Trinity Journal

"Where the Conflict Really Lies is an ambitious volume.... A careful reading repays the reader with insights developed by one of the sharpest minds in the conversation."--Karl W. Giberson, The Christian Century

"Recommended for readers seeking a rigorous philosophical survey of complex religious thought. " --Publisher's Weekly Religion Bookline

"It's astonishing that so many scientists, philosophers, and theologians think there is a serious conflict between science and theistic religion. In this superb book, the world's leading philosopher of religion explains, with characteristic wit and perceptiveness, why none of the main reasons for thinking there is such a conflict are even remotely successful." --Mike Bergmann, Purdue University

"Argues that these is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but that there is superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism."--The Chronicle Review

"It is never philosophically superficial...I expect the book to generate considerable secondary literature."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

About the Author

Alvin Plantinga is O'Brien Professor of Philosophy, at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of: Essays on the Metaphysics of Modality, The Nature of Necessity, Warrant and Proper Function, Warrant: The Current Debate, Warranted Christian Belief, and Science and Religion: Are they Compatible? (with Dan Dennett).

Product Details

  • File Size: 540 KB
  • Print Length: 376 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0199812098
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005X3SAHY
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #73,662 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
212 of 242 people found the following review helpful
Alvin Plantinga is back for his third very resilient attempt at confuting naturalism via the theory of evolution.
From his science vs. religion exposition, Plantinga relaunches his Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) in this popular-level volume: "Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism." Much has changed in twenty years, from the non-theistic cast to the bombastic rants of the New Atheists, but the big change is the sundry ways atheists have attacked theism including the philosophically naïve abjuration of Plantinga's EAAN.

As a high-volume reviewer of apologetic books, I am regularly sent books and E-files that I review on Amazon. The prominent and the unknown scholars behind these philosophical and apologetic works claim to defeat non-theism and attempt to argue faithfully for Christian truth.
Some contain arguments that lack precision as they often take too much for granted when approaching sophisticated unbelieving thought. I have not given their contentions much weight, but their apparent unsupported disputations make books like "Where the Conflict Really Lies" that much more gratifying.

Herein, Alvin Plantinga offers insightful analysis that defies many of our presumptions of what science is and how religion relates to it.
Much of the territory Plantinga surveys will be familiar to philosophers, epistemologists, and apologists, yet less theoretically oriented readers are likely to find it assessable and intriguing--and often related with creditable simplicity.
The central proposal of this work is that the true conflict is not between theism and science, but is between naturalism and science.

Some Christian theists, in selected ways, feel a bit troubled by nominated aspects of modern science.
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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Plantinga at the top of his game March 9, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book ties together several areas that Plantinga has been writing on and doing lectures on college campuses over the past several years. He goes methodically through the current discussions on quantum mechanics and evolution and discusses the relevance each has for naturalism and theism. The book progresses towards Plantinga's conclusion that naturalism is in conflict with science where he further develops his evolutionary argument against naturalism. The book contains the latest developments in science and many of the footnotes will reveal that the articles and books cited are current within the last decade (for instance, Robin Collins recent formulation for the fine tuning argument in the Blackwell companion to Natural Theology).
What I appreciate most about the book is Plantinga's ability to separate what he believes are the facts from what would make the best argument. He is rather candid in his assessment of probability theory concerning the various fine tuning arguments that may surprise or disappoint some theistic readers but this is a major strength of the book; Plantinga puts forth what he believes are the limits of some of the theistic arguments which makes the book all the more rigorous in its approach. Even for those that disagree, Plantinga's careful approach should provide the reader with ample material to assess their position. In other words, Plantinga does not seek to automatically stack the deck in his favor.
Lastly, a great feature of the book is the separated fonts throughout the books' arguments; the primary material is presented in one font and the more advanced philosophical discussions are in another font so that the reader can decide whether they want to skip ahead or not, thereby easily benefiting readers of various philosophical or scientific levels.
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47 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellently written and well-argued February 13, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book is a fast-paced read and very well argued. I read the whole book in a week. Here are points of interest.

- Some have made blanket statements like "Plantinga supports Michael Behe!" It is worth noting that Plantinga does NOT endorse Behe's argument for intelligent design AS IT is stated in Darwin's Blackbox. Plantinga concludes that it might modestly raise the probability of theism, but that's it. Critics of Behe's argument might concede this much.

- Plantinga DOES employ his idea of Divine Discourse, which makes use of points that Behe has made. However, Plantinga's argument is much more grounded in his epistemology than in anything Behe says in favor of irreducible complexity. Those who are not well-versed in Plantinga's epistemology should take care if they wish to criticize Plantinga's moves at this point. The reason is because their objections have already probably been considered and dealt with, or at least not shown to be decisive, in the literature on Plantinga's epistemology, which has included the rigorous criticisms of epistemologists like Ernest Sosa, Richard Feldman, Laurence BonJour, and so on. Quick attempts at refutation are likely to be ineffective in producing any real progress.

- As someone's whose research specializes in epistemology and philosophy of religion, Plantinga is correct when he points out that Daniel Dennett does not take into account the vast work in religious epistemology by scholars such as Peter van Inwagen, Eleonore Stump, Robert Adams, and so on. He is also right to point out that Dennett's quick dismissal of the design argument should at least have mentioned Richard Swinburne.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and Accessible but not easy
Much of Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN) is understandable for the layman. However there is some detail here that truly stretches the ability to think. Read more
Published 1 month ago by T. McCully
5.0 out of 5 stars Plantinga is fun to read
Plantinga is fun to read. If his thesis is correct, then he has made an important contribution to the conversation. I just can't tell whether he's right or not.
Published 1 month ago by FHH
5.0 out of 5 stars Plantinga's analysis is sharp, clear, concise. The ...
Plantinga's analysis is sharp, clear, concise. The book provides a much needed contrast to noise that has been created by the New Atheists. Read more
Published 2 months ago by John Lepp, author of Fact vs Value
2.0 out of 5 stars Agreed, the new atheists are extremists, but........
Yes, the new atheists are extremists. Nothing they say refutes the existence of a god or gods. But Plantinga seems to be defending Christianity and the Bible which both are clearly... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Eddie
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-described argument that is rarely ever addressed by the...
Plantinga shows why he is one of the foremost philosophers defending theism. The central argument of the book is very well developed. Read more
Published 6 months ago by JB
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting Thoughts On The Supposed Religion-Science Debate
Since this book has been one talked about highly in the modern science debate, which I do enjoy, I figured I should take a look. Read more
Published 7 months ago by ApologiaPhoenix
2.0 out of 5 stars Please read these critical reviews before purchasing this book
Before purchasing this book, I would recommend that readers first take a look at this review by Maarten Boudry, Dept of Philosophy, Ghent University:

Where the Conflict... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Yonatan Fishman
5.0 out of 5 stars A Delightful Examination of a Complex, Important Series of Issues
The thesis of this book is that the putative conflict between science and faith is a will of the wisp. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Richard B. Schwartz
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not very challenigng, and he does not those who tend to share his views very well.
Published 8 months ago by Jon E. Braun
5.0 out of 5 stars Conflict and Concord - superficial and deep
At the outset, Alvin Plantinga states the thesis of this book as "there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Peter S. Bradley
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