Alvin Plantinga is one of the most influential philosophers of the past half century. He is John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame. His work has focused on the knowledge and existence of God, as well as the broad field of epistemology (the theory of knowledge). His most important work is arguably his trilogy on “warrant,” the three volumes of which argue for the rationality (or warrant) of Christian belief.
Warranted Christian Belief builds on the first two works in Plantinga’s trilogy, Warrant: The Current Debate and Warrant and Proper Function. The first two works deal with contemporary epistemologies, arguing that all of them falter on occasions of cognitive malfunction. That is, while beliefs may be justified when cognitive malfunction occurs, beliefs are not warranted (according to Plantinga’s definition of warrant). In Warranted Christian Belief, Plantinga applies his notion of proper function to Christian belief to argue that belief in the great things of the gospel is in fact warranted and rational, if true.
Table of Contents
Part I: Is There a Question?
Chapter 1: Kant
Chapter 2: Kaufman and Hick
Part II What Is the Question?
Chapter 3: Justification and the Classical Picture
Chapter 4: Rationality
Chapter 5: Warrant and the Freud‐and‐Marx Complaint
Part III Warranted Christian Belief
Chapter 6: Warranted Belief in God
Chapter 7: Sin and Its Cognitive Consequences
Chapter 8: The Extended Aquinas/Calvin Model: Revealed to Our Minds
Chapter 9: The Testimonial Model: Sealed Upon Our Hearts
Chapter 10: Objections
Part IV Defeaters?
Chapter 11: Defeaters and Defeat
Chapter 12: Two (Or More) Kinds of Scripture Scholarship
Chapter 13: Postmodernism and Pluralism
Chapter 14: Suffering and Evil
Is There a Question?
Part 1 begins with whether there is a question, i.e., whether we can discourse about God. Several modern theologians assert we cannot speak intelligibly about God, since Kant has shown us he belongs to the noumenal world (the world “as it is,” versus the phenomenal world, the world “as it appears”). Those things in the noumenal world we cannot speak or predicate about, which would then include God. However, this point is usually an assertion, not an argument, and they have not read Kant well. One cannot predicate of God, which means one cannot attribute to God the concept “being such that our concepts don’t apply to it,” and hence the claim seems initially self-refuting. But we should examine further Kant’s metaphysics and its two different interpretations.
Kant often does predicate of or refer to God. It does not seem that Kant believed we could not refer to God then. But his metaphysics has been interpreted this way. Kant is known for saying things like “it follows that the employment of the categories can never extend further than to the objects of experience.”
But are the noumena and phenomena two different worlds or one? This would make a difference regarding our predication of God. In the one-world interpretation, the Dinge (“things”) are all that exist, so any problems of predication would apply equally to all objects. Hence no special objection to predication of God occurs in this case. On the two-world picture, there is a moderate sub-picture, in which our concepts apply to noumena but we cannot have knowledge of them, hence we can predicate of God. On the radical sub-picture, the Dinge may not be predicated about or known, and they depend on our transcendental ego(s) for their existence due to a causal relation. On this picture, we could not predicate of God.
But the entire picture is self-referentially incoherent. If the noumena cannot be known or predicated of, then Kant cannot apply such concepts to them as “atemporal,” “aspacial,” and “causally connected to transcendental egos.” Besides this, the antinomies that undergird the idea of transcendental idealism are unsuccessful. Thus, Kant is no source for theologians who wish to argue we cannot predicate of or refer to God.[To continue reading this summary, please see below....]
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