Is Belief In Plantinga's God Properly Basic? Dr. Matt McCormick Responds in Three Talks

In the Preface to his monumental book, God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God [Cornell University Press, 1967], Alvin Plantinga tells us what he aims to do in it. He begins with these words: "In this study I set out to investigate the rational justification of belief in the existence of God as He is conceived in the Hebrew-Christian tradition." Now there isn't anything particularly wrong with examining the rational justification of any given religious tradition. But I think it's very important to discuss what that tradition is. There is a great amount of diversity in it. Furthermore, I think it's also very important to place any discussion of the rationality of religious beliefs into a global perspective. There is a great amount of religious diversity around the globe.

So it's fairly obvious to the rest of us that Plantinga will be special pleading his case for his type of fundamentalist Christianity. I have argued in chapter 7 of my book, How to Defend the Christian Faith: Advice from an Atheist, that all apologetics is special pleading. If you watch the best magicians, they fool us. The better they are the better they fool us! That's also how apologists work. The better they are the better they fool us! Whether consciously or not, apologists bamboozle us with mind tricks. You have to pay attention to what they are doing, how they are doing it, notice what they're leaving out, consider how things could be different, and refuse to be distracted by other things.

Back to Plantinga's Preface:
Part I examines natural theology, an important traditional approach to this matter, by considering in turn the cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments for the existence of God. These arguments are, I believe, worthy of serious and detailed study; and the last one is not, perhaps, completely without promise. Nevertheless it is open to a serious objection (developed in Chapter Four); along with natural theology generally it must finally be judged unsuccessful.

Part II considers natural atheology, the attempt, roughly, to show that, given what we know, it is impossible or unlikely that God exists. Here I consider the problem of evil, verificationism, the paradox of omnipotence, and an ontological disproof of God's existence. None of these survives close scrutiny; the verdict must be that natural atheology is no more successful than natural theology.

Since neither natural theology nor natural atheology offers a satisfying solution to the problem at hand, I try in Part III another approach to it by exploring its analogies and connections with a similar question—the "problem of other minds."

I conclude that belief in other minds and belief in God are in the same epistemological boat; hence if either is rational, so is the other. But obviously the former is rational; so, therefore, is the latter. [From pages. VII-VIII]
Dr. Matt McCormick, Professor of Philosophy at California State University, Sacramento, responds to his Reformed Epistemology in three videos:


John W. Loftus is a philosopher and counter-apologist credited with 12 critically acclaimed books, including The Case against Miracles, God and Horrendous Suffering, and Varieties of Jesus Mythicism. Please support DC by sharing our posts, or by subscribing, donating, or buying our books at Amazon. Thank you so much!