Life and Work of Alvin Carl Plantinga
Alvin Plantinga is the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Before coming to Notre Dame in 1982, he taught at Calvin College from 1963 to 1982. A widely regarded philosopher of religion, he is credited with helping revive Christian philosophy. Acclaimed for his work on metaphysics, the problem of evil, and the epistemology of religious belief, he has written or edited numerous books, including Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (2011), Science and Religion (2010, with Daniel Dennett), and Knowledge of God (2008, with Michael Tooley).
Beginning in the fall of 1950, Plantinga spent two semesters at Harvard. In 1951, during Harvard's spring recess, Plantinga attended a few philosophy classes at Calvin College, and was so impressed with Calvin philosophy professor William Harry Jellema that he returned in 1951 to study philosophy under him. In 1954, Plantinga began his graduate studies at the University of Michigan where he studied under William Alston, William Frankena, and Richard Cartwright, among others. A year later, in 1955, he transferred to Yale University where he received his Ph.D. in 1958. Plantinga began his career as an instructor in the philosophy department at Yale in 1957, and then in 1958 he became a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University during its heyday as a major center for analytic philosophy. In 1963, he accepted a teaching job at Calvin College, where he replaced the retiring Jellema. He then spent the next 19 years at Calvin before moving to the University of Notre Dame in 1982. He retired from the University of Notre Dame in 2010 and returned to Calvin College, where he serves as the first holder of the William Harry Jellema Chair in Philosophy. He has trained many prominent philosophers working in metaphysics and epistemology including Michael Bergmann at Purdue and Michael Rea at Notre Dame. In his philosophy Plantinga has argued that some people can know that God exists as a basic belief, requiring no argument. He has developed this argument in two different fashions: firstly, in God and Other Minds, by drawing an equivalence between the teleological argument and the common sense view that people have of other minds existing by analogy with their own minds. Plantinga has also developed a more comprehensive epistemological account of the nature of warrant which allows for the existence of God as a basic belief. Plantinga has also argued that there is no logical inconsistency between the existence of evil and the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, wholly good God. In the past, Plantinga has lent support to the intelligent design movement. He was a member of the 'Ad Hoc Origins Committee' that supported Philip E. Johnson's book Darwin on Trial against palaeontologist Stephen Jay Gould's high profile scathing review in Scientific American in 1992.
All things considered, Plantinga's view has been widely accepted, even among proponents of the original atheistic argument. He is also renowned for his epistemological argument that belief in God can be rational without requiring arguments or evidence, claiming that it is difficult to prove that belief in God is irrational and possible to suggest ways in which belief meets the requirement of rationality. Plantinga's later work focuses on the logical relationship between religion and evolution.