plantinga on dawkins

Telic Thoughts points to an older review by Plantingua of Dawkins’ God Delusion book. Plantingua’s arguments are sound, but ultimately miss the point of a scientist’s or atheist’s objections. Plantingua says:

Dawkins (and again Dennett echoes him) argues that “the main thing we want to explain” is “organized complexity.” He goes on to say that “The one thing that makes evolution such a neat theory is that it explains how organized complexity can arise out of primeval simplicity,” and he faults theism for being unable to explain organized complexity. Now mind would be an outstanding example of organized complexity, according to Dawkins, and of course (unlike with organized complexity) it is uncontroversial that God is a being who thinks and knows; so suppose we take Dawkins to be complaining that theism doesn’t offer an explanation of mind. It is obvious that theists won’t be able to give an ultimate explanation of mind, because, naturally enough, there isn’t any explanation of the existence of God. Still, how is that a point against theism? Explanations come to an end; for theism they come to an end in God. Of course the same goes for any other view; on any view explanations come to an end. The materialist or physicalist, for example, doesn’t have an explanation for the existence of elementary particles: they just are. So to claim that what we want or what we need is an ultimate explanation of mind is, once more, just to beg the question against theism; the theist neither wants nor needs an ultimate explanation of personhood, or thinking, or mind.

The gigantic difference between the physicist’s or the biologist’s final explanations and those of the theist’s is that the scientists do indeed come to a stop in their explanations, but only to take a breath before going even deeper! The theist, however, stops at ‘god’ and then fails to look any further. There always will be better scientific explanations; religious explanations don’t improve upon themselves over time. Unless Plantingua wants to invent a new theology that will go into the very interesting story of the god that created (our) god … but that is usually called gnosticism and is rather frowned upon in honest christian circles.


3 Comments to “plantinga on dawkins”

  1. So, gnosticism is considered dishonest?

  2. umm, well … that is … ok, i admit ‘honest’ was perhaps not quite the right word; … BUT it would be dishonest of Plantingua to preach gnosticism and still claim to be a christian … right?

  3. Idunno, would it?

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