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Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism

really liked it 4.00  ·  Rating Details  ·  485 Ratings  ·  77 Reviews
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 bel ...more
Hardcover, 359 pages
Published December 9th 2011 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2011)
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David Cooke
Jun 08, 2012 David Cooke rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to David by: Dad
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is aimed entirely at people who already agree with Plantinga's premise, which begs the question as to why he bothered writing it. Based on the reviews here, I guess it must be because the only people that read what he's written already DO agree, so it's an easy sale!

On the surface, this book should be interesting. There are numerous flaws in the naturalist philosophy, and certainly there are numerous religious scientists, so there IS room for concord. Where this book falls most apart i
...more
John Quin
Aug 30, 2012 John Quin rated it really liked it
This book is aimed at someone with a little familiarity with philosophy. For a book on a similar topic that is pitched at everyone's level you should look for John Lennox's "God's Undertaker".
That said the book reads well and you don't need a degree in Philosophy to understand the material that is presented.

The flow of the book seemed a little jilted and I got the impression that Plantinga collated a bunch of his previously published material together into a book. It's probably just me however a
...more
Bob
Jan 21, 2013 Bob rated it really liked it
Most people think there is a basic antagonism between faith and science that has to be overcome if one is to be both a theist and a scientific practitioner. Alvin will say, au contraire. It is in fact the naturalist who has the real problem.

Plantinga carefully works this out over 352 pages. He begins with the areas often thought to be in contradiction, particularly the questions of evolution and the questions of miracles, and demonstrates that in neither case is there a logical contradiction or
...more
Mac
Aug 29, 2012 Mac rated it it was ok
Confession: I didn't read every word of this book, skipping in particular the tiny print sections and footnotes.

WTCRL is very clearly organized. Each section follows the previous one in an orderly progression, logically sequencing Plantinga's arguments. And Plantinga does a superb job of describing where the reader is in the process, often writing: Here's what I will tell you...then later, here's what I am telling you...and then later, here's what I told you... At each step, the author makes cle
...more
Jill
Sep 23, 2012 Jill rated it liked it
Alright, a couple of things to keep in mind in approaching this book. First, this is not friendly reading to the average joe off the street. You need some understanding of basic biology, physics, statistics, philosophy, theology, and maybe mathematics or else Plantinga will quickly lose you. Second, if you are looking for a book that says definitively that the Christian God is real, this is not your book. Plantinga does not set out here to argue for the existence of a particular God. Instead, hi ...more
Paul
This book is an attempt to show that, at the end of the day, while there may be some conflict between religion (specifically, the Christian religion) and science, that conflict is superficial; it is the conflict between science and naturalism that is deep and substantive. If you've read some of Plantinga's other books, this read isn't too hard. Some mild familiarity with technical language and formal language is helpful, but for the most part, Plantinga is very clear. Plantinga helps by setting ...more
Lood
Feb 16, 2013 Lood rated it it was amazing
Many Christians perceive science and religion as eternal enemies; many atheists would heartily agree with that viewpoint. In this book Alvin Plantinga argues : “there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism”. The book is not necessarily an easy read, but delves deeply into the subject area with clear, reasonable and philosophical argumentation. Christians should have a particularly hi ...more
Garren
Mar 27, 2012 Garren rated it it was ok
On the whole, I would recommend this book as a decent introduction to a whole spectrum of pro-theism and anti-naturalism arguments. It's not a balanced introduction by any means. Plantinga is often unfair to naturalism (and Young Earth Creationists!), but he's not obscenely unfair like William Lane Craig or R.C. Sproul's crew. This book could be significantly improved in the second edition by sticking to defense in the chapters supposedly (but not really) set aside for defense. I am usually on P ...more
Brent McCulley
Jun 28, 2014 Brent McCulley rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
Excellent long-awaited statement on the deep concord and superficial conflict between science and theism by eminent philosopher Alvin Plantinga. This is his fully developed evolutionary argument against naturalism, as he includes sections showing the superficial conflict between science and theism (miracle objections, etc.) and also the harmony between them both (rise of science in Christendom, reason and rational system held by God, etc.). Overall a wonderful text, and one I'll most likely refe ...more
David
Jul 20, 2015 David rated it really liked it
You may have heard that there is a conflict between science and religion. Promoting such a war has enabled many on both sides, fundamentalist creationists and fundamentalist atheists, to sell a lot of books. Even for those not on the extreme, there is a feeling and a fear that somehow faith in God is at odds with belief in science.

Of course, there is no such conflict. But philosopher Alvin Plantinga wants to go one step farther then saying there is no conflict between science and religion. He ar
...more
Rafal Kustra
May 28, 2014 Rafal Kustra rated it it was amazing
This is one good, deep and ... funny! ... book. A set of beautifully constructed epistemic and good'ol philosophical arguments to defy the popular thesis (toward which I did lean to at some point) that science and religion contradict each other. Moreover in the last part is the major contribution, which I am still trying to digest: that in fact there is a deep contradiction between purely naturalistic, non-theistic explanation of the word and , yes, rationality. Well, I am not quite finished wit ...more
Morteza
Feb 10, 2014 Morteza rated it it was amazing
Shelves: partly-read
I've been recently reading widely on New Atheists' version of dis-belief. Many philosophers tried to show that, say, Dawkins' arguments against the existence of God is not philosophically valid and is self contradictory. Plantinga in the first two chapters of the book did a great job by showing the problems of Dawkins' argument against God and by showing that Christianity is not necessarily in contradiction with the theory of evolution. The conflict is about an 'add-on' to that theory about whic ...more
Richard
Jan 31, 2015 Richard rated it really liked it
An odd number of stars, perhaps, from a life-long atheist.

When I reviewed Richard Dawkins' "The God Delusion," I called it a feisty, combative, interesting introduction to issues about the plausibility of religious belief, which alas the author seems to genuinely believe is original, decisive, and definitive. Anyone who knows anything about philosophy understand that none of this is even close to true about Dawkins' book, and that indeed it couldn't be, because his ignorance of the existing phil
...more
Jonathan
May 05, 2013 Jonathan rated it really liked it
Plantinga, unfashionably, argues the case for the real conflict being not between science and theism but between science and naturalism. Science and theism, he claims, support one another: in fact, Christian theism is what made scientific progress in the West possible. Science and naturalism, however, are not only in conflict but actually incompatible, insofar as evolutionary theory is a central feature of modern science. Plantinga actually concludes that one cannot coherently believe both in ev ...more
Nicholas Robison
Apr 09, 2013 Nicholas Robison rated it liked it
Starting out, I had really high hopes for this book. I had heard from many sources that it was one of, if not the best, apologetics books of the 21st Century. Unfortunately, it didn’t quite live up to the hype. To begin with, it’s important to point out what this book is not; it’s not a book about the rationality or compatibility of Christianity with science. At its core, it’s a juxtaposition of theism with naturalism and pointing out key points of conflict and harmony. The central tenant is ‘th ...more
Erika Nederveld
Apr 09, 2014 Erika Nederveld rated it it was ok
This book takes an ID approach. It's main thesis is that evolution does not conflict with religion because the process of macroevolution has no theological conflicts with scripture, and billions of years are no problem. Obviously not everyone agrees on this and the conflicts persist.

This book, while it may have some very good arguments, ultimately turned a blind eye to any data in contradiction to the standard evolutionary teachings and focused more on philosophical arguments of naturalism --&g
...more
David M
Jul 08, 2015 David M rated it really liked it
I'm wondering if I can still honestly call myself an atheist. Does atheism necessarily imply naturalism? is it time to officially convert to agnosticism?... A lot of people automatically gonna hate this book because the author is a known evangelical Christian, but such people possibly need to re-evaluate their priorities in life. It's not like he says logic proves the resurrection, or anything like that. His faith is always tangential to his arguments, and his arguments are really quite impressi ...more
Doug Peters
Feb 06, 2013 Doug Peters rated it it was amazing
Excellent book, and well worth reading. A few mis-steps:

- weak on the multiverse -- but this doesn't weaken the argument of the book as a whole, since the multiverse is manifestly speculative.
- bizarre application of prior probabilities (something the author handles well elsewhere in the book) to support his evolutionary argument against naturalism. And misses a few (obvious?) supporting arguments(!) But no matter: it is clear that (on naturalism) a reliable cognitive mechanism in the areas of
...more
Abigail
Nov 21, 2012 Abigail rated it liked it
Overall, a good book.

Then again, not nearly as exciting as one might hope. Not particularly groundbreaking, in other words, the sum of Plantinga's "accomplishments" here might be stated "not logically incompatible!" Thus, I often found myself frustrated - "no, Plantinga - there IS something to this objection, something that you're failing to fully treat."

Yet it's thought-provoking, at times. And it's a fast read, and characteristically witty. All things that make it worth looking at, if not re
...more
Luke Langley
Apr 02, 2015 Luke Langley rated it it was amazing
Plantinga is a great contemporary philosopher of religion. In this book he argues that the apparent conflict between science and religion is not a true contradiction but rather it is a separate set of principles that has been applied to science that is mistaken. For instance with evolution, there is nothing contradicting religion in the theory but when it is additionally posted that evolution is unguided (not a scientific principle) it conflicts but there is nothing in science to say that God di ...more
Travis
Dec 09, 2014 Travis rated it it was amazing
Among the most heated debates in society, the alleged conflict between science and religion burns as one of the longest lasting and hottest among issues. In Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, & Naturalism, Alvin Plantinga gives a much anticipated response to atheist authors such as Daniel Dennett, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris. In his mostly negative response he effectively douses water on the flame, putting to rest the huge majority of alleged conflic ...more
John
May 02, 2014 John rated it it was amazing
In this work Alvin Palntinga outlines his fundamental arguments about the putative conflict between the physical sciences and religious belief. Chiefly, he underlines that much of what is said by those who insist upon the conflict are not applying science as much as they are bringing up metaphysical arguments based upon a philosophical world view: reductionist naturalism. He shifts through several propositions and points out that often the key issue is not the science, but rather the interpretat ...more
Bryan Neuschwander
Jun 03, 2015 Bryan Neuschwander rated it liked it
This is my book review. (I'm in over my head on this one.) But I think I've followed the basic contours of the case. I got the gist. It was good. Three stars. I liked it.

The summary statements were very concise and the author used lots of different transitional devices and phrases. That was good too. My favorite pages were 314, 315, and 316--FOR REAL, lol. I would recommend it to anyone who likes books by Plantinga or wants to think about science and religion and naturalism with logicalness or
...more
Gottfried
Jan 27, 2016 Gottfried rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I liked the way, he speared through the conflicts, concluding that they are merely superficial conflicts. Finally, he ends the book showing that there is a real conflict between Naturalism and Evolution.
I felt that I didn't learn much from this book except his method of showing that there isn't a real conflict.
Nathan Schwartz
Jul 19, 2014 Nathan Schwartz rated it liked it
Very interesting and well-written. I can see why Plantinga is such a force in apologetics. Completely bonkers, of course. Full of bizarre choices for his probabilistic arguments and really strange conclusions completely unsupported by any evidence. It’s really funny the way he will point out some real or imagined flaw in an argument for X and then jump to “as we have demonstrated not-X to be true”, ummmm not quite. It’s a great insight into the intellectual weight of Christian apologetics today. ...more
Geoff Glenister
Feb 23, 2016 Geoff Glenister rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was going to be something entirely different. What it is is a book by an apologist, filled with intense sophistry. It's exhausting to read, and completely pointless to someone who has left behind the view of God as a supernatural being out there somewhere who meddles with things in the Universe in ways that can't be explained any other way from time to time. Very disappointed that once again, a book like this has been written that completely ignores other ways of conceptualizing G ...more
Frank Peters
May 23, 2016 Frank Peters rated it really liked it
This book was surprising on multiple counts. First, given that it was book written by an academic philosopher, I was surprised that I could keep up with and follow 95+% of what was being said (there were some technical areas that I did not have the patience to work my way through fully). Secondly, I highly enjoyed the book, especially the dry humour of the author that crept into his writing. As a result, I was drawn to keep reading and ended up completing the book much more rapidly than expected ...more
Danny
Feb 07, 2012 Danny rated it it was amazing
Really good, especially the discussions on miracles and laws.
Ben Holloway
Jun 20, 2016 Ben Holloway rated it it was amazing
Plantinga argues that there is a conflict between religion and science but it's not between theism and science. Rather, Planting argues, there is a deep conflict between naturalism and science. Indeed, if naturalism is true and so is evolution, then the reliability of our cognitive faculties should be called into question. If naturalism and evolution is true then there would be a defeater for the belief that both naturalism and evolution are jointly true.

Though the centerpiece of this book is a
...more
Patrick S.
Dec 11, 2015 Patrick S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: audible
Plantinga once again shows himself to be a master philosopher in this book. On a scale of 1 to 10 of it being academically written it is probably an 8 on average. There is some form logic and probability equations that might jumble some up, but overall this can be understood fairly well. Like reading the made up language in "A Clockwork Orange" to more you stay in it the better it is to understand the flow of thought.

Plantinga deals a large part of the book in his comfortable spot of negative ar
...more
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Christian Theolog...: Where the Conflict Really Lies Part 3 2 16 Aug 10, 2015 11:56AM  
Christian Theolog...: Where the Conflict Really Lies -Preface and Part 1 59 29 Jul 25, 2015 08:31PM  
Objecting to God 1 18 Feb 25, 2012 11:50PM  
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  • The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology
  • Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False
  • Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach
  • The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the New Atheism
  • God's Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?
  • Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith
  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies
  • Van Til's Apologetic, Readings and Analysis
  • Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (2 Volume Set)
  • The Existence of God
  • A Shot of Faith (to the Head): Be a Confident Believer in an Age of Cranky Atheists
  • Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design
  • Reason in the Balance: The Case Against Naturalism in Science, Law Education
  • Christian Apologetics
  • Four Views on the Historical Adam
  • Personal Knowledge
  • Who Made God?: Searching for a Theory of Everything
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He is an American analytic philosopher, the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and the inaugural holder of the Jellema Chair in Philosophy at Calvin College.

Plantinga is widely known for his work in philosophy of religion, epistemology, metaphysics and Christian apologetics.

He has delivered the Gifford Lectures three times and was described by TIME mag
...more
More about Alvin Plantinga...

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“there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and theistic religion, but superficial concord and deep conflict between science and naturalism.” 2 likes
“Dawkins claims that the living world came to be by way of unguided evolution: “the Evidence of Evolution,” he says, “Reveals a Universe Without Design.” What he actually argues, however, is that there is a Darwinian series for contemporary life forms. As we have seen, this argument is inconclusive; but even if it were air-tight it wouldn’t show, of course, that the living world, let alone the entire universe, is without design. At best it would show, given a couple of assumptions, that it is not astronomically improbable that the living world was produced by unguided evolution and hence without design. But the argument form p is not astronomically improbable therefore p is a bit unprepossessing.” 1 likes
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