In April, Alvin Plantinga was announced as the 2017 Templeton Prize laureate. The Templeton Prize is one of the world's largest annual awards given to an individual and honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. It’s been awarded to 46 recipients including Mother Teresa, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama. This time it was awarded to OUR GUY! Plantinga graduated from Calvin College in 1954, and later taught at Calvin from 1963-1982. He will be awarded the prestigious prize at the Field Museum in Chicago on September 24, 2017.
Plantinga’s fame came from teaching, lecturing, and writing on Christian philosophy. His great contribution was to make theism, the belief in a divine God who interacts with His world, a serious option within academic philosophy. Templeton said that his ideas revolutionized the way we think.
Here’s how Plantinga describes his calling from God: “My idea was that my job was to be a Christian philosopher and to interest as many people as I could in being a Christian philosopher and defend the whole idea of being a Christian philosopher. While at Calvin (College), it wasn’t a problem like it was in the philosophical world at large, where one idea was you couldn’t seriously be both a real philosopher and a serious Christian.” (Calvin Spark, fall, 2017)
In a nut shell, Plantinga made theism intellectually respectable for the modern philosophical mind. He has been regarded highly for years in intellectual circles as a lecturer and writer. On a recent lecture trip in Iran, he was hailed as a rock star. Plantinga has a “presence,” according to Nicholas Wolterstorff, a former colleague of Plantinga at Calvin College.
INTERESTED IN LEARNING MORE ABOUT THEISM
Here are some of his books with short summaries by The Spark, the Calvin College alumni magazine.
God and Other Minds: A study of the Rational Justification for Belief in God
Cornell University Press, 1967
This work, a potent defense of the rationality of belief, is widely acknowledged as having put theistic belief back on the philosophical agenda.
God, Freedom, and Evil
Plantinga’s “free will defense” is almost universally recognized as having laid to rest the logical problem of evil against theism.
Warranted Christian Belief
Oxford University Press, 2000
Based on his 1987-88 Gifford Lectures, it is widely hailed as one of the most important philosophical treatises on religious belief published in the 20th century.
Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science Religion, and Naturalism
Oxford University Press, 2011
The book was a long-awaited statement on the compatibility of science and religion. The real conflict, concludes Plantinga, is not between science and religion but between theism and naturalism--theism supports science, while naturalism undermines it.
Thanks be to God for the gifts He gave to Plantinga and for using this humble servant endowed with a great mind to advance the intellectual respectability of the kingdom of God!