Plantinga’s latest book: the condensed version

After writing this post, I realized the book will really need something on Plantinga’s most recent work. So I decided to write a condensed version of this post.

In 2011, twenty years after the article discussed above, Plantinga published a book titled Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and NaturalismThere, Plantinga backs off from his past anti-evolutionism. In fact, in the year before the book’s publication, he gave an indignant reply to fellow philosopher Michael Ruse’s suggestion that he had, “long harbored a distrust, even an ardent dislike, of evolutionary theorizing in general and of Darwinian thinking in particular.”

On the contrary, Plantinga replied, it was not his view that the theory of evolution is false. He’d merely called it a “modern idol of the tribe” and a “shibboleth.” This is a rather weak and nonsensical reply: it’s possible to dislike an idea without being confident enough to say it’s false.

In Where the Conflict Really Lies, furthermore, Plantinga never quite recognizes his past mistakes, and adds on a few more. Notably, he devotes a chapter to defending the work of Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe. He knows Behe’s work was not well received by the scientific community, but dismisses scientific criticisms of Behe’s book Darwin’s Black Box as “screeds” unworthy of reply.

The only criticism of Behe’s book that Plantinga thinks worth his time is from philosopher Paul Draper. But this can’t possibly be right, because Draper’s criticisms of Behe have also been made by scientists. Furthermore, Plantinga is willing to concede to Draper that Behe’s arguments are not “airtight,” but nevertheless insists that “he has certainly provided Darwinians with a highly significant challenge.” Unfortunately, the problems with Behe’s claims (as documented by the scientists who Plantinga thinks not worth his time) are much worse than that, including glaring blunders like claiming there is essentially no scientific literature on molecular evolution.

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