Money for old dope: more than £1-m for Christian philosopher

Money for old dope: more than £1-m for Christian philosopher May 1, 2017

Alvin Plantinga, 84, described by Christian Today as ‘a giant of philosophy and apologetics’ has been awarded £1.1m by the John Templeton Foundation (JTF) , the US-based organisation that honours those who have ‘made an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works’.
Biologist Jerry A Coyne, PhD, author of Faith vs. Facts: why science and religion are incompatible, greeted the news with contempt, saying:

JTF has bestowed its annual Templeton Prize on someone who’s not only a deeply misguided religious philosopher, but also has promoted intelligent design and criticised naturalism …
His main schtick is to claim that it’s not irrational to believe in God; that therefore it’s rational to believe in God; that the existence of God is a ‘basic belief’ that doesn’t require empirical justification; that such belief comes from a divinely installed sensus divinitatis that allows us to detect truth; that because the truth-detector has to come from God, what it finds, like scientific ‘truths’, is incompatible with pure naturalism; that evolution was guided by GOD AND SATAN; that the God who installed our sensus is none other than Plantinga’s Christian God (surprise!); and that the presence of atheists, Hindus, Jews, and the majority of people with ‘false beliefs’ simply had broken sensuses, which were due to, yes, the actions of SATAN!

Coyne says the award, a sum exceeding that given to Nobel prizewinners:

Casts doubts on Templeton’s claim to be increasingly down with science, for, after all, Plantinga is pretty much an intelligent design creationist. Although he’s waffled on this a bit in the past, he seems to have settled on ID creationism.

In awarding the prize, JTF claimed that Plantinga’s work for more than half-a-century – mostly “piffle”, says Coyne, had led to a dramatic increase in the number of religious philosophers:

Indeed, more than 50 years after this remarkable journey began, university philosophy departments around the world now include thousands of professors who bring their religious commitments to bear on their work, including Buddhist, Jewish, and Muslim philosophers.

Coyne reponded:

Note the claim (mostly false) that Plantinga’s work has inspired serious philosophers to ‘bring their religious commitments to bear on their work’. That is, he’s given them a license to engage in confirmation bias: justifying post facto what they already believe and want to be true. That’s hardly a good way to do philosophy, but of course it’s the way philosophers of religion proceed.
Now if Plantinga were that influential, why are 62% of philosophers atheists – a frequency at least ten times higher than the general public as a whole? (Plantinga claims that the reason is that atheistic philosophers don’t want to believe in God rather than having good rational reasons for their non-belief.)

Coyne ends by providing a partial a partial list of scholars – natural scientists, social scientists, and philosophers and historians of science – whose endeavors have been supported by the JTF.

These are good scientists and scholars, by and large, but they take money from an organization that promotes religion, natural theology, and anti-evolution. I ask them this with all due respect: do you really want to take money from a Foundation that’s devoted to watering down science with superstition?

Hat tip: Barriejohn, who provided the first four words of the headline.

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  • Stuart H.

    Wouldn’t any serious philosopher have to accept that in accepting the cash, thus joining a list of past Templeton award winners such as the Graham mafia and Muttering Theresa, he sends a signal to the world that he’s either a halfwit or a charlatan?

  • L.Long

    Right! SH! He is admitting to being a delusional logical half-wit! But then that puts him to a large group of half-wits, so he wont be lonely!

  • Daz

    ♫Forget about your fellow man; just grab it while you can.♫
    Who, after all, needs principles?

  • StephenJP

    On the one hand: yes, this is a disgrace, and Templeton are polluting the intellectual world by pouring such unjustified wealth into the hands of charlatans and pseuds.
    On the other hand: so what? Plantinga has zero credibility among most of those who are capable of understanding his “arguments”. Those who fall for them are unlikely to be swayed by any actual evidence. Those who are on the fence are unlikely to be persuaded to accept his views. Much good may Templeton’s gold do him at his age. Once he is dead, his bizarre apologetics will not survive much longer than he does.

  • StephenJP

    To add to the above: Templeton is now fatally compromised. Once upon a time, they pretended that they were genuinely concerned about supporting research that showed some compatibility between science and religion. This led to some quite respectable scientists taking Templeton’s shilling, including (disgracefully) the Astronomer Royal, Martin Rees. Now that they seem to have given up even this vague criterion in favour of bestowing their largesse on the likes of Plantinga, what self-respecting real scientist is likely to want to put themselves in that sort of company?
    Yes, I know, money talks. But not to everybody.

  • I offer to write essays twice as nonsensical for half the pay.

  • John

    If they offered that amount to me I would take it – and donate much of it to secular organisations.
    You could even establish your own bequest fund for unbeliever of the year awards with that kind of money.
    Let us not all get – to use a phrase – “holier than thou”!

  • 1859

    I wonder if this giant of theological thought can answer a thorny question which has plagued me all my life – do angels fart? And if they do what does angel fart smell like?

  • Old Bone

    Sir Martin took the piss … And the money.

  • Brian Jordan

    Yes, the Templeton’s mask has not just slipped, it’s now fallen off.
    As for Plantinga’s god-meter, installed by god, that points to “god is true” – well, it would do that. As it would do similarly if installed by Xenu.

  • barriejohn

    1859: As C.E.M. Joad might have said, it all depends on what you mean by angels. The word angel in the bible usually means “messenger”, so may not refer to “heavenly creatures” at all; but cherubim, seraphim, etc, are most definitely “spiritual beings” without physical bodies, so would be unable to eat, sleep, burp or fart. I well remember debates amongst the Brethren over whether the saints, having “resurrection bodies”, would eat and therefore produce waste; i.e. is there shit in heaven. Many considered such arguments in very poor taste indeed!

  • L.Long

    Sorry 1859 but farting angels is not the prime question! Even humans don’t fart if they don’t eat, so what do angels eat? Then we can know about the farts!

  • 1859

    There must be shit in heaven, because it’s sent by the truckload to earth in many, many forms….please don’t ask me to enumerate…
    A “resurrection body” sounds awesome. No eating = no shitting….but I like eating nice things. I’m a slave to the senses what can I do! Shit and be happy…

  • Daz

    Of course angels fart. Think about it. Wings are only useful for atmospheric flight.

  • barriejohn

    Daz: “Angels” don’t have wings. This sort of thing does, though, which may have had some influence upon Old Testament writers when describing Cherubim and Seraphim, etc. (unless I’m very much mistaken):
    (Or maybe, as Professor Quatermass posited, these ideas are the result of visitations by extra-terrestrial critters!)

  • Daz

    Only makes my point stronger. With no wings, rocket propulsion is the only way to go. So that’s the “original research” criteria done and dusted. Can I please have my Divinity Doctorate now?

  • barriejohn

    Daz: You have to make up a LOT more bullshit before you can claim a DD. Do you think they’re handed out like sweeties, or something?

  • Daz

    “You have to make up a LOT more bullshit before you can claim a DD.”

    Okay… If you want to know the dime ask a police dog. Two tree-fellers is six Irishmen. A bird in the hand is worth 3.14 times the circumspect.

  • barriejohn

    Daz: I think the following site may be able to help you.
    We do not require a test for this degree. We belive that your life experince, and spirtual quests, qualify you, just as well as any other degree of divinity..
    (Supply your own dictionary!)

  • Daz

    Holy crap!
    We are, apparently, all children of the same universe. Well bugger me sideways, I never would have worked that one out if they hadn’t told me. I guess now I’ll have to stop treating E Doc Smith novels as literal truth.
    Oh, and the squire on the hippopotamus is the equal to both the squires on the other two rides.