What Is Alvin Plantinga Talking About? An Introduction to the Preeminent Christian Philosopher of Our Time

 

File:Alvin Plantinga.jpgAlvin Plantinga is important. Even if he were never right about anything, he’d still be important because hundreds of thousands (or millions) think he’s important.

But that’s where the similarities to Joe Biden end.

Unlike Biden, Plantinga is actually right about a lot of things.

Those many, many people who think he matters, they agree with him, disagree with him, follow him, oppose him, love him, and hate him. But mostly they talk about him, and usually they misunderstand him.

That’s what it means to be a great philosopher.

I am not one of the great philosophers, but I can explain them sometimes. So here’s what Plantinga is talking about in as few words as I can manage.

Some things can be known without relying on evidence from other things we know. Those are the properly basic beliefs (PBBs). All evidence has to come from somewhere, and PBBs are where it comes from.

Not just any belief can be a PBB. It has to be one we can know in some way other than through evidence from other things we know.

And — surprise! — Plantinga thinks belief in G-d can be a PBB.

But how do we know which things can be in the category of PBBs? Plantinga borrows from Roderick Chisholm‘s advice for figuring out something like this: First, make a nice list of beliefs we know fit into a particular category of beliefs; next, carefully look at the beliefs in that list to figure out a criterion for beliefs in that category; finally, use that criterion to see whatever other beliefs might fit into that category.

Plantinga gets his list of PPBs from common-sense beliefs, drawing from Thomas Reid (whom you can meet on Ricochet here). Then there’s some inductive logic to get to the criterion (summarized here on Ricochet and here off Ricochet). And then there’s an explanation of why Plantinga thinks Christian belief meets that criterion.

It took Plantinga more than three decades and well over a thousand pages to do all this. But he eventually did it, and it’s some pretty awesome philosophy.

I have an introduction to this coming out in Criswell Theological Review before the year is up.

And here’s “The Philosophers in Their Own Words,” a YouTube playlist where I’ve recorded some introductions to Plantinga’s writings on the subject. Expect a new video in this series each Monday till sometime in December. Here are the first two.

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  1. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    If it took Plantinga thirty years to write it, it will take my twice as long to read it.

    • #1
  2. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Percival (View Comment):

    If it took Plantinga thirty years to write it, it will take my twice as long to read it.

    That’s why I read it for you.

    • #2
  3. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Another philosopher is Peter Kreeft that is worth reading. He teaches at Boston College, a Jesuit school. It’s a miracle that he is still employed at BC.

    As one Dominican priest that was assigned to campus ministry put it when asked what he was doing on a different Jesuit campus replied; “I’m here to bring Christ to a secular school.”

    • #3
  4. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Another philosopher is Peter Kreeft that is worth reading. He teaches at Boston College, a Jesuit school. It’s a miracle that he is still employed at BC.

    As one Dominican priest that was assigned to campus ministry put it when asked what he was doing on a different Jesuit campus replied; “I’m here to bring Christ to a secular school.”

    Yes.

    • #4
  5. Goldgeller Member
    Goldgeller
    @Goldgeller

    Thanks for putting this up. I haven’t watched the video but Alvin Plantinga is defintely worth reading and I’m happy you have done this. (I’ve seen some of your other videos and they are very well done and accessible without sacrificing depth so I’m sure these will be similarly well done.)

    I came across Plantinga from listening to and reading Bill Craig and I became a fan. His “evolutionary argument against naturalism” strikes me as one of the more important arguments a theist can have. I’ve read him before (Analytic Theist and a few papers) but that would’ve been undergrad, so 2004-5 and its so long ago that doesn’t really count at this stage in my life. I’ll try and catch up with these videos. 

    • #5
  6. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    Another philosopher is Peter Kreeft that is worth reading. He teaches at Boston College, a Jesuit school. It’s a miracle that he is still employed at BC.

    As one Dominican priest that was assigned to campus ministry put it when asked what he was doing on a different Jesuit campus replied; “I’m here to bring Christ to a secular school.”

    Your recommendation of Kreeft bears repeating. In particular, I recommend his book on suffering. It’s one of the best I’ve read on the topic. 

    • #6
  7. Mark Eckel Coolidge
    Mark Eckel
    @MarkEckel

    Brilliant, as always. 

    That would be you AND Plantinga.

    • #7
  8. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    SA, thank you for posting this. I’ve never heard of the gentlemen you’re quoting, and had never heard this particular line of argument.

    I listened to your first video and was reminded why I prefer text to video: half a dozen times I wanted to underline something you quoted and say “I don’t think that makes sense,” but it’s hard to do that from a video stream.

    I’ll take exception with just one thing, the crux of Plantinga’s argument as summarized by the paragraph you read from his book, his argument based on “other minds.”

    He argues that there is no evidence, nor need for evidence, to justify my belief that other people have minds in the same sense that I have a mind. He argues that, since it is nonetheless reasonable to believe that their minds exist, it is similarly reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists — since, again, there is no more evidence for a belief in other human minds than there is for a belief in God’s mind.

    I am obviously not cut out for philosophy, because this sounds silly to me.

    I am pretty confident that I have a mind. I observe that other people respond to stimuli in a manner similar to the way I respond. I know that some of my response, at least, is the result of me thinking about what I observe and then acting in response. Other people routinely exhibit the same kinds of responses to the same kinds of stimuli that, in my own case, I am confident arise from my own cognition.

    I am pretty confident that other people are neurologically similar to me, that their brains and nervous systems are similar to my own. We have a lot of evidence that cognition involves brain activity — that what we think of as “mind” is in some intimate and fundamental way connected to the gray matter in our heads.

    I could go out into the woods behind my house, pluck a green leaf (well, it’s a little late in the year for that, I guess) from a tree, take it to a laboratory, and carefully analyze it to determine if photosynthesis was occurring within its chloroplasts. If I did that, I would have some evidence that the tree from which I plucked the leaf was deriving nourishment from the sun. But would that constitute evidence that some other tree also derived nourishment from the sun? Or would the apparent similarity of structure and behavior and effect be meaningless?

    Plantinga’s argument would seem to suggest that, no, we can’t claim to have “evidence” about photosynthesis in trees based on observations made of just one tree.

    My response to Plantinga would be that, whatever his definition of “evidence,” I have ample reason to think that there is a very high probability that the people around me have minds more similar to my own than not — that, whatever our differences, their minds exist.

    What I don’t have evidence for is minds existing without corporeal form, or minds without limitation, or minds existing for eternity, or minds not fueled by chemical reactions involving glucose, or minds equal to my own that are not in the bodies of other human beings.

    In fact, one can imagine an infinite variety of minds, and attributes of mind, that are unlike the only sentient minds for which we actually have evidence. Given Plantinga’s logic, it seems that we should have equal faith in the existence of all of them as we have in the existence of the one kind of mind which we actually have reason to believe exists. That doesn’t seem sensible to me.

    I think it would take me a lot of words to create a seemingly logical path that would make such an argument convincing. Alas, unlike Mr. Plantinga, I’m not paid by the word.

    As I said, philosophy is obviously not my thing.

     

    • #8
  9. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    What I don’t have evidence for is minds existing without corporeal form, or minds without limitation, or minds existing for eternity, or minds not fueled by chemical reactions involving glucose, or minds equal to my own that are not in the bodies of other human beings.

    HR,

    My opinion of your talent for philosophy is higher than your own self-assement.

    • #9
  10. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    I came across Plantinga from listening to and reading Bill Craig and I became a fan. His “evolutionary argument against naturalism” strikes me as one of the more important arguments a theist can have.

    Regarding the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), Plantinga argues that the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible if unless evolution is guided by God.  At least that is what I understand to be the central claim of Plantiga’s EAAN.

    One argument that Plantiga makes is that evolution by natural selection does not necessarily reward true beliefs but does reward beliefs, even false ones, that aid in survival.  So, if you think that the noise you heard is the noise of a predator and run away, this might aid in your survival even if that noise was the noise of a non-threatening animal or just the wind against the leaves of a tree.

    However, it does seem that having a nervous system that provides a somewhat accurate representation of reality would aid in survival.  In other words, having lots of true beliefs about the world would seem to give one an advantage in terms of living long enough to pass ones genes on to the next generation.

    A man who’s nervous system can’t inform him as to whether those berries are more or less likely to make him sick or dead is going to have a reduced chance of surviving compared to a man who’s nervous system does a decent job of informing him as to which berries are poisonous and which are safe.

    Having a decent memory would aid in survival because if your cousin ate those berries and dropped dead soon after, you would be able to remember these events and at least have a chance at putting those two events together, possibly thinking that they are causally related.  If your memory is so limited that you don’t remember anything that happened before 10 minutes ago, you might eat the same poison berries your cousin ate.  Soon your genes are no longer represented in the next generation.

    I will also say that human beings do not always have a very accurate picture of reality.  We are bad at statistics unless we rigorously train ourselves in statistics.  We think we are stationary when we are flying through space around the sun.

    That’s my rough rebuttal to Plantiga’s EAAN.  But I’d be interested in reading more on it.

    • #10
  11. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Goldgeller (View Comment):

    I came across Plantinga from listening to and reading Bill Craig and I became a fan. His “evolutionary argument against naturalism” strikes me as one of the more important arguments a theist can have.

    Regarding the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), Plantinga argues that the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible if evolution is guided by God. At least that is what I understand to be the central claim of Plantiga’s EAAN.

    One argument that Plantiga makes is that evolution by natural selection does not necessarily reward true beliefs but does reward beliefs, even false ones, that aid in survival. So, if you think that the noise you heard is the noise of a predator and run away, this might aid in your survival even if that noise was the noise of a non-threatening animal or just the wind against the leaves of a tree.

    However, it does seem that having a nervous system that provides a somewhat accurate representation of reality would aid in survival. In other words, having lots of true beliefs about the world would seem to give one an advantage in terms of living long enough to pass ones genes on to the next generation.

    A man who’s nervous system can’t inform him as to whether those berries are more or less likely to make him sick or dead is going to have a reduced chance of surviving compared to a man who’s nervous system does a decent job of informing him as to which berries are poisonous and which are safe.

    Having a decent memory would aid in survival because if your cousin ate those berries and dropped dead soon after, you would be able to remember these events and at least have a chance at putting those two events together, possibly thinking that they are causally related. If your memory is so limited that you don’t remember anything that happened before 10 minutes ago, you might eat the same poison berries your cousin ate. Soon your genes are no longer represented in the next generation.

    I will also say that human beings do not always have a very accurate picture of reality. We are bad at statistics unless we rigorously train ourselves in statistics. We think we are stationary when we are flying through space around the sun.

    That’s my rough rebuttal to Plantiga’s EAAN. But I’d be interested in reading more on it.

    Memory may not matter if some people detect the poison berries as smelling or tasting or even looking bad.  It may also not matter, if the poison berries are rare, and/or only found in certain locations which means that people just won’t live in those area because those who try to, end up dying.

    • #11
  12. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    I thought of a few more things along the lines of: What if God was directing the process of evolution by natural selection and mutation?  

    First off, it’s at least theoretically possible that God could give human beings false beliefs.  Now, some people would say that since God is all good, God would never give human beings false beliefs. 

    Which leads to another thing I have thought of.

    Some people are mentally ill.  They hear voices when no one is speaking to them.  They see things that aren’t there.  If God is guiding the evolutionary process, then God would be letting people have mental illness, not to mention all sort of other birth defects.  

    • #12
  13. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I thought of a few more things along the lines of: What if God was directing the process of evolution by natural selection and mutation?

    First off, it’s at least theoretically possible that God could give human beings false beliefs. Now, some people would say that since God is all good, God would never give human beings false beliefs.

    Which leads to another thing I have thought of.

    Some people are mentally ill. They hear voices when no one is speaking to them. They see things that aren’t there. If God is guiding the evolutionary process, then God would be letting people have mental illness, not to mention all sort of other birth defects.

    One of the more bewildering things I’ve heard is that none of that – the mental illness, etc – really matters as long as their souls are saved.  I guess that’s theoretically possible but it doesn’t really seem like a good plan.

    • #13
  14. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    I listened to your first video and was reminded why I prefer text to video: half a dozen times I wanted to underline something you quoted and say “I don’t think that makes sense,” but it’s hard to do that from a video stream.

    Written words are better for sure!

    “I don’t think that makes sense!” is probably everyone’s reaction to Plantinga–at least at first.

    If you want to know Plantinga, you can follow the text links above, and this one.  And here’s some bits from my CTR article:

    For the existence of God, Plantinga considers natural theology, the project of those who, like Aquinas, argue that God exists based on evidence observed in nature and elsewhere. Plantinga analyzes natural theology “by considering in turn the cosmological, ontological, and teleological arguments for the existence of God,” concluding that the arguments, along with “natural theology generally,” “must finally be judged unsuccessful.”[1] Thus chapters one through four. Against the existence of God, Plantinga considers the problem of evil and the free will defense in chapters five and six, concluding ultimately that an argument against God’s existence based on evil is “inconclusive.”[2] In chapter seven he considers “a miscellany of atheological arguments,” all of which are deemed unsuccessful.[3]

    How do we know that other minds exist? Plantinga examines the argument from my knowledge of my own mental state and the similarity of my outward behavior to that of other bodies. The argument is pretty good[4] but, ultimately, deficient.[5]

    [1] Alvin Plantinga, God and Other Minds: A Study of the Rational Justification of Belief in God (New York: Cornell University Press, 1967), xv. For a fuller picture of Plantinga on natural theology, consider his remarks that natural theology also aims to show that belief in God is rational, and that its arguments sometimes succeed; see Alvin Plantinga, God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 3, 112.

    [2] Plantinga, God and Other Minds, 155.

    [3] Ibid., 156- 183.

    [4] Ibid., chapters 8-9.

    [5] Ibid., chapter 10.

    Continued:

    • #14
  15. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    . . .

    He argues that there is no evidence, nor need for evidence, to justify my belief that other people have minds in the same sense that I have a mind. He argues that, since it is nonetheless reasonable to believe that their minds exist, it is similarly reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists — since, again, there is no more evidence for a belief in other human minds than there is for a belief in God’s mind.

    . . .

    I am pretty confident that I have a mind. I observe that other people respond to stimuli in a manner similar to the way I respond. I know that some of my response, at least, is the result of me thinking about what I observe and then acting in response. Other people routinely exhibit the same kinds of responses to the same kinds of stimuli that, in my own case, I am confident arise from my own cognition.

    . . .

    Note, as indicated above, that he does not say there is no evidence.  He looks at the same kind of argument you do, concludes it’s actually a pretty good argument, and also concludes that it’s not quite good enough.

    But he does say that we do not need evidence.

    Plantinga’s argument would seem to suggest that, no, we can’t claim to have “evidence” about photosynthesis in trees based on observations made of just one tree.

    No. His argument suggests nothing of the sort.  That is precisely the opposite of what he does say in his development of Reid against Hume.  See, again, the text links in the opening post.

    . . .

    In fact, one can imagine an infinite variety of minds, and attributes of mind, that are unlike the only sentient minds for which we actually have evidence. Given Plantinga’s logic, it seems that we should have equal faith in the existence of all of them as we have in the existence of the one kind of mind which we actually have reason to believe exists. That doesn’t seem sensible to me.

    Not sensible at all!  And it’s also not what Plantinga is saying.

    You don’t understand Plantinga at all.  That’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with that.  But you’re definitely not cut out for philosophy if you don’t know what you don’t know, or if you talk about Plantinga without understanding him at all but thinking you do understand him.

    If you are willing to learn, I recommend you begin with this question: How exactly do we draw some conclusion about all trees from the few trees we have observed?  By what principle of logic or inference do we make that conclusion?

    And pray–answer only that question.  Don’t jump ahead.  Take it one step at a time.

    • #15
  16. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Regarding the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), Plantinga argues that the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible if evolution is guided by God.  At least that is what I understand to be the central claim of Plantiga’s EAAN.

    Don’t you mean “unless evolution is guided by G-d”?

    • #16
  17. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    kedavis (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    I thought of a few more things along the lines of: What if God was directing the process of evolution by natural selection and mutation?

    First off, it’s at least theoretically possible that God could give human beings false beliefs. Now, some people would say that since God is all good, God would never give human beings false beliefs.

    Which leads to another thing I have thought of.

    Some people are mentally ill. They hear voices when no one is speaking to them. They see things that aren’t there. If God is guiding the evolutionary process, then God would be letting people have mental illness, not to mention all sort of other birth defects.

    One of the more bewildering things I’ve heard is that none of that – the mental illness, etc – really matters as long as their souls are saved. I guess that’s theoretically possible but it doesn’t really seem like a good plan.

    Variations on the problem of evil. Talk all you want in this thread or any other about that, but I doubt I can converse here.  Too much already going on in thread, and I still have about 70 students this semester.

    • #17
  18. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Regarding the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), Plantinga argues that the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible if evolution is guided by God. At least that is what I understand to be the central claim of Plantiga’s EAAN.

    Don’t you mean “unless evolution is guided by G-d”?

    Yes.  That was a typo by me.  

    “. . . . the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible unless evolution is guided by God.”

    • #18
  19. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    HeavyWater (View Comment):

    Regarding the Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (EAAN), Plantinga argues that the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible if evolution is guided by God. At least that is what I understand to be the central claim of Plantiga’s EAAN.

    Don’t you mean “unless evolution is guided by G-d”?

    Yes. That was a typo by me.

    “. . . . the probability of having reliable cognitive faculties is negligible unless evolution is guided by God.”

    Oh, thank Heaven!

    And thank you.

    And I may have to quit at this point.  I don’t know the EAAN well enough.  If I ever had enough information on that bit of Plantinga in my head, it was probably over ten years ago.

    • #19
  20. HeavyWater Inactive
    HeavyWater
    @HeavyWater

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Memory may not matter if some people detect the poison berries as smelling or tasting or even looking bad. It may also not matter, if the poison berries are rare, and/or only found in certain locations which means that people just won’t live in those area because those who try to, end up dying.

    Sure.  A bloodhound has an excellent sense of smell.  Human beings have a poor sense of smell compared to many animals.  

    Another thing that distinguishes human beings from most animals is that human are unable to synthesize vitamin C.  So, humans must obtain the vitamin C their bodies need from the foods they consume.  Human ancestors about 61 million years ago lost the ability to synthesize vitamin C.  This was probably because these ancestors were living in environments where vitamin C was so plentiful and easy to obtain in ones diet that retaining the ability to synthesize vitamin C would actually be too costly in evolutionary terms.  

    It’s sort of like how Charles Darwin noticed flightless birds in various environments where there were no predators trying to eat those birds.  If there are no predators trying to eat you, the ability to fly could be too costly in evolutionary terms.

    • #20
  21. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    . . .

    He argues that there is no evidence, nor need for evidence, to justify my belief that other people have minds in the same sense that I have a mind. He argues that, since it is nonetheless reasonable to believe that their minds exist, it is similarly reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists — since, again, there is no more evidence for a belief in other human minds than there is for a belief in God’s mind.

    . . .

    I am pretty confident that I have a mind. I observe that other people respond to stimuli in a manner similar to the way I respond. I know that some of my response, at least, is the result of me thinking about what I observe and then acting in response. Other people routinely exhibit the same kinds of responses to the same kinds of stimuli that, in my own case, I am confident arise from my own cognition.

    . . .

    Note, as indicated above, that he does not say there is no evidence. He looks at the same kind of argument you do, concludes it’s actually a pretty good argument, and also concludes that it’s not quite good enough.

    But he does say that we do not need evidence.

    Plantinga’s argument would seem to suggest that, no, we can’t claim to have “evidence” about photosynthesis in trees based on observations made of just one tree.

    No. His argument suggests nothing of the sort. That is precisely the opposite of what he does say in his development of Reid against Hume. See, again, the text links in the opening post.

    . . .

    In fact, one can imagine an infinite variety of minds, and attributes of mind, that are unlike the only sentient minds for which we actually have evidence. Given Plantinga’s logic, it seems that we should have equal faith in the existence of all of them as we have in the existence of the one kind of mind which we actually have reason to believe exists. That doesn’t seem sensible to me.

    Not sensible at all! And it’s also not what Plantinga is saying.

    You don’t understand Plantinga at all. That’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with that. But you’re definitely not cut out for philosophy if you don’t know what you don’t know, or if you talk about Plantinga without understanding him at all but thinking you do understand him.

    If you are willing to learn, I recommend you begin with this question: How exactly do we draw some conclusion about all trees from the few trees we have observed? By what principle of logic or inference do we make that conclusion?

    And pray–answer only that question. Don’t jump ahead. Take it one step at a time.

    Thanks for the response. But no, I’m going to be content not understanding Plantinga’s logic. If the argument is that it is reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists because I believe that my daughter’s mind exists, I don’t feel the need to wade through his thousand pages of deep thinking to understand how he got there.

    • #21
  22. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Thanks for the response. But no, I’m going to be content not understanding Plantinga’s logic. If the argument is that it is reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists because I believe that my daughter’s mind exists, I don’t feel the need to wade through his thousand pages of deep thinking to understand how he got there.

    Be content, then.

    But you don’t even understand your reasons for being content.  You misrepresented his argument there.

    • #22
  23. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Thanks for the response. But no, I’m going to be content not understanding Plantinga’s logic. If the argument is that it is reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists because I believe that my daughter’s mind exists, I don’t feel the need to wade through his thousand pages of deep thinking to understand how he got there.

    Be content, then.

    But you don’t even understand your reasons for being content. You misrepresented his argument there.

    I’m sure I did. His argument takes up a thousand pages, after all. I’m just a guy who says, “of course there’s reason to believe that other people have minds; it’s preposterous to not believe that other people have minds. And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    But I remain content.

     

    • #23
  24. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Thanks for the response. But no, I’m going to be content not understanding Plantinga’s logic. If the argument is that it is reasonable to believe that God’s mind exists because I believe that my daughter’s mind exists, I don’t feel the need to wade through his thousand pages of deep thinking to understand how he got there.

    Be content, then.

    But you don’t even understand your reasons for being content. You misrepresented his argument there.

    I’m sure I did. His argument takes up a thousand pages, after all.

    Good heavens, no. The argument you misrepresented was from G-d and Other Minds.  It’s only a couple hundred pages, you watched a video intro to it, and all you need to know about what preceded the book’s final paragraph was summarized in # 14.

    I’m just a guy who says, “of course there’s reason to believe that other people have minds; it’s preposterous to not believe that other people have minds. . . .”

    So says Plantinga.

    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    But I remain content.

    And there is where you fail to understand his argument at all and remain content to judge a philosopher you do not understand.

    • #24
  25. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    • #25
  26. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette
    @HenryRacette

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    Don’t make me want to say something nice about Joe Biden. He’s always been a fool, and a corrupt man, and a bully. But, until recently, his mind was as wonderful, in its own way, as any other. He just used it poorly and meanly.

    • #26
  27. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    Don’t make me want to say something nice about Joe Biden. He’s always been a fool, and a corrupt man, and a bully. But, until recently, his mind was as wonderful, in its own way, as any other. He just used it poorly and meanly.

    To use a phrase I’ve heard from others, “in its own way” is doing a lot of work there.

    • #27
  28. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    Don’t make me want to say something nice about Joe Biden. He’s always been a fool, and a corrupt man, and a bully. But, until recently, his mind was as wonderful, in its own way, as any other. He just used it poorly and meanly.

    Biden was never anywhere near as smart as Biden thought he was.

    • #28
  29. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Percival (View Comment):

    Henry Racette (View Comment):

    Percival (View Comment):

    Saint Augustine (View Comment):
    “. . . And whatever similarities one might imagine between the hypothetical mind of God and the pretty obviously real mind of Man are dwarfed by the clear differences between the hypothetical God and the very real man.”

    Don’t make me want to say something nice about Joe Biden. He’s always been a fool, and a corrupt man, and a bully. But, until recently, his mind was as wonderful, in its own way, as any other. He just used it poorly and meanly.

    Biden was never anywhere near as smart as Biden thought he was.

    I’m pretty sure Obama isn’t either.  Otherwise why hide his college transcripts etc?

    • #29
  30. Manny Member
    Manny
    @Manny

    “The analogy is weak”!  Yes, I would agree, but I could never follow philosophic logic.  It always seemed different than everyday logic.  Watching you in your video made me think: (1) Thank God I did not take up philosophy, (2) You seemed a natural as a professor, and (3) how did you get your cartoon avatar to look so much like the real you?

    Seriously, is the concept of God a PBB, which I take is so foundational it is self-evident?  I would like to agree, but I’m not so sure.  Another person’s mind would be self-evident, but that’s because he’s directly providing me his thoughts.  God’s communication to me is indirect, and I would think that makes a big difference.  Well, so much for my philosophic effort.  

    By the way, I heard you use that Islamic phrase again.  I still think you’re a closet Muslim.  :-P

    • #30