Saturday, August 10, 2013

THE MAN WHO KILLED PLANTINGA-- Jersey Flight


Plantinga is considered the most relevant and authoritative theist of our time. But I tell you that such emphasis is misplaced; such confidence is unfounded!

Above all else Plantinga should be known for one thing: sophisticated language (and an over-zealous use of the symbol). It is entirely true that what he says could be said without all the symbolic-fanfare, but if he did this it would detract from the persuasion-edifice of his prose (the reader would no longer be overwhelmed into submission; the capitulation-effect would be nullified). In essence; to speak more plainly would be disserviceable to his theism.*
 
Does he, the mighty Plantinga, have a command of the issues (epistemologically speaking)? Most certainly! And to follow his equations can be rather interesting [seeing things the way an analytical theist sees them--- altogether too tedious.] 

However, what is the true substance of his position? Upon what axis does his thesis turn? 

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Ladies and gentleman, I invite you to acknowledge the fragility and deception of his position. Frail in terms of ontology; deceptive in terms of his symbolic computation. [This is not the only way to do philosophy!] And even more so, it is relevant to note the fact that a valuable theism must be accessible (Plantinga is a theists theist). For this very reason it is logical to believe that analytical theism will not pass the pragmatic test of experiential relevance, and as such, will die the death of a thousand frivolous computations. [it will not find a place in culture outside the vestibules of academia.] 

So what is this frail ontology of which we speak; what constitutes the true weakness of Plantinga’s position?

[It is all too easy for the reader to observe the next point casually--- and this would be a vital mistake!]  
    
What is the Plantinian Theological Burden?

In a word------ the very concept and nature of God itself!!!
 
This should not be dismissed or ignored. Reduction here means defeat, in that one will always struggle against secondary issues; there will be refutation without resolution; the theistic monster will continue to proceed (though beat it will not be dead). For how often has Plantinga himself casually tried to dismiss the issue: “Can’t we just assume [what is meant by God] for the sake of the argument?” Nonsense! God is the issue and has always been the issue! And whether theism lives or dies it lives or dies with this issue. How shocking that this heralded-titan of analytical theism should actually seek to avoid the central issue!** 
  
What happens when Plantinga is forced to have a conversation about God?

“What are we to make of this distinction between essential and accidental properties [referring to the attributes of God]? This is a difficult and very large topic and what I shall say will be, I am afraid, both sketchy and merely suggestive.” God and Other Minds pg.176, Cornell 1990
  
Very well indeed; a difficult and large topic---- merely suggestive (not rational)! So what about the materiality of God? What about the non-materiality of God? What about the eternality of God? What about the morality of God? What about the nature of God, period? In what way are Plantinga’s arguments relevant to the specificity of God?
  
Before Plantinga starts his computation we want to know what he can actually know about the nature of God (or else how can he proceed toward a computation of rational belief in God)? For what is the nature of that which he is computing and how can he compute it if he knows not its nature?

In anticipation of a reply we might expect something to the effect of, the general nature of things in general thereby equalizes all natures so that all general natures are rational. Hence, we have no choice but to affirm Plantinga’s proclamations (suggestions) about God, because if we refused, “we will end up undermining our own necessary proclamations.” [We might call this adolescent-skepticism.]

But I don’t think this is where the argument actually leads. God is the controversial premise! (And for those theists who are having difficulty seeing the issue): Naturalism does not invoke the idea of God; the burden of proof lies with the one making the claim!

But we can be more clear: is the universe a controversial premise in the same sense that Allah is a controversial premise? [I have no doubt that Plantinga would like to say yes.] But this is simply not possible (for when we speak of the universe we are speaking of a corporeal thing)! Even if the nature of the universe is in dispute the existence of the universe is not! And this makes all the difference.

Theists are welcome to attempt to reconcile the equivocation; they are welcome to try to make the question of the universe synonymous with the question of God, but the deeper question is whether or not they can do this without negating the evident premise of the existence of the universe? Clearly the universe is not the same thing as God? [At least any self-respecting theist that desires to escape the consequences of Pantheism must attempt to put forth a distinction or else join the ranks of Naturalism.]

Vague theism has no value! How many times do we have to say it?
     
By way of conclusion: in order to make the argument, that ignorance, when it comes to the knowledge of God, is permissible [because we are ignorant about the universe]--- one must necessarily be able to demonstrate that God is synonymous with the universe, nay, what is more; one must be able to prove that God’s existence is as evident as the existence of the universe! But of course, in order to do this one has to know something about God.
                
So Mr. Plantinga, we have no choice but to ask (we are dying to ask under the weight of your arguments): what do you know about God?


NOTES-------------

*[I am not positing that Plantinga’s procedure is unintelligible; nor am I stating that he is unskilled in analytical computation (this is most certainly not the case!), but what I am stating is that his method tends [to preserve from criticism] the more vital elements of his thesis thereby producing the appearance of justification. I believe a good example of this can be seen in his handling of the Cosmological Argument in “God and Other Minds.” How hard is it to demonstrate that Aquinas’ argument is better suited to the existence of Nature than the existence of God? Analytical Philosophy can become a means of evading criticism, and this is nowhere exemplified better than in the work of Plantinga.]
   
**[In a panel discussion at Georgetown University, Jan 7, 2013, Standing Seminar: Theism, Naturalism, and Rationality, Mark Murphy and Michael Tooley, along with several others, asked Plantinga to clarify what he meant by God. Murphy: “what should we take to be the case [attributes of God] if theism is true; what must a person deny in order to be considered an atheist?” Plantinga: “I was thinking of theism as a view that there is an all-powerful (maybe you would say omnipotent, maybe not?) all-knowing, perfectly good, perfectly loving person, who has created the world and created human beings in his image. That’s how I was thinking of it.” In immediate succession, Tooley to Plantinga: “At one point you used the expression, something like God, how close would it have to be to qualify... would Zeus be something like God?” Plantinga: “Yes I think so, right, if you believe in Zeus you wouldn’t be a Naturalist... I admit that the term Naturalism as I understand it is vague, but I’m hoping for present purposes that vagueness won’t matter?”----- what we say to Plantinga: good luck proving that belief in an all-powerful, omnipotent, all-knowing, perfectly good, perfectly loving person, who has created the world and created human beings in his image, is rational. Good luck proving, that when it comes to God, specificity doesn’t matter.]
    
[In a very real sense Plantinga’s scheme is very close to that of the sophists. For in postulating, that belief in any generic God is rational, he has affirmed that contraries are rational--- but has he really escaped the Fourth Book of Aristotle’s Metaphysics? For what does he mean by God: “if you think about the theistic religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam it would be the conception of God one finds in those religions.” Ibid. This is merely ignorance disguised as rationality. A man who teaches that Allah and YAHWEH are equally the outcome of his thesis (contrary yet true) is largely confused. He has need to go back and learn the first principles of logic.]
    
[Plantinga’s entire scheme is based on conjecture regarding the rationality, not of the existence of God, but of the rationality of certain maneuvers in contrast with other maneuvers, or we could say, of arguing that something is rational because its so-called opposite cannot be proven. This is not arguing for the existence of God! Plantinga provides a critique, which he then uses, to evade the burden of proof in relation to his own beliefs! And hence we ask--- what can Plantinga tell us about God?]