William Sweet, Department of Philosophy, St Francis Xavier University, Antigonish, NS B2G 2W5 Canada


Alvin Plantinga’s God

I want to address a central (though relatively unexplored) issue in Alvin Plantinga’s recent major work, Warranted Christian Belief (2000)--his account of what it is to believe in God. Here, as in earlier work, Plantinga maintains that certain beliefs of believers--including the religious belief that ‘There is a God’--are "basic," i.e., beliefs which they do not accept on the basis of other (propositions or) beliefs. Plantinga argues that it can therefore be ‘reasonable’ to believe them and that religious belief is at least on a par with ‘non-belief.’

I wish to raise two points: first, that Plantinga’s view of (belief in) ‘God’ is problematic because it does not recognise that such religious beliefs have a privileged ‘framework’ role in the believing of the religious believer; second, that Plantinga employs a concept of religious belief that does not reflect how it is used in the utterances of those engaging in religious discourse.

While Plantinga has correctly identified some aspects of religious belief and why believers may hold that it is rational to believe, problems remain in his account of what it is to believe in God and, more broadly, of the nature and function of religious belief.