Yesterday, the New York Times published an interview with Alvin Plantinga, a distinguished emeritus professor of philosophy at Notre Dame.
In it, Plantinga made the case against atheism. He began by asking whether someone who does not believe that the existence of God can be proved should not be considered an agnostic, not an atheist.
He suggests that someone who believes that there is no God should base his belief on evidence. Let’s say that there is no empirical proof for the existence of God. What empirical proof is there that God does not exist?
If you are convinced, on the basis of science, that God does not exist, what experiments have proved it?.
Plantinga offers other arguments, many of them interesting and engaging. If the topic interests you, the article is well worth your attention.
The Plantinga interview proivoked a tweet from Steven Pinker, a Harvard psychologist whose work I admire greatly. In it, he said this about the Times article:
A mind is a terrible thing to waste. Ingenuity applied to rationalize the preposterous.
Does this not demonstrate the point that Gopnik was making (see yesterday’s post on militant atheism).
Why do true=believing atheists like Pinker find it so easy to denounce and dismiss, in strident tones, arguments with which they disagree?
I am convinced that Pinker would defend your right to free speech without question.
And yet, one day someone who has read his words will be put in a position of power. Perhaps he will have power in the media or in the academy. Perhaps, he will be asked his opinion of whether a book should or should not be published.
If he believes that a philosopher is offering “preposterous” arguments he might well decide that his works should not be published or that his ideas should not be taught. Of course, he will tell himself that he is acting in everyone’s best interest. Since he knows better than everyone else and since no one has free will anyway, he takes it upon himself to ensure that people do not waste their minds.
Once you see that it’s all in your best interest and that he possesses superior wisdom, you will, of course, allow him to make decisions for you.