- It was the last time slot of the American Philosophical Association Central Division Meeting in Chicago for 2009. Sessions at that time slot for obvious reasons are usually not well attended, but this debate between Alvin Plantinga and Daniel Dennett was going to be different. As I approached the room assigned for the debate, I was redirected to a much larger room. Although I was still about ten minutes early, when I got to the new room all the seats had already been taken. I could have stood in the back or joined those who were beginning to fill the center aisle. Instead, I decided to walk to the very front of the room and found an empty spot just to the side of the speakers next to the wall. I couldn't have been closer.
- Soon nearly all the floor space was occupied. The session was as well attended as a Presidential Address, and the room was abuzz with excitement, very different from a typical philosophy session. You could tell that people in attendance were expecting this to be a memorable event. And it was.
- Plantinga began by narrowing the debate topic from "Are science and religion compatible?" to "Are contemporary evolutionary1 theory and the God of traditional Christian belief compatible?" He argued that not only is contemporary evolutionary2 theory compatible with the Christian God, but that it would be incredible to believe that "the wonders of the living world" resulted from an unguided evolution3. In short, belief in evolutionary4 theory required belief in God.
- Somewhat surprisingly, Dennett, at least initially, agreed with Plantinga that contemporary evolutionary5 theory and theistic belief were compatible. What Dennett strongly rejected, however, was the idea that unguided evolution6 was incredible or that belief in evolutionary7 theory required belief in God.
- At various points in the debate. Superman, under different guises, the biochemist Michael Behe, and hand calculators, from simple to complex, were all used by Plantinga and Dennett to support their respective sides of the argument. When the debate concluded, no one really wanted it to be over.
- So what we have done in this book is allow the debate to go on. First, we have reproduced the debate as it originally took place. Then8, we have added a response of Dennett to Plantinga, another of Plantinga to Dennett, and a final response of Dennett to Plantinga. Hopefully, in this expanded version of the debate, one or the other of these distinguished philosophers will have succeeded in winning you over to his side of the argument.
- So, it looks like the original debate had Plantinga on twice, and Dennett on only once.
- So, Chapters 1-3 reflect the debate, and 4-6 are added.
- Is this so? Or, is it more subtle than that?
Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)
- Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2020
- Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)