Plantinga and the Rationality of Religious Belief

Part of the Claremont Studies in the Philosophy of Religion book series (CSPR)


For twenty centuries, relations between philosophy and Christianity have reflected the ambiguity and tension of Pilate’s challenge to Christ’s claim that he was a witness to the truth. In modem times, Enlightenment criteria of rationality required that philosophically respectable religious beliefs be based on valid arguments from premises acceptable to any rational person. Heroic efforts failed to produce such arguments, and by the middle of the twentieth century philosophical discussions of religion (by then professionalised into the subdiscipline of philosophy of religion) put those who took both their religion and their philosophy seriously almost entirely on the defensive. Philosophy of religion, at least in the analytic mainstream of professional philosophy, was dominated by sceptical challenges to the rationality or even the very meaningfulness of religious belief.


Religious Belief Basic Belief Epistemic Position Rational Justification Ontological Argument 
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  1. 1.
    Alvin Plantinga, ‘Reason and Belief in God’, in A. Plantinga and N. Wolterstorff (eds), Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), p. 60.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Philip Quinn, ‘In Search of the Foundations of Theism’, Faith and Philosophy 2 (1985), pp. 469–86.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 4.
    Alvin Plantinga, ‘The Foundations of Theism: a Reply’, Faith and Philosophy 3 (1986), p. 300.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Ibid., pp. 300–1.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Ibid., pp. 301–2.Google Scholar

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© Timothy Tessin and Mario von der Ruhr 1995

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