Wednesday, March 12, 2014

[PHI 3000] The most important argument for theism?

In an interview with Gary Gutting over at NY Times' The Stone, Alvin Plantinga responds to the question "What are the grounds for believing in God?" as follows:

Judging by his response, Plantinga seems to think that the most important argument for theism is an argument from consensus. That is:
  1. Most people believe that there is a divine being worthy of worship.
  2. Therefore, there is a divine being worthy of worship.
Do you agree with Plantinga that this argument from consensus is the most important argument for theism? Do you find this argument convincing? If so, why? If not, why not?


  1. I don't find this argument to be convincing. There's been numerous instances throughout history that have proven the general consensus wrong. For example, when Galileo Galilei in the 17th century made the discovery that the planets orbited around the sun. This theory at the time was controversial because it contradicted Scripture. Due to this unfortunate circumstance, Galileo was persecuted and excommunicated from the Church.

    One shouldn’t rely on the ideologies of the general consensus for this reason. It’s clear that these ideologies are simply a product of institutional teaching. Not to say that all institutional teachings should be perceived as unreliable, nevertheless, one must be aware of the conflict of interest that might arise from these sources. We see this being the case with the mass media and propaganda that is produced towards the masses in order to get public support. Relying on the general consensus is simply relying on the shadows of the cave.

  2. I disagree with Plantinga’s argument. I don’t agree that because most people believe that there is a divine being worthy of worships means there is one. I believe in God but how do I know he exists, I don’t. I pray for the hope that there is a God but to my knowledge there is no facts and Plantinga however does not give us any to convince us there is a God. We can look up to something and pray to a divine being but that doesn’t mean a divine being exists therefore we one cannot agree with his argument because there is no fact. We can’t go off of the basis that because most people believe there is one means that there actually is one. This argument is not a convincing one without a statement that can give me facts that make me believe there is a divine being without saying because the majority believes so.

  3. Yes, I do find this argument convincing. I feel like most people believe that there is a divine being worthy of worship because they've experienced something in their own life that has influenced them worshiping a divine. As mentioned by Alvin Plantinga, "Many people in very many different cultures have thought themselves in experiential touch with a being worthy of worship. They believe that there is such a person, but not because of the explanatory prowess of such belief." When believing in a divine, such as my family for example, we tend to worship in God for many of reasons such as health and overall care to look over our family. When something good happens in someones life, I feel like they tend to question why this happens which influences them to continue worshiping a divine because it has helped them get through the tough times in their life.


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