Consegui concluir o meu pequeno trabalho sobre o Alvin Plantinga. Como era um trabalho para uma das minhas classes, ele está todo em inglês. (Desculpe).  De qualquer maneira, espero que contribua de alguma maneira. Essa é a primeira parte do trabalho.



The Enlightenment was both an intellectual and a cultural phenomenon. At the same time, scholars were defining the principles of knowledge, they were also conferring to Reason supreme authority. Such authority was originally vested in the Christian church but now is entrusted to human Reason. The Eighteenth Century European man was taught to believe in the scientific method as the only means to access the truth. Wolterstorff says writes

The form assumed by the vision of the Enlightenment when it came to matters of religion was what may be called the evidentialist challenge to religious belief. The challenge can be seen as consisting of two contentions. It was insisted, in the first place, that it would be wrong for a person to accept Christianity, or any other form of theism, unless it was rational for him to do so. And it was insisted, secondly, that it is not rational for a person to do so unless he holds his religious convictions on the basis of other beliefs of his which give to those convictions adequate evidential support. No religion is acceptable unless rational, and no religion is rational unless supported by evidence. That is the evidentialist challenge.[1]


According to evidentialism, beliefs about God cannot be considered as a priori knowledge, but as secondary knowledge. One has to prove the existence of God, building the argumentation upon other innate and incontrovertible knowledge which is necessarily self-evident or evident to the senses. Alvin Plantinga rejects the claims of evidentialism. In fact, he committed his life and developed his entirely theistic philosophy to criticize the evidentialist challenge to religious belief.


Alvin Plantinga’s Philosophical and Theological Context

Alvin Plantinga’s theistic philosophy developed as a result of his personal experiences within a Christian environment. He was born in 1932 and lived in a time when philosophers were challenging belief in God. Since those philosophers argued that the Scientific Method[2] could not attest the existence of God  the existence of God should be considered unreasonable and irrational. Deane-Peter Baker writes, “the dominance of logical empiricism’s verification principle in the middle part of the twentieth century forced philosophy of religion almost entirely out of the philosophy curriculum, and, with a few notable exceptions, few philosophers willingly identified themselves as Christians” [3] In the midst of this hostile environment for Christians, Alvin Plantinga emerged as a Christian philosopher defending the idea “that belief in God need not be based on argument or evidence from other propositions at all”.[4] This theistic philosophy of Alvin Plantinga did not develop by chance, but after several experiences he had within a Christian environment.

Alvin Plantinga was not born in an atheistic environment, but in a Christian family. Deane-Peter Baker points out that “Cornelius Plantinga [Alvin’s father] was an active lay preacher, and there is no question that what Alvin learned of the Christian faith from his parents laid an essential foundation for his future life and work.”[5] Besides the examples of his parents Plantinga also learned Christian theology from  teachings he received in a Reformed church. He was exposed to Calvinist theology when he was still a child. In fact, the issues about human freedom, total depravity, determinism, and predestination had a great influence in the way he developed his theistic Christian philosophy.


Alvin Plantinga’s Remarkable Experiences with God

Although Plantinga had a strong Christian background, he was shaken in his Christian beliefs when he went to Harvard in the fall of 1950. For the first time, he was exposed to non-Christian ideas in a very sound, fashioned, and intelligent way. He thought people from Harvard were more brilliant than him and therefore became confused, having many doubts about the Christian faith. Deane-Peter Baker writes,

One of the events that dispelled the doubts Plantinga experienced at Harvard was a moment in which he experienced what he was convinced was the presence of God, something which he describes as a rare but important event in his spiritual walk. The other crucial event is this regard took place during a trip home, when he had the opportunity to attend some classes at Calvin College. Here he encountered something that held an even stronger attraction for him than the stimulating environment at Harvard – William Harry Jellema’s philosophy classes.[6]


After taking Jellema’s philosophy classes, Plantinga was so impacted he decided to move from Harvard to Calvin College. His doubts about the Christian faith vanished. He realized it was possible to make a reasonable philosophical defense of Christianity.


The Influence of Christian Friends on the Thought of Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Plantinga started his studies at Calvin College, then finished his studies at Yale after spending some years at the University of Michigan where he commenced his graduate studies. After graduation, he was invited to work in the Philosophy Department at Wayne State University in Detroit. He worked there until he moved to Calvin College after receiving an invitation to replace Harry Jellema, who retired.

The time Plantinga lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, was very important because of the relationships he developed while there. Deane-Peter Baker writes, “among the philosophers and other colleagues whom Plantinga credits with having been of great help to his scholarly growth in his time at Calvin, he singles out Peter de Vos, Del Ratzsch, Kenneth Konyndyk, Thomas Jager (mathematics) and particularly Nicholas Wolterstorff and Paul J. Zwier (mathematics).”[7] Plantinga  not only learned from these colleagues, but he also edited a book with articles written by these friends. “Faith and Rationality”[8] was the first book written to present the claims of the new approach of the theistic philosophy.



[1] Alvin Plantinga and Nicholas Wolterstorff, Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 6.

[2] According to the Oxford Dictionaries Online, “Scientific method is a method of procedure that has characterized natural science since the 17th century, consisting in systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses”. “scientific method”, Oxford Dictionaries: British and World English, 2016, retrieved 06 October 2016.

[3] Deane-Peter Baker, ed., “Introduction: Alvin Plantinga, God’s Philosopher,” in Alvin Plantinga (Contemporary Philosophy in Focus) (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 1.

[4] Alvin Plantinga, “Is Belief in God Properly Basic?,” Noûs, 1981, 42.

[5] Deane-Peter Baker, ed., “Introduction: Alvin Plantinga, God’s Philosopher,” in Alvin Plantinga (Contemporary Philosophy in Focus) (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2007), 3.

[6] Ibid., p. 4.

[7] Ibid., p. 7.

[8] Plantinga, Alvin, and Nicholas Wolterstorff. Faith and Rationality: Reason and Belief in God. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983.