Alvin Plantinga

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Alvin Plantinga

Alvin Carl Plantinga,[1] born November 15, 1932 (age 91), in Ann Arbor, Michigan, was a professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Indiana. He is known for his lectures in the debate over divine sovereignty and providence, as well as works on the existence of God, including a version of the Ontological argument based on possible-worlds modality. He is a Christian, and one of the leading philosophers.

Plantinga is also credited, along with Wolterstorff (1976) for first articulating the argument that belief in God can be defended as properly basic.

The large influence of the work of Alvin Platinga, he has re-established the case for God and Christianity in the field of academic philosophy. He thereby notes; “There are vastly more Christian philosophers and vastly more visible or assertive Christian philosophy now than when I left graduate school,” Mr. Alvin Plantinga said in a recent telephone interview from his home in Grand Rapids, adding, with characteristic modesty, “I have no idea how it happened.” Mr. Plantinga retired from full-time teaching in 2010, with more than a dozen books and a past presidency of the American Philosophical Association to his name. But he’s hardly resting on those laurels. Having made philosophy safe for theism, he’s now turning to a harder task: making theism safe for science. [1]


Alvin Plantinga received an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Michigan in 1955, and a Ph.D. in philosophy in Yale University in 1958.


Alvin Plantinga was born November 15, 1932, to Cornelius A. Plantinga and Lettie G. Bossenbroek, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Alvin Plantinga's father, Cornelius Plantinga had himself earned a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University, and taught philosophy, psychology, Latin and Greek at Jamestown College. His parents were both very religious Calvinists, and from an early age he was taught about historic Calvinisim through Sunday school. At the age of 17, he applied for a scholarship in Harvard University on a whim, and was accepted. There, for the first time, he encountered serious non-Christian thought that challenged him. He then claims there claims to have had a rapture-like experience in the presence of God, where he received the strength to pursue his faith, even despite the anti-religious attitudes that dominated the field of philosophy in his earlier years. Plantinga married Kathleen DeBoer in 1955, and later had four children with her.


Between semesters at Harvard, Platinga would sometimes attend classes at Calvin College, taught by William Harry Jelema, the founder of the philosophy department at Calvin College in 1921. A year later, he then returned to Calvin College to pursue studies of philosophy under Jelema. In 1953, he met his future wife Kathleen DeBoer. In 1954, he graduated from Calvin College. In 1957, he was appointed an instructor of philosophy at Yale University. In 1958, he received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Yale University, and became a professor of philosophy at Wayne State University. In 1963, he became professor of philosophy at Calvin College, and over the next two decades would teach at Harvard University, Oxford University, University of California, University of Illinois, and other top academic institutions. In 1972, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in Philosophy and serves as president of the American Philosophical Association from 1981-1982. He also helped co-found the Society of Christian Philosophers in 1978. In 1982, he became the John A. O'Brien Professor of philosophy at University of Notre Dame, and that same year also became the director of the Center for Philosophy of Religion in Notre Dame and received an honorary degree from Glasgow University. Between 1983-1986, he served as the president for the Society of Christian Philosophers. In 1984, he published his landmark work, Advice to Christian Philosophers,[2] which advised Christian philosophers to let their religious beliefs set their agenda for their academic careers—this work inspired overwhelming discussion, responses and debate. In 1986, he received an honorary degree from Calvin College.

In this period and later, he published many highly influential books, continued receiving many honorary degrees from a range of universities, and continued receiving many, and in 2006, the University of Notre Dame renamed its Distinguished Scholar Fellowship as the Alvin Plantinga Fellowship. In 2007, a study revealed that Alvin Plantinga had the highest H-Index in his field.[3] He retired from his professorship at the University of Notre Dame in 2010. He received the Nicholas Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy in 2012,[4] and received the renowned Templeton Prize in 2017.[5]


The influence of Alvin Plantinga in the field of philosophy exceeds that of almost every other philosopher of his time. By the 1970s, the most widely cited argument against the belief in God was the supposed problem of evil. In response, Alvin Plantinga argued that in a free world with free creatures, even an omnipotent God will not create a world where all creatures always do good—Plantinga's free will response to the problem of evil, in its final form in the book titled God, Freedom, and Evil[6] published in 1974 is almost universally recognized as having defeated the problem of evil against theism. Other majorly significant works Plantinga has published throughout his career, which is considered to have completely transformed the world of academic philosophy into seriously taking into consideration the belief and existence of God again, includes the following;

Plantinga, Alvin. The nature of necessity. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1974.[7]
Warrant and proper function[8]
Mackie, John Leslie, et al. "The miracle of theism." (1985).[9]
Warranted Christian Belief[10]
Warrant: The current debate[11]
God and other minds: A study of the rational justification of belief in God[12]
Actualism and possible worlds[13]
Where the conflict really lies: Science, religion, and naturalism[14]

Alvin Plantinga, throughout his career, has delivered hundreds of lectures and 30 named lectureships throughout America, Europe, Canada, Israel, China, and other nations. Plantinga is by many considered to be the leading philosophers of the world.

Alvin Plantinga's modal ontological argument


  1. Alvin Platinga Biography
  2. Plantinga, Alvin. "Advice to Christian philosophers." Faith and Philosophy 1.3 (1984): 253-271.
  3. Top Philosophers of Religion by Hirsch Numbers
  4. Nicholas Rescher Prize for Systematic Philosophy
  5. see reference 1
  6. Plantinga, Alvin. God, freedom, and evil. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 1974.
  7. Plantinga, Alvin. The nature of necessity. Oxford University Press on Demand, 1974.
  8. Plantinga, Alvin. Warrant and proper function. Oxford University Press, 1993.
  9. The miracle of theism
  10. Plantinga, Alvin. Warranted christian belief. Oxford University Press on Demand, 2000.
  11. Plantinga, Alvin. Warrant: The current debate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.
  12. Plantinga, Alvin. God and other minds: A study of the rational justification of belief in God. Cornell University Press, 1990.
  13. Plantinga, Alvin. "Actualism and possible worlds." Theoria 42.1‐3 (1976): 139-160.
  14. Plantinga, Alvin. Where the conflict really lies: Science, religion, and naturalism. OUP USA, 2011.

External links