Philosopher Alvin Plantinga has won the prestigious Templeton Award for once again making belief in God “a serious option within academic philosophy,” the Templeton Foundation has said.
“The field of philosophy has transformed over the course of my career,” Plantinga said in response to the honor. “If my work played a role in this transformation, I would be very pleased.
“I hope the news of the Prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity, and boldness,” he said April 25.
The Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation awards the prize to a living individual who has made “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery or practical works.”
“Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work, but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy,” said the foundation’s president Heather Templeton Dill.
Plantinga’s 1974 work God, Freedom and Evil is now widely regarded as having provided a definitive counter to the logical challenge that the existence of evil is incompatible with the existence of God. His argument rested on the nature of freedom and God’s ability to determine behavior.
His 1984 essay, “Advice to Christian Philosophers,” argued that Christian philosophers should let their religious beliefs influence their academic research and serve the needs of their religious communities.
His other work has considered the basis of knowledge, the nature of justified belief, religious belief as a basis for human reasoning, and arguments for the existence of God.
While some philosophers have argued that evolution is incompatible with belief in God, Plantinga has argued that evolution is incompatible with belief in philosophical naturalism that denies the existence of spiritual reality.
Plantinga’s religious background is the Calvinist Dutch Reformed tradition. He currently teaches at Calvin College. He taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1982-2010.
He and his wife, Kathleen, live in Grand Rapids, MI.
There are now 47 winners of the Templeton Prize, including Mother Teresa, Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn, philosopher Charles Taylor, and Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks.
Other winners include Czech priest and philosopher Tomas Halik, South African Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and the Dalai Lama.
The prize was established in 1972 by global investor and philanthropist Sir John Templeton. The current prize includes a cash award of about $1.4 million.