New book club analyses work of Christian philosopher Alvin Plantinga

This semester, Liberty University welcomed a book club studying the works of analytic philosopher Alvin Plantinga. The class attracts 10-15 students each week.

The club is supervised Department of Philosophy Director and professor Edward Martin. The group has been studying Plantinga’s work on the philosophy of religion, but will be switching their focus to his work on the relationship between Christian faith and belief of modern science after spring break.

“Plantinga’s a Christian philosopher,” theology and apologetics Ph.D. student Benjamin Shaw said.  “He breaks down the applicability of his principles to our faith as Christians. Not many philosophers that I have read, even theistic ones, fight for the Christian faith as much as Plantinga.”

Plantinga is an internationally-known and recognized American philosopher of religion, and he just recently retired as a University of Notre Dame professor.

“I got involved (with the club) in order to deepen my understanding of one of, if not the most, influential Christian philosophers,” Shaw said. “I wanted to know more about him, his contributions, and strengthen my own understanding of various aspects of philosophical theology.”

Students attend the club purely based on their own interest and to get a deeper understanding of philosophy. Liberty senior, philosophy major and teacher’s assistant Abigail Basile said she enjoys the club because it gives her the opportunity to discuss more rather than being lectured.

“For me, I learn a whole lot better if I talk about it and see the different perspectives of an argument, and we get to do that,” Basile said.

The group meets every Tuesday from 6-7:30 p.m. The club starts with a time of socializing over food and then moves to a time of reading the text, where Martin provides a briefing on the context of the material. The club ends with a discussion of the reading.

“I have heard so much of Plantinga’s works, and yet I just simply do not have time to do pleasure reading,” Basile said. “I have read various works of Plantinga’s for class, but it is better to read for pleasure, so with the group, I am grateful to be able to absorb more info at a relaxed pace.”

Basile said when she took the correlating philosophy class, it was hard for her to understand the content, but now she understands the material much better because of being able to revisit it with the club, and she feels like she is now able to challenge herself.

“I have really enjoyed Plantinga’s work. So far it has helped me further develop my own views with respect to the problem of evil, God as a necessary being, and so on,” Shaw said. “I have particularly appreciated learning of his benefit to the study of Christian philosophy in the context of his writings.”

Club supervisor, Martin, said he hopes that the switch of the group’s focus to Plantinga’s work on the relationship of Christian faith and belief and modern science will attract some of the science faculty to join them after spring break.

“A student should join the club (because) there are so many ways philosophy can be applied to a career and different studies, also philosophy helps people become more well-rounded individuals,” Basile said. “Taking the time to see the applicability of the text in the reading group is awesome, and it is challenging in the best way.”

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