Entertaining rehash of old science and religion debate

Daniel C. Dennett and Alvin Plantinga, Science and Religion: Are they compatible? (Oxford University ?Press 2011)

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The basic premise of this book must have seemed a hugely promising one: put together in a debating chamber outspoken champions of theism and atheism, and record their initial speeches and their responses to one another. 

The outcome is highly readable but not fresh, engaging or productive. Two people are basically arguing past each other whilst playing to the gallery.

I’m sure the black-and-white argumentation and caustic attempts at wit essayed by both parties were all great fun if you happened to be present at their encounter, but I doubt if anyone on that occasion had their fundamental beliefs altered by one iota, and still less can I imagine any such change occurring as a result of anyone reading this rather dreary and superficial book.

Many theists will already feel that Plantinga’s arguments read uncomfortably, placing as they do considerable credence in the ‘intelligent design’ ideas of Michael Behe. Similarly, I dare say that many atheists will wince with embarrassment at the scoffing tone of Dennett.

I hope that, before long, this debate will seem like a relic from a bygone age.

What is perhaps most sadly lacking from this encounter is any historical awareness, any realisation that the terms of engagement being adhered to here really belong to the nineteenth or early twentieth century Dr Michael Fuller, Theological Institute of the Scottish Episcopal Church


Book Review: Science and Religion: Are they compatible? (Thinking Faith)


Daniel C. Dennett

Alvin Plantinga


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