I recently read the book Unended Quest which is an intellectual autobiography of Karl Popper. Karl Popper is likely the most influential philosopher of science ever. The book is a good mix of details of his life, accounts of his interactions with some famous scientists and philosophers, and explanations of his own big ideas. I highly recommend it. One of the first ideas Popper remembered pondering during his younger years was the amount of time spent on precisely defining words. Interestingly enough, this turned into a passion of his as he aged, when analytical philosophy was just beginning to catch on in Europe. With Wittgenstein leading the way, it became a prominent characteristic of the analytical school of philosophy to rigorously define all technical terms ahead of time in order to prevent misunderstandings during the presentation of a theory or argument. Popper was notably against this trend, arguing that it amounted to a waste of time and effort.

Part IV of this series ended with somewhat of a cliffhanger.  Marx and Freud seemed to think that religion arose through purely naturalistic processes.  Not only that, but the aim of religion was not truth, but something less legitimate - for Marx it was an escape from the harsh reality of existence, and for Freud it was "wish fulfillment."  At any rate, this all makes religion irrational, whether or not it's true.  This Alvin Plantinga came to call the de jure objection.  The root issue is whether or not religious belief - and Christian belief in particular - has any justification.
It is the glory of God to conceal things,
but the glory of kings is to search things out. 
-Prov. 25:2, ESV

Often when studying theology, especially some of the more controversial doctrines of Christianity, I can get pretty discouraged. Occasionally, it will get bad enough that I even begin to doubt the Christian faith as a whole. If Christians have not been able to come to an agreement on a doctrine after two millennia of study and discourse, how can I be sure that there is a correct stance to begin with? Things certainly don’t seem so ambiguous and confusing in other knowledge seeking enterprises, so why wouldn’t they also be straightforward with theology? Depending on the doctrine itself, the intensity of this period of doubting has varied from thought-provoking to panic-inducing. Recently, while studying the doctrine of divine providence, I had a spell of this, though it was on the minor end of the spectrum. While thinking through this specific issue, and the larger meta-issue, I had some thoughts that might be helpful for Christians in similar situations.

In Part II, we looked at Plantinga's analogy between belief in God and belief in the existence of other minds.  In this post we will look at some later work of Plantinga that also deals with the rationality of belief in God.  Obviously, his earlier work could not tackle all the possible objections, and some of his work in epistemology since then has also shed light on the issue.

De Jure vs. De Facto

In order to determine whether or not belief in God is rational, or intellectually acceptable, Plantinga makes a distinction between two types of objections to Christian belief: de jure and de factoDe facto objections argue against the truth of Christianity.  The Problem of Evil is a good example, as it seeks to show that God cannot exist.  There are other objections that are de facto as well, such as the claim that some doctrine or other is incoherent, and therefore Christianity cannot possibly be true.  There are also arguments that Jesus couldn't possibly have risen from the dead.

De jure objections, on the other hand, do not deal with the truth of Christianity; they seek to show that Christian belief, "whether or not true, is at any rate unjustifiable, or rationally unjustified, or irrational, or not intellectually respectable, or contrary to sound morality, or without sufficient evidence, or in some other way rationally unacceptable, not up to snuff from an intellectual point of view."1  It covers a broad spectrum.  The two things to keep in mind with respect to a de jure objection is 1) it doesn't seek to prove Christianity is false, in fact it has nothing to say as to whether or not Christianity is actually true and 2) it does seek to show that one shouldn't believe in Christianity.
In this installment on the philosophy of free will, I will be discussing libertarianism, which is an incompatibilist position. In previous posts, I discussed mainly the compatibilist attempts to show that free will and determinism are both true. While this position has its share of problems, the reader will soon see that the libertarian position is not without its own issues. As with the other posts in this series, much of the information contained here is taken from A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will by Robert Kane.

Libertarian Free Will and Its Critics

I'll begin here with a concise definition of libertarian free will: in short, a libertarian holds the position that free will and determinism are incompatible, that agents have free will and therefore determinism is false, and that this free will entails that agents are able to take more than one possible course of action under a given set of circumstances. Anyone arguing for the libertarian position, then, assumes responsibility for two tasks: they must first show that free will and determinism are incompatible (which we have already seen attempts of in the previous posts), and then they must provide a coherent positive account for how free will is possible. There are a number of prima facie objections to libertarian free will that I will try to summarize.

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