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Where the conflict really lies: Plantinga, the challenge of evil, and religious naturalism

Citation: Burns, Elizabeth (2014) Where the conflict really lies: Plantinga, the challenge of evil, and religious naturalism. Philosophia Reformata, 79 (1). pp. 66-82. ISSN 0031-8035

4. Burns Plantinga on Evil Phil Ref 07 14 Final Submission.pdf

Creative Commons: Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0

In this paper I argue that, although Alvin Plantinga’s Felix Culpa theodicy appears on only two pages of 'Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism' (2011), it is of pivotal importance for the book as a whole. Plantinga argues that there is superficial conflict but deep concord between science and monotheism, and that there is superficial concord but deep conflict between science and naturalism. I contend that the weakness of the Felix Culpa theodicy lends support to the view that there is more than superficial conflict between science and monotheism, and offer an alternative response to the challenge of evil which suggests that there might be, after all, concord between science and (religious) naturalism.

Creators: Burns, Elizabeth (0000-0001-7009-9948) and
Official URL:
Subjects: Philosophy
Keywords: Alvin Plantinga, Donald A. Crosby, problem of evil, Felix Culpa theodicy, religious naturalism
Divisions: University of London International Academy
  • 12 April 2014 (accepted)
References: Adams, Marily McCord 1999. Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God (New York: Cornell University Press). Adams, Marilyn McCord 2008. ‘Plantinga on “Felix Culpa”: Analysis and Critique’ in Faith and Philosophy 25 No 2, 123-140. Behe, Michael 2003. ‘The Modern Intelligent Design Hypothesis’ in God and Design, ed. Neil Manson (London and New York: Routledge). Crosby, Donald A. 2008. Living With Ambiguity: Religious Naturalism and the Menace of Evil (New York: State University of New York Press). Diller, Kevin 2008. ‘Are Sin and Evil Necessary for a Really Good World? Questions for Alvin Plantinga’s Felix Culpa Theodicy’, Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 25 No. 1, 87-101. Ellis, George 2000. ‘Ordinary and Extraordinary Divine Action’ in Chaos and Complexity: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action, ed. Robert John Russell, Nancey Murphy, and Arthur Peacocke (Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory Publications, and Berkeley: The Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences). Plantinga, Alvin 1974. God, Freedom and Evil (London: George, Allen and Unwin). Plantinga, Alvin 2000. Warranted Christian Belief (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Plantinga, Alvin 2004. ‘Supralapsarianism, or “O Felix Culpa” in Peter van Inwagen (ed) Christian Faith and the Problem of Evil (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge UK: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company), 1-25. Plantinga, Alvin 2011. Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion and Naturalism (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Stenmark, Mikael 2013. ‘Religious naturalism and its rivals’ in Religious Studies 49, 529-550.


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