James K. Beilby is a Christian philosopher at Bethel University (now assistant professor of biblical and theological studies). He is known for his edited collection on Plantinga's evolutionary argument against naturalism, Naturalism Defeated? Essays on Plantinga's Evolutionary Argument Against Naturalism (Cornell, 2002). He has since written and edited a number of other books, one of which is Epistemology as Theology: An Evaluation of Alvin Plantinga's Religious Epistemology (Ashgate, 2006)
One interesting thing about Beilby is the fact that although he's a devout, conservative Christian, and a scholar of Plantinga's work, he has argued in print against at least two of Plantinga's projects in philosophy of religion: (i) his account of warranted Christian belief, and (ii) his EAAN.
Re: (i): Beilby did his PhD (2002) at Marquette University. He wrote a massive (400+ page) dissertation on Alvin Plantinga's religious epistemology (An Evaluation of Alvin Plantinga's Religious Epistemology: Does it Function Properly?). One of his main conclusions is that Christian beliefs formed as described by Plantinga do not possess warrant.
Re: (ii): In "Alvin Plantinga's Pox on Metaphysical Naturalism" (Philosophia Christi 5:1 (2003)), he argues that a naturalist can rationally resist Plantinga's EAAN if they accept a Lakatosian philosophy of science, and thereby conceive of evolutionary theory as a progressive (as opposed to a degenerative) research program, where the thesis that our beliefs are causally connected to our behavior and are adaptive is one of its auxiliary hypotheses. For since (on Lakatos' phil. of sci.) the epistemic justification of auxiliary hypotheses supervenes on the research program, and since the research program of evolutionary theory is progressive and not degenerative, the auxiliary hypothesis is thereby justified, despite Plantinga's criticisms of various incarnations of this hypothesis in EAAN. Thus, to defeat the auxiliary hypothesis for a Lakatosian who is a naturalist, Plantinga would have to show that the research program of evolutionary theory is degenerative (i.e., it's not enough to poke holes in incarnations of the auxiliary hypothesis, as Plantinga does). Needless to say, Plantinga hasn't met this burden.
Beilby published an article earlier ("Is Evolutionary Naturalism Self-Defeating?", International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 42:2 (1997), pp. 69-78) that defended Plantinga's EAAN against a number of objections. However, in footnote 5 of the Phil. Christi paper, he says that, "While I still hold the points I made in that paper to be generally correct, the conclusion I drew from those points, that Plantinga's argument was for the most part successful, was hasty -- no doubt from the impetuosity of youth" (italics added)! In my experience, this is characteristic of many young Christians in philosophy grad school (including myself for many years): you start off cocky and confident in your faith, now equipped with the sophisticated machinery of formal logic, philosophical analysis, and an understanding of the most sophisticated apologetics. But around halfway though grad school, or in the dissertation writing process, the level of philosophical sophistication, breadth, and maturity that come with many years of grad school overtake the attitude and the confidence about your faith, and you become tentative about your view of the case for Christian theism. For by that time you know first-hand that the naturalistic picture of the world is very intellectually satisfying, and not at all the caricature the apologists told you it was. You also see that the objections of other philosophers to the best philosophical arguments for theism-- and by now your own! -- are actually pretty good. The result is a loss of the confidence in one's Christian convictions. In any case, that has been my own experience, and the experience of a number of the Christian grad students I've known.
This brings me to my final point: James F. Sennett is a philosopher who has a similar trajectory as Beilby's. He started out as a confident Christian and an aspiring apologist. He then went to grad school to do a PhD in Philosophy. Like Beilby, his dissertation focused on Plantinga's religious epistemology, except that he wrote on Plantinga's earlier, internalist account of reformed episetmology, as well as his ontological argument and his replies to the logical and evidential problems of evil (Sennett was in grad school about 8 to 10 years earlier, and thus before Plantinga published his trilogy on warrant). And like Beilby, Sennett concluded that Plantinga's religious epistemology is unsuccessful. Since then, he has written a number of articles defending Christian theism. However, last I heard, he's really struggling with his faith, and his remarks about this mirror my reflections in the paragraph above.
If you're interested in Plantinga's religious epistemology or his EAAN, I recommend ordering a copy of Beilby's dissertation, as well as Sennett's. Like Beilby, Sennett turned his dissertation into a published monograph. Sennett's is entitled, Modality, Probability, and Rationality: A Critical Evaluation of Alvin Plantinga's Philosophy (Peter Lang Pub, Inc, 1992). And, as we've noted before, it would also be a good idea to look at Omar Mirza's dissertation, as well as Tyler Wunder's.
Review of Draper and Schellenberg (eds.), <I>Renewing Philosophy of Religion: Exploratory Essays</I>
Adam Green reviews the book for NDPR.
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