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Yes Tour Books: Yes Featuring ARW’s An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes (technically Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman) play a show at the at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA on October 1, 2017 during the their An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour.  I posted a review and photographs from this show here.  You can also read more about this show here.

Every now and again Yes produces and sells a tour book that is sold at the merchandise table at their shows during a given tour. As it turns out, Yes produced and sold as tour book for their An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour! I took photographs of each page of the tour book and posted them below. Enjoy!

 

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I’m a Pediatrician. How Transgender Ideology Has Infiltrated My Field and Produced Large-Scale Child Abuse.

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in the Daily Signal which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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Transgender politics have taken Americans by surprise, and caught some lawmakers off guard.

Just a few short years ago, not many could have imagined a high-profile showdown over transgender men and women’s access to single-sex bathrooms in North Carolina.

But transgender ideology is not just infecting our laws. It is intruding into the lives of the most innocent among us—children—and with the apparent growing support of the professional medical community.

As explained in my 2016 peer reviewed article, “Gender Dysphoria in Children and Suppression of Debate,” professionals who dare to question the unscientific party line of supporting gender transition therapy will find themselves maligned and out of a job.

I speak as someone intimately familiar with the pediatric and behavioral health communities and their practices. I am a mother of four who served 17 years as a board certified general pediatrician with a focus in child behavioral health prior to leaving clinical practice in 2012.

For the last 12 years, I have been a board member and researcher for the American College of Pediatricians, and for the last three years I have served as its president.

I also sat on the board of directors for the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity from 2010 to 2015. This organization of physicians and mental health professionals defends the right of patients to receive psychotherapy for sexual identity conflicts that is in line with their deeply held values based upon science and medical ethics.

I have witnessed an upending of the medical consensus on the nature of gender identity. What doctors once treated as a mental illness, the medical community now largely affirms and even promotes as normal.

Here’s a look at some of the changes.

The New Normal

Pediatric “gender clinics” are considered elite centers for affirming children who are distressed by their biological sex. This distressful condition, once dubbed gender identity disorder, was renamed “gender dysphoria” in 2013.

In 2014, there were 24 of these gender clinics, clustered chiefly along the east coast and in California. One year later, there were 40 across the nation.

With 215 pediatric residency programs now training future pediatricians in a transition-affirming protocol and treating gender-dysphoric children accordingly, gender clinics are bound to proliferate further.

Last summer, the federal government stated that it would not require Medicare and Medicaid to cover transition-affirming procedures for children or adults because medical experts at the Department of Health and Human Services found the risks were often too high, and the benefits too unclear.

Undeterred by these findings, the World Professional Association for Transgender Health has pressed ahead, claiming—without any evidence—that these procedures are “safe.”

Two leading pediatric associations—the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Pediatric Endocrine Society—have followed in lockstep, endorsing the transition affirmation approach even as the latter organization concedes within its own guidelines that the transition-affirming protocol is based on low evidence.

They even admit that the only strong evidence regarding this approach is its potential health risks to children.

The transition-affirming view holds that children who “consistently and persistently insist” that they are not the gender associated with their biological sex are innately transgender.

(The fact that in normal life and in psychiatry, anyone who “consistently and persistently insists” on anything else contrary to physical reality is considered either confused or delusional is conveniently ignored.)

The transition-affirming protocol tells parents to treat their children as the gender they desire, and to place them on puberty blockers around age 11 or 12 if they are gender dysphoric.

If by age 16, the children still insist that they are trapped in the wrong body, they are placed on cross-sex hormones, and biological girls may obtain a double mastectomy.

So-called “bottom surgeries,” or genital reassignment surgeries, are not recommended before age 18, though some surgeons have recently argued against this restriction.

The transition-affirming approach has been embraced by public institutions in media, education, and our legal system, and is now recommended by most national medical organizations.

There are exceptions to this movement, however, in addition to the American College of Pediatricians and the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice. These include the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, the Christian Medical & Dental Associations, the Catholic Medical Association, and the LGBT-affirming Youth Gender Professionals.

The transgender movement has gained legs in the medical community and in our culture by offering a deeply flawed narrative. The scientific research and facts tell a different story.

Here are some of those basic facts.

1. Twin studies prove no one is born “trapped in the body of the wrong sex.”

Some brain studies have suggested that some are born with a transgendered brain. But these studies are seriously flawed and prove no such thing.

Virtually everything about human beings is influenced by our DNA, but very few traits are hardwired from birth. All human behavior is a composite of varying degrees for nature and nurture.

Researchers routinely conduct twin studies to discern which factors (biological or nonbiological) contribute more to the expression of a particular trait. The best designed twin studies are those with the greatest number of subjects.

Identical twins contain 100 percent of the same DNA from conception and are exposed to the same prenatal hormones. So if genes and/or prenatal hormones contributed significantly to transgenderism, we should expect both twins to identify as transgender close to 100 percent of the time.

Skin color, for example, is determined by genes alone. Therefore, identical twins have the same skin color 100 percent of the time.

But in the largest study of twin transgender adults, published by Dr. Milton Diamond in 2013, only 28 percent of the identical twins both identified as transgender. Seventy-two percent of the time, they differed. (Diamond’s study reported 20 percent identifying as transgender, but his actual data demonstrate a 28 percent figure, as I note here in footnote 19.)

That 28 percent of identical twins both identified as transgender suggests a minimal biological predisposition, which means transgenderism will not manifest itself without outside nonbiological factors also impacting the individual during his lifetime.

The fact that the identical twins differed 72 percent of the time is highly significant because it means that at least 72 percent of what contributes to transgenderism in one twin consists of nonshared experiences after birth—that is, factors not rooted in biology.

Studies like this one prove that the belief in “innate gender identity”—the idea that “feminized” or “masculinized” brains can be trapped in the wrong body from before birth—is a myth that has no basis in science.

2. Gender identity is malleable, especially in young children.

Even the American Psychological Association’s Handbook of Sexuality and Psychology admits that prior to the widespread promotion of transition affirmation, 75 to 95 percent of pre-pubertal children who were distressed by their biological sex eventually outgrew that distress. The vast majority came to accept their biological sex by late adolescence after passing naturally through puberty.

But with transition affirmation now increasing in Western society, the number of children claiming distress over their gender—and their persistence over time—has dramatically increased. For example, the Gender Identity Development Service in the United Kingdom alone has seen a 2,000 percent increase in referrals since 2009.

3. Puberty blockers for gender dysphoria have not been proven safe.

Puberty blockers have been studied and found safe for the treatment of a medical disorder in children called precocious puberty (caused by the abnormal and unhealthy early secretion of a child’s pubertal hormones).

However, as a groundbreaking paper in The New Atlantis points out, we cannot infer from these studies whether or not these blockers are safe in physiologically normal children with gender dysphoria.

The authors note that there is some evidence for decreased bone mineralization, meaning an increased risk of bone fractures as young adults, potential increased risk of obesity and testicular cancer in boys, and an unknown impact upon psychological and cognitive development.

With regard to the latter, while we currently don’t have any extensive, long-term studies of children placed on blockers for gender dysphoria, studies conducted on adults from the past decade give cause for concern.

For example, in 2006 and 2007, the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology reported brain abnormalities in the area of memory and executive functioning among adult women who received blockers for gynecologic reasons. Similarly, many studies of men treated for prostate cancer with blockers also suggest the possibility of significant cognitive decline.

4. There are no cases in the scientific literature of gender-dysphoric children discontinuing blockers.

Most, if not all, children on puberty blockers go on to take cross-sex hormones (estrogen for biological boys, testosterone for biological girls). The only study to date to have followed pre-pubertal children who were socially affirmed and placed on blockers at a young age found that 100 percent of them claimed a transgender identity and chose cross-sex hormones.

This suggests that the medical protocol itself may lead children to identify as transgender.

There is an obvious self-fulfilling effect in helping children impersonate the opposite sex both biologically and socially. This is far from benign, since taking puberty blockers at age 12 or younger, followed by cross-sex hormones, sterilizes a child.

5. Cross-sex hormones are associated with dangerous health risks.

From studies of adults we know that the risks of cross-sex hormones include, but are not limited to, cardiac disease, high blood pressure, blood clots, strokes, diabetes, and cancers.

6. Neuroscience shows that adolescents lack the adult capacity needed for risk assessment.

Scientific data show that people under the age of 21 have less capacity to assess risks. There is a serious ethical problem in allowing irreversible, life-changing procedures to be performed on minors who are too young themselves to give valid consent.

7. There is no proof that affirmation prevents suicide in children.

Advocates of the transition-affirming protocol allege that suicide is the direct and inevitable consequence of withholding social affirmation and biological alterations from a gender-dysphoric child. In other words, those who do not endorse the transition-affirming protocol are essentially condemning gender-dysphoric children to suicide.

Yet as noted earlier, prior to the widespread promotion of transition affirmation, 75 to 95 percent of gender-dysphoric youth ended up happy with their biological sex after simply passing through puberty.

In addition, contrary to the claim of activists, there is no evidence that harassment and discrimination, let alone lack of affirmation, are the primary cause of suicide among any minority group. In fact, at least one study from 2008 found perceived discrimination by LGBT-identified individuals not to be causative.

Over 90 percent of people who commit suicide have a diagnosed mental disorder, and there is no evidence that gender-dysphoric children who commit suicide are any different. Many gender dysphoric children simply need therapy to get to the root of their depression, which very well may be the same problem triggering the gender dysphoria.

8. Transition-affirming protocol has not solved the problem of transgender suicide.

Adults who undergo sex reassignment—even in Sweden, which is among the most LGBT-affirming countries—have a suicide rate nearly 20 times greater than that of the general population. Clearly, sex reassignment is not the solution to gender dysphoria.

Bottom Line: Transition-Affirming Protocol Is Child Abuse

The crux of the matter is that while the transition-affirming movement purports to help children, it is inflicting a grave injustice on them and their nondysphoric peers.

These professionals are using the myth that people are born transgender to justify engaging in massive, uncontrolled, and unconsented experimentation on children who have a psychological condition that would otherwise resolve after puberty in the vast majority of cases.

Today’s institutions that promote transition affirmation are pushing children to impersonate the opposite sex, sending many of them down the path of puberty blockers, sterilization, the removal of healthy body parts, and untold psychological damage.

These harms constitute nothing less than institutionalized child abuse. Sound ethics demand an immediate end to the use of pubertal suppression, cross-sex hormones, and sex reassignment surgeries in children and adolescents, as well as an end to promoting gender ideology via school curricula and legislative policies.

It is time for our nation’s leaders and the silent majority of health professionals to learn exactly what is happening to our children, and unite to take action.

By Michelle Cretella and published in the Daily Signal on July 3, 2017 and can be found here.

In support of the above, Dr. Cretella said this:

Yessource: Live in Springfield, 11/19/87

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Yessource: Live in Omaha, 11/14/87

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

Yes Featuring ARW Playbill for the 10/1/17 Show

Here is another addition to my series of Yes music posts.  I started this series here and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes (technically Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman) play a show at the at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA on October 1, 2017 during the their An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour.  I posted a review and photographs from this show here.  You can also read more about this show here.

The Kimmel Center often produces and distributes an event program at its shows, and the October 1, 2017 ARW concert was no different. I have taken photographs of that program and posted them below as fans may enjoy and be interested in what the band authorized for its show.

 

Way beyond the New Atheist Nonsense

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in First Things which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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Given the intellectual flimsiness of their work, it’s best to look for cultural causes to explain the popularity of the “New Atheists.” And surely one factor is the now-canonical notion in Western high culture that biblical religion is incompatible with modern natural science—an idea rooted in the notion that the “scientific method” is the only way to get at the truth. (William Shakespeare, call your office.)

Yet facts are stubborn things. And the fact is that two Catholic priests, Gregor Mendel, O.S.A., and Georges Lemaitre, were pivotal figures in creating two of the most important scientific enterprises of the twenty-first century: modern genetics, which is giving humanity previously unimaginable powers over the human future; and modern cosmology, which is giving us glimpses of the universe in the first moments of its existence.

Mendel is perhaps the more familiar figure; most high school biology classes explain how the Moravian monk developed gene theory and the theory of inherited characteristics (with its distinction between recessive and dominant traits) from his studies of the humble pea. Lemaitre, a Belgian, was a brilliant mathematician who first articulated the Big Bang theory of the universe’s origins and subsequent expansion. That proposal, ridiculed by some at first, now reigns supreme in astrophysics and seems to have been verified by the astonishing work of the Hubble Space Telescope. Watch for Father Lemaitre’s bold idea to gain even further traction from the findings of the James Webb Space Telescope when it begins orbiting the sun, a million miles from Earth, in a few years.

So unless one wishes to assert that Mendel and Lemaitre were split personalities who said Mass in the morning and did science in the afternoon, thereby dividing their lives into hermetically-sealed containers, the cutting edges of modern science itself would seem to rebut the claim that “believer” and “scientist” are mutually incompatible human types.

St. John Paul II was fascinated by the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, astronomy) throughout his life; for decades, he hosted at Castel Gandolfo a bi-annual seminar of leading figures in those fields, so that he could keep abreast of developments in their disciplines. But for John Paul II, everything eventually pointed to the New Evangelization. So even before he began using that term, he sent a letter to the head of the Vatican Observatory, noting that “those members of the Church who are either themselves active scientists, or in some special cases both scientists and theologians, could serve as a key resource” in bridging the chasm that too often separates modern science and biblical religion. Those scientists and scientist-theologians, the pope continued, “can also provide a much needed ministry to others struggling to integrate science and religion in their own intellectual and spiritual lives.”

John Paul II’s challenge has now been taken up by the Society of Catholic Scientists. From a standing start last year, the Society now has almost 400 members, 80 percent of whom hold a doctorate in the natural sciences, the rest being primarily graduate students. That’s an impressive head count for such a new outfit; it also suggests that membership in such a Catholic organization is not an impediment to being taken seriously in the highly competitive academic world of natural science. SCS’s inaugural conference in April was addressed by scholars from Harvard, Oxford, MIT, Penn, Brown, and the University of Texas at Austin.

The moving force in organizing the Society has been Dr. Stephen Barr, professor of theoretical particle physics at the University of Delaware. Barr’s engaging and accessible articles have long been familiar to readers of First Things, and those looking for something different by way of vacation reading this summer might pick up the recently-published collection of his essays, The Believing Scientist. There, Barr discusses everything from evolution to the mind/soul debate to Big Bang cosmology to science-as-ersatz-religion, while gently skewering a few luminaries who begin to talk nonsense when they venture beyond their remit as scientists.

The Bible teaches that God impressed his intelligibility onto the world through creation by the Word. When that conviction weakens, faith in reason begins to crumble and the result is the intellectual playpen known as post-modernism. In renewing the covenant between faith and reason, the Society of Catholic Scientists serves the good of both—and of our culture.

By George Weigel and published in First Things on June 14, 2017 and can be found here.

 

Yessource: YesCon with Steve Howe in Cherry Hill on 7/18/87

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

 

 

Yesshow (Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman) Review (with pictures): 10/1/17 (Philadelphia, PA)

This post is the part of my Yes concert series of posts.  I started this series here and you can read the others here.

I saw the progressive rock band Yes (technically Yes featuring Anderson, Rabin, Wakeman) play a show at the at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia, PA on October 1, 2017 during the their An Evening of Yes Music and More Tour.  You can read more about this show here.

The line-up Yes(ARW) fielded that show was:

The set Yes(ARW) played was (the album from which the song comes is in parenthesis):

  • Overview:

This show was extremely similar to the last ARW show I saw, but with the set list shortened and only changed by a couple of songs, so I will not get into the long drawn out detail as I did before (if you want to read it all, then see here), and will instead only focus on highlights here and how it differed from the previous show.  In saying that, I will say that ARW still suffers from largely the same things that impaired it before: (1) it is not really a five piece band, it is a trio with a backing rhythm section; (2) while Pomeroy is a good bass player, his reduced stage presence and, more importantly, low in the mix sound and prominence fundamentally changes the music in a direction away from a traditional Yes sound (and not in a good way); (3) Wakeman’s playing seems safe; (4) the set list is also very safe; and, (5) as usual, Rabin’s playing of the Steve Howe material only serves to flatten out well crafted, multi-style, and melodic guitar lines into screaming wankery devoid of any subtly, style, or variation.

What changed?  Well first and foremost it seems Rabin has shaken off the rust I noted in my review of my prior ARW show (see here).  A year ago, Rabin’s voice was rough, his playing was stiff, and he seemed like he was struggling to play.  Well, if the 10/1/17 show is evidence of anything, it is that Rabin is back.  I am not sure if I can say that he is at the level he was at his 1980s prime, but he is still an excellent guitar player and singer.  Also, the last year of shows has led to an ARW that is very tight and on point.  The tempos are what the should be.  This made the whole show a lot more exciting, polished, and, frankly, head and shoulders above the show last year.  Everyone played really well and Anderson was in great voice.

  • Songs:

In terms of the songs, I note that in the 1990s “Rhythm of Love” featured a keyboard lick between the verses that is no longer present in the song.  “Southside of the Sky” was added to the set and was very good.  It did not have any sort of dueling solos at the end that Yes has done over the last 15 years or so, instead the band just plays the main riff in higher and higher registers until it ends.  The middle part involved multiple ways of singing the vocals; in other words, it was not just “lala” but also “gaga” and “dada” and other sorts of things.  Also, in this middle part, Rabin added some unnecessary chords played fairly quietly.  It did not add anything to the equation at all.  The bass and drums seemed more prominent in this section than in previous tours as well.  Anderson sings the lead during this portion instead of someone else (ala Chris Squire).  In addition to “Southside of the Sky,” the new songs this time around were “Changes” (always excellent) and “I am Waiting”  (which is a favorite of mine from Talk).  Both of these songs were played very well.  Unfortunately, their lack of strong vocal harmonies (due to the lack of Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood) substantially diminished the choir effect on “I am Waiting” in a live setting.  They unfortunately played the short version of “Roundabout,” which is my favorite part of the song.  Oh well.  On the bright side, it did include a reference to “Give Love Each Day” at the end.  The last song of the set, prior to the encore, was “Owner of a Lonely Heart” with “Make it Easy” as the introduction.  The end of “Owner” was a very long and extended jam which included a bass solo, drum solo, a recapitulation of “Make it Easy,” a cover of Cream‘s “Sunshine of Your Love,” and Rabin and Wakeman strolling through the audience (Wakeman using a keytar).  While Rabin and Wakeman walked through the crowd, Anderson and Pomeroy ran back and forth at angle on the stage.

  • Interesting instrumentation:

Anderson played guitar on “Changes” and “Rhythm of Love.”  The drummer also pitched in with the singing here and there and the bass player sang a lot more backing vocals than he did last year.  Rabin seems to stick to his normal vocal lines while Pomeroy and Molino fill in for Squire’s vocals.  For the new introduction to “Awaken” ARW plays (not unlike the “Flight Jam” of yore), Rabin assists on the drums.  Speaking of the introduction of “Awaken,” that was the only part of the show were I definitely heard backing tracks (or, perhaps, someone playing off stage).  There may have been similar backing tracks at the beginning of “Roundabout.”

  • Interesting Things:

Wakeman, of course, wore a glittery cape, as is his custom.  During the beginning of “And You And I,”  Wakeman’s minimoog (on the left side from the audience perspective) became defective.  His roadie, wearing headphones, came out and worked on it while Wakeman played the minimoog on the other side.  After the roadie finished, Wakeman played a minimoog line and then gave a polite golf clap to his roadie who was now off stage.

After “I am Waiting,” Rabin, without notice, suddenly scurried off stage to his right.  The rest of the band were preparing to play the next song and did not seem to notice until the last second.  Anderson appeared to say that Rabin had to “go to the loo” so, during the brief interim, Anderson invited Wakeman out from behind his keyboards to tell a joke to fill the time.  Wakeman, of course, was happy to oblige and told his joke about the $305 lady of the night.  Rabin was back before you knew it, to much laughter, and the show went on as normal.  What a fun little interlude!

Although Anderson had some pretty serious health problems a few years back, and is now in his mid-70s, I have to say that he seems youthful and tireless.  During the end jam of “Rhythm of Love,” he really upped the ante and started bouncing around while playing guitar, and even took to doing some rock star poses.  At the end of the song he indicted he was tired but said the show had to go on!  ARW has clearly energized him.

When the band emerged from back stage for the encore, Molino picked up Rabin’s guitar and Rabin sat on Molino’s drum stool and they, for a moment, faked playing the other’s instrument.  I am not sure if this was planned because it seemed to go on a little too long to the point where “Roundabout” started without Rabin and Anderson scat-sang the guitar intro to the song and, by the time Rabin was able to play it, Anderson just kept on scatting anyway.

  • Staging

The normal ARW staging was absent – due to venue rules – so the band merely had lights to accompany the music.  The venue, of course, was absolutely amazing, majestic, beautiful, and of perfect sound.  The wood violin shaped concert hall does not have bad seat in it with regard to sound quality.

  • Conclusion

While I am not sold on ARW as the “new Yes” or something, they are an excellent band and it is great hearing some Rabin material live.  They’re not a new Yes band to me because, first, they are not a true five-piece band and, second, the bass and backing vocals are far to weak to represent the Yes sound.  These problems can easily be corrected, however, and I suppose the studio album they have promised to record and release will reveal what sort of band they will be.  Anderson is in great voice, Wakeman never seems to diminish, and Rabin seems back to normal.  Too bad the rhythm section are secondary players and the backing vocals are on the weak side, as these elements really detract from ARW truly sounding like Yes (not to mention Rabin’s unimpressive interpretations of Howe’s lines).

  • Photographs:

Yessource: Jon & Vangelis Demos

Here are my latest uploads to YesSource, my Yes rarities youtube page (about which you can read here).  This post is another addition to my series of Yes music posts and a collection of all my Yes-related posts is here.  Yes, of course, is a, if not the, premier progressive rock band, and I am an enormous fan of it.

You can see all of my Yessource uploads here.

My latest YesSource uploads can be found here:

 

Alvin Plantinga’s Masterful Achievement

Every now and again I come across a fantastic article the warrants posting here; I recently came across one in First Things which, I thought, was pretty insightful. Be edified.

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When Alvin Plantinga was awarded this year’s Templeton Prize, he joined a host of other prominent winners, including Mother Teresa, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Michael Novak and Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. And just as their work has uplifted and influenced the world, through their various faiths and disciplines, so too has Plantinga’s. A committed Christian, within the Dutch Reformed tradition, and a renowned philosopher, Plantinga has changed the modern intellectual landscape, strengthening Christianity as a force within academia.

To appreciate his achievement, one should start by noting what Plantinga had to overcome. As Heather Templeton Dill said, announcing this year’s prize:

When Dr. Plantinga began his career in the late 1950’s, most academic philosophers deliberately rejected religiously informed philosophy. But early on, Dr. Plantinga defended a variety of arguments for the existence of God, marking the beginning of his efforts to put theistic belief back on the philosophical agenda.

Plantinga’s first important work, God and Other Minds, re-examined the classic arguments for and against God. It concluded that belief in the existence of God was rational, just as belief in other minds is. Arguments for the existence of other minds cannot be proven with certitude, yet most everyone accepts them as a given fact. Similarly, a religious believer’s personal encounter with the divine authorizes belief in a divine mind and creator—even if such a being cannot be strictly inferred from the secular world. Though these arguments sound simple, Plantinga worked them out with great intricacy and depth, and his book moved many skeptical minds toward belief.

His second major work, God, Freedom and Evil, proved even more consequential, as it dealt with the oft-heard objection that a good God is incompatible with a world filled with evil. Plantinga responded by asserting that this argument presumes, but does not establish, a contradiction between God and the existence of evil. Even an omnipotent and loving God would not create free creatures who would always choose to do good— for to ensure that, God would have to deprive them of genuine freedom (which includes the freedom to do wrong). Plantinga further maintained that the overriding value of human free will is a more-than-credible reason a benevolent God might have for allowing the existence of evil. The book was so well argued that it is still widely credited, even by non-believers, for successfully rebutting this particular charge against God’s existence.

In The Nature of Necessity, Plantinga continued his ground-breaking work, updating and expanding  St. Anselm’s famous  “ontological argument,” delivering another powerful reason for belief.

It is worth noting that in 1966, the year before Plantinga began his theistic trilogy, Time published its sensational cover story, “Is God Dead?” By 1980, however, the somewhat chastened magazine acknowledged he was not: “God is making a comeback Most intriguingly, this is happening not among theologians or ordinary believers—most of whom never accepted for a moment that he was in any serious trouble—but in the crisp, intellectual circles of academic philosophers, where the consensus had long banished the Almighty from fruitful discourse.” The man Time credited more than any other for this turnabout was “America’s leading orthodox Protestant philosopher of God, Alvin Plantinga.”

Soon after this, Plantinga began a new trilogy, culminating in what many consider his  masterpiece,Warranted Christian Belief, a 500- page tour de force in which he not only defended theism, but basic Christian theology and Holy Scripture against a wide range of determined critics.

More recently, Plantinga has turned his attention to the alleged conflict between science and religion,  answering the charge in Where the Conflict Really LiesIn it,  Plantinga turns the tables on anti-religious scientists, showing that while there is a serious conflict between evolution and naturalism (which excludes the supernatural), “there is a deep and massive consonance between theism and the scientific enterprise.” The book received a largely favorable review in The New York Review of Books, which described Plantinga as a “philosophically subtle and scientifically informed theist” who had made a “valuable contribution” to the subject. The praise was all the more remarkable given that Plantinga once wrote a devastating critique of philosopher Thomas Sheehan’s anti-Christian polemics, which the same New York Review of Books had promoted years before.

The rise of “new atheists” like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and the late Christopher Hitchens has not intimidated Plantinga in the least. He playfuly calls them the “four horsemen” of the atheist apocalypse, and in his latest book, Knowledge and Christian Belief, he exposes their inadequacies:

One might say they are more style than substance, except that there isn’t much by way of style either; their preferred  style seems to be less that of serious scholarly work than of pamphleteering and furious denunciation They blame everything short of bad weather and tooth decay on religion…Their style emphasizes venom, vitriol, vituperation, ridicule, insult and ‘naked contempt’; what’s missing, however, is cogent argument.

Yet some of the new atheists’ questions need answers, and these Plantinga provides,  not only in his books, but in his many lectures and “Closer to Truth” video series, which he made for inquiring minds. He also took part in a debate with Daniel Dennett, which Plantinga was widely believed to have won, on both substance and presentation.

When he received word that he had received his latest accolade, Plantinga, now 84, reacted with typical modesty:

I am honored to receive the Templeton Prize. The field of philosophy has transformed over the course of my career. If my work played a role in this transformation, I would be very pleased. I hope the news of the Prize will encourage young philosophers, especially those who bring Christian and theistic perspectives to bear on their work, towards greater creativity, integrity and boldness.

No need to worry about that. As Plantinga’s former student, Kelly James Clark, has said: “In the 1950’s there was not a single published defense of religious belief by a prominent philosopher; by the 1990’s there were literally hundreds of books and articles, from Yale to UCLA and from Oxford to Heidelberg, defending and developing the spiritual dimension. The difference between 1950 and 1990 is, quite simply, Alvin Plantinga.”

For sparking this global renaissance in Christian philosophy, among several new generations of Christians, Alvin Plantinga will be remembered and justly celebrated.

By William Doino Jr. and published in First Things on June 5, 2017 and can be found here.

 

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