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Evolution vs. Atheism Topic of September 21 Mary Olive Woods Lecture

September 14, 2006

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MACOMB, IL - - “Evolution vs. Atheism” is the focus of Western Illinois University’s Thursday, Sept. 21 Mary Olive Woods Lecture by Alvin Plantinga, who is the John A. O’Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. The 7:30 p.m. lecture in the University Union Sandburg Theatre, and reception which will follow in the Sandburg Lounge, is open free to the public.

Plantinga – whose research areas include philosophy of religion, metaphysics and epistemology (theory of knowledge) – is considered by many to be the most important Christian philosopher of the past 40 years, according to Gordon Pettit, WIU associate philosophy professor who studied with Plantinga at Notre Dame. His work has had a significant influence on many philosophers, theists and atheists alike.

“Professor Plantinga is one of the most influential philosophers of our time, yet he strives to address issues that are signifcant for a wide audience. He is adept at mixing humor and lively illustrations in order to develop his argument,” Pettit said. “Not everyone will agree with his philosophical position, but nearly all will find his views intriguing.”

Platinga has authored or edited more than a dozen books, including “God and Other Minds” (1967), “The Nature of Necessity” (1974), “Does God Have a Nature?” (1980) and a trilogy on warrant concluding with “Warranted Christian Belief” (2000). He has presented papers on six world continents, and some of his work has been translated into Dutch, Russian, Spanish, Polish, Italian, Romanian, Chinese and Japanese.

The renowned scholar has been a Gugenheim Fellow as well as a Fellow with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Council of Learned Societies and the National Endowment of the Humanities. He has been the Gifford Lecturer (1988, 2005), one of the most prestigious honors in the field of the humanities; and has been honored as a lecturer at Wheaton, Ohio State, Fordham, Oklahoma, Saint Louis, Princeton and Oxford among others. He also has been a visiting professor at Yale, Illinois, Harvard, Chicago, Michigan, Boston University, Indiana, UCLA, Syracuse and Arizona.

Plantinga served as president of the central division of the American Philosophical Association and was one of the organizers and an early president of the Society of Christian Philosophers. He received his A.B. degree from Calvin College, his M.A. from the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. from Yale.

The annual Woods Lecture is sponsored by the department of philosophy and religious studies in conjunction with the 1987 trust fund of Mary Olive Woods. The Woods fund provides up to eight student scholarships each year in addition to the annual lecture presentation.

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