A Comparative Analysis of Divine Action Methodologies in the Works of Robert John Russell and Alvin Plantinga
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ABSTRACT A COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF DIVINE ACTION METHODOLOGIES IN THE WORKS OF ROBERT JOHN RUSSELL AND ALVIN PLANTINGA John Paul Wilkinson, Ph.D. The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2015 Chair: Theodore James Cabal This dissertation explores the relationship of epistemology to special divine action theory. Chapter 1 sets the goals, parameters, and outline of the research program. Attention is given to why Robert John Russell and Alvin Plantinga were ideal candidates for this analysis. Chapter 2 gives a brief biography of each thinker. Chapter 3 highlights those theological beliefs common to Russell and Plantinga which have a direct relationship to divine action theory. Each scholar's view of God's aseity, God's general action, and God's specific action in the historical resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth is presented. Chapter 4 describes each scholar's philosophy of science. Their understanding of natural law, Newtonian and quantum mechanics, methodological naturalism, interventionism, and the general relationship of theology to science are presented. Chapter 5 demonstrates the general epistemology of each thinker with special emphasis given to whether theological beliefs constrain scientific beliefs or if scientific beliefs constrain theological beliefs. This chapter also describes each thinker's understanding of basic beliefs and how they relate to theology and science. Chapter 6 sets forth the divine action theory of Russell and Plantinga. Included in the chapter are their reasoning for locating divine action in quantum theory and their responses to various problems with their models. John Saunders provides the critique for both Russell and Plantinga. Chapter 7 is the comparative analysis between Russell and Plantinga. After showing that they have a similar theology and philosophy of science, the chapter presents their epistemological decisions which directly affect their divine action theory. Chapter 8 is a brief conclusion of the work with suggestions for further research. The research demonstrates that because of Russell's epistemological understanding of science constraining theology and Plantinga's understanding of theology constraining science derived from their understanding of basic beliefs, methodological naturalism, and their goal for the science/theology relationship, they diverged when choosing which particular quantum collapse theory to follow.