Plantinga has long advocated the accommodationist position from the perspective of Christian apologetics. I bought his latest book, Where the Conflict Really Lies, because I'm interested in the conflict between science and religion.
I've been struggling for weeks with how to explain Plantinga's case. My problem was that I found the whole book quite ridiculous and it seemed to me that Plantina's idea of logic and rationality was much closer to kindergarten philosophy than to something one might expect from a distinguished scholar. I hesitated to say that out loud because it sounds very condescending coming from a scientist.
I had to be missing something. There must be some sophisticated philosophy in there somewhere and I just wasn't getting it. I couldn't post.
Now I don't have to. A very bright young philosopher from Belgium, Maarten Boudry, has reviewed the book at: International History, Philosophy and Science, Teaching Group NEWSLETTER. This is a head-to-head philosopher battle so nobody can accuse Boudry of being an outsider who doesn't get philosophy. It's an interesting review because Maarten doesn't seem to have gotten the message that Plantinga is a highly respected philosopher. I've had a few beers with Maarten at a pub in Gent (Belgium) and I can assure you that he's a formidable opponent. You don't want to argue with him unless you know what you're talking about.
I was pleased to see that Maarten's opinion of Plantinga's philosophy is very similar to mine. You really should read the whole review. Let me entice with a few excerpts.
Plantinga’s effort to stave off the conflict between theism and evolution is a failure. Either he is buying into creationist fantasies that have been put to rest long ago, or he is hammering on the excessively weak claim that it is logically and metaphysically possible that, all evidence to the contrary, evolution unfolds under supernatural guidance.1 But if the bar for rational belief is lowered to mere logical possibility, and the demand for positive evidence dropped, then no holds are barred. Evolution (or gravity, plate tectonics, lightning, for that matter) could as well be directed by space aliens, Zeus or the flying spaghetti monster. (I was going to include the devil in the list, but then it turns out that, on page 59, Plantinga has no qualms at all about treating the horned one as a serious explanation. There goes my reductio.) ...Why aren't there more philosophers who are willing to declare openly that the Emperor has no clothes?
Miracles are perfectly possible, Plantinga claims, because there is nothing that prevents God from suspending the natural order and intervening in the world. But even if we grant that supernatural intervention is logically possible, the conflict between science and religion strikes back with a vengeance: there is no empirical evidence for the supernatural that stands up to critical scrutiny, and plenty of failed attempts to find such evidence (Boudry, Blancke, & Braeckman, 2010; Dawkins, 2006; Fishman, 2009). But that mighty elephant in the room gets no attention from Plantinga, who instead belabors the logical possibility of miracles with a 60-page digression into the different interpretations of quantum physics and lots of fancy formalizations ... on the logical and conceptual problems plaguing divine intervention. At this point we’re no longer talking about a conflict between science and religion, but one between theology and more theology. ...
This is the philosophical equivalent of doing brain surgery with an axe....
The extensive use of logical trickery is one of the most irritating aspects of this book. At some point in chapter 3, Plantinga pretends to prove that determinism is “necessarily false”, but the formalization of determinism he starts out with is obviously wrong. The trick is pulled off with two nested conditionals in the first premise: at that point, the rabbit is already smuggled in the hat, and what follows is just formalistic window dressing. Formalization can be a means to provide clarity and rigor to an argument, and thus to enhance a philosophical debate. Alas, it can also be misused as a rhetorical ploy to disguise non-sequiturs under a tapestry of symbols. This is analytic philosophy at its worst.
The upshot of the argument in this book, according to Plantinga, is that theism is “vastly more hospitable to science than naturalism” and that this belief in an invisible creator “deserves to be called ‘the scientific worldview’” (no worries about “metaphysical add-ons” this time). This is sheer rhetorical bluster. Naturalism emerges unscathed from Plantinga’s attack, and he has done nothing that comes even close of averting the conflict between science and religion. This book will not impress anyone except those who were already convinced that science and religion can live in peaceful harmony, and even in those accommodationist quarters, it seems to have put some people off (Ruse, 2012). If this is the best that sophisticated defenders of theism can come up with, God is in very dire straits indeed.