The prize, which includes a monetary award of £1.1 million (approximately $1.4 million), recognizes a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works.
Plantinga has spent more than a half century making the case that theism — the belief in a divine reality — has a place within academic philosophy and contemporary science. His foundational achievements include his "free will defense" against the "argument from evil," which refutes the belief that evil cannot logically coexist with an omnipotent God by positing that because even an all-powerful God could not create free creatures who always choose good, an all-benevolent God could not stop evil without eliminating the still-greater good of free will. In "Reason and Belief in God" (1984), which disputes the "Classical Foundationalist account of knowledge" according to which beliefs are justified if and only if they can be justified by a chain of reasoning terminating in various types of self-evident beliefs, Plantinga contends that the set of foundational beliefs are much broader and include belief in the existence of God. That article became the launching point for his "Warrant Trilogy," a three-part examination of theistic belief. Since 2000, Plantinga's publications have largely focused on the relationship — and compatibility — of scientific and religious belief. In Where the Conflict Really Lies: Science, Religion, and Naturalism (2011), for instance, he asserts that the conflict is not between science and religion but between theism and naturalism — theism supports science while naturalism undermines it.
Plantinga is the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame, where he taught for twenty-eight years until retiring in 2010. Prior to that, he was a professor of philosophy from 1963 to 1982 at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In a career that has influenced three generations of philosophers, he has given more than two hundred and fifty public lectures, including more than thirty named lectureships, in the United States and Europe, as well as China, Iran, Israel, and Russia.
"Sometimes ideas come along that revolutionize the way we think, and those who create such breakthrough discoveries are the people we honor with the Templeton Prize," said Templeton Foundation president Heather Templeton Dill. "Alvin Plantinga recognized that not only did religious belief not conflict with serious philosophical work, but that it could make crucial contributions to addressing perennial problems in philosophy."