If you have some awareness of the interlinked debates on theology, philosophy, science, and apologetics you should have heard the names William Lane Craig, Alvin Plantinga, and J.P Moreland. But if you haven’t then here is some interesting stuff to know. According to the website The Best Schools with its comprehensive academic ranking system, Craig, Moreland, and Plantinga are listed among the The 50 Most Influential Living Philosophers (11th, 29th, and 35th respectively). Peter van Inwagen, a Christian philosopher and specialist in the philosophy of religion, is also listed and comes in at 47.
That theistic philosophers find some representation alongside the best in the world is particularly significant because Christianity, and theism broadly, has little representation within contemporary western philosophy (+-17%). Contemporary western philosophy is a unique beast in that it is dominated by atheism which enjoys a 72.8% majority. Theism, and belief in God or gods, however, enjoys a far greater representation in the sciences and other professional disciplines (economics, sociology etc.). Given these statistics it is not particularly surprising, however, that a number of well-known atheists make the list too. Philosophers Simon Blackburd, Daniel Dennett, Darwinian skeptic Thomas Nagel, and ethicist Peter Singer constitute the vanguard for contemporary atheism.
Where credentials are concerned the theistic philosophers are on par with the best. Christian philosopher J.P Moreland, for instance, holds the title of Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University in La Miranda California and is a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center on Culture and Civil Society at the Independent Institute. His scholarly work combines metaphysics, philosophy of mind, chemistry, and theology, and he is known for his defense of the existence of God and the supernatural. He has penned a number of books on philosophy and apologetics.
Alvin Plantinga is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Notre Dame and Calvin College, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, has delivered the Gifford Lectures twice, and is the 2017 recipient of the Templeton Prize. His work blends epistemology, metaphysics, and the philosophy of religion. He is a widely regarded apologist within the apologetic community, and largely focuses on the existence and nature of God. His view and thoughts are best engaged in his books God and Other Minds (1967), The Nature of Necessity (1974), and Warranted Christian Belief (2000).
Peter van Inwagen earned his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, New York in 1969, and holds the title of John Cardinal O’Hara Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Van Inwagen is notable for his work in metaphysics, philosophy of religion, the problem of free will, and was the President of the Society of Christian Philosophers from 2010 to 2013. He is arguably best known for arguing in favour of an incompatibalist understanding of free will. van Inwagen has also been influential in re-popularizing metaphysical libertarianism (not the same as the political theory) as an alternative view, arguing that free will is real, and so determinism is false.
Ranked at 11th and therefore the highest of the theistic philosophers is William Lane Craig. Craig, currently the Research Professor of Philosophy (Talbot School of Theology) and Professor of Philosophy (Houston Baptist University). He has earned two M.A.s at divinity school, and then his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Birmingham, England in 1977. He also has a doctorate in theology from the Universität München in Germany in 1984. Craig has a large following within theistic circles and is arguably the world’s leading Christian apologist. He has formally debated top level Muslims, atheists, and agnostics widely across the globe. A website has even been created dedicated to him alone, hoping to debunk his arguments and views. The latter being a testament to the influence Craig has had in the atheism-theism debate. He is also knowing to be the leading authority on the cosmological arguments for God’s existence, and has used a number of other theological arguments in his writings and debates. Readers should really access his book Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics (1994), and his personal website for some of the more robust defenses of God and Christianity in our contemporary setting.
There are other names of theistic philosophers that theists should look up including the likes of John Lennox, Richard Swinburne, Edward Feser, Paul Copan, Peter Kreeft, and Nancey Murphy.