It is essential toappreciate the idea of noetic structure, in order to appropriately understandwhat Plantinga refers to as “basic” in this context. Plantinga does this bypresenting the epistemological philosophy of classical foundationalism, that iskept together by those of the Reformist objects, while defining what a noeticstructure is and how basic and non-basic beliefs interact with a noeticstructure.
He describes the classical foundationalist view as a clarificationof knowledge which places commitments and compulsions on the knower withrespect to what they believe. In his powerful 1980essay “Reformed Objection to NaturalTheology” Alvin Plantinga creates a focus on the certain epistemologicalphilosophy of “classical foundationalism” along with its seeming faults andachieves this through the perspective of Reformist Christian theologians HermannBavinck and John Calvin. He starts off by introducing the beliefs of Bavinckand Calvin on the epistemic perspective of Christians to agree on a belief inGod’s existence without having to provide to the types of arguments put forthin natural theology. The Reformist theologians argue that by displayingphilosophical arguments for God’s existence, the natural theologian leavesChristians inclined to the assumption that a strong belief in God can only comefrom reasoning and endless argumentation rather than acceptance. In particular,Calvin believed this to be a belief full of flaw and weakness and held thatChristians really had no need to use these arguments as the base of theirbeliefs for God.
Plantinga believes, “The reformers mean to say, fundamentally,that a belief in God can properly be taken as basic. That is, a person isentirely within his epistemic rights, entirely rational, in believing in God,even if he has no argument for this belief and does not believe it on the basisof any other beliefs he holds” (p.g 53). Through this, Plantinga is able toexplain and elaborate on his idea of what the Reformist objection to naturaltheology really is.