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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

The Shadow of Presuppositionalism

Presuppositionalism, as a systematic method of Christian apologetics, is a relatively novel phenomenon (so much for the "new is better" fallacy). But presuppositionalist premises and assumptions cast a long shadow on most of the common arguments for Christianity. The errors of Plantinga, Bahnsen and Van Til are not new but in fact derive from very old errors which are easily observed.

1. Some cosmological arguments - such as the Argument from Change or the Argument from Contingency - assume that a self-contained universe is incapable of effecting a system in a state of change or contingency. More simply, that the existence of the material alone cannot account in some way for its own properties, and that the materialist cannot justify the existence of change or contingency.

The proper materialist answer is to point out that the universe, as the First Cause, does not require justification for its own nature, any more than God as the First Cause could justify its own nature. The Kalâm Argument, on the other hand, presupposes that the universe is not suitable as a First Cause because the material cannot be uncaused. Quantum mechanics has disproven this presupposition, making the point invalid.

2. Arguments from Design are pretty straightforward presuppositionalism, applied to nature. We cannot account for the "design" in nature - usually simple-mindedly expressed as "complexity" - therefore materialism is bankrupt.

Of course, they have no idea how actual scientists and detectives determine design, but they think there is design in the universe's complexity because "random processes" cannot create complexity. There is no such thing as "random processes" in science, but that doesn't stop Christans, who can't think beyond first-level order.

3. Some other arguments, like the Argument from Consciousness or the Moral Argument, are direct presuppositionalist arguments. Materialism cannot account for consciousness or morality, therefore God exists.

Same for many arguments based on emotionalism. The most common of these is the idea that God exists because of life-changing experiences - based on the implicit premise that material facts cannot produce life-changing experiences. And so on.

4. Arguments from the Bible also sometimes use presuppositionalist premises, especially when they point out features of the Bible. "Look how many books it has ! Look how consistent it is ! Well, forget about the contradictions and the different topics of different books... it's consistent ! Trust me ! And its words have been preserved throughout the centuries. Only God could write this book !"

Funnily enough, man assembled the book, according to his own doctrine. It makes you wonder how much worse it was BEFORE they took out the worst parts !

Is the Bible, the best-selling book in the world, also the most anti-scientific, immoral, ignorant book ever written ? Perhaps there is a god after all : by all standards of reason, it should have been thrown away to the dustbin of history a long time ago. But mythology dies hard...

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19 Comments:

At 3/30/2005 10:04 AM, Blogger Bahnsen Burner declaimed...

Franc asks: "Is the Bible, the best-selling book in the world, also the most anti-scientific, immoral, ignorant book ever written ?"

If there's worse, the bible most likely inspired it.

By the way, Franc, speaking of inspiration, you and Zach inspired me! (Which is a good thing.) Check out my new blog:

Incinerating Presuppositionalism

 
At 3/30/2005 10:44 AM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

The ethical argument is our best one.

If naturalistic determinist is true, then your entire blog has no universal meaning. It is, simply the verbal result of what you had for breakfast. So, you will never be able to have a decisive absolute argument against any other world view, because, according to you, there is no soul, and the material substance of other peoples brains are spewing out different opinions about these things. So really, who cares ? ? You are wasting your time arguing about it. Unless of course you want to be the ruler of the world and enforce your opinions over and above the so-called mythological ones of Christianity.

If everyones thoughts are chemical reactions in their brains based on evironment and diet then how can ther possibly be any universal truth ? ?

The best you can hope for ethically as an atheist is a presumed fixed body of accepted norms within a given group, or society. Your laws then, should be some aspect of the cosmic "order".

Well, then why should your stomach turn inside if you see a man beating a child with a baseball bat ? Some animals eat their own.

Without transcendent law, human experience is meaningless and ulitmately a hedonistic excercise.

Even Sartre said as much, "No finite point has meaning without an infinite reference point"

 
At 3/30/2005 10:53 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Mark-

You must have missed Franc's post on the Three Types of Order.

 
At 3/30/2005 10:59 AM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

Very well then, how does stealing, adultry, or murder find justification within emergentism ??

Your alledged anser is the same as mine:

* Libertarianism and capitalism (individuals interacting peacefully with each other to fulfill their self-interest and bring about social and economic progress)

Mine: (The best you can hope for ethically as an atheist is a presumed fixed body of accepted norms within a given group, or society. Your laws then, should be some aspect of the cosmic "order".)

So once again, what would be wrong with a society of people who all agree to beget and utilize children as a food source ? ??

 
At 3/30/2005 11:28 AM, Blogger Zachary Moore declaimed...

Objective Morality

 
At 3/30/2005 11:50 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

Mark,

Check it out

http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/03/zach-moores-failed-attempt-at.html

 
At 3/30/2005 11:52 AM, Blogger Paul Manata declaimed...

see above,
after that check this out

http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2005/03/moores-pity.html

 
At 3/30/2005 1:04 PM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

Paul, got any info on the difference between Aquinas and Aristotle on ontology compared to presuppositionalism ? ?

Trying to determine the difference between Van Til and the classical approach.

 
At 3/30/2005 8:49 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Bahnsen Burner : I didn't know you had a blog. Good going ! I'll have to read it. I sent you an email on this.

Interesting post from Mark here. Let me answer.


"Mine: (The best you can hope for ethically as an atheist is a presumed fixed body of accepted norms within a given group, or society. Your laws then, should be some aspect of the cosmic "order".)"

Wrong. You are confusing atheists with theists (as usual). Atheists find morality in the laws of causality (which are objective and emergent) as they apply to their actions. Since the theist cannot use causality, he is stuck imitating atheistic principles.


"So once again, what would be wrong with a society of people who all agree to beget and utilize children as a food source ? ??"

I don't know, but I do know the Bible has child sacrifice in it. So apparently your answer should be "not much". As for the reality-based view, well, apparently you see the objections as clearly as we do.

 
At 3/31/2005 11:15 AM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

Franc says: You are confusing atheists with theists (as usual). Atheists find morality in the laws of causality (which are objective and emergent) as they apply to their actions. Since the theist cannot use causality, he is stuck imitating atheistic principles.


An atheist cannot even use the word objective. Because, there is no reference point outside the seeming uniformity of natural causes. In other words, his system is closed. And collective subjective presuppositions and/or empyrical observations are still not objective.

Objectivity only exists if a transcendent being reveals its subjective will to the finite being in a way the finite being can subjectively understand it.

If you are an atheist, you have no objective standard to judge anything by. You do not even know if this phenomenological realm you perceive yourself to be part of is real or maya . . . your dream or someone elses.

It is time to wake up from that dream and embrace the only deity that bridges the gap between the universals and particulars, the Triune God.

 
At 3/31/2005 6:54 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"An atheist cannot even use the word objective. Because, there is no reference point outside the seeming uniformity of natural causes. In other words, his system is closed."

Was there some kind of deduction here, or are you just making non sequiturs ?


"Objectivity only exists if a transcendent being reveals its subjective will to the finite being in a way the finite being can subjectively understand it."

LOL ! Subjective + subjective = objective ? Is this like the doctrine of the Trinity, where 1+1+1=3 ?

Mark, no magic trick will turn your god's subjectivity and yours into a magical objectivity. Only rational knowledge in a self-contained universe.


"If you are an atheist, you have no objective standard to judge anything by."

Yes I do. The standards of reason and reality.


"You do not even know if this phenomenological realm you perceive yourself to be part of is real or maya"

Unless you have evidence for your absurd claims, we have no reason to accept them.


"It is time to wake up from that dream and embrace the only deity that bridges the gap between the universals and particulars, the Triune God."

Your god is Induction ? That's a brand of pantheism I never heard about before.

Mark, you clown, when are you going to get out of your subjective universe and accept the primacy of existence ?

 
At 3/31/2005 8:16 PM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

Wow, I have not once leveled a personal attack against you. Yet you have called me an idiot and a clown. Are you feeling ok ? ? ?

If all your science and reason are material, and there is no soul, then there is no universality. Because all ideas are contingent upon the states of matter, and the infinite permutations of material combinations. So, where can the universal objective law or reason sustain itself in an ever changing flux of chemical reactions.

Unless you assume it is static, and systematic and reliable. . . hmmm. But that would take more faith than believing in a God. I must commend you on your faith then.

 
At 3/31/2005 9:26 PM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Oh whiner. You're the presup posting on an atheist blog.


"Because all ideas are contingent upon the states of matter, and the infinite permutations of material combinations."

No they're not. They're contingent on my moral will and its use of rationality. Both things you don't have.


"Unless you assume it is static, and systematic and reliable. . . hmmm. But that would take more faith than believing in a God."

I can perceive my own rationality. I don't perceive God. Try again, clown.

 
At 3/31/2005 10:28 PM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

You replied to my statement of:

"Because all ideas are contingent upon the states of matter, and the infinite permutations of material combinations."


With this:

No they're not. They're contingent on my moral will and its use of rationality. Both things you don't have.


---------------------------------
My argument was using your maxim that there is no such thing as "immaterial concepts". Yet, in your answer above you say no they are not ? ? ? So you admit that moral will and rationality are immaterial then ? ? Which is it ? ?

Wow, sounds like you believe in a soul after all . . . .

Otherwise . . .thoughts are biochemical reactions in the brain . . . and I am right. Millions of biochemical reactions pooled together writing books still do not make an objective reality, since, through evolution, or punctuated equilibrium, at any given point in time, those biochemical reactions, and the whole fabric of dna itself, may radically change. So even your concept of truth, our the collective consensus of human minds on what is true, is contingent upon the electro chemical makeup of the cerebral cortex of the current evolutionary state of homo-sapiens.

Thus, totally subjective, and unequivocally, categorically, unilaterally, and universally useless. Life then is ultimately meaningless interruption in an otherwise peaceful nonexistence.

Macbeth was right when he said to Seyton:

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow; a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."

 
At 4/01/2005 6:18 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"My argument was using your maxim that there is no such thing as "immaterial concepts". Yet, in your answer above you say no they are not ? ? ?"

I don't know where you learned english, but saying that I have a moral will and that I can reason with it, does not mean concepts are immaterial. They are both material. Try again.


"So even your concept of truth, our the collective consensus of human minds on what is true, is contingent upon the electro chemical makeup of the cerebral cortex of the current evolutionary state of homo-sapiens."

No it's not. The truth-value of my propositions depends on my capacity to reason, not on the fact that I have neurons. Meaning does not depend on substrate. Try again, this time without the stupid denial of my moral will.

 
At 4/01/2005 8:07 AM, Blogger Mark Kodak declaimed...

Let me simplify this for you.

My ethics:

1. God says x is right.

Your ethics:

2. I like x, therefore x is right.

Or:

3. Society likes x therfore x is right. (Merely an expansion of yours based on consensus).

Ok, so with those three, which one allows for ultimate meaning and universal truth ? ?

You are the first atheist whom I have spoken with that does not agree with Nietzsche, Sartre, and all the rest, that man is left alone to make his own meaning and purpose.

 
At 4/01/2005 8:26 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

"Let me simplify this for you."

You're pretty simple already !


"My ethics:
1. God says x is right."

Thus you admit your morality is subjective. Thank you.


"Your ethics:
2. I like x, therefore x is right."

Nope. You are confusing me with a hedonist. I am an Objectivist.


"Or:
3. Society likes x therfore x is right. (Merely an expansion of yours based on consensus)."

Nope, not utilitarian either.

Once you're done straw maning me, can you get your head out of your ass and actually address the points at hand ?

 
At 4/01/2005 8:28 AM, Blogger Francois Tremblay declaimed...

Of course, you *could* have read my post "Values and Materialism", where I state clearly that rational values are based on the facts of causality, not feeling or society, but I doubt you're intelligent enough to understand big words like "causality".

 
At 8/16/2010 3:24 AM, Blogger ming declaimed...

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