Getting A Handle on Manata's Evidentialism
In his blog entry entitled “A Brief Presuppositional Analysis of Islam,” Paul Manata takes aim at a competing brand of theism for his arguments, rather than atheism. He does so presumably to dispel the criticisms of the TAG which show that, at best, it provides proof for the existence of a personal deity, but not necessarily the Christian god.
Manata delves into an “internal critique” of the Muslim worldview, with the intent of showing it to be contradictory, and thus incorrect. All things being equal, Manata has actually made a quite forceful argument for the inconsistency of Islam, to his credit. But I find it fascinating that Manata has begrudgingly admitted that the presuppositional approach “has a hard time critiquing a religion with a personal sovereign God and a revealed word to mankind.” From his following arguments, Manata seems to make it clear that not only does presuppositionalism have a “hard time,” but it is virtually useless, since he uses exclusively evidentialist tactics. Acknowledging his about-face in apologetic methodology, Manata belatedly insists that “we must do away with the myth that a presuppositionalist cannot appeal to evidences. We can appeal to the facts of history to embarrass our opponents.”
But here the “facts of history” seem to be confined to textual criticism of the Koran. His main thrust is establishing the Muslim contention that the Koran and Bible are as one, followed by showing direct contradictions between the two works of scripture. Some of Manata’s contradictions seem to be fair, others more spurious (not being aware that Miriam and Mary are the same name is a slight mistake, admittedly). I’m not interested in presenting the Muslim rebuttal- there is one, undoubtedly, and it likely uses the same kinds of ‘harmonizations’ that drive atheists mad with frustration- but I am interested in pointing out the opening that Manata has allowed by attacking using evidentialist apologetics.
One of the inspirations for the title of this blog is the phrase, “What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,” which can be applied to any situation in which the arguments of the theist can be used against him. In this case, since Manata has made the argument that Islam is false because of contradictions within its sacred scriptures, then we are fully justified in making the same argument against Christianity.
I don’t intend to publish a list of contradictions here- there are far too many for this blog to document. But a cursory search of material published in print and on the Internet should give you any number of contradictions within the Bible. I’ve included a few links at the end of this post- these represent just a sample.
What I do want to get across, however, is that apparently the philosophers here have been wasting their time battling presuppositionalism- when his back is up to the wall, Manata becomes a willing evidentialist.