Sunday, February 12, 2012


My weekend reading and podcasting revolved around

Presuppositionalism is
a school of apologetics that presumes Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought
Now, I'll be go-to-heck ... I thought that this was just a presumption that most literal believers have, not a specific strain of literal believer and apologist.

Into the fray...

Starting at the beginning, we must presuppose that the individual thinking the thoughts that you (or I) am having at least exists. Absent any sense experience, this individual is like a newborn infant ... possessing no sense or recollection of the world, and as yet having made no attempts to interact with the world. Certainly, communication is not yet on the table ... until that first primal scream.

I'm not qualified to say whether a newborn, without any sense experience or interaction with the world, is capable of reasoning about itself ... but I presume that, absent interaction with the world, it cannot know the world exists ... so only it only knows that its self exists.

Consequently, to discuss things about the world, we must presuppose that 1) we exist as an individual, and 2) the world exists. From there, we gather sense experience, initially interpreting it through the physical and emotional filters that we have at birth, and soon thereafter, adding additional filters that we ourselves build based on our previous experiences and interpretations of these experiences, combined with changes to our physical and emotional underpinnings. This sounds like it could become a pretty complicated business, so I'll stop there.

I must ask ... what would cause an adult to presuppose that "Christian faith is the only basis for rational thought"? I'll purposely overuse the word "presuppose" - and say that I must presuppose (without any prior sense experience of the presuppositionalist world view) that a presuppositionalist is capable of and in fact, does accept a world view that does not correspond with the sense experience that the vast majority of sentient Earth beings have. That is to say ... events and concepts in the Bible do not appear to exist in the real world. Presuppositionalists may think they do, but the existence of the supernatural has never been credibly recorded. God - presumably the epitome of a supernatural being - is thus less likely to exist than the simpler conception of just dimensions, forces, matter or beings outside of nature.

Cutting to the chase, I understand presuppositionalists dispense with, or ignore, other arguments for the existence of God, and simply employ the Transcendental Argument for God ... to wit:

1. If there is no god, knowledge is not possible.
2. Knowledge is possible (or some other statement pertaining to logic or morality).

Therefore God exists.

The counter apologetics segment at Reasonable Doubt - incomplete as of this blog post - assumes that some counter apologetics strategy is effective (or maybe they're just steering the uninitiated away from bad strategies - only completion of the series can tell me). I will take a stab at it, however.

It seems that TAG fails in these ways:
  • It asserts without evidence that knowledge is only accessible through the god which the argument attempts to conclude
  • It asserts the existence of god - which then fulfills the knowledge-enabling capability.
We have both a false dilemma in the first premise, and a bare assertion in the second premise. In fact, you can say the first premise is 1) a false dilemma, 2) circular, 3) affirms the consequent.

There is no reason to think other ways of achieving knowledge do not exist and aren't more simple, elegant and probable.

There is no reason to accept the assertion that god exists under any circumstances ... especially in the absence of 1) valid and true arguments for god's existence; and 2) credible physical evidence. The availability of other, better, more credible explanations for natural entities and phenomena eliminates the necessity of God or any other unnatural agent.

Oh ... and did I mention "Presuppositionalism"? ;-D

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