Thursday, February 28, 2013

Getting to the point?

I wasn’t sure where Dr. Greg Bahnsen was going with his Presuppositional Procedure after reading the first few paragraphs. This vague outline does not seem to lend any insights that couldn't have been gleaned from Cornelius Van Til - making Bahnsen a non-value-added middleman.

Have a read:

The issue is not what the unbeliever can do intellectually, but whether he can give an account of it (epistemologically) within the worldview he has advocated or espoused. Because all autonomous perspectives take man’s interpretation of the world to be “original”-to be the primary ordering of particulars or “rationalizing” (making systematic sense out of) the brute facts, it puts man at the center of the knowing process-and pays the price for doing so by slipping in subjectivism and skepticism ultimately (when consistent and driven to the logical outcome of his presuppositions).

The phrase “slipping in subjectivism and skepticism” set off mental klaxon horns, since accusations of subjectivism and relativism are thrown about by true believers as if these were the vilest allegations that can be made. I get the feeling that some folks really need religion in order to provide certainty and order, but that’s a topic for another time.

Dr. Bahnsen immediately offers a solution to the heartbreak of subjectivism:

The only alternative-the Christian worldview-places the creative and providential activity of the Triune God “back of” all of man’s experiences and intellectual efforts, thereby solving the fundamental problems of epistemology which leave the unbelieving critic nowhere to stand. Only Christianity can account for or make sense of the intellectual accomplishments of the unbeliever. The critic of the faith has been secretly presupposing the truth of the faith even as he argues against it; his own arguments would be, upon analysis, meaningless unless they were wrong and Christian theism were true.

This might impress you, if it weren’t for the gaping absence of evidence that the doctor deftly avoids mentioning.

Bahnsen spends the rest of the essay singing the praises of Cornelius Van Til, which tends to raise the question of what Bahnsen adds to the field. I’m not sure I see anything notable, but there are other articles at the Grace Online Library - Presuppositionalism page that might shed some light on this obtuse apologetic approach.

The point of the essay is Bahnsen reminding us that Van Til says that the apologist should point out that the atheist world view has no basis for intelligibility without God, and that the Christian worldview (not a generic theistic one, but a specifically Christian one) does.

Is that even a point?

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