Monday, February 18, 2013

The Presuppositional Procedure

My introduction to the world of presuppositional apologetics was courtesy of the Russell Glasser - Pastor Stephen Feinstein web debate on God last summer, and the on-going series of analyses of Feinstein’s posts by Deacon Duncan at Evangelical Realism.

Deacon and several of his commenters pointed out the possible presuppositionalist “script” that PSF might be following, and one or more mentioned “Bahnsen” as a purveyor of this script. A little nip of The Google later, and voila! Dr. Greg Bahnsen - student of Cornelius Van Til - and a leading proponent of presupp until his death in 1995. One of the first hits I got on The Google was this ”Presuppositional Procedure by Dr. Greg Bahnsen.

That’s. Really. Its. Title., although the existence of an actual script seemed a bit far-fetched when I first heard it mentioned, it appears that I was wrong. Please read the “procedure” article - it outlines the general approach to follow when delivering a presuppositional argument.

The point of this line of argument seems to ignore the whole ”establishing God’s existence” thing, and to focus on conceptual or philosophical topics in order to paint the Christian worldview as the “only basis for rational thought. It presupposes that the Bible is divine revelation and attempts to expose flaws in other worldviews“. To repeat myself: a somewhat surprising aspect of “presupp” is that it attempts to provide no reason for accepting that the proposition “God” exists in reality. I suppose this feature appeals to the lazier apologists, as they’re absolved of thinking about the subject.

A snarky aside: Pastor Feinstein seems to be the target demographic that presupp is intended to appeal to - he knew some five-dollar words; he seemed capable of using them in a grammatically correct way; he didn’t appear to notice that much of what he wrote didn’t make sense when read at the paragraph or post level; and he completely failed to do either of the two things that would have won him the debate: 1) establish the existence of God, or 2) establish that "atheism is untenable, irrational, and ultimately impossible" - as he had explicitly stated in his opening post. Oh - and he was able to retain his unwarranted sense of self-importance while delivering it. Win!

I won’t be able to restrain myself from diving into Van Til, Bahnsen and presuppositionalism a bit more. In the meantime, let me read up and attempt to “make sense” of this.

I know how to party!

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