Excerpts from a presuppositionalist’s comments in response to an atheists blog post, Refuting presuppositional apologetics.
A: B, above, said the following: “The Christian, in asserting the Christian God as an explanation for induction, unfairly privileges his/her particular god without any justification or explanation – at least from presuppositional apologetics – about how the properties of god are known. How does the Christian know that a particular god – one which is active in human affairs, sent his son to die on a cross, and is concerned about the actions of humans – is responsible for or the explanation for induction?” Simple. Because this God revealed himself and revealed truths about the universe – that it is uniform, predictable, etc. Not only is that the only way such a god could be known, it is the only way anything could be known in any true sense. So it is not “without any justification or explanation” that the Christian claims his god is the one who did this, it is upon the highest possible authority, the one by whom all other claims to authority are to be judged. That is why the Christian is the only one who is not being arbitrary by making this kind of a claim. Many other religions deny a personal god that can reveal himself in this way, and thus god is ultimately unknowable by the standards of their own claims. Islam is commonly cited as an example of another worldview with a personal god who revealed himself, but Muhammad claimed the Quran was harmonious with the Old Testament and the Gospels. This created an insurmountable problem for him since the Bible says subsequent revelation must be judged by existing Scripture, and the Quran contradicts the Bible in numerous places (some quite embarrassing for the Muslim apologist).
B: “…this God revealed himself and revealed truths about the universe – that it is uniform, predictable, etc.”
How do you know this?
“Not only is that the only way such a god could be known, it is the only way anything could be known in any true sense.”
Why is God or belief in God necessary to know certain truths, for instance, such as “1+2=2?” Is knowledge or justified true belief impossible if God did not exist?
A: Thanks for responding. I know this, because it has been revealed. Yes, yes, that is the whole point, I assume it a priori, I presuppose it. As you presuppose certain things. But your presuppositons are arbitrary, and don’t supply the preconditions necessary to explain the universe as we experience it. The presupposition of the God who has revealed himself in the Bible is the necessary precondition to uniformity of nature or causality. We could not have this discussion if God did not exist. Second question. Answer: Yes. knowledge or justified true belief are impossible if God does not exist. Reason: The existence of God with the aforementioned transcendent characteristics is the precondition for intelligible thought or discussion. What are laws of mathematics? Can you accidentally step on one? What is a number? Not a numeral, mind you, but a number, such as “threeness”? These are not material things, and therefore shouldn’t exist in your universe. They are abstract, universal, objective, immaterial entities that allow for no exceptions. They are not properties of matter, and therefore cannot be “discovered” through science. They are not mere conventions of the human mind, else they would not be universally applicable. I could decide to live by different math, say, 2-2=4. I could then spend as much money as I wanted and it would keep increasing. Awesome! (BTW, did you mean ‘1+1=2’? Or are you using imaginary numbers?) So, balancing the checkbook wouldn’t work unless God exists. How do explain entities like these?
In my experience, every atheist assumes certain moral absolutes, even if they try to be consistent with their worldview and say that there are no moral absolutes. For example, they don’t want children indoctrinated with religion in school. Not just that THEY don’t want to be indoctrinated, or just don’t want THEIR children indoctrinated, but they don’t think ANYONE should be indoctrinated. Some will say whatever gives the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people the most of the time. What if we had a government that had a Christian majority, and there was also an overwhelming Christian majority in the population? The greatest happiness for them would be Christian indoctrination. But the one last atheist on earth would still think that was “wrong” and try to stop it or change it. What if they promised not to force it on the atheist or his family. Not good enough, most atheists would say. They have a sense that it is just wrong to force religious belief on anybody, ever. That is no longer opinion, that is assuming a universal ethic outside of and above everyone: “forced indoctrination is wrong”. If atheists didn’t believe in moral absolutes, nothing that happens would bother them as long as it didn’t affect them directly. They live as though there are universal (binding on all, allow for no exceptions), abstract (immaterial), objective laws of morality even if they deny there could be. And there is no basis for such entities in an atheistic, purely empirical universe. What atheists really mean when they say they believe in a version of the golden rule is, whatever the majority wants, as long as it also doesn’t conflict with what I want. BTW, it is arbitrary to choose the golden rule or any other proposed standard of ethics in an atheistic universe. The question is, who says? Why the golden rule? That makes sense to you. It doesn’t make sense to the child molester. His greatest happiness is in violating children. Not a big deal if we’re just animals. Who are you to say he shouldn’t? There is no basis for “should/should not” in the atheist worldview. Who are you to force your non-molestation moral on him? You may say it is better for society and ensures your own peace if he doesn’t molest. So what? Who are you to force your “better for society” moral on him? And he won’t have peace unless he molests. Do you want him to be able to force his moral on you the same way you would on him? You’re in real trouble if you are relying on the hope that a majority will always believe as you do. If the only ethic is the one forced on the minority by the majority, you shouldn’t be troubled. After all, there is no “wrong”, so why should you cling to your preferred beliefs so strongly? Why not just live and let (the aggressively proselytizing Christian and the rabid child molester/puppy eater) live, as long as they promise not to evangelize/molest/eat you? A TRULY consistent atheist would never try to force any kind of social change that the majority doesn’t want. Isn’t it just bullying if you try to change society to conform to your personal preferences? How narcissistic and base, to try to change the world to make sure it doesn’t threaten what you want in your tiny sphere of existence.
Reading through the comments, I see several straw men, and very little understanding of what presuppositionalists actually believe and teach. The basic argument is that only the Christian worldview is able to make sense of induction, laws of logic, science, mathematics, morality, etc. The reason it couldn’t just as easily be another god/force/alien is because of internal problems (inconsistencies, arbitrariness, etc.) with each of those other worldviews. This will only be seen upon individual examination of each worldview. The proof of God’s existence lies in the fact that without his self-revelation, it would be impossible to prove anything. Yes, we both presuppose things in order to argue. The difference is, my worldview allows me to posit that God revealed truth and created and maintains a uniform, predictable universe. The atheist has no justification for the uniformity, but assumes it because he can’t reason without it (as I also can’t). I think it is harder to see with induction, easier with laws of logic, and especially morality, where there is no basis for abstract, universal, objective, and immaterial entities like laws (that are not properties of matter) in an atheistic universe. What is a law? How can it be universal, much less binding? I have an answer beyond it simply being the collective opinion of a majority.
B: Really, is reading Bahnsen any more informative than my little demonstration of their circular logic? 😉
A: I don’t suppose you’d know, as it appears it isn’t important to you to actually READ those with whom you so sarcastically disagree. Bahnsen’s whole point is, ALL reasoning is circular. It MUST be. But we can account for that, and not in the childish way you attribute to Bahnsen. Atheists use inductive reasoning with abandon, but to do so is invalid if your worldview is unable to account for the uniformity of nature or the expectation of the future being like the past. You are not making a devastating point when you say the presuppositional approach is circular, and a supreme intellect that controls outcomes does explain the possibility of causation in a way you cannot. Here’s the problem: if the God I posit does exist (infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth), then you could only know what he wants you to know, not just about him, but about anything. And there would be no test you could subject him to in order to verify his existence, least of all empirical tests designed to measure aspects of material things, unless he chose to make himself detectable through those means. He, and any truth about the universe he has created, could be known only through his self-revelation, if he chose to reveal himself at all. Most atheists treat God as a material thing, that can’t exist if not proven scientifically, and as a flawed and finite thing, that can be judged and found lacking according to some “higher” standard of morality that exists only in the mind of the unbeliever. If God is who he says he is, there is no higher standard, and no right or wrong apart from him, so God cannot be judged as “immoral”. If there is no God, however, there is no way to know if the external world exists or is merely a dream or projection of your mind. Maybe you are projecting order on the chaos around you, and science itself is illusion. You can’t disprove this possibility. Thus there is no way of TRULY “knowing”, or of knowing whether you know. Hume saw this, and reached a point of frustration when he realized that reason cannot prove induction, and that you ultimately can’t “know” anything empirically, not even personal identity through time (that you are the same person that you see in your baby pictures). Without God, you can’t know anything. Thus God exists.