Ultimate Reference Point

A Discussion on proximate reference points and ultimate reference points on Choosing Hats  post

Shizm00: [ If your opponent says something like “you are in the same boat as I am” or “we all suffer the same limitations” or “just because I don’t have an answer, it doesn’t mean God exists”, then you have likely failed in presenting the Christian Worldview. Why? Because the Christian worldview, if true, would answer these complaints before they were ever made.]

And how exactly are you not in the same boat seeing as we all are forced to be the initial starting/reference point. Your Christian worldview doesn’t escape Sye Ten’s “You could be strapped face down to a bed in a pysch ward” mantra he loves to spew. Before you come to knowledge of God, read the Bible, etc.. you have to assume this reality is real in the first place and your reasoning/senses/revelation is accurate. Even in Heaven you can’t avoid this problem. So even if your Christian worldview can account for everything, it only accounts for the reality you experience that you have yet to proven real.

BK:

Hey Shizm00.

// And how exactly are you not in the same boat seeing as we all are forced to be the initial starting/reference point.

Because in the Christian worldview we are not the *ultimate* reference point.

Look, we both assume a number of things about reality – lots of things as a matter of fact. We assume reality is real and that we aren’t strapped face-down in a psych ward, etc, etc. I think it is *right* for *all* of us to be naive realists (as we basically all are). I believe this *because* of what I *ultimately* believe about reality. I believe that, because the Christian conception of reality is true, then we are justified in holding to these other “assumptions” that we hold to.

// Before you come to knowledge of God, read the Bible, etc.. you have to assume this reality is real in the first place and your reasoning/senses/revelation is accurate. Even in Heaven you can’t avoid this problem.

Yes, you are right. We *do* have to assume this reality is real, and that our reasoning/senses/memory/etc are generally accurate. It is *proper* for both Christians and non-Christians to assume this. However, the argument here is that only Christians have a *worldview* (i.e. a more ultimate set of beliefs) that – *if true* – could account for these other assumptions. The reason, I would argue, that it is *proper* for us to assume these things is *because* Christian Theism is true; it is because reality is what the Bible says it is. It is because God is the creator, is sovereign (in control), has created us for the purpose of bringing him glory, and that the *means* he chose to use is through our reasoning/senses/memory/etc. In that sense, my *ultimate* reference point is different from that of the (professing) unbeliever. In that sense, what sits “behind” these other assumptions about reality is very, very different for me than for the (professing) unbeliever.

// So even if your Christian worldview can account for everything, it only accounts for the reality you experience that you have yet to proven real.

*IF* the Christian worldview accounts for everything, then everything is (generally) what I think it is – that is, the reality I think I am experiencing is probably pretty close to the “real” reality.

Why? Because in order for the Christian Worldview to account for anything, its description of reality must be true. If wasn’t true, it would not be able to account for anything whatsoever. If Biblical Christian Theism (BCT) were true, then I would expect *exactly* what I seem to experience (in terms of the seeming validity of my senses/reasoning/etc.)

Shizm00: So it doesn’t bother you that your worldview rests on uncertainty from unjustified assumptions just like the non-christian? Sure you may have the best explanation and its possible to stumble upon truth from fallacious reasoning, but you have no rational warrant to believe or know its true.

BK: Are you a Christian, Shizm00? Or are you a (professing) unbeliever? I ask, because you seem to have admitted two very interesting facts:

1. The non-Christian worldview rests on uncertainty from unjustified assumptions.
2. The Christian worldview has the best explanation for experience.

Shizm00: Christian, but this whole notion of Sye and his absolute certainty which I assume the people at choosinghats hold to as well, doesn’t seem to flesh out. How can one have complete certainty such as Sye claims when we are forced into initial unjustified assumptions? Even in a 2009 article here Chris Bolt says: “There are many truth claims we have no choice but to accept upon pain of irrationality. One such truth claim is that God exists.” Of course as I posted previously, it may be the best explanation, but it rests on that initial uncertainty.

BK:

// Christian, but this whole notion of Sye and his absolute certainty which I assume the people at choosinghats hold to as well, doesn’t seem to flesh out.

I think we need to talk about what we believe here at Choosing Hats independently of what Sye has said he believes. It’s no secret that we don’t use exactly the same method that he does, even though we both claim the name “presuppositionalist.”

Regardless, we would state that all people know, with certainty, that God exists.

// How can one have complete certainty such as Sye claims when we are forced into initial unjustified assumptions?

Let me make two points in response to this.

First, all of mankind knows God exists. They don’t know he exists as the result of some argument put forth by an apologist. They don’t know he exists after considering a series of propositions. They know he exists because he revealed himself so clearly to them that they are without excuse. This (culpable) knowledge is what makes them responsible before God.

Second, Presuppers do put forth arguments for the existence of God. But *any* argument that *anyone* makes is always made from within the context of some set of basic assumptions. Neutrality is not possible. “Pure” proof isn’t available. And so, the question becomes “what is the right set of assumptions?”

This is where people get hung up, because the natural desire is to rid oneself of *all* assumptions in order to come to an “objective” conclusion. The thing is, it can’t be done. The continual desire to make an assumption-less argument is what drives people batty. It’s what drives some Presuppers to come up with things like Fristianity. It’s impossible, and ultimately unbiblical to even attempt it. It is the recognition of this that (hopefully) sets apart Presupp from other apologetic methods.

This doesn’t mean there is no proof available – it simply means there is no proof available outside of some set of presuppositions. Whether those presuppositions are unjustified (as you put it) or not depends entirely on what you mean by “unjustified”. If what you mean is that any presupposition that is not first proven to be true is unjustified, then yes, Christian presuppositions are “unjustified” in that sense. Then again, so is every other presupposition or axiom or whatever you want to call them. A presupposition is, by definition, something that is not *already* justified. This doesn’t mean no proof is available, it just means no *neutral* proof is available (in fact, the very idea of such a thing is irrational).

// Even in a 2009 article here Chris Bolt says: “There are many truth claims we have no choice but to accept upon pain of irrationality. One such truth claim is that God exists.” Of course as I posted previously, it may be the best explanation, but it rests on that initial uncertainty.

A couple thoughts on this as well.

First, the claim is not merely that it is the best explanation – the Presupper claim is that it is the only explanation (where “explanation” is taken to mean the ability to account for the intelligibility of experience).

Second, I think we should clarify what is meant by “initial uncertainty”. In one sense of the phrase “initial uncertainty”, there is no uncertainty as we all know for certain that God exists. However, in another sense, there is this initial uncertainty as it pertains to laying out an apologetic. However, the argument is that the Presuppers argument (TAG) can also provide certainty by arguing from the impossibility of the contrary. I realize not everyone is convinced that TAG accomplished what Presuppers claim it accomplishes, but hey, that’s why this website exists!

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