Mike A. Robinson, is a prolific apologetics author and blogger at ( http://thelordgodexists.com/). He is also a pastor and teacher at Christ Covenant School, where he teaches apologetics, philosophy and biblical studies to average people. He has numerous books on apologetics available at (www.mikearobinson.com). He has agreed to this written interview about the practice of presuppositional apologetics. We hope that the material that is provided to you will assist you in your own apologetic endeavors!Mike, thank you for spending your time to be interviewed.
As a prolific writer and blogger, what are some notable contributions that you have made to the advancement of presuppositional apologetics?
First, I have aimed to make difficult concepts within presuppositional apologetics accessible, easy-to-understand, and user-friendly. As a pastor many of the church members I served complained about how hard it was to learn the presuppositional method—this motivated me to make the brilliant work of Van Til, Bahnsen, and others easy-to-understand for general Christians.
Secondly, I utilize previous presuppositional scholarship to analyze, critique, and refute false religions and cults in books and articles. I attempt to make inroads in these areas since presuppositional apologetics had not been sufficiently applied in refuting world religions.
Additionally, I wrote presuppositional apologetic books and articles to reach and teach children the truth that Van Til taught. Many parents and Sunday school teachers have communicated their gratitude for the presuppositional resources our ministry has produced. Since I have four children, this aspect of my work was not just necessary, but very personal.
The fourth area of presuppositional apologetics I have tried to expand concerns the place of evidence and proof. God saved me in a convenience store when I was 19. Right after I was saved I applied myself in researching the truth of Christianity. I was so overwhelmed at all the evidence for the Christian faith that I became an evidentialist in my apologetic approach. Later I discovered Bahnsen and I became a presuppositional apologist. Nevertheless, partly due to my early evidential pursuits, I have been resolute in my writings to properly place the evidence and proof within the presuppositional apologetic. Most of my books utilize vast amounts of evidence within the proper presuppositional framework. There are no brute facts and man is not an autonomous judge. God and His word are not on trial forasmuch as He must be presupposed to make sense of anything, including evidence. Yet, there is a plethora of evidence to rejoice over within the presuppositional apologetic.
What is the Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence?
All things presuppose the triune God, since He is wholly self-sufficient, and in Him there is an equal ultimacy of unity and diversity. All things outside of God derive their existence, substance, significance, and purpose in light of Him inasmuch as He alone is sovereign, self-sufficient, and Creator. The God of the Bible is absolute, original, and unconditioned, while all things in the material cosmos are finite, contingent, and derivative. God plans, rules, and guides all things for His glory. God furnishes all the a priori essentials; the necessary epistemic equipment utilized in all thoughts and achievements. God has the ontic attributes of omniscience, immutability, and omnipotence (He has universal reach) enabling Him to be the ground for the immaterial universal and immutable laws of truth (also termed as the laws of logic and laws of reason) and ethical necessities (moral law). Any position that rejects the true God as the epistemic (knowledge) base not only leaves an unnerving fissure, but hopelessly fails. Consequently, whatever evidence one discovers must be discerned and processed with the rational implements that arise from Christian theism and the worldview that streams from the true God.
The Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence contends that the true God is the primordial requirement for all knowledge, proof, evidence, and logic. He is the a priori verity condition for the intelligibility of reality. The immaterial, transcendent, and immutable God supplies the indispensable pre-environment for all the necessary universal operational features in human experience (including the laws of logic). Non-Christian thought cannot furnish the necessary a priori truth conditions for universal operational features; therefore it results in irrational futility because of its internal weakness. Non-Christian worldviews fall into absurdity inasmuch as they are self-contradictory and lead to conclusions that controvert their own primary assumptions. Without the triune God, ultimately, nothing can make sense.
What are some different ways the Transcendental Argument for God’s Existence can be utilized?
TAG can be utilized to help build the faith of believers while defending the faith against unbelievers. Moreover, it can be deployed to refute all worldviews since there is only on true God. The triune God, as the foundation for truth, unifies the interdependence of ontological and epistemic domains within human experience. No other worldview has the capacity to do this (see my eBook on Ontology for more). Selected thinkers have preferred diversity in their epistemic pursuits while downplaying or ignoring the unity. Others have pursued the opposite. The ontic foundation that one rests his epistemology is that which guides his theory of knowledge. That is one reason that the triune God, as the ontic foundation, can account for all aspects of human knowledge. He is the ultimate unified diversity. God is, and one must start with Him, in principle, or fall into irrationality. The diversity that is displayed in unity must lead one to reject the misguided attempt to form an epistemology prior to, and in separation from demands of ontology. One’s epistemology is itself unavoidably conditioned by its comprehension of what constitutes ultimate immaterial and material actuality. The triune God alone has the ontic essentials (aseity, immutability, omnipotence, equal diversity within unity, etc.) to account for everything in heaven and earth.
Aren’t other theists able to utilize the Transcendental Argument? If so, why can’t they be successful?
Mutual epistemic ground between theistic disputants of different ontological positions (God as Trinity vs. Islam’s monad Allah; Hinduism’s polytheism vs. biblical monotheism; etc.) cannot be found since solutions to the questions of epistemology presuppose and repose upon the claimant’s ontology. Only the triune God, as one’s epistemic commitment, can be utilized properly in TAG. TAG cannot be rightly utilized by proponents of different gods, for one’s ontic ground dictates the type of conclusion one can reach. The task of TAG, consequently, must be synchronized with that of ontology. Only the ontic truth of the Trinity provides the explanatory power required for TAG.
How are atheists unable to account for the laws of logic?
The laws of logic are necessary for intelligibility and theism is required for the laws of logic. The truth of God’s existence is not merely feasible, it is impossible for Him not to exist. Atheistic systems of thought cannot furnish an unchanging foundation for the law of non-contradiction (LNC: A~~A) which is necessarily involved in all knowledge activities. Atheistic paradigms only offer worldviews that fail to provide the continuous and immutable truth environment for the immutable laws of logic required for knowledge. Unless one epistemically depends on the true God, one cannot account for knowledge.
The laws of logic reflect the nature and mind of the God of the Bible; thus, they have ontological grounding—that is, they are grounded on the very nature of truth itself and cannot be reduced to human convention, opinion or psychology. Without these laws, knowledge and rational thinking are impossible.
Laws of logic are immaterial, aspatial, atemporal, universal, obligatory, necessary, immutable, and absolute. All rational thinking (and communication) presupposes and uses the laws of logic. Without these laws, knowledge and rational thinking are impossible. To reject the laws of logic, one must use these laws in one’s attempt to reject them. Moreover, unless one presupposes and depends on God, one cannot account for the laws of logic. Atheism utterly fails to account for the most important feature of human knowledge: logic. That’s why John 1:1 is so important to me: “In the beginning was the Word (Logos) and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” (see my book God and Logic).
What is Philosophical Naturalism and how is it refuted?
In dissimilarity to Christianity, naturalism maintains that the material universe is ultimate; what one finds in nature is all there is. Strict naturalists (there are various schools of naturalism—I believe they all in the end reduce to the definition I provide) believe that nature is the only reality. It is eternal, self-activating, self- existing, self-limited, self-functioning, and requires no accounting. The universe is neither derivative nor reliant upon any supernatural or transcendent being—there are no angels, demons, or gods. Nonetheless, there are things that transcend the material realm, including the laws of logic. A = A (Law of Identity) and A~~A (Law of Non-contradiction) universally; an immutable universal (something that is always true) cannot be grounded by a mutable particular (non-universal) cosmos, which naturalism rests upon. Therefore naturalism lacks the necessary endowment to underwrite the laws of logic. A material particular cosmos that is mutable lacks universality and immutability required to account for the universal immutable laws of logic. Yahweh possesses these attributes, thus He sufficiently accounts for the laws of logic. The laws of logic must be utilized in everything one does: in all one’s actions and in all knowledge claims. They are inescapable; hence Yahweh is inescapable.
This contention is not a gap dependent argument since it does not ascribe to divine work something which may possibly, in principle, be explained through mutable natural causes. The whole of the natural world is in a state of flux, all natural things change. Thus one cannot argue for naturalism’s mutable ground to account for the immutable laws of logic. On cannot appeal to individual mutable natural causes to account for immutable universals such as the laws of logic. God must be; and naturalism fails miserably.
Moral relativism is very common in this postmodern age, how do you refute it?
One can avoid moral relativism by depending upon an unchanging, infinite, infallible, and exhaustive moral authority. God has these necessary qualities. In accounting for objective moral values, God is mandatory since He is unchanging, universal in knowledge, transcendent, and immaterial. Harmoniously, objective moral values are unchanging, universal, transcendent, and immaterial. God has the necessary attributes to account for objective moral values. Objective moral values are not determined by the opinions, preferences, or psychological dispositions of an individual man or groups of men. It is a moral value whether anyone affirms it or not since God revealed it and it flows from His character. The moral view of relativism that is based on one’s personal (or cultural) preference. This is a type of ethical subjectivism. Ultimately, it is based on preferences similar to one liking clam chowder over chicken soup. It is a descriptive form of ethics that leaves one without an ultimate arbitrator to settle moral disagreements among men with different preferences.
One can prefer torturing babies for fun over forbidding such behavior in the same way one prefers the chowder over the soup; it is a matter of personal taste and choice. In principle, if one observes a greasy old man ready to torture an innocent little baby, your repugnance is no more morally justified than one who is a bit queasy over a friend sipping his clam chowder. Under this sort of relativism, formally, it makes no sense to claim that the man torturing the baby for fun is morally wrong. He prefers it and you do not. Relative to his wishes, he likes doing such horrendous things. Outside their personal or cultural domain, relativists have no principled justification to attempt to stop the baby torturer from preferring his behavior any more than you may stop a friend from enjoying clam chowder. Nonetheless, torturing babies for fun is objectively and immutably wrong. It cannot be morally right to engage in such behavior. The relativist lacks the immutable foundation to declare that torturing babies for fun is universally morally wrong. There are no behavior-directing moral laws that have universal reign; morality is merely a matter of one’s preferences or one’s societal pressures. Of course most relativists know such actions are universally morally wrong. This is one reason why I contend that it’s not a matter of knowing right from wrong—atheists can know (epistemological realm) right from wrong (Romans chapters 1 & 2)—I argue that atheists cannot account for the truth that there are objective moral values (right & wrong exist; ontological realm).
How would you use the Presuppositional Method against another theist such as a Muslim?
The Christian should attack the foundation. The foundation of Islamic thought is Allah. Since Allah is a monad he cannot account for an equal utlimacy of the one and many. Furthermore, since Allah has no real attributes, nothing can truly be known of him and he cannot account for anything in human experience (see my book on Islam for more). The Christian should always press the law on the false religionist and his need of a Savior. The Muslims needs a Savior to forgive all his law-breaking. Refute the Muslim presuppositionally and then placard the law and its demands on his soul. After that, preach the gospel to the Muslim (Romans 4:5, 5:1; 2Cor. 5:11).
How would you use the Presuppositional Method against a pantheist such as a Hindu?
The pantheistic view considers God as the omnipresent constituent which all things are made of, the irresistible dynamism which flows through all life, matter, and motion. This god is not a person who reasons, knows, communicates, and loves his people, for he lacks existence except as he exists in things. But if all is one unqualified reality, Brahman, why should one pursue moksha? Pantheistic monism has a dreadful flaw for the reason that if all things are part of Brahman, the escape from samsara would be entirely pointless and futile. Hinduism asserts that the One is the true, decisive, and absolute reality. The particulars in our experience are illusionary (maya) and unreal. The oneness of the real is all there really is. However, without a ground that places equal ultimacy on both the one and many, an individual cannot account for particular moral laws as well as the particular and distinct laws of logic that are unified as universal in necessity and application.
Hindu thought stresses the oneness (unity) over the many (diversity). The notion that all is one is called monism and attempts to remove the Creator and creation distinction. This is linked to pantheism: the idea that all is God. If this notion is played out, it requires everything to be an illusion. Furthermore, to be enlightened, a person is fused into oneness as he realizes that everything else is a mirage. This is self-nullifying inasmuch as the dogma that everything is an illusion, would thus be an illusion, hence it is erroneous.
What are the steps that one should take to learn presuppositional apologetics?
Be a Bible reader. Study the doctrine of the Trinity as well as the attributes of God. Attend a solid church and get involved with men (in church and/or online; be a disciple & a disciple-maker) who delight in the presuppositional method. Read Van Til, Bahnsen, and pursue the growing presuppositional resources on the internet. I would also ask the reader to consider purchasing some of the 25 presuppositional books that I have written. They are on my website, Amazon, and Smashwords.com.