Pushing the Presuppositions

“…presuppositionalism urges us to look beyond the surface of the faith in the discussion. It urges us to realize that there are important and unacknowledged factors influencing the kind of reasoning that each party employs. A few months ago I was at the University of California [at] Davis, debating an atheist lawyer who had at one time worked along with the ACLU and came from a Jewish family, and his…members of his family had been executed in Auschwitz, and so forth, and uh—well we could talk about that debate sometime. He was a real feisty fellow—I think fairly arrogant, trying to be honest with you here. There are, uh, sorts of things you want to say and challenge the guy, and so forth. But in that debate I opened by trying to explain to the audience—not everyone picks up on it—but I opened by telling them, when you watch what’s going on between us, you know, in our wrangling, or disagreeing over this line of reason or evidence here, you have to understand you come into the movie half way through the movie. Don’t think we’re just now developing, you know, what’s the evidence, what’s the argument, and so forth. There is a background to the way people think. And presuppositionalism I think has to be at least credited with this in terms of 20th Century apologetical theory—it’s drawn attention to that. The Christian shouldn’t take things for granted. They should start pushing…to say, well now what are you assuming about the nature of reality, when you say that? What is your theory of knowledge. How do you think we know what we know? Why do you believe there are universal abstract enemies like the “lost watch”, whatever it may be. We have to push about the presuppositions—the unacknowledged factors—that influence the reasoning that each party is employing. And in that sense presuppositionalism amounts to analyzing or doing an interlope critic of the implicit worldviews being used by the two parties, looking for their crucial presuppositions.”

(Bahnsen, Answering Frame’s Critique of Van Til)

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