White and Barker on Logic


Barker: This swine flu virus that’s going around right now that everybody’s kind of scared of, did God intelligently design that virus?

White: God intelligently designed the mechanism’s that brought that virus into existence, yes. And I believe all things that happen in time are a part of his sovereign decree.

Barker: And the mechanism that brought that virus into existence is evolution?

White: Natural selection.

Barker: So you do support evolution?

White: I support the existence of natural selection; that’s micro evolution not macro evolution.

Barker: So God designed the mechanism that brought the swine flu into existence.

White: Yes

Barker: So God caused the swine flu virus.

White: God caused everything in time and space, that’s why everything in time and space has a purpose. And that purpose can either be his glory or for the demonstration of his judgment.

Barker: Or to kill off little babies that he doesn’t like, that could be his purpose.

White: Well you know it’s interesting that you make that argument as you always say: just go into a children’s hospital, you’ll see that there’s no good God. But I am not the first person to sit across from you and point out to you that your argument from a materialistic perspective is appealing to emotion that has no basis in your worldview. Designing something that kills off cosmic broccoli is just not relevant in a naturalistic worldview. You’re borrowing from my worldview to make an argument in regards to the nature of evil.

Barker: I’ll talk about that in the rebuttal because you just set up a straw man. You set up a broccoli-man argument. Ok, I guess this would be a good chance to ask you to define the word “spirit.”

White: It’s very interesting when you ask someone to define the word “spirit” and then you do not recognize that as a naturalistic materialist you will not allow for anything outside the materialistic realm. So you’re asking me to define something that exists outside the realm that you allow any evidence to exist in, so when someone says “a spirit is a non-material entity that lives and is conscious and can in fact interact with the material universe,” you say “well that’s not a definition because I’ve never seen one.” But again, you’re being like the person like Paul Manata told you, “who says the universe is made out of only marbles, and then when someone tries to prove the existence of something other than marbles” you say “but I don’t accept the existence of anything outside the existence of marbles.”

Barker: Ok I’m not asking for proof, I’m asking for a definition.

White: I just gave you…

Barker: But what is it? You said it’s an “entity.” Is it composed of something?

White: No, it is not composed of matter at all. No.

Barker: Does it occupy space?

White: No.

Barker: Then how would you know if it didn’t exist?

White: Well again, you have to have some source of information that transcends the material universe to have information about non-material entities – in the same way you have to have information about non-material entities such as the laws of logic.

Barker: What is information? Is information material or non-material?

White: It’s revelation. It comes into the natural realm from outside the natural realm.

Barker: You mean the ink that’s inside this Bible.

White: No, the message that the ink represents in the language in which it was revealed.

Barker: So a message is words, and words are concepts within minds.

White: No, I don’t believe that mankind experiences revelation in that way. But that does no limit God to that realm.

Barker: So the word “spirit” s-p-i-r-i-t exists somewhere out there, transcendent, that thing is actually a thing out there that you know exists because some authority told you that it exists?

White: Yes, I do accept the fact that I utilize authorities for those areas that are beyond my natural capacity to experience them.


White: Will Jazz piano cease to be beautiful when you die?

Barker: …Depends on who’s playing on it I suppose. But, uh, as long as there are human beings in existence who are en-cultured to appreciate and understand, and as long as they still exist after I’m dead, then no. But someday, Jazz piano will cease to be beautiful because our species will go extinct, so someday in the future it will.

White: So the beauty of…I’m assuming you recorded?

Barker: I’ll give you a CD, yeah.

White: I’d be happy to have it. So the beauty of that will cease to exist, and it has no transcendent meaning in your worldview.

Barker: That’s right it has no meaning at all, because some people when they hear they don’t hear anything, they hear noise. I don’t know what cats and dogs hear when they play jazz piano. But I know I like it.

White: When you asked me a question I didn’t get an answer, you said “science will never be able to explain these things,” do you understand me to be saying when I point to ATPase…that I am simply saying we don’t understand this? Is that what you hear me saying? Or do you hear me saying there is clearly, without question, beyond doubt, purposeful order and purpose in this mechanism. Do you see the difference between those two?

Barker: Well I acknowledge those two and that there is a design by natural selection, not design by intelligence. So I agree with you there is – you can re-engineer all of us – use that word “purpose” with quotes around it, and see what is the “purpose” of the eye, together, right? So there is design and functionality from natural selection but not by intelligence.

This is the latter portion of the second cross examination 

Moderator: Now it’s Mr. Barker’s turn.

Barker: You think logic is a thing…Do you think logic is just more than a function of an organ?

White: The rules of logic are abstract and universal, yes. They do not exist in the material realm but they are reflected of the reality of the material realm in which we live. That’s why circles generally stay circles.

Barker: But does logic, the actual thing of logic, does that exist? Is that a thing somewhere?

White: Well again, Dan, for you “to exist” means only the material realm and since you absolutely reject any other kind of existence of anything like the laws of logic or spirit or anything else, you demand that – well you just said “outside of time I do not exist.” I do not accept your mind definition of that kind of limitation on existence.”

Barker: Then tell us then, how would you decide if something exists – what does it mean “to exist”? Define the word “to exist” then if it’s not in space-time. Define that.

White: Well again, it has reality. For example, I think the laws of logic are very good; the law of non-contradiction existed prior to my birth. It was a valid law before I was born, and if I get run over by a wild engineering student riding his bicycle across by the quad out there and I get killed on the way back to the hotel this evening, the laws of logic remain absolutely as valid as they were tonight. They are not dependent upon the firing of neurons in my brain for their existence.

Barker: I hope it wasn’t an atheist engineering student.

White: Well you know what, it wouldn’t matter (laughter).

Barker: Ok, but when you say the laws of logic existed before you were born, aren’t you just saying they existed in minds previous to when you were born.

White: No.

Barker: Did the laws of logic exist at the big bang? Were the laws inscribed or written somewhere?

White: Obviously since I believe God created this universe for a purpose, the laws of logic reflect the very essence of the creation that He has given to us. And that is why I said in my opening statement that I believe that the greatest free-thinking is to think in accordance with your Creator. And in doing so, when I seek to think logically, when I seek to think rationally, I am doing so for the glory of my Creator to the betterment of myself.

Barker: Well I used to preach that sermon, so…

White: Did you really preach that sermon?

Barker: Yes I did and I’m not doubting your sincerity. I used to feel the presence and believe in my heart and all that. In fact, many people used to testify that they felt the spirit of God…

White: I read that…

Barker: So, ok.

White: I’ve listened to your testimony many times.

Barker: Ok, so and I’m not doubting your sincerity either, I really think you do believe. But the point I’m trying to get at is, things happen in our brains, I’m having a nightmare and there’s a monster coming in my window but there’s not really out there a monster coming in the window. It’s a function of my brain. My brain is telling something, right? So our brains function in certain ways and we put words on this functioning. We call it “mind” or “thought.” But does it really exist outside our brains? If minds were to cease to exist, would we even need the word “logic”? Because it’s a concept, and you can’t have a concept without mind. Concepts don’t exist out there somewhere.

White: Dan, the fact that you and I are sitting here, and we are doing the same things as when we have a chess board in between us. And we’re thinking ahead, and we are designing our questions to go a certain direction, to illustrate a certain point, means that both you and I are functioning according to the laws of logic. And I believe that those laws have an existence outside just our shared experiences.”

(Hubner, The Portable Presuppositionalist, 247-257 )


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