Why Do Christians Presuppose the Bible is God's Word?

During my interview on the The Atheist Hour, Paul Manta said the reason he believes God has always existed is because, “A being who cannot lie told me he has always existed.” Pastor Gene claimed God created the whole known universe in six literal days with the appearance of age, because of a hyper-literal view of Genesis 1-3. Everything hinges on the Bible as God’s word, which is Pastor Gene’s first and foremost Christian presupposition. What God said is final, so he believes it no matter what.

Pastor Gene: “There are two different kinds of revelation, natural revelation, which we find in the world, and special revelation, which we find in the word of God. A basic rule of Biblical interpretation is that we should always interpret natural revelation through the grid of special revelation, that is the word of God. We don’t look at the world and then say this is truth, therefore we must conform the Scriptures to what we see. This view is a deadly mistake and would lead to atheism. I interpret science through the lens of the word of God, which presupposes the truth of Genesis 1-3. There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

This is a very good statement of presuppositional apologetics. No wonder he could host The Atheist Hour and never have any atheist cause any doubt within him. “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

Paul was getting at this, I think, when he said if we don’t presuppose something then we must rely on an infinite regress of evidences. I’m not sure how I need an infinite regress of evidences to believe I exist, or that I’m typing on my keyboard, or that I’m feeling like I need a drink right now, unless I'm looking for absolute certainty of these things, which is impossible. But I’ll let him try to show me why this is the case.

There are indeed ideas we must presuppose, and so there are also ideas we can rationally believe without any evidence. But to ask me to presuppose a whole collection of ancient writings by superstitious, pre-scientific people that were subsequently canonized by a powerful group of believers who won the arguments of their day, is simply way too much to presuppose.

But with such a presupposition as this, there doesn’t seem to be any straightforward way to show Christians they are wrong. If we point out problems in the Bible, apologists will explain them away, or claim God placed these problems in the Bible to confound people who never wanted to believe anyway.

We could point to the fact that most other people in the world grew up believing something else. According to John Hick, “it is evident that in some ninety-nine percent of the cases the religion which an individual professes and to which he or she adheres depends upon the accidents of birth. Someone born to Buddhist parents in Thailand is very likely to be a Buddhist, someone born to Muslim parents in Saudi Arabia to be a Muslim, someone born to Christian parents in Mexico to be a Christian, and so on.” [An Interpretation of Religion (p. 2)].

The apologist will simply respond that acknowledging this fact doesn’t make their faith wrong, and that’s technically true, but shouldn’t it at least cause a Christian to question why he believes in the first place? But it doesn’t seem to do this at all. The other faiths around the world are simply wrong, they’d say. So the only problem for the apologist is to figure out what to think about the unevangelized, and he might merely claim that God knows that all unevangelized people who go to hell would not have believed had they heard anyway, even though there are more than 4 billion people on the planet right now who fit it this category.

We could point to the sheer amount evil in this world, both moral and natural, and the apologist will say it is all man’s fault stemming from the sins of an original first pair of human beings—Adam & Eve. They believe in the Garden of Eden story despite all anthropological and geological evidence to the contrary, because the Bible says so. As far as evil goes, the apologist may say that everything will be made right for the believer in heaven, while hell’s doors are locked from the inside.

We could point to the lack of a miracle working God in today’s world as evidence that miracles didn’t occur among ancient superstitious people either, but the apologist will claim God has his reasons for not doing many, if any, miracles today, because Jesus is God’s final revelation.

We could point to the findings of astronomy, modern science, archaeology, psychology, historiography, anthropology, or what any other science says, and if it discredits something in the Bible, then we would get the same response from them: “There is no evidence of higher value or authority than the word of God.”

When we ask them how they know the Bible is God’s word they may say they just presuppose its truth because the Bible is its own evidence, and since there is no higher evidence than the Bible it’s right to presuppose it as the truth. This whole procedure is circular, and I would say viciously so. There is no way any evidence can count against what the apologist defends. And should the apologist be tempted to doubt, the fear of Hell kicks him in the teeth, so he will not entertain it. Say it isn’t so!

So apologists need to tell us these two things. First, what evidence would count against your faith? Specify, specify, specify. What evidence, and what reasons would you accept as defeaters to your faith if we could produce them? Don’t demand that we produce something we cannot, because this is precisely my point, that you demand the impossible.

Secondly, and this is by far the most important question I could ask you, what reasons do you have for adopting this Christian presupposition in the first place, that the Bible is the Word of God? Spell them out for us. Since this is the crux of the issue for you, then why did you adopt that presuppositon in the first place? Since this presupposition answers every question of the skeptic, then this is the question you should have some very good reasons for prior to presupposing the Bible as the Word of God. So why?

23 comments:

Apologia4JC18 said...

Hi John.

I very much enjoyed the interview. Unfortunately, the time had escaped me and I had to catch it at the archives, otherwise I may have called in.

This is a very good question, and I'd love to discuss it with you. But first, I have a question.

During the interview you said that while you recognized the absurdity of something coming from nothing, you also thought it absurd that something should exist eternally.

My question is (and I think Paul may have been trying to get at this) what about the laws of logic? It would seem that in order to even reason we have to assume that they are true (real), and saying that they began to exist at some point doesn't seem to make any sense (as though God could timelessly exist and not exist in the same sense).

But, if it is absurd to think something came from nothing and it *isn't* absurd to think something is eternal (since the laws of logic seem to be just that), then shouldn't you become a theist again?

Vytautas said...

To answer your question would tend to an infinite regress. Why do you believe the Bible? I believe that because X. Why do you believe X. I believe X because Y. And so on.
I will answer the question another way. I believe the Bible because it says that it is the truth. Now the question becomes do you believe X because it says that it is the truth. Then, as Gene says, we would preform an internal critique on that belief. This checks if it is true on its own terms.

Paul Manata said...

http://presstheantithesis.blogspot.com/2006/02/john-w-loftus-and-debunking.html

Bruce said...

Pastor Gene claimed God created the whole known universe in six literal days with the appearance of age

Does Pastor Gene have answer as to why God would create the appearance of age in the first place? Why would God want to confuse us?

it is evident that in some ninety-nine percent of the cases the religion which an individual professes and to which he or she adheres depends upon the accidents of birth.

So how does Pastor Gene reconcile the fact that God allows these 4 billion people who weren't fortunate enough to be born in Christian families to burn in hell for eternity? Why would God punish people because of bad luck?

Frank Walton said...

Paul Manata has already responded in kind however I have a few concerns:

Loftus: Paul was getting at this, I think, when he said if we don’t presuppose something then we must rely on an infinite regress of evidences. I’m not sure how I need an infinite regress of evidences to believe I exist... etc

Walton: But your criteria seems to be evidentialism (that something should only be believed on the basis of evidence), which would eventually suffer an infinite regress. As I said to atheist Mark Smith, not even the most skeptical scholar of epistemology thinks that evidence is the only means of truth-gathering. The fact remains: there is more than one avenue to the truth. In Mark Smith's world, everything must have evidence. If everything must have evidence prior to acceptance, then we will never be able to establish anything as true since anything trotted out as evidence would itself need to be proven, and so on ad infinitum!

Though you gather that we can presuppose some things without evidence you didn't seem to explore that issue at all. What then would you consider something that can be presupposed without evidence and why? What's your epistemological criteria to make such an assessment?

bleedingisaac said...

Paul and Frank,

I understand where you are going with your critique against foundationalism. Every foundation cannot have a foundation, etc.

You have to understand, though, that the vast majority of the world (especially the non-Western world) are not Christian. There are competing religious claims out there. All of those religions claim that they are the only true religion.

Now, you reject them all. On what basis? Let me guess. An all-powerful being whispered it in your ear. But, then, people think they hear from God all the time. A lot of them, though, are clinically insane.

So, what I'm asking is, how do you know that the whisper in your ear was not your own insanity? Do you test it with evidence?

Do you not use evidence to make almost every decision you have to make (obviously, there are some decisions you make without sufficient evidence--e.g. believing your wife is not a cleverly crafted automaton)?

You see, it's not just a bunch of faiths out there. It's a bunch of faiths asking us non-believers to be a part of them. If we don't ask for any kind of evidence, then we cannot make that decision at all. Why not submit our reason to Hinduism or Islam? What makes Christianity so special?

This is where I think Pastor Gene and other presuppositionalists are insincere. In their transcendental argument, they say that they test other worldviews for internal inconsistencies. Yet, they are unwilling to do so to their own.

Listen to the beginning of the Bahnsen-Stein debate. Stein asks Bahnsen about what would disprove the Christian faith to him. Basically, Bahnsen says nothing will because, in his mind, only the Christian worldview can account for standards of reason, so using reason against its foundation is not allowable.

So, the presuppositionalist critiques every other worldview for internal consistency BY reason. It rejects, however, the notion that its internal consistency can be checked in the same way.

But what keeps any religion from adopting the same method? Why can't the Hindu say that their gods are foundation of reason and that reason, therefore, cannot be used to critique it?

This is one of the clearest cases of stacking the deck that I have ever seen.

Frank Walton said...

I don't speak for Paul but let me go on...

BleedingIssac: I understand where you are going with your critique against foundationalism. Every foundation cannot have a foundation, etc.

Walton: I think there should be a distinction made between foundationalism and presuppositionalism. I wouldn't equate the two. Foundationalism can mean a number of things.

BleedingIssac: You have to understand, though, that the vast majority of the world (especially the non-Western world) are not Christian. There are competing religious claims out there. All of those religions claim that they are the only true religion.

Walton: ... okay.

BleedingIssac: Now, you reject them all. On what basis? Let me guess. An all-powerful being whispered it in your ear. But, then, people think they hear from God all the time. A lot of them, though, are clinically insane.

Walton: Please, name me a presuppositionalist who claimed that their rejection of said religions is because an all-powerful being whispered it in our ears. I'll give you a clue you wouldn't be able to find one. Obvioulsy, you're not familiar with the presuppositional method. Might I suggest you read up on Bahnsen and Van Til some more before asking more questions?

BleedingIsaac: So, what I'm asking is, how do you know that the whisper in your ear was not your own insanity? Do you test it with evidence?

Walton: LOL, if someone is insane how can they be sure if evidence would be a brute fact? As you can see evidence don't interprets itself. Swinburne's credulity principle might come in handy here.

BleedingIssac: Do you not use evidence to make almost every decision you have to make (obviously, there are some decisions you make without sufficient evidence--e.g. believing your wife is not a cleverly crafted automaton)?

Walton: No.

BleedingIssac: You see, it's not just a bunch of faiths out there. It's a bunch of faiths asking us non-believers to be a part of them. If we don't ask for any kind of evidence, then we cannot make that decision at all.

Walton: Well, you just said that not everything needs evidence. But you should read what I wrote to Mark Smith and John W. Loftus, "But your criteria seems to be evidentialism (that something should only be believed on the basis of evidence), which would eventually suffer an infinite regress. As I said to atheist Mark Smith, not even the most skeptical scholar of epistemology thinks that evidence is the only means of truth-gathering. The fact remains: there is more than one avenue to the truth. In Mark Smith's world, everything must have evidence. If everything must have evidence prior to acceptance, then we will never be able to establish anything as true since anything trotted out as evidence would itself need to be proven, and so on ad infinitum!"

BleedingIssac: Why not submit our reason to Hinduism or Islam? What makes Christianity so special?

Walton: By the impossiblity of the contrary. I'll have you look up that term yourself.

BleedingIssac: This is where I think Pastor Gene and other presuppositionalists are insincere. In their transcendental argument, they say that they test other worldviews for internal inconsistencies. Yet, they are unwilling to do so to their own. Listen to the beginning of the Bahnsen-Stein debate. Stein asks Bahnsen about what would disprove the Christian faith to him. Basically, Bahnsen says nothing will because, in his mind, only the Christian worldview can account for standards of reason, so using reason against its foundation is not allowable.

Walton: Well, if you listen more closely Bahnsen said, "if there is no basis for belief in the existence of God, I would relinquish that belief." If an atheist, or Muslim, or whoever can prove that you can make human intelligibility and experience cogent without a Christian worldview then make the case. You're just flippantly saying,"well, other religions claim they can justify reason." If so, then make that case. However, I don't see any worldview thus far that can account for human intelligibility.

BleedingIssac: So, the presuppositionalist critiques every other worldview for internal consistency BY reason.

Walton: Just so long as that reasoning is consistent within the Christian worldview.

BleedingIssac: It rejects, however, the notion that its internal consistency can be checked in the same way.

Walton: Well.. reason alone cannot justify itself. Thus far I doubt you made any serious research on presuppositionalism or transcendental reasoning.

BleedingIsaac: But what keeps any religion from adopting the same method?

Walton: Because they have different worldviews. Obviously, Muslims are different than Christians and would therefore have different epistemological methods.

BleedingIssac: Why can't the Hindu say that their gods are foundation of reason and that reason, therefore, cannot be used to critique it?

Walton: Well, Hindus can say it but they'll have to make a justification for it.

BleedingIssac: This is one of the clearest cases of stacking the deck that I have ever seen.

Walton: If there's anybody who's stacking the deck, it's you BleedingIssac. You decked all religions together and make the claim that they can have transcendental reasoning for logic, too. But since they're all different it would have different consequences. Consequences we have yet to see that makes any logical sense.

As we've seen BleedingIssac has little understanding of presuppositionalism and mischaracterizes it as "God whipering in our ears."

Steven Carr said...

There are many bad things in the world, tsunamis, earthquakes, rabies, cholera, jealousy, envy, smallpox, AIDS and errors in books.

Apparently the only one God actually did anything about was making sure the orginal authors did not make any errors in books.

We are told that people have free will, that God would not turn them into robots, and that having free will means mistakes, and then Christians turn around and have a doctrine of 'plenary inspiration', whereby God made sure that the 'freewilled' writers wrote exactly the words he wanted written, without any errors.

If God allows evils like tsunamis and Hurricane Katrina, why did he not allow errors to creep into the original autographs of the Bible?

Why do Christians claim that God cannot prevent evil, and that God can prevent evil whenever he wants?

Steven Carr said...

How can you 'presuppose' the Bible is God's word, when there is more than one Bible?

Surely you cannot 'presuppose' that the Protestant Bible is God's word or that the Catholic Bible is God's word or that the Orthodox Bible is God's word?

That would have to be a conclusion, not a presupposition.


Are there any Ivy League or Cambridge (I'll grudingly include Oxford as well) courses in the philosophy of religion which recommend reading Bahnsen or Van Til as part of getting a background into current issues in the philosophy of religion?

bleedingisaac said...

Frank,

Before I respond, maybe I could ask you to tone down the rhetoric a little and be a little more gracious, okay? You don't have to be so condescending.

For instance, instead of writing,

"Please, name me a presuppositionalist who claimed . . . I'll give you a clue you wouldn't be able to find one. Obvioulsy, you're not familiar with the presuppositional method. Might I suggest you read up on Bahnsen and Van Til some more before asking more questions?", (emphasis mine)

you could instead simply say something like,

"I think you are misrepresenting presuppositionalism. I have never heard a presuppositionalist say that what you have attributed to them."

You also started off one of your responses, "LOL"

Is that really necessary? Can't you just say something like, "This doesn't seem plausible"?

You wrote: ". . . By the impossiblity of the contrary. I'll have you look up that term yourself." (emphasis mine)

Your response would have worked fine without that last statement, wouldn't it?

You wrote: "Well, if you listen more closely Bahnsen said, . . ." (emphasis mine)

Perhaps, instead, you could have simply said, "I just relistened to the debate and Bahnsen actually says, '. . .'"

You wrote, "Thus far I doubt you made any serious research on presuppositionalism or transcendental reasoning."

This presumes a lot. You could have just said, "The 'presuppositionalism' you represent here is not one that I am familiar with."

You wrote: "As we've seen BleedingIssac has little understanding of presuppositionalism and mischaracterizes it as 'God whipering in our ears.'" (emphasis mine)

How about, "It appears that bleedingisaac's 'presuppositionalism'is very different than the way that it is normally presented. He seems to misrepresent it by saying that 'God whispers in our ears.'"

"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person."--Colossians 4:6

bleedingisaac said...

Frank,

Okay, now for my response.

You wrote: "I think there should be a distinction made between foundationalism and presuppositionalism. I wouldn't equate the two. Foundationalism can mean a number of things."

I never attempted to equate presuppositionalism and foundationalism. My original quote said that I agreed with your critique of "foundationalism." You and Paul were using the term "evidentialism."

I was really equating foundationalism and what you call evidentialism.

I think foundationalism is a better term because evidentialism, in apologetic contects, usually has a different meaning. Plus, foundationalism is the word that Plantinga uses in his critiques and it seems that you are drawing from him here.

You wrote: "Please, name me a presuppositionalist who claimed that their rejection of said religions is because an all-powerful being whispered it in our ears. I'll give you a clue you wouldn't be able to find one."

Remember that I addressed this comment to Paul, not you. When Paul called into the Atheist Hour, he was discussing with John how we come to certain foundational beliefs (viz. eternal existence)

Paul said that his belief that God always existed was not arbitrary because ". . . a being who cannot lie told me that he has always existed. . ."

Also, isn't it true that Plantinga and Bahnsen always starts with divine revelation? Isn't it the reformed view that one comes to God because God causes them to come? Isn't it one of presuppositionalism's tenents that a person cannot "reason" themselves into the faith because faith properly focus' reason?

Maybe, you disagree with my words, "whisper in your ear," but are you denying that you believe in Christianity, and not other faiths, because God revealed it to you? If I were to rephrase my statement so that it read, "You reject other religions because God revealed the truth of Christianity to you."

Would you object to that?

You wrote (quoting from a comment directed to someone else): "But your criteria seems to be evidentialism (that something should only be believed on the basis of evidence), which would eventually suffer an infinite regress."

I'm not an "evidentialist" (seriously, I "foundationalist" is a much better term for what you mean here). I am a type of conventionalist. Read my extremely long posts here.

I agree with your critique of foundationalism. I agree that there cannot be a foundation for every foundation. I agree that there must be a stopping point.

Your stopping point is platonic. It looks to the heavens for "ultimate" justification. X is the case because God has made X to be the case.

My stopping point is the ordinary use of language. I rely on certain definitions of words like "not," "and," "or," "is," etc.

My "foundation," then, is much less firm than yours, but I simply say that I can't expect more from a universe that came into existence by chance. All I can rely on for foundations is language. And that is good enough for me.

I attempted, in the linked comments above, to show why my "less firm" foundations can easily be confused as absolute, universal foundations (viz. because most people play the same language-game).

When I asked: "Why not submit our reason to Hinduism or Islam? What makes Christianity so special?"

You responded: "By the impossiblity of the contrary."

The transcendental argument is, where P is "all non-Christian worldviews" and Q is "the Christian worldview":

P v Q
~ P
/ Q

Now, I asked why can't any religious belief start from this position? Why can't another religious belief claim that their diety/ies are the foundation of all reason?

This is certainly what Plato did. He claimed that all reason had its foundations in "the heavens."

If you claim that reason is only justified by your worldview (like it sounds like both you and Plato do), then someone else cannot use reason to critique your worldview. You can't use reason to destroy reason's own foundation, right?

So, what if a Muslim adopted the same standard? By your "impossibility of the contrary standard" it would be your job to demonstrate, by reason that their faith is impossible.

But if they are claiming that reason has its true foundation in their worldview, and you have to adopt that worldview to point out its inconsistencies, then by adopting the worldview, you give up the only means that you have to critique it (viz. reason).

Let me try that again.

(1) You claim that reason's foundation is the Christian God.

(2) Reason, therefore, cannot be used to disprove the existence of God, because in doing so, reason would overturn its own foundation and prove itself worthless.

(3)To disprove a contrary belief, one must adopt that worldview and look for internal inconsistencies.

(4) If one adopts another worldview that claims that reason has its foundation only within that worldview, then one cannot use reason to discover internal inconsistencies because of (2) reapplied to that specific faith.

(5) There is, therefore, no means by which to judge any worldview that claims reason's foundation is only found in that worldview.

Must do homework now.

Paul Manata said...

bledding,

"The transcendental argument is, where P is "all non-Christian worldviews" and Q is "the Christian worldview":

P v Q
~ P
/ Q"

I already address this on your blog. This is not the stricture of TAG, let alone any transcendental argumenr *qua* transcendental argument.

Frank Walton said...

Hi BleedingIssac,

My tone wasn't meant to be condescending or mean. I'm sorry you fealt that way. But I was quite serious, I really don't think you gave presuppositionalism any serious thought. For instance you said in describing my worldview, "X is the case because God has made X to be the case." God didn't make X to be the case. Anybody who reads Bahnsen or Van Til would know that.

If anything your replies to my "rhetoric" has uncovered your insecurity. I really do hope you study Bahnsen and Van Til more. I haven't seen any evidence that you did.

Frank

bleedingisaac said...

Paul,

I hardly felt that you addressed my argument in your brief comment. You only proclaimed that I had misrepresented the argument. That is not what I call "addressing."

I think that I am justified in representing TAG in the way I did based on Bahnsen's writings. There may be other, later writers (e.g. Frame) that express it differently, but I really haven't kept up with it.

Here is what Bahnsen writes in The Heart Of The Matter:

"Whose perspective is intellectually justified, the Christian's or the non-Christian's?"

P v Q

"In various forms, the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary."

~P
/Q

I certainly appears as if I have represented the argument correctly, at least from Bahnsen's perspective (though, I'm sure Frank will disagree since he is still convinced that I know nothing about it).

Either the Christian worldview is true or the non-Christian worldview is true. The non-Christian worldview is NOT true, therefore the Christian worldview is true.

How is my statement any different than Bahnsen's above?

On my blog, you said that TAG should be represented by modus ponens.

X-->Y
X
/Y

[If X, then Y; X, therefore, Y.]

I'm not sure how to fill in your variables here. What is the X and Y?

Is it "If UNIVERSAL LOGIC, then CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW; UNIVERSAL LOGIC, therefore CHRISTIAN WORLDVIEW."?

I'm really not sure.

bleedingisaac said...

Frank,

No offense, but you don't seem like the kind of person I enjoy talking to.

Paul and I disagree, but I've never gotten the same kind of "vibe" from him that I do from you.

This is a free world wide web, but I would appreciate it if you didn't respond to my comments. You may ultimately be right about everything you say about me, but you don't present your objections to me civilly.

The Jewish Freak said...

Two quick points:

1. If you say you believe the bible first and physical evidence second you run into a very difficult question. If you see archaeological evidence that contradicts the biblical account of creation, and you say you don't believe it because you saw a different account in the bible I would then ask you - how do you know that you saw the bible?

2. If you say that God tests your faith by placing contradictory evidence in the world than you place yourself on a slippery slope that can never know what God wants. In other words, I could then say that God sent jesus to earth to test our faith that God can not be a man.

Paul Manata said...

Isaac,

I *did* address your stricture, which is what I believe I was referring to. It was a *technical* note.

Anyway, what Bahnsen did there was not a transcendental *argument.* he may have been expressing his views but he was not giving a ta.

Now, Bahnsen knew a lot about TAs. He understood their general form. Since I have taken classes from his protoge, and have talked in detail about this, I think my opinion should carry some weight.

Anyway, regardless of Bahnsen or anyone else, when you claim that someone is presenting a transcendntal argument, and then you lay out their argument in *non-ta* notation, then it is *you* who looks like they do not know what they are talking about.

I would recommend "TA: Problems and Prospects" by Oxford Press. Also, you can look up TAs in most dictionary or companions to philosophy. Also, you may be interested in the article TAG found in "The Standard Bearer" by Michael Butler.

All i'm doing is letting you know that your form is not the form of a TA. At best, Bahnsen and you are wrong! But, Bahnsen was not trying to lay out a TA there.

Oh, X is any item of human experience (logic, causation, induction, morality, freedom, love, drinking water, etc).

Also, TAs proceed by retortion, I don't think yours did. TAs are anti-skeptic arguments. They take what even the skeptic accepts and shows that what the skeptic accepts presupposes some ontological fact. (Or, there are epistemological TAs with epistemic conclusions) but TAG has an ontic conclusion.

Anyway, that was brief, messy and all over the place. Time is short so you got the shot gun response.

best,
Paul

bleedingisaac said...

Paul,

I think I see what you are saying.

I think Bahnsen may have confused me on this point. In his debates, he claimed to use a transcendental argument, but often spoke of it in terms of the "impossibility of the contrary."

I think you will agree that my representation of the "impossibility of the contrary" argument is fair according to what I quoted from Bahnsen below.

Bahnsen says that "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist is that the Christian worldview is true because of the impossibility of the contrary." (emphasis mine)

So, maybe I am guilty of mislabeling Bahnsen's fundamental argument as a transcendental argument because he stated that the fundamental argument for Christian apologists is the impossiblity of the contrary AND he said that the fundamental argument for the Christian apologist was the transcendental argument.

I guess I reasoned,

A = B; B = C; therefore, A = C

"The impossibility of the contrary argument" is "the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist"

"the fundamental argument advanced by the Christian apologist" is "the transcendental argument"

therefore

"the impossibility of the contrary argument" is "the transcendental argument"

***

But that aside, let's examine your transcendental argument.

X-->Y
X
/Y

If I understand you write, I could fill out this statement,

If logic, then the Christian worldview
Logic
Therefore the Christian worldview

(Since you did not give me a specific explanation for the "Y" variable, I'm assuming that you were okay with me allowing it to be "the Christian worldview").

But I don't see how this is as strong as you want it to be.

Perhaps, instead, you have in mind:

X strictly implies Y [damn html!]
X
/Y

So that:

"Logic" strictly implies "the Christian Worldview"

"Logic"

therefore "Christian Worldview"

Then, obviously, you must give some reason to support your first proclamation because it is not tautological.

Anyway, maybe you should simply present your argument instead of having me do it since you are the one making it.

Paul Manata said...

Isaac,

Well I stil disagree with your analysis of Bahnsen but I don't feel it necessary to debate that issue.

Y would be the ontic conclusion (God exists). Also, TAs are modal arguments, dealing with the *possibility* of something.

So, we would say:

If laws of logic are possible then God exists (because God is the necessary precondition for logic)

Laws of logic are possible.

Therefore, God exists.

Now, the hypothetical is proven indirectly. That is, by a reductio ad absurdem (or, by retortion). So, you'll see an example of that when I respond to your Wittgensteinian defense of logic ;-).

But, it doesn't stop there. We also show that the characteristics of logical laws only make sense (or are possible) within a Christian theistic worldview.

Anyway, my main point was that you were not representing TAs *qua* TAs properly, let alone TAG ( a species of the genus).

bleedingisaac said...

You wrote: "If laws of logic are possible then God exists (because God is the necessary precondition for logic)"

Why is this true?

VanTilsGhost said...

Interesting how these comments have veered away from actually answering the question the original post raised....

More word games to avoid dealing with the problems of the Bible.

To quote the mighty Frank Walton, "sigh..."

Josh (Joshster@epals.com) said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SuperSkeptic said...

BleedingIsaac:

Not being familiar with TAG, I followed Frank's earlier advice and looked up the term "impossibility of the contrary."

Most of what I found was on blogspot, but Wikipedia has some information that might help: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transcendental_argument_for_the_existence_of_God.

John Warwick Montgomery published an article ("Once Upon a Priori") saying that "impossibility of the contrary" doesn't need the Christian God in order to work. I'm sure apologists have responses to that article.

A common objection is that the "impossibility of the contrary" employs circular reasoning. Apparently, the defense is that worldview level considerations are *supposed* to be circular; and that only Christianity can pass the tests of internal consistency and external conformity. It seems to me that the Christian worldview does not pass the test of external conformity ("the statements must not lead to contradictions in our experience or observations with the world around us"), but if the statement is only "God exists" and not "the Bible is literally true", then I guess it's OK, at least on that level.

One last comment: How nice that instead of addressing your valid questions, Menata instead points out how you're not developing a correct TA argument. I guess he's more interested in trying to make you look like a fool (oh, look, he actually says you look like a fool!) than addressing actual spiritual questions. Congratulations, Paul! Mighty Christian of you!