Dr. Gene Witmer on Presuppositionalism

Those of you who encounter presuppositionalism on the web should really listen to Dr. Gene Witmer, professor of philosophy at the University of Florida, who is interviewed by Gene Cook at Unchained Radio. This was very interesting to me.

18 comments:

John W. Loftus said...

Dr. Witmer was fantastic! Cook once again said some things that are bizzare, like for instance, when he said it's better that God didn't create us with free will where we always obeyed.

Let me put it this way, we all accept brute facts somewhere along the line. Cook's position makes him say things that are bizzare...so many things...because he accepts many more brute facts. He accepts the whole canonical Bible along with the Calvinistic interpretations of that Bible, along with a 3 in 1 God, an atonement, an incarnation, and so forth. Witmer has fewer brute facts, and that's the whole difference that makes the difference between us. It should be obvious, as Witmer said, that a world where there are free creatures who always obeyed is better than one like this one. This should should make Cook back up and examine his whole set of bizzare beliefs, but alas, he continues onward, like the king who has no clothes on.

Daniel said...

I feel embarassed that I didn't already link to this. I am listening to it as of now. I did, though, get to go by and chat with him about it, so I already heard about the gaffe you mentioned.

I'll be posting a partial transcript of the best parts of the dialogue here and elsewhere, and I invite comments when that happens.

Bruce said...

One thing that I learned from listening to this: You don't need to prove that God exists because all men already know that God exists (I'm assuming they include woman too?).

Why does anyone even bother getting into a discussion with these people? It seems obvious that their brains will never allow them to seriously consider an alternative.

Another gem of sound reasoning:

Gene: Christianity provides a cohesive world view that can answer all of our questions.

Witmer: Can it explain why God exists?

Gene: Uh, well, um, no, no one can tell you why God exists, only God can tell you why he exists and he hasn't let us in on his little secret yet. But we don't let that minor inconvenience bother us. We just call it "our presupposition" and turn a blind eye toward the inherent contradiction.

p0wned!

Bruce said...

So Gene was an evil hedonist until he converted to Christianity at 26. Before then, he "dismissed the standards of morality altogether". And what did he do that was so awful? He decided to have sex when he was 18!!!

Man, talk about a let down. I was hoping that maybe he had forced himself upon her or got her drunk first. Nope, he just did it because his mother told him not to. I hope he didn't tear the tag off of his mattress as well?

Funny how Gene wasn't willing to listen to his mother as a source of authority back then but is now willing to give blind obedience to some mystical book written centuries ago by a bunch of superstitious people with an agenda.

Something tells me I'd probably like the old Gene a lot better than the new one.

Gene Cook, Jr. said...

Bruce,

You give the impressiion in your post that I said:

Gene: Uh, well, um, no, no one can tell you why God exists, only God can tell you why he exists and he hasn't let us in on his little secret yet. But we don't let that minor inconvenience bother us. We just call it "our presupposition" and turn a blind eye toward the inherent contradiction.


I certainly did not say that. I don't mind if you quote me but please don't give the impression that I said something that I never said.

Bruce said...

Gene, sorry if it came across that I was quoting you literally. I assumed most people would be able to tell I was merely paraphrasing with a little of my own commentary thrown in.

The point still stands that you can't explain God's existence and thus Christianity doesn't explain everything. You are a good debater and know your stuff, but Witmer got you on that one.

Jimmy Li said...

Wow,
BRuce when talking about John Loftus mentioned that Atheism can not give an account for the laws of logic...

Sorry if I came across as quoting him literally. I assume people know that I was paraphasing the way Bruce paraphase people.

The point still stands that Bruce's Secular Humanism can not stand on its own

Gene Cook, Jr. said...

uh Bruce?

Bruce wrote:
"The point still stands that you can't explain God's existence and thus Christianity doesn't explain everything. You are a good debater and know your stuff, but Witmer got you on that one."

Bruce,

I hate to correct you again but the reason that you think "Witmer got me on that one" and Witmer doesn't, can be found on the first sentence on page 6 of his paper (link provided with podcast link)where he writes:

"It seems that some beliefs are reasonable even without being supported by argument. We all, in fact, take beliefs formed by perceptual processes to be true, where we do this without having an argument for doing so."

Furthermore, I did NOT concedede that Christianity can't explain everything, on the contrary I said *it can. I conceded that Gene Cook can't explain everything. You see, Christianity includes a God that is all knowing, remember?

Gene

Jon Curry said...

It was a very interesting show, Gene. Thanks for doing that.

Steven Carr said...

Christianity certainly can't account for logic.

Christians believe that they , their senses, and their reason are under constant attack by malevolent beings, perfectly capable of deceiving them, and highly motivated to do so.

How then can they trust their senses or their reason?

They can't. It is a self-refuting world view.

Steven Carr said...

'Dr. Witmer was fantastic! Cook once again said some things that are bizzare, like for instance, when he said it's better that God didn't create us with free will where we always obeyed.'

CARR
Really? Cook thinks it was a big mistake for God to create those angels who chose not to rebel?

Gene Cook, Jr. said...

Stephen,

Angels aren't made in the image of God so that would be a catagorical falacy.

Anonymous said...

Gene, that was one of the most civil of your shows I've listened to. Witmer was a great guest and I enjoyed it. He should be on again for further discussion.

Steven Carr said...

Gene comes up with a non-sequitor.

He has no answer, so doesn't give one.

And he doesn't even bother to defend his reasoning when he knows that he also claims that is his reasoning and senses are under constant attack by powerful demons.

So how can he account for the reliability of his senses, when his world view tells him that he might be being deceived?

Elihu said...

54 minutes in (paraphrased):

Gene: God puts us through this for His glory.

Glen: I think that's morally depraved.

Gene: By what standard?

Glen: It's obvious.
_________________________________

Now, THAT'S a rigorous philosophical answer. :-)

Master Zap said...

Furthermore, I did NOT concedede that Christianity can't explain everything, on the contrary I said *it can. I conceded that Gene Cook can't explain everything. You see, Christianity includes a God that is all knowing, remember?


This is both the lone "strength" and the complete "achilles heel" of Christian presuppositionalism.

I've studied this in quite a bit of deatil in the last week, and the "ace up their sleev" that the presuppers think they have is God.

I don't have time to type in all references and links, but the whole nexus of their reasoning isn't all this "impossibility of the contrary" or "god is a precondition to logic" jabbery. That's pretty much a sidetrack.

Their "main point" is "god told me and god never lies", i.e. "I have the one who knows everything in the universe on my side".

While one can concede (if one want to be generous) that this indeed would indeed be a really great position to have... the problem is... how do they know?

When the rubber meets the road, they have nothing but circular self-claims and "gut feelings" that they are "right". Formerly people (even Gene) tried to argue "impossibility of the contrary" but this can be trivially shot down with a counter example (if this is an "available to man" worldview or not is completely irrelevant). I can have the Invisible Pink Unicorn in my corner, and she knows everything!.

Also, the attitude is the achilles heel of presuppositionalism because, contrary to their insistance otherwise, Christianity does not "contain" God.

That's a category fallacy. It would be like claiming science "contains" nature.

"Christianity" is a bunch of (unverifiable) statements about God. It is not "god".

So no matter how they squirm, they are back to the "naked assertion".

Genes admission about "debate tactics" was very telling, and remarkably honest.

I think Gene is on the road to freethought.

I mean, who can submerge himself in so much nonsense per week (remember, we listen to Genes show for the comedy value) and not see through the vacuousness of it? I sure can't.

/Z

Anonymous said...

Elihu,

Who in the hell is Glen?

The "bottom" presupposition of Prof. Witmer is that moral laws exist.

The "bottom" presupposition of Gene is that God just exists, and moral laws are packaged into, and depend upon God (or are his nature, or whatever). Of course, God itself is an entity with many other presuppositions thrown in -- about ultimate authority, ultimate goodness, etc.

William of Ockham would have a few things to say about the difference between the nature of those two men's assumptions.

Given the fact that Gene's ability to explain God would fall far short of a comparable explanation of meta-ethics from Prof. Witmer (he didn't have time to go into it, and his meta-ethical views were not the subject of the show), I hardly see the victory for you.

Tank said...

I believe you should have posted my comment on Dr. Alvin Plantinga's "freewill defence," because given where this message board has gone, it is at the least instructive for people to acqaint themselves with. I think that Dr. Witmer takes Plantinga's reasoning SOMEWHAT seriously, however misguided St. Alvin is.