left biblioblography: THE PERILS OF PAULINE (PRESUPPOSITIONALISM)

Sunday, February 04, 2007

THE PERILS OF PAULINE (PRESUPPOSITIONALISM)

As apologists plod the paths of presuppositionalism, most are unaware of the surreptitiously circular silliness of the epiphany of their epilogic epistemology.

Say that three times fast, I dare ya.

The dictionary define a presupposition as "Something taken for granted."

It's worthy of a peek inside this monolithic miasma. Presuppositional apologetics is, "a school of Christian apologetics, a field of Christian theology that attempts to (1) present a rational basis for the Christian faith, (2) defend the faith against objections, and (3) expose the perceived flaws of other worldviews. Presuppositional apologetics is especially concerned with the third aspect of this discipline, though it generally sees the trifold distinction as a difference in emphasis rather than as delineating three separate endeavors. Presuppositional apologetics developed in and is most commonly advocated within Reformed circles of Christianity."

The main problem is the root from which they spring: the bible is all, it contains all that is needed, and supernatural revelation is the be-all and end-all on this bank and shoal of time. To extend the Bard's words a little further, it commends the poisoned chalice to their own lips.

With each passing year, this book is torn down. Page by page, its historical accuracy is diminished. Piecemeal, it is refuted. Soon, its veracity will be put on the same level as Doctor Seuss' The Cat in the Hat.

That it contains some historical events is undeniable: but it is so wildly inaccurate on so many points, it beggars the imagination, hoists its own petard, and makes a laughing stock of the house that is built on sand. I will expound at length upon this at another time.

It is the fallacy of the excluded middle writ large, a "tertium non datur" so to speak. Rather than approach it from an angle of 'let's see', presupposition stipulates that it is a matter of 'either/or'. From there, the battle line is drawn. 'Prove to me that god exists' is met with 'prove to me that god doesn't exist' (and why no one can see the logical disconnect of having to disprove a hypothesis that can't be proven is a mystery to me). Either the data adds up to the sum hypothesis, or it doesn't.

And, of course, there are different schools of thought (this is no surprise, to anyone familiar with the ongoing schisms within the belief system):
"Specifically, presuppositionalists describe Thomistic (also "Traditional" or "Classical") apologetics as concentrating on the first aspect of apologetics with its logical proofs for the existence of God. Aquinas himself insists that many crucial truths can only be known through scripture, and none of his arguments are intended to show the entire Christian picture; presuppositionalists criticize this "block house" method for failing to start at the level of the controlling beliefs of worldviews and implicitly allowing non-Christian assumptions from the start. Their goal is to argue that nonbelievers' assumptions require believing in some things about God, man and the world which nonbelievers claim they don't believe."

Does the prior underlined sentence sound familiar? As well it should. This is heard (read) with great frequency. 'Atheists know there is a god, they just won't admit it' (the old Tu quoque fallacy). Small wonder that most of them consider atheists to be irrational. Accusals of denial pepper the air like tickertape parade confetti. St. Anselm argued that 'faith' was the necessary ingredient to all philosophical argument.

There is also Evidential apologetics:

"Evidential apologetics or evidentialism (not to be confused with epistemological evidentialism) is an approach to Christian apologetics emphasizing the use of evidence to demonstrate that god probably exists. The evidence is supposed to be evidence both the believer and nonbeliever share, that is to say you need not presuppose God's existence (see also Presuppositional apologetics)."

What is interesting, is that "While presuppositionalists don't believe that classical arguments are good enough on the grounds that they don't show enough about God, they also think evidentialists simply haven't given a strong enough demonstration, and have started out by granting the assumption that human experience is intelligible without appeal to Scripture, thereby defeating their own cause. Evidentialists demur from this assessment, claiming that presuppositionalism amounts to fideism. The evidentialist's conclusion is that the Bible is most probably accurate about what it reports, and thus the whole of Biblical revelation follows."

Again, more familiarity. How many of us have been buried in a veritable avalanche of easily disproven factoids (if done piecemeal), but as a blitzkrieg attack nearly overwhelm us? Point/counterpoint is the best. Fisking proves to be a valuable asset. Creationism falls under the third heading.

Sources can be found here, and here, for the interested reader.

Forewarned is forearmed.

Till the next post, then.

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5 comments:

remy said...

Dr. Seuss indeed.I would venture that The Cat in the Hat is more believable.

Because of the recent jabobas witless's I was "forced" to read Revile-ations. I remain boggled, ubberboggled! How is it possible for any human above the age of 10 to take any of it seriously.

Krystalline Apostate said...

remy- Actually, I took Rebellations VERY seriously, up until some time after 9/11. I had all kinds of ridiculous ideas - from the SSN being the mark, to eyeball photographing.
I feel foolish admitting it now, but that book had a substantial impact that I can only see in retrospect.

remy said...

To confess, I had some moments whilst reading it which gave me pause. There is a section which does resmble nuclear war and one's left brain kicks in briefly before reason returns.

I found the same thing happened when I read Nostradumbass. It proves how we are wired to see cause and effect; if 'A' happened there MUST be a reason. And if that reason isn't apparent, the default position - a god.

karen said...

I can't say your opening sentence ONE time fast!

attempts to (1) present a rational basis for the Christian faith,
Rational? Do they use the same definition we do, or make up their own?
I don't recall ever being given a rational basis for Christian faith.
Their goal is to argue that nonbelievers' assumptions require believing in some things about God, man and the world which nonbelievers claim they don't believe."
Yes, they use this to say that just to ARGUE the position, we must have some belief in it.

The evidence is supposed to be evidence both the believer and nonbeliever share, that is to say you need not presuppose God's existence
And now evidence? What evidence? As you said, there are some
historical/geographical points that can be verified, but beyond that, one has to fall back on presuppositon of god.

Krystalline Apostate said...

Karen m'love.
No, I fumble 1st time out myself, but tongue twisters are such fun.
Rational? Do they use the same definition we do, or make up their own?
I trust that's a rhetorical query, as it is obviously the latter.
Yes, they use this to say that just to ARGUE the position, we must have some belief in it.
Well, I believe it's an opinion, ergo it 'exists' (sorta), but that's as far as it goes.
I for 1 get a little weary w/the 'you know it's true, you just won't admit it!'
Pathetic.