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Silence of the Presuppositionalists

Here are a few questions that presuppositionalists can’t seem to answer.

1. How did you asses God’s revelation for reliability?
2. How do you know the revelation you perceive is not an evil demon’s revelation?
3. What was the mechanism through which you assessed God’s revelation for reliability?
4. Through what 2nd mechanism did you assess the reliability of the mechanism through which you assessed God’s revelation for reliability?

They also appear unable to shake the fallacy that, if they can demonstrate a hole in your ideology, that their own ideology is correct by default.

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9 Comments

  1. Theophilus says:

    Many people who want to use a pre-suppositional approach do not fully understand what is involved, so it is not surprising that you have some misunderstanding.
    As Christians, we take the bible as the authoritative, self-affirming word of God. To “assess” the validity of the bible by some “mechanism” would require the existence of a test that would be more ultimate that the bible itself.
    The challenge to unbelievers is to identify a worldview by which the questions of knowledge, reality and morality can be sustained independently of the bible – not that you can articulate a system, i.e., empiricism, but that such a system is able to withstand an internal critique of its presuppositions.
    You want to challenge the presuppositions of Christian theism by assuming your system as valid. If you want to show that Christian theism fails, you must show that it is internally inconsistent and that you have a system that satisfies the challenge of “the impossibility of the contrary.”

      • Theophilus says:

        It is unreasonable to expect me to chase all over the place to see additional meaningless replies to the question. I’ve stated the argument, can you answer it? After all, we’re talking about your belief system not someone else. It doesn’t require an extensive answer, just a statement of how your worldview makes human experience understandable, i.e. how do your account for reason, logic, reality and morals. Just a beginning.

      • Imagine climbers discover a truck on the summit of Mount Everest. We all acknowledge the extreme unlikelihood of such a state of affairs. There are few coherent materialistic explanations for this discovery, and all of them are highly improbable. However, what if Superman placed the truck on the mountain? Sure, many do not believe in the existence of Superman, but there is nothing logically incoherent about Superman dropping a truck on the summit of Mount Everest if he so desired. And Superman is unquestionably cool. So let’s go with that explanation. However, Superman is not the only theory out there. Those who believe in flying vampires offer an alternative explanation. They assert vampires have dropped the truck on the summit. You are not sure how to respond…until it is discovered that the cargo of the truck was garlic. We all know that vampires can’t stand garlic, so the vampire theory is self-defeating. It fails under its own assumptions. And now, since a competing theory has been removed from the table of proposed explanations, our logically coherent Superman explanation becomes more probable. Right?

        If religion X is demonstrated to be false, This does not increase the probability Christianity is true, in spite of claims to the contrary by Christian leaders.

        Many Christian leaders today are focused, not on presenting the Christian Gospel, but instead on debunking various competing theories of reality. For each of these competing theories they claim to have debunked, they follow up by suggesting that the debunking has made Christianity more probable. Does this make sense?

        Let’s consider how many possible logically coherent theories there are that are impossible to test. Just as anyone can invent another superhero or mythical creature such as Superman and vampires who are, with their special powers, able to escape the scrutiny of science, anyone can invent yet another logically coherent but inscrutable God and an accompanying theology. That makes the number of possible Gods infinite. And that means, when you demonstrate another God to be incoherent, it does nothing to make your own God more probable. No proposed theory in the intrinsically infinite set of untestable proposed theories becomes more probable when you eliminate a competing proposed theory.

        Yet, this appears to be a major tactic of many Christian leaders today. They are perhaps betting on the notion that most Christians will not question their suggestion that Christianity becomes more probable the more competing ideologies they debunk.

        ADDITIONAL NOTES:

        So, no proposed theory in the intrinsically infinite set of untestable proposed theories becomes more probable when you eliminate a competing proposed theory. This is true even if you add testable proposed theories to that infinite set of proposed theories. Testable theories of reality are subject to the risk of being debunked by tests, but they also enjoy something untestable theories don’t. The more the tests against their claims support their claims, the more probable they become.

        So does the incoherency of garlic-hating vampires flying a garlic-filled truck to the top of a mountain make the Superman explanation more probable? No. Most rational persons would agree that, in spite of the oddity of finding a truck on the summit of Mount Everest, the correct explanation is most likely a material explanation, even if we never discover that material explanation. We don’t maintain that Superman did it until we find out differently. So also with Gods. We don’t assume some unsubstantiated and untestable God did this or that until we find a material cause.

        (See also #17, #24, #39 and “Supplementary J”)

        __________

        Is Christianity testable? Or is every possible event we encounter in our realty both consistent with the absence of the Christian God, and able to be explained away by yet another unsubstantiated and untestable entity such as sin, demons and angels?

        (See “Supplementary K” on the falsifiability of Christianity.)
        P1: Christianity one member of a theoretically infinite set of logically coherent untestable explanations of our reality.
        P2: The debunking of any competing explanation in this theoretically infinite set of logically coherent untestable explanations does not make the set less than infinite (since more explanations may be generated at any time by any creative mind).
        P3: The debunking of any competing explanation in this theoretically infinite set of logically coherent untestable explanations will not make Christianity more probable.
        {Corollary of P2}

        Conclusion: For every competing logically coherent untestable explanation of our reality debunked, Christianity does not become more probable.
        {P1 – P3}

      • It is sometimes claimed we all must begin our investigation of the world with assumptions held with full certainty, often called “presuppositions”. These presuppositions are not based on evidence, but are claimed by many to be necessary untested axiomatic notions without which we can not make sense of the world. We must just accept them before any inquiry about the world can get off the ground. The list of alleged necessary presuppositions varies from person to person, but they often include the following:

        The infallibility of logic
        The infallibility of mathematics
        The comprehensibility of an actual world
        The reliability of our minds
        The accurate reflection of an actual world by our senses
        The continued efficacy of induction

        What do you think? Must we accept without evidence these axiomatic notions before we can explore our reality? And is accepting anything without evidence such as these allegedly necessary presuppositions rational?

        The answers are “no” and “no” We do not need to accept anything as a given before exploring our world. And full epistemic confidence in any notion that deviates from the degree of the evidence is always irrational.

        Let’s explore this in depth.

        We can imagine scientists prior to Einstein accepting with absolute confidence that time and space were immutable constants. Was this absolute confidence warranted? No. Why not? The familiarity scientists had with time and space was based on induction. In their experience, the constants of time and space had never been violated. But that inductive experience with time and space does not warrant absolute confidence. High regularity warrants only high confidence, and high confidence is qualitatively different from absolute confidence. Absolute confidence is something for omniscient minds (should they exist) who need not inductively assess notions such as time and space. Human minds can not escape their subjectivity, and therefore are confined to inductive assessments for everything apart from their immediate sensations. The scientists who accepted the constants of space and time as absolute presuppositions were irrational. Their absolute certainty prevented them from imagining space and time as relative as Einstein revealed.

        What is the lesson learned from these irrational scientists holding as immutable presuppositions the constants of time and space? Less-than-omniscient minds must rely on induction in any assessment of their external realities, and induction never reaches absolute evidential certainty. And where there is no absolute evidential certainty, there can be no rational epistemic certainty.

        Imagine these irrational scientists holding as immutable the constants of time and space arguing that, if we can not have absolute confidence in measurements of time and distance, we can not do science. We have since discovered that this quite intuitive notion is simply untrue. We have been able to arrive at even more precise measurements of physical phenomena now that we accept the relativity of time and space.

        Imagine these irrational scientists claiming that, since we can not imagine a world in which time and space was not immutable, we are justified in placing absolute confidence in their immutability. Would this argument get them off the hook for irrationality? No. Their familiarity with time and space was based on induction, and their lack of imagination or understanding does not magically justify accepting the immutability of time and space as a presupposition. Only a high degree of certainty that time and space is immutable, arrived at through induction, was warranted prior to Einstein’s seminal paper. There were perhaps many capable scientists who, had they not presupposed the immutability of time and space, could have also arrived at the notion of relativity prior to Einstein.

        The relevant point is, human minds have no business accepting anything with full certainty. Accepting anything as a axiomatic epistemic presupposition is irrational.

        But what about logic or mathematics? Are we not justified in placing absolute certainty in their continued efficacy? No. From the time we was born, few of us have experienced a violation of logic and mathematics. Does this inductive assessment with zero violations warrant absolute epistemic certainty? No inductive assessment warrants absolute epistemic certainty. It must remain a less-than-absolute high degree of confidence.

        But we can’t begin to imagine what a violation of logic or mathematics would look like, some might respond. That’s irrelevant. The fact that pre-Einstein scientists could not imagine a violation of absolute time and space did not warrant a presupposition. Neither does our lack of imagination or understanding warrant an absolute presupposition in the inviolability of logic and mathematics.

        The suggestion that the comprehensibility of our reality is a necessary presupposition prior to exploring our world is more easily shown false. The universe has no obligation to make itself comprehensible. If no regularities appear to a particular mind, that mind simply can not abstract facts about the nature and composition of the reality it finds itself exploring. What is not justified is for that mind to presume the universe must necessarily be comprehensible. Such a presupposition is intrinsically irrational.

        What about the reliability of our minds. Must we not start with the presupposition that our minds are reliable prior to exploring our reality? Once again, no. Even those who claim they presume their minds are reliable admit their minds were quite unreliable when they were infants, and will again become unreliable when they are old. How will they determine their minds’ degree of reliability? By finding a passage of scripture that outputs the degree of cognitive reliability for a particular age? No. They will inductively assess how forgetful they have become, and how capable their cognitive functions currently are at accomplishing their daily objectives. Presuming the reliability of your mind is both foolhardy and irrational.

        What about the notion that the regularities we perceive reflect an actual external world. Surely we can presume this, right? No. We still have not been gifted omniscience, and we are therefore still dependent upon our inductive exploration of our reality. We could be dreaming or hallucinating our reality, but that possibility does not justify abandoning rationality and presuming that we are not dreaming or hallucinating. For as long as our apparent decisions in our apparent reality accomplish our apparent desires, we are warranted in a high sub-absolute degree of confidence there is something substantive about that apparent reality. But presuppositions are not justified.

        But are we not guilty of circularity since we have presumed the absolute and eternal reliability of induction as foundational to our epistemology? We have not presumed the absolute and eternal reliability of induction. Rationality, at its very basic is following what works. We have goals, and we are rational when we employ what we perceive to work to accomplish those goals. Induction seems to be a very reliable way to determine what will work in the future by assessing what has worked in the past. Does this not mean we must place absolute confidence in the continued reliability of induction? No. That is neither necessary nor rational, our inability to conceive of a failure of induction notwithstanding. If some newly-found epistemic method were to accomplish our goals better than our inductive assessment of our reality, then it would be irrational not to replace the inductive method with that new method. And the simple fact that we can not imagine what a failure of induction might look like will never justify a presupposition that induction will never fail.

        In summary, epistemic humility requires the subjective mind to reject all proposed presuppositions, and to simply inductively map epistemic certainty to evidential certainty. Invariance in logic and mathematics does not warrant a presupposition. This invariance merely warrants a high sub-absolute degree of confidence that maps to the degree of that invariance. The difference between a presupposition and a high sub-absolute degree of certainty is not insignificant. It is a difference that allowed Einstein to conceive of a new paradigm that more accurately reflects our reality.

        Some Christian leaders suggest Christians are justified in presupposing the infallibility of the Bible and the existence of God. Why would anyone neglect their epistemic responsibilities and accept the Bible or God as presuppositions immune to the scrutiny of rational inquiry? Doing so would (and does) protect the Christian perspective from criticism, but this is no virtue. Both the Bible and the Christian notion of God are testable, and to accept these as presuppositions off-limits to assessment and reassessment is precisely opposite what an honest seeker would do.

        This suggestion by some Christian leaders that we may justifiably accept God and the Bible as presuppositions immune to assessment and reassessment can not be more misguided. To default to presuppositions is to forfeit the standing of an honest seeker.

  2. Theophilus says:

    Still awaiting your answer. What is your worldview and how does it support knowledge, reality and moraltiy?

    • I’m not sure what my worldview is. Feel free to ask questions to ascertain that.

    • I do believe that knowledge cannot be absolute for fallible minds, that reality therefore cannot be absolute knowledge, and that morality is simply emotions.

      But this information will do nothing to redeem Christianity from its absurdities.

      You see, we can both be wrong. It appears Christians don’t understand that finding someone else wrong does not make themselves right. This is such basic logic.

      So anytime you demand the other party express their ideology when your own has been brought into question, you’re only demonstrating your ignorance of logic.

    • If you respectfully ask for my specific beliefs, I will do my best to give those to you. But your current attitude and notion that finding a flaw in my ideology will somehow redeem yours is not acceptable.

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