Presuppositional Apologetics


By @ScienceWasWrong

After realizing that they never win arguments about science against atheists, creationists have adopted a bold new strategy: making a mockery of philosophy. It was a clever choice, since some atheists seem to have the same weird contempt for philosophy that creationists have for science.

Presuppositional apologetics is the bastard child of this unholy union between creationists and philosophy. Since the facts aren’t exactly on the creationists’ side, they’ve decided that facts are irrelevant because people only interpret facts according to their worldview. Since atheists apparently presuppose that God doesn’t exist, it’s not at all circular for them to presuppose that God does exist. With those mental gymnastics out of the way, they’ve made an attempt to create a monopoly on the existence of facts. The basic argument behind presuppositional apologetics is this:

  1. If God did not exist, knowledge would not be possible.
  2. Knowledge is possible
  3. Therefore God exists

Earth shattering, I know. With this, they can avoid actually refuting arguments and just ask “why?” like a 3 year old to everything their opponent says before scolding them for making unsubstantiated knowledge claims. Unsurprisingly, Eric Hovind has become a major proponent of this line of argument, either to distance himself from his father’s “contributions” to science, or simply because all that sciencey stuff is over his head. Hovind’s approach goes like this:

  1. Could you be wrong about everything you claim to know?
  2. If you could be wrong about something, then you don’t really know it.
  3. You can’t know anything unless you know everything.
  4. The only way for us to know anything is for someone who knows everything to reveal it to us.

Number 1 is self defeating because if it’s possible for you to be wrong about everything you claim to know, then admitting that would make you correct about something. Number 3 is inconsistent with itself, because not knowing everything is the pre-condition for knowing that you don’t know everything. Number 3 and 4 are contradictory. If you can’t know anything without knowing everything, then you can’t know whether someone who knows everything has actually revealed anything to you or if you’re just deluded. A twelve year old has pointed this out to Eric.The argument collapses entirely if it is asked whether you could know number 4 if God did not exist.

The Ray Comfort to Eric Hovind’s Kirk Cameron is a former boiler room employee named Sye Ten Bruggencate. Sye has achieved notoriety for his website in which you are coerced into clicking criminally unnuanced answers to a series of questions about absolute knowledge and logic which have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Sye’s style is similar to Eric’s, albeit even more intentionally confusing. His approach revolves around the question “how do you know your reasoning is valid?” You can’t use reasoning to justify your reasoning because that would be “viciously circular.” His thesis is that the only way for us to be “absolutely certain” we are not a brain in a vat is through divine revelation.

He also debated Matt Dillahunty one time and actually opened this syllogism:

  1. It is reasonable to believe that which is true.
  2. It is true that God exists.
  3. Therefore it is reasonable to believe that God exists.

A line of argument which, I shit you not, he calls “virtuously circular.”

It turns out that you can use reasoning to justify your reasoning because, by Sye’s own terms, someone with invalid reasoning would not be capable of recognizing that their reasoning is invalid. So simply acknowledging the possibility that your reasoning is not valid entails that it is valid. Regardless, his idea that divine revelation can validate his reasoning is simply something his reasoning has told him. That you can be absolutely certain you’re not a brain in a vat in this way assumes a brain in vat could not be fooled into thinking it has received a divine revelation. What it boils down to is that he “knows” he is not a brain in a vat because he believes he is not a brain in a vat. If you trust your senses enough to read the Bible, then you’ve already made the assumption that the world around you is real and you don’t really need the Bible’s contents to prove it.

Oh yeah, and all of these arguments are rendered meaningless by the primacy of existence axiom, which says the universe exists independently of consciousness. So there’s that.


3 thoughts on “Presuppositional Apologetics

  1. Anarchic Teapot May 16, 2015 / 8:10 am

    atheists seem to have the same weird contempt for philosophy

    Some atheists, certainly


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