It’s Circular Because It’s Circular

The charge that presuppositionalism is “circular” must be one of the dumbest objections I have ever heard.

No really. Think about it for just a moment.

You hear the accusation again and again that presuppositional apologetics are “circular.” The implication is that the charge of circularity in view here constitutes an objection against presuppositional apologetics. A fatal objection, even. So a logical point is being made. A fallacy is in view.

Presuppositional Apologetics Can’t Be Circular

But it should be noted right away that “presuppositional apologetics” can never be circular. Neither the label “presuppositional apologetics” nor the discipline the label describes could ever be established as logically circular because…well…only arguments can be logically circular. And neither the label nor the discipline are arguments.

Transcendental Arguments Aren’t Circular

So it must be an argument particular to presuppositional apologetics which receives the brunt of the aforementioned charge of circularity. What might that argument be? Well, the transcendental argument would be a good candidate. The only trouble is that transcendental arguments are not circular. ‘If Y then X (where X is a necessary condition for the possibility of Y), Y, therefore X’ is a valid form of argumentation. So we have to keep looking.

Unstated  Arguments Ain’t Circular Either

Perhaps it is some specific version of transcendental argument that presuppositional apologetics relies upon which causes the real difficulty. It is worth noting, though, that a frequent complaint about the transcendental argument as used by presuppositionalists is that the argument has rarely, if ever, been formally stated.

Now, I doubt whether this second charge (that the argument has not been formally stated) is true. Actually, I know that it is not true. But what remains to be seen is how the charge of logical circularity can ever be compatible with the accusation that the transcendental argument as used by presuppositionalists has never been formally stated. If the argument has not been formally stated, then it is a bit of a problem to posit that the same argument is logically circular.

An Unthinking Objection

All of that aside, have you ever seen someone actually demonstrate that the transcendental argument as used by presuppositionalists is logically circular? I haven’t. On the other hand, I’ve seen a whole lot of people say that it is circular. Parrots aren’t known for their precision in argumentation.

At the end of the day, this so-called “objection” to presuppositional apologetics doesn’t seem to amount to much. Perhaps a hypocritical, “It’s circular because it’s circular.”


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