Always Ready Study – Part 5

My apologies to those who have been waiting on me to post the next installment … again.

This study is part 5, and includes two new members – Josh and Sean. I hope you enjoy it and are able to gain a further understanding of Presuppositional Apologetics by listening in!

— BK

Always Ready – Part 5


The New Presuppositionalists

I have noticed as of late that there is an increase in discussion amongst atheists about the subject of presuppositions. I think this is just great. After all, one of the most difficult tasks in debate (formal or otherwise) with unbelievers is getting them to understand the role that presuppositions play in their thinking. We’ve talked about this here at Choosing Hats in great detail, both in posts and in our Bible Study on Bahnsen’s “Always Ready”. This is the good news.

The bad news is that I do not believe that these same atheists understand how completely foundational these very presuppositions are to their reasoning process. Despite their concurrence that such things exist, and their commentary about the role they play, the atheists that I have read or listened to fall prey to the same thing many Christians do – assuming the very presuppositions they are defending, without the realization they are doing so.

Presuppositions exist at many levels, but it is the foundational ones (those which are most basic) that I am interested in highlighting here. It is just the nature of these particular presuppositions that makes them impossible to step outside of while evaluating them. For the Christian, the most basic of all presuppositions is the existence of God. That means that logically speaking it is not possible for a Christian to evaluate anything at all without ultimately presupposing God, including the belief that God exists. This is, after all, the very source of the complaint of circularity against those presuppositionalists who employ TAG.

The unbeliever has their basic presuppositions, too. One of the most basic is the belief that they are able to reason without a foundational appeal to the God of the Bible. It isn’t that they necessarily deny God’s existence directly as part of their reasoning process, but rather it is the fact that they presume to even question whether God exists at all. Doing so implies that they believe it is possible to know at least one thing (whether or not God exists) without ultimately relying upon God to answer that question.

Van Til uses the analogy of a telescope, where the telescope is God and the star is any fact that a person wishes to investigate. The epistemologically self-conscious Christian will always look through the telescope anytime they wish to investigate a “fact”. The unbeliever on the other hand attempts to look directly at the star without the aid of the telescope, thinking they will be able to have an accurate view of the fact. The real problem is uncovered when the “star” in question is the existence of God.

The unbeliever assumes that there is no telescope that is required in order to determine whether there exists a telescope which is required to “see” any “fact”. They attempt to look directly at the “fact” of the star in order to see whether or not there is a telescope which is required in order to see any facts at all. The problem is self-evident. If the Bible is true and such a God as this exists, the unbeliever is never going to conclude that such a God exists simply by looking directly at the “stars” (i.e. using un-aided human reason).

This is, to me, the clearest example of a foundational presupposition that no matter how hard they try, the atheist cannot *logically* “put aside” in order to question whether or not God exists.

— BK


More on John Loftus and Control Beliefs

A recent post by Chris not only gained my interest as a contributor, but also the interest of the individual whose article Chris was commenting on. This led me to dig a bit deeper into the article referenced at http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/john_loftus/christianity.html to see what all the fuss was about. In doing so, I came across a rather interesting treatise by John Loftus on why it is unreasonable to be a Christian.

Due to the size of the article, and the limits I currently have on time (which I hope will be lifted once the new year comes around) I have determined to respond to just one paragraph from a single section that Loftus titles “Philosophical Reasons (1)” for not being a Christian. I chose the paragraph I did because it demonstrates a variety of problems that I find with his line of reasoning.

To provide some context for the paragraph I critique in a moment, consider what Loftus says early on in his article:

“Let me begin by talking about “control beliefs”—beliefs that control how one views the evidence. Everyone has them, especially in metaphysical belief systems where there isn’t a mutually agreed upon scientific test to decide between alternatives. While we are largely unaware of them, they color how we see the world. Whether regarded as assumptions, presuppositions, or biases (depending on the context), they form the basis for the way we “see” things. As Alfred North Whitehead noted, “Some assumptions appear so obvious that people do not know that they are assuming because no other way of putting things has ever occurred to them.””

On the one hand, I am very excited to see Loftus speak about “control beliefs” or “presuppositions”, as there too many on both sides of the debate don’t realize they exist, and don’t realize the impact they have. Furthermore, I specifically like the term “control beliefs” as it makes the point so clear that these beliefs actually do control, to a great deal, the conclusions that we come to. On the other hand, I don’t think that Loftus notices that these very beliefs control his own argument against Christianity to the point that he engages in circular reasoning on more than one occasion.

Here then is the paragraph in question, broken into individual thoughts, and my comments on each:

“For instance, Christianity claims that God is a triune God, though no simultaneously orthodox and reasonable understanding of the Trinity seems possible.

As Loftus never tells us just what he believes is unreasonable about the Orthodox view of the Trinity, I am going to have to go out on a limb and guess that it is the claim that there is one God existing as three persons. If I am correct in my guess, then I am stymied as to what Loftus finds unreasonable about this. Unless he misunderstands the position (as some do) to mean that God is both 3 and 1 at the same time and in the same sense, I see no grounds at all for his charge of unreasonableness.

“Though Christians usually think of God as a free agent, God is not free to decide his own nature.

The question over what it means to be a “free agent” has been argued for a very, very long time. Christianity itself has different views, although I believe the Bible clearly presents a compatibilistic (i.e. non-libertarian) view of the will. What this means, in short, is that people are free just as long as they are not coerced in the choices they make. Furthermore, their choices are themselves ultimately determined by their nature. For instance, God cannot lie, as it is not within his nature to do so. Unregenerate man cannot help but sin, because it is his nature to do so.

Whether or not Loftus agrees with me on the nature of the will, he is clearly arguing from within his own set of control beliefs (or beliefs derived from them) when he claims that God cannot be properly called a “free agent” as God is unable to determine his own nature. The Bible states otherwise, and for Loftus to argue that his set of control beliefs are more appropriate based on appealing to his own definition of “free agent” is ultimately begging the question.

“Though conceived of as a “spiritual” being that created matter, no known “point of contact” between spirit and matter can be found.”

This is nothing more than an argument from personal conviction. The inability to identify the metaphysical mechanics behind how the material and immaterial interact does not, in and of itself, lend credibility one way or another. It only appears to do so from within the set of control beliefs that one is relying upon. The control beliefs Loftus subscribes to has an “answer” to this issue, but so do Christians, namely that God is ultimately behind any and all interaction of not only the material realm, but the immaterial as well.

The most that this objection can do for Loftus is further convince him that his set of control beliefs are correct, when already viewed from within his set of control beliefs. It doesn’t do anything to the Christian who has their own answer as well.

“Though Christians take it as a brute fact that God never began to exist, if we apply Ockham’s razor a simpler brute fact is to presume that nature itself never began to exist.

It is no more “simple” for Loftus to assume the universe has always existed than it is for a Christian to assume that God has always existed. For the Christian, the existence of God is the most basic and ultimate control belief, and so any other explanation is going to be more complex (i.e. it will introduce unnecessary entities). For Loftus, God is by no means the most basic control belief, and so any introduction of God into anything at all will always seem more complex than leaving him out of the picture entirely. Loftus appeals to a non-Christian set of control beliefs in framing his argument, and therefore ultimately begs the question at hand.

“God evidently never learned any new truths and cannot think, since thinking demands weighing temporal alternatives.”

It is true that God has never learned any new truths, as learning something “new” implies you did not know it prior to learning it. Given that God is omniscient, there was never a time he was in a position of needing to learn anything at all. I’m not really sure of the relevance of this to the discussion. It certainly isn’t a reason, even from within the control beliefs that Loftus subscribes to, to believe God does not exist.

As to God’s “thinking”, Loftus makes a general assertion as to what thinking demands, without apparently ever giving thought to what the Bible says about God’s own thoughts. Furthermore (and more importantly) he apparently does not consider what the Bible says about his own thinking process as an unregenerate individual. The very fact that Loftus believes he can accurately evaluate God against some standard external to God himself demonstrates quite clearly that Loftus is again framing his argument from a non-Christian set of control beliefs, and therefore (once again) begging the question at hand.

“This God is everywhere, yet could not even know what time it is since time is a function of placement and acceleration in the universe; or if timeless, this God cannot act in time.“

I will not address this particular item at this time and in this critique, as the question of the nature of time, what it means to b

e
timeless, etc. is an extremely complex subject and is worthy of a separate discussion. However, lest Mr. Loftus think I am conceding this point, let me make it clear that I am not. I believe he is guilty of the same problem as seen above, arguing against something by appealing to a contrary set of control beliefs, and therefore begging the question.

I will address this item in a separate post as time permits.

“He evidently allows intense suffering in this world and does not follow the same moral code that he commands his believers to follow.”

How does God’s allowing of intense suffering in the world (which he most certainly does) make it unreasonable to believe in God? If Loftus is attempting to argue the Problem of Evil here, then he should spell it out in detail. A passing allusion to a common argument against God, especially one which has been refuted time and time again, is insufficient.

As to God following the same code he has given to all mankind (not simply his believers), why is this an issue for Loftus? Rather than argue whether God does or does not follow this code, or whether he should follow it if he does not, I would like to know why it would be a problem if he did not? How would this make it any less reasonable to accept the existence of God as a control belief?

“And so on.”

Loftus seems to imply here that there are even more “reasons” to accept his set of control beliefs over those of the Christian, yet he doesn’t share them with us. I certainly appreciate the fact that we all must stop writing at some point and move on to other priorities, but “and so on” is a mere statement of opinion – it doesn’t give us anything to evaluate, and so it adds nothing of any substance to this discussion.

I have no doubt that I make my own set of assumptions about Mr. Loftus in this critique, given that I know very little about him, and have read very little of his writings. I hope that he will feel free to correct any misrepresentations I may have made, and that he will also feel free to interact with those of us here at Choosing Hats.

— BK


John Loftus On Control Beliefs

Recently I found this article – http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/john_loftus/christianity.html written by John Loftus. Due to my current very limited access to the Internet I only have the time and means to make a few brief comments concerning the “control beliefs” Loftus “adopts” as described in his article. It is my contention that those who reject the Christian worldview are horribly inconsistent with what they state with regard to their own would-be epistemological systems and that this is especially evident in the case of John Loftus.

At the core of the “argument” Loftus makes is a discussion of “control beliefs” which he defines as “beliefs that control how one views the evidence”. As Loftus further describes these beliefs a recognition that these are essentially the same things as presuppositions arises. Thus, there is occasion to congratulate Loftus on his recognition of the importance of presuppositions before moving on to critique what he sets forth as his own control beliefs.

Loftus writes that according to his view everyone should approach both religion in general and Christianity specifically from the “default position” of skepticism. Whether Loftus here refers to skepticism with respect to religion only or to skepticism in a broader sense is unclear. If it is with respect to religion only, the question should be raised as to why religious skepticism rather than a broader form such as global skepticism is to be our starting point. Global skepticism is a much more appropriate position for those who reject Christianity, but we will assume that Loftus is referring to religious skepticism. How Loftus determines that religious skepticism is a default position escapes me, but aside from this the assertion appears to contradict some of his later claims regarding sociological factors allegedly determining religious belief. Of course, Christians will reject the idea that religious skepticism is a default position anyway, resting instead upon the biblical truth that everyone knows the Christian God, even Mr. Loftus. Perhaps such a statement will make non-Christians cringe. Afterall, the Christian belief that everyone starts from the knowledge of God (rather than skepticism) seems far too convenient for Christians to claim. However, this belief does not differ on the surface from the claim made by Loftus that religious skepticism is a default position as far as convenience is concerned. To assume that skepticism is a default position is to beg the question against Christianity. Loftus has merely asserted that religious skepticism is a default position but has not shown it, runs into problems when this assertion is coupled with the “Sociological Reasons” section of his article, and assumes his own position of non-Christianity from the start while being unwilling to permit Christians to assume their own position. Nevertheless more problems appear even if what Loftus has so far presented is accepted as true.

Loftus submits that anyone “who subsequently moves away from that default position [of skepticism] has the burden of proof, for to accept a religious set of beliefs is to accept a positive truth claim”. We shall concede the point that those who are not religious skeptics certainly carry a burden of proof, but if Loftus means to imply that the religious skeptic has no burden of proof then he is mistaken. One cannot simply assert the negation of religious truth claims without reason and expect to carry any intellectual credibility. Certainly Loftus should concede as much as he proceeds to offer justification for his position in his article as well as elsewhere. There is much more to be said on this subject, but more time will not be given to it here.

Loftus claims to derive two more control beliefs from his supposed default position of religious skepticism. The first of these is that there “is a strong probability that every event is a natural one to be explained by natural forces alone”. Loftus never explains in his article how this second control belief is derived from the supposition of religious skepticism, and the rejection of religious claims does not necessarily lead to accepting naturalism. Now Loftus may point out that he only claims a strong probability for naturalism, but this does not follow either and even if it did Loftus does not explain how.

The third control belief Loftus claims for himself is that the “scientific method is the most reliable (and probably the only) guide we have for determining the truth about the world”. Again we should ask how one derives this control belief from the premise of religious skepticism. It sounds nice, and it surely is a popular mantra in our unthinking “scientific” culture, but the idea that rejecting religion leaves one with science and vice versa is the result of one of the most absurd false dichotomies plaguing the philosophy of religion today. For some odd reason many atheists think they have a sort of monopoly on all of “science” and Christians are entitled to not a shred of it. This seems to be the case regardless of how truly ignorant the unbeliever may be of the field of science. Loftus refers to “the” scientific method, as though there is only one resulting from a rejection of religious truth claims. This could actually be rather humorous given the history of the philosophy of science. There is really no way to know, at least as far as this part of the article is concerned, what philosophy Loftus follows when it comes to science and the scientific method. What the scientific method is simply is not as clear as the average high school science textbook would make it out to be. Philosophical concerns await the scientist at every turn, though the scientist often wants to have as little as possible to do with them.

Nothing is given to substantiate the claim that the scientific method is the most reliable guide to truth apart from the religious skepticism from which this claim is supposedly derived. How one is to derive a specific view of scientific method from the rejection of religious truth claims is, again, totally unclear. However, the same lack of justification exists when it comes to an explanation of how the reliability and sufficiency of the scientific method are derived from the rejection of religious truth claims. Further, let’s assume for a moment that Loftus is correct and the scientific method (whatever that is in his view) is the only reliable guide to truth; how would we ever know? That is, we must assume that the scientific method is a reliable guide to truth in order to find that the scientific method is the only reliable guide to truth. The assumption is not based upon anything other than blind faith. Of course we are unable to get even this far, as the very statement “[the] scientific method is the most reliable (and probably the only) guide we have for determining the truth about the world” is not itself scientifically testable. It is impossible to scientifically justify science. Science rests upon a great number of assumptions found outside of the scientific realm. In addition to the aforementioned problems, this control belief is unable to account for much that Loftus desires to appeal to in the various disciplines he lists as titles and proceeds to utilize in his failed explanation for why he is not a Christian.

Supposedly Loftus requires sufficient evidence or reasons to justify truth claims, but throughout his article Loftus makes plenty of assertions without such justification. The control beliefs he lists as being his own are arbitrary, self-frustrating, unable to account for what he writes, and do not appear to be logically connected to one another as he claims. Loftus claims that his control beliefs bias him “against dogma and superstition” but one must conclude that his control beliefs are little more than unbelieving, unsubstantiated dogma themselves.


Our Source of Truth

I will say, from the outset, that this post will have political overtones – but only peripherally. I’m not much of a political pundit, but the recent election has served to show a very clear demarcation in worldviews – the subject addressed by this blog. My wife has a childhood friend that she’s kept up with, who tends very much toward a liberal viewpoint of Christianity, social issues, and moral issues. As I read her take on the election, I was a bit taken aback at a nominal Christian expressing such things about a man with such an obviously antithetical viewpoint to orthodox Christianity.

“It felt like a big moment. I could imagine being part of this massive wave of people, with hope burning in our hearts, having faith that this vote wasn’t a risk but a shout for desperately needed change. … I didn’t quite believe it until I turned the channel to CNN, where at least they had put the holograms away for a few minutes, and my heart opened wide to receive the truth, the beautiful truth shining like the sun in my eyes. It’s true. It’s good. It’s here. Thank God.”

Now, if you’ll pardon me for a moment, that looks… idolatrous. I really don’t know how else to put it. A mere man, no matter how powerful, is not worthy of such speech. I can’t pare it down to anything else. I’d like to – but I really can’t see how it’s anything else. “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.” Can we reduce this to anything else? As I also quoted in my response, “Woe to those who call evil, good, and good, evil.” When you pair this with the fact that Obama has voted for late term abortion of babies, has in fact voted for the death of babies who somehow survive their abortions, supports so-called homosexual “marriage”, has ties to Islamic groups like CAIR, sat under Rev. Wright, whose theology was discussed recently by both Dr. James White and myself, not to mention his varied ties to shady characters of every sort – I find it amazing, when we are told to not let immorality, impurity, or greed be even named among us!

Are we not told that …”although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them?” What then, is the Scriptural response to such an action? Hearty approval of those who practice such things? Are we to idolize such persons? Consider them to be the answer to our prayers for… hope and change? We cannot, are not, and must not! Yet, some who claim the name of Christ do so. Why is this?

The answer is simple – and it fits the purpose of this blog exactly. Presuppositions. Those who are thinking in such a way, are “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.” What, according to the next verse, is the antithesis to such a state? “… Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all {aspects} into Him who is the head, {even} Christ, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”

What further amazed me, was this comment on that post. “Just because you believe in someone’s right to choose to do something doesn’t mean you believe in that something they choose to do.” What is it we just talked about? What does Romans 1 warn us of? Those who give approval to such things. The argument that says sin should be allowed as a choice is specious on it’s face. Sin, my friends, is sin. Saying a certain sin is permissible shows something of our willingness to compromise the truth of God. Also, it shows what our view of truth really is. From where it is derived. Does that not sound like subjectivism? A relativistic view of man-derived truth, with no stable foundation? I can’t see it in any other way. The original poster, (in her request that I no longer comment on her blog) had this to say; “All I’m going to say here right now is that I continue to celebrate the difference of opinion we can have in our country. And that truly we are all different and I’d rather be accepting of that fact rather than spend time arguing, especially in the presence of people who don’t ascribe to our certain choice of belief. I don’t think we shed light by tossing Scripture (or Tertullian) back and forth between us.” She refers to the fact that I quoted Tertullian’s indictment (in his Apology) of the Roman practice of the abandonment of unwanted infants to the elements, and noted elsewhere that it made her think. I truly hope it did.. He also had a bit to say about abortion – and my point was that it was considered barbarous behavior 1800 years ago – yet we consider it somehow appropriate today. This is progress?

I’d like to examine the inherent presuppositions in her statement above. What I find interesting, first, is her equation of opinions to moral judgment. Is morality truly nothing more than an “opinion”, comparable to one’s like or dislike for, say, lemon meringue pie? Should the fact that people think morality is merely an opinion be celebrated? Then, take her next statement into consideration. Shall we, in fact, accept that simply because some people reject God, are hostile to God, and sin against God, this is ample excuse to refrain from casting down the strongholds we are commanded to throw down, erected against the knowledge of God? Then, examine this innocuous-sounding phrase; “our certain choice of belief”. Ignoring, for a moment, that “certain”, definitionally, means “true, sure, settled” – certanus – do we really “choose” our belief? Is not faith a gift of God, as Scripture says? Do we, and I’ll be intentional – choose our epistemology as if choosing a hat? Isn’t that the very thing in contention? Whether it’s possible, whether we should? I think that we can find the crux of the matter right here. The underlying assumption is that we simply choose to believe this way – and others do not. Therefore, there is no inherent superiority to our belief – we just chose it, after all. It isn’t as if it’s intrinsically true. Therein lies the problem. This woman has ceded the grounds of truth to man, and removed it from the feet of God. She is not interested in God’s truth – at least not in practice. The last comment is particularly revealing as well.

“I don’t think we shed light by tossing Scripture (or Tertullian) back and forth between us.” This is a breathtakingly plain indictment of the grounds for her conception of truth. Scripture is not the only sure source of divinely revelatory truth to man, and for man. It is not the sole means whereby we may know God, and His requirements for us. It is merely something to be “tossed” – not “The Truth,” but merely “a truth” – for, and it is very apparent, there is no truth with a capital to her, and it saddens me to see it. I’ve been to her house, we’ve shared time together, and she’s been friends with my wife a decade and a half. She, however, is not seeing the Word as what it truly is. “the word of truth, in the power of God; by the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and the left”.

The Word is our only source of truth – the Sword of the Spirit. Living and active and sharper than an
y two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart, divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. That is what the Word is. I truly grieve that she does not see it as such – and she will see this post – and my hope is that she may, perhaps, be shown to the Word by it. I pray that thereby the Lord may open her eyes as to the nature of what she dismisses in favor of a merely temporal ruler, and for the opinions of men, who relegate the divine Word to merely another opinion. I’m sorry, but it’s anything but opinion. The Gospel – and the Word which proclaims it, that we may proclaim it in turn, is an exclusive Gospel. It is the only way, the only truth, and the only life. I can only pray, and I hope you pray with me, that all of the temporal fluff that obscures the truth of the Word’s centrality will be revealed to us all more and more – and to her most of all. We cannot compromise our view of Scripture, and subject it to mere opinion, as if it has no more worth than the bare estimation of man. Scripture is God-breathed, and we must treat it as such.


Always Ready Study – Part 4

My apologies to those who have been waiting on me to post the next installment.

This study is part 4, and was limited to Paul and myself. I hope you enjoy it and are able to gain a further understanding of Presuppositional Apologetics by listening in!

— BK

Always Ready – Part 4


Choosing Hats Welcomes Razors Kiss

The team here at Choosing Hats has been exceedingly busy as of late. Lord willing, I will be getting married this coming Saturday, November 8th to my dream girl. Planning for the event has been anything but a dream.

Meanwhile Brian is working on his business in addition to his regular job while keeping up with his responsibilities as an elder in his church and as a father at home. Both Paul and Ragnar have been preoccupied with other things as well, such as school.

There is no doubt in my mind that we are all still just as committed to this project as we were when we started. There are some big plans brewing beneath the surface of the blog. However, the next few months will consist of a significantly smaller amount of time in which to work on our contributions to the blog. Nevertheless, we will do the best we can to finish series, create new installments of the podcast, and update regularly with new material. Please continue to visit, spread the word about us, and most importantly, keep us in your prayers.

In light of our collective situation we have decided to add an additional member to our team. We are glad to have our friend Razors Kiss join us at Choosing Hats. Razors Kiss is an extremely gifted thinker and apologist. He is patient and well-versed in debate and is a welcome addition to Choosing Hats.

You may visit RK’s site (pertaining to a variety of interests) here – http://www.razorskiss.net/

We look forward to RK’s contributions to the blog in the not-too-distant future and hope that they will be beneficial to you.


Richard Dawkins Lecture Commentary

This commentary was written shortly after having attended the Dawkins lecture in 2006. I have never viewed the recording of the lecture, otherwise I may take issue with some of the things I wrote in my comments on the lecture.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xe7yf9GJUfU&hl=en&fs=1]

_____
On October 23, a Monday night, I had the privilege of attending a Richard Dawkins lecture at Randolph Macon Women’s College. I found Dawkins to be a very talented speaker and storyteller, and a man who, for the most part, follows through on what he believes. Dawkins has somewhat of a bad name in some circles because of his tendency to come out and say what he wants to say, but I find this to be a result of honesty and consistency rather than anything else less desirable. Dawkins made his points rather clearly. He was easy to understand and humorous. During the Question and Answer period, I was impressed with his patience and civility towards those posing questions to him, usually with the intent of stumping him or refuting his belief system.

That is, of course, what he has. Richard Dawkins adheres to a system of beliefs. He would not like this, as he does not distinguish between blind faith and reasonable faith (I am using belief here in the same sense as faith). Dr. Dawkins remains consistent with his atheist worldview further than many other atheists do, but nowhere near as far as he should remain consistent in order to convince the discerning Christian that there is no God, something which Dawkins claims is almost entirely certain.

Dr. Dawkins is not an irreligious man. He addressed this right away, claiming that he is, in fact, an irreligious man. However, Dawkins wears colored glasses like all of the rest of us, governed in his reasoning and actions just as the rest of us are. His ultimate presupposition is that of autonomous human reasoning. This necessarily excludes the alleged neutrality and objectivity that so many want to claim for themselves, as well as any epistemological, ethical, or scientific succcess.

Yet, Richard Dawkins is a well known intellectual, civil, biologist. How is this resolved? Quite easily, once it is realized that the presupposition of human autonomy in matters of knowing, morals, and induction cannot support the weight of its own worldview. Atheists (and all other non-Christians), must necessarily borrow from the Christian worldview in order to render anything intelligible at all. Dr. Dawkins is no different. He has an unregenerate person’s knowledge of God, and must start from this presupposition rather than his own in order to accomplish what he does. The careful reader will note that this means Dr. Dawkins knows and shows that God exists even in the midst of arguing against His existence. It is a self-defeating endeavor from the very start.

Consider, for example, Dawkins’ complaints against the character of the Christian God. He picks through the Old Testament, pulling out instances of God acting unjustly, at least in his own view. This is rather problematic for Dawkins though. While he abhors God and insults Him (in Dawkin’s own words) because he finds God to be an immoral and unjust God, he has no platform from which to shout such insults against God. Certainly we could understand conventional moral values arising from the process of evolution since we all presumably share the same ancestry, but this does not explain from whence the actual value of the values comes from. Ought cannot be derived from is. Dawkins is well aware of this, but did a poor job of addressing the problem when questioned on it. He seems to think that we all (regardless of beliefs) share such problems, but this could not be further from the truth. By rejecting the existence of the Christian God a person rejects along with Him any claim to some sort of universal and binding justice or moral good. Dawkins has to be inconsistent with his belief system and borrow the Christian presupposition of the Christian God in order to even argue the way He does. Yet once he has done this God is shown to be there, and his arguments are shown to be faulty, whether or not we point out the specific fallacies in them or not. In his case, the specific fallacies usually involve misconstruing the nature of God thus not taking into account how such a God can and should act in order to act justly for any given situation.

We may also take a brief look at the way Dr. Dawkins explains induction. Induction requires the assumption of the uniformity of nature. The Christian has a reason to adhere to this principle, for God is sovereign and brings about all things according to the purpose of His will. Dawkins must simply assume the uniformity of nature. This is rather fideistic, arbitrary, and thus absolutely unwarranted from within the confines of his worldview which starts with the presupposition of the autonomy of humanity. Dawkins may, I think, be leaning towards an axiomatic acceptance of the uniformity of nature, but this again hardly accounts for why he should accept it at all. All attempts to solve this problem have failed, aside from the presupposition of the Christian God. This is precisely what Dawkins must borrow in order to reason in this fashion. Again, Dawkins has an unregenerate person’s knowledge of God, and it shows in his behavior.

Somewhat disturbing is this idea that Dawkins holds to where he has faith in nothing at all. Presumably, Dawkins believes reason to be the only or correct way to come to a bit of knowledge. As has been shown rather easily in the past though, this is a completely unwarranted and incoherent assumption. If we were to say, “We should only adhere to what reason brings us to” or something along those lines, we would only have what our own reason dictates to us. Why should we trust our own reasoning though? Why should we only adhere to what reason brings us to? Should we do so because our reason dictates it? Rationalism ends up in circles. By this line of reasoning, Dawkins again ends up accepting everything that he does based totally on faith. This is not a reasonable faith at all, but a blind and arbitrary one. Such is the end result of a commitment to human autonomy.

Dawkins is either a Fideist or a Theist. The first option does not account for anything; indeed cannot. The second falls right in line with what Christian Scripture teaches, namely that all of humanity knows that God exists and knows His nature. Dawkins must fight awfully hard…awfully hard in order to suppress this all encompassing truth. In the end, he fails, just as all other non-Christians do. He manages only to testify to the existence and glory of God. It is sad, very sad, that Richard Dawkins will not recognize this, feel the magnitude of his sinfulness, and repent, turning to Christ Jesus for salvation and life.


Letter To A Common Naturalistic Atheist Part 3

I recently found this response to an “atheist” man I was having a discussion with long ago. It is unedited, and therefore may not make sense in some places. Hopefully it will be useful to you in some way none the less.

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Now, you claim to know that animals cannot talk, and I have asked for you to explain how it is you can know this. The first thing you say in regards to this is that we have no evidence that miracles of a supernatural nature can occur. Hopefully you see that this begs the question though, because if miracles have happened, then we do have evidence that miracles of a supernatural nature can occur. In Scripture we have such evidence. It is invalid (circular) reasoning to reject that evidence by saying that we have no such evidence. You have not told me how you can know that animals cannot talk. You also say that if you accepted the miracles of the Bible, then you would have no reason to not accept the miracles of the Koran as well. You ask if you should believe in the other virgin births of mythology. Well, perhaps you should, but we cannot know without taking them each within their own proper context. I do not believe the Koran to be what it says it is and have good reason not to. According to Surah 42.11 Allah is incomparable and so transcendent that human language cannot describe him. So then, if we accept the truth of the Koran we must accept that it cannot be the revelation of Allah. It is a self-refuting book. I do not accept the virgin births in other religions because they contradict conclusions drawn through inductive reasoning. You will ask if miracles in Christianity do the same thing, and I will answer that without Scripture we have no basis upon which to draw any conclusions through induction, since only the Christian God controls everything that comes about through His own will and He makes this known to us. There is reason to hold that the future will resemble the past, and thus reason to rest upon induction, but only within the Christian worldview.

You will need to be more specific about the many alleged similarities between Christian doctrine and other beliefs from the Christian and pre-Christian time period. Even if these similarities are granted, I do not see how it invalidates the claims of Christianity in any way, shape, or form. Should I assume that since my Mach 1 shares parts with a Cobra neither of them exist? This concern does not make a lot of sense to me. Anyway, there are significant problems with some of the myth theories about Christianity.

As for the definition of “love”, I have not changed it. It is what Scripture says it is. Attempting to apply an unbiblical definition of it to the Bible and then concluding that the Bible is wrong is methodologically problematic. Now it might help for me to say that hatred goes necessarily along with love. If God loves the good, and He does, then He also hates evil, and He does. God is love, and God is the standard of justice. I find no such objective standard of either love or justice outside of Christianity, so to judge Christianity from presumably non-Christian standards is again problematic, and I would say much more than that, impossible. To help you understand the thing with Adam and Eve the way I do; if your Grandfather had done something stupid which winded up getting him killed before he ever was able to do what was necessary for your Father’s birth, then you would not be alive. Such is the case with Adam and Eve, for when they disobeyed God they brought sin into the world of humanity. This resulted in their spiritual death, and it affects all of their descendents just as in the illustration with your Grandfather. Of course, we may say that if we were in that position we would not have done the same thing, but this is highly unlikely, especially in light of the fact that we continue to sin every day, if not every moment, of our lives. The reason that the perfect Word of God is not perfectly understood is not because of God, it is because of us. As we have just examined, we are sinful, and so sinful that our epistemology is affected by our sin and disables us from always having a perfect understanding of Scripture. God is a perfect communicator, but humanity does not always want to accept what He has to say.


Letter To A Common Naturalistic Atheist Part 2

I recently found this response to an “atheist” man I was having a discussion with long ago. It is unedited, and therefore may not make sense in some places. Hopefully it will be useful to you in some way none the less.

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I agree that lying is wrong, but I do not think that we have a reason in common at all as to why we both think that lying is wrong. I believe that lying is wrong because God, who is Truth, is offended by lying. He commands us to be truthful as He is; lying goes against His moral will. We know this from His Word. Now you ask me if I really need an explanation from you as to why you think that lying is wrong. My answer is that yes, I do. This is what I am trying to explain; even something as seemingly simplistic as saying that “lying is wrong” cannot be justified by any other presupposition than that of the Christian God. I do not find your reason for thinking that lying is wrong to be very persuasive. Given your presuppositions, I can think of any number of situations where lying would in fact be in an individual’s best interest, contrary to what you say. The reason given for why it is in our best interest to not lie is that we must have respect for each other. This just pushes the problem back though, because now you are saying that it is wrong to disrespect others. Why is it wrong to disrespect others? Now from here you do move into a more complex explanation of morality which seems to rest upon the assumption that morality stems from a desire to have the greatest number of people as happy as they can be. Correct me if I am wrong, because again I do not want to create a straw man and knock it down.

Assuming that I am right though, your ethical theory appeals to the idea that whatever action or rule brings about the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest number of people is right, and whatever does not is wrong. There are numerous problems with this theory. The idea that happiness is the best consequence of a moral action may neglect consideration of other good consequences. Also, happiness may not be the greatest good. You differentiate between right and wrong actions based upon the idea that happiness for the greatest number is supremely good as far as consequences go, but the theory fails to account for this governing assumption. There is also no way to calculate all of the effects a certain action will have. So you are in some epistemological trouble. To answer this by saying that all effects need not be calculated to ascertain the pleasantness of the results of an action does not solve the problem, for one is left wondering if there are any unknown effects that would cause an action to be wrong rather than right (or the opposite). There also appears to be no way to draw a line between which effects should be considered and which should not, other than arbitrary opinions. Your theory also relies heavily upon the idea that the future will resemble the past, even so much as to provide us with a basis for making correct moral decisions. This assumption appears to be difficult, if not impossible to justify. What is disturbing in a different way is that happiness might come through a series of morally disturbing events, or at the expense of the happiness of a great number of people. Thus actions that many (perhaps including even you) would at the least intuitively consider to be wrong are considered necessary and ethically right actions to be performed in order to bring about the desired result of happiness for the greatest number of people. So honesty, compassion, understanding and tolerance sound like beautiful positive moral values, but I still see no reason to accept them as such within your own worldview. However, I have a reason to love and cherish and strive to live my life by these values within my own worldview, which is Christian. Now I am not saying that you do not love, cherish, or strive to live by these. It is obvious that you try to be a good person. What I am saying is that I do not really see a motivation from within your own worldview to do so, nor do I see any way you can justify the assumption that these are right and that something like lying would be wrong. I have justifiable reasons to be concerned with what is going on in the Middle East. I do not see where you at all do, if you stick with following through on your own worldview.

The Bible is inerrant since God, who cannot lie, moved men by His Holy Spirit to record what we have in what is now known as the Holy Bible. So then, the Bible does support inerrancy. I am not sure what “The Christian Apologetics Handbook” says about inerrancy. It could be that this book does not give good arguments for inerrancy, I do not know. I know several of the philosophy, theology, and apologetics professors over at Liberty on a personal level (though I must make it clear that I do not attend there) and I have not heard of this book being required for one of the classes. However, I have no reason to doubt your claim, because Intro to Philosophy is now required there as a Gen. Ed. course and there are a large number of philosophy professors. Are you perhaps referring to the book written by Kreeft and Tacelli? Of course I have read Matthew 1 and Luke 3 many times before and I am not sure what you are taking issue with there. You will have to be more specific as to what these passages have to do with arguments for or against inerrancy.

You can feel free to recommend whatever books you would like to me and I will read them if time and interest permit. I must warn you that I am not especially interested in politics. I hope you will not assume that I do not read any literature that is from a different worldview than my own. I just recently finished reading the Bhagavad-Gita and Violence and Compassion which is the transcript of an interview with the Dalai Lama. I am currently about half way through Ishmael. As far as what I would recommend that you read…well I feel a bit strange recommending that you read anything, but obviously Christian Scripture would be most important. Read the New Testament.