Recently I posted an illustration which I use when presenting presuppostional apologetics in an introductory fashion, asking for corrections where due and suggestions on how the illustration might be made better. The first response I received serves to confirm that which is communicated through the illustration as the response is from a non-Christian. The objections raised about the illustration are based upon a particular manifestation of the non-Christian worldview known as Objectivism. In essence, Bahnsen Burner, the nick of the individual responding to the original post, appears to “agree” with me that there are two worldviews but delivers this message from within the context of his own Objectivist worldview. Thus the illustration is faulted for being in disagreement with Objectivist categories.
Bahnsen Burner argues (http://bahnsenburner.blogspot.com/2005/07/only-two-worldviews.html) that assuming “the whole spectrum of philosophies can be divided into two fundamentally opposed categories, that which is Christian in nature…and that which is not Christian in nature…implies a global uniformity within Christianity that simply does not exist”. It should be forthrightly acknowledged that there is not a “global uniformity” within Christianity, but it should at the same time be pointed out that global uniformity within a worldview is not necessary for the presuppositionalist’s purposes. Just because a particular person or group might identify him/her/itself as Christian does not mean that the identification is correct, nor does it mean that the presuppositionalist must extend the Christian worldview to accommodate sub-biblical views. It is no secret that presuppositional apologists such as Van Til and Bahnsen were very forward with their adherence to the specifically Reformed camp of Christianity as it is the truest expression of what Scripture teaches. Recognizing this significantly narrows the term “Christian worldview” in the context of presuppositional apologetics. On a pragmatic level those things which Christians would take to be fundamental aspects of their worldview and are agreed upon by virtually every individual referring to him or herself as a “Christian” are often all that are appealed to in a presuppositional encounter with an unbeliever anyway. Bahnsen Burner’s pointing out that that there are minor disagreements within the Christian worldview is hardly an argument against Christianity, especially when this disagreement may be accounted for within the context of the Christian worldview. Disagreement, even amongst believers, stems from sin. When Bahnsen Burner asks, “Are the thought patterns of the ‘original knower’ so tangled that its mouthpieces should be caught up in endless internal bickering when ‘thinking’ the original knower’s thoughts ‘after Him’?” he disregards the clear answer Scripture provides. Not even all believers think God’s thoughts after Him all the time. Has this point really been lost on Bahnsen Burner? The Bible is clear concerning the perfect nature of the thoughts and words of God. It is the sinful creature who does err and redemption found in Christ alone is the way out. An interesting question is what causes disagreement amongst those in the Objectivist camp and what is offered as a solution according to the same camp, but this will not be dealt with further here.
Bahnsen Burner writes,
“The descriptor ‘non-Christian’ could feasibly apply to a wide diversity of worldviews such as Hinduism, Shintoism, Buddhism, Taoism, Existentialism, Dialectical Materialism, Zoroastrianism, eastern occultism, animism, monotheism, deism, pantheism, rationalism, skepticism, etc., and yet the only thing that would hypothetically link these utterly different conceptions of the world together would be that they are not identical with the flavor du jour of Christianity preferred by the defending apologist, which is certainly not a fundamental.”
Only part of this statement is correct. The term “non-Christian” does apply to all of these. This is the only part of the statement that is correct. All of these views of the world are in fact the same in terms of their rejection of the Christian worldview, which is sufficient to warrant the non-Christian label (duh), and this is most important for the present discussion. As a side note, the non-Christian nature of these various manifestations of the non-Christian worldview is most certainly not “the only thing that would hypothetically link these utterly different conceptions of the world together”, mostly because it often turns out that they are not so “utterly different”. There are only so many ultimate questions available to any worldview with a finite number of “possible” answers. It may be inferred that many answers to ultimate questions provided by different conceptions of the world will overlap with one another and when studying them such is found to actually be the case. For example, major differences between Eastern and Western thought are often highlighted in textbooks, but this would not be if it were not for the similarity of certain schools of thought within each of these geographical locations.
The illustration of the two worldviews, Christian and Non, is critiqued based on Objectivist presuppositions, obviously entailing that the two parties involved in the discussion are not going to agree! “Metaphysical primacy” is assumed to be at the “fundamental level of philosophy” and, so far as one can tell, to be the main emphasis of an epistemological discussion. It is said that Christians mistakenly assume the primacy of consciousness which is defined as “the view that consciousness holds metaphysical primacy over objects distinct from itself in one capacity or another (or, in the case of the Christian god, in all capacities)”. Bahnsen Burner would thus offer a presuppostional model of his own based upon Objectivism. It is this presuppositional model which he uses in critiquing the aforementioned illustration which gave rise to this discussion.
More to come…