Logical Fallacies In Presuppositionalism
“I’ll be honest Chris…it amazes me that just like Greg Bahnsen you’ve done a degree in Philosophy yet can’t see through the multitude of logical fallacies present in presuppositionalism. Like all other presuppositionalists you also appear completely unable to demonstrate to any degree of satisfaction how Christ presents you with wisdom, knowledge or certainty despite these bold claims.”
Notice the assertion that there are a “multitude of logical fallacies present in presuppositionalism” as well as the claim to have come into contact with “all other presuppositionalists”. The author goes on to provide alleged examples of these fallacies, however it is hardly a multitude, and we might question how many of them are logical fallacies even given the assumption that they apply.
“The fact that the entire premise is based on argument from ignorance and could as easily be used to ‘prove’ that aliens cause crop circles via ‘the impossibility of the contrary’”
Notice that this is asserted as “fact”. It is unclear as to what “premise” refers to or what “argument” it is based on. If I had to guess I would think that “premise” refers to presuppositionalism and “argument” refers to TAG, but presuppositionalism is not “based on” TAG. An argument which points out inherent difficulties in a worldview does not fall prey to the fallacy of argument from ignorance. Knowing that a worldview is incoherent, contradictory, arbitrary, etc. has nothing to do with ignorance. There is no application of the fallacy given toward the argument in question, nor is there support given to the claim that the argument may be used to prove that aliens cause crop circles. It is possible to create a crop circle by attaching a rope to both ends of a board and then pushing cornstalks down with the tool at night without being seen. I am at a loss as to how this is applicable to TAG.
“The best you could hope to prove is that someone you are debating directly or people in general are ignorant of some particular fact(s). This doesn’t constitute a validation of some idea you may hold, the onus is on you to support your claims regardless of what anyone else might know or not”
The author apparently holds that a worldview can never be shown to be false. According to him, all that may be shown is that an adherent of a worldview is ignorant of a fact. This is said to be the best we could hope to prove. Yet the author holds that my worldview is false. If it is always the case that the position of an individual can never be shown to be false because there is actually some fact which resolves some alleged problem then it follows that no worldview is false. What I think the author is missing here is that showing that a worldview is false is not accomplished through showing that someone is ignorant of some fact but rather through showing that the worldview in question is itself flawed.
“The fact that assertion is considered to be as good as a well supported argument eg that the believer has some means of direct communication with God allowing him/her to know certain things about the world, which is just blatant nonsense since they can’t actually demonstrate this fact. If you do genuinely believe that you have this ability, I know that I (and I’m fairly sure anyone else reading this) would like to see you demonstrate it.”
The author would need to show me through argument that his assertion here is true, since as far as I know I do not consider assertion to be as good as a well supported argument. It appears that he is confusing assertions with argument. Assertions are not the same thing as arguments. Depending upon how one defines “assertion” they are necessary for argument. For example, I assert that God has directly communicated to me and that God allows me to know certain things about the world and even that He gives me certain knowledge about the world through His communicating to me but this is not argument. However, assertions may be used in an argument or arguments. Now the author asserts that, for example, my assertion that I have a means of direct communication with God allowing me to know certain things about the world is “blatant nonsense”. He goes on to argue for this assertion. He states that the reason he considers this “blatant nonsense” is because I “can’t actually demonstrate this fact”. Of course, according to him, the best he “could hope to prove is that…[I am]…ignorant of some particular fact” which would show that my assertion is not “blatant nonsense”. It does not follow that something is blatant nonsense if someone is unable to demonstrate that the something is itself the case.
“As regards the biblical authors’ claims to this ability, you’re no doubt aware…folk like John Frame concede that they don’t have a clue how to validate the claim that God communicated with the biblical writers beyond simply claiming ‘we know that we know without knowing how we know’”
I do not believe that God communicated with the vast majority of the writers of the Bible if we are speaking of dictation as a means of inspiration. If it is asked how I know that God communicated to people or that the Bible is God-breathed the answer will be that the Bible tells me so.
“The fact that loads of their arguments contradict each other, often within a few sentences of each other eg the idea that God provides the conditions for knowledge or uniformity of nature yet as van Til says can set one set of facts into new relation to ‘created law’ any time he so wishes – how could anyone claim to know anything, or claim that the world is likely to remain uniform on that view?”
The author asserts that there are loads of contradictory arguments and presents a supposed example of two “arguments” which supposedly contradict each other but do not. Again, “loads” of arguments “contradict” each other, but only one alleged example is provided. If God exists then He regulates nature though He can do otherwise. It does not follow that He actually does or ever will do otherwise and the testimony of Scripture shows the opposite to be the case.
“The fact that they openly admit to affirming contradictory ideas that they have no good explanation for eg the Trinity, the 100% man/100% God doctrine, the ones in point 3 above etc etc, yet at the same time claim that internal contradictions are what invalidate other worldviews!”
If I affirm contradictory ideas it is an error. I do not know what is meant by an “explanation” for a “contradiction”. The author offers the Trinity as an example of a contradiction but does not explain how it is such. I do not know that I affirm the “100% man 100% God doctrine”, though I do believe that Jesus is fully God and fully man. There are no contradictions given “in point 3 above” and I do not know what “etc etc” refers to. It may be important to note, if the author is trying to get at what I think he is; lack of comprehensive explanation is not the same thing as contradiction. The author here also acknowledges the use of internal contradictions to point out the falsehood of a worldview but appeared to be ignorant of that fact during his discussion of adherents to worldviews being ignorant of some facts.
“Certain claims are so vague or meaningless as to not be worth bothering with eg Bahnsen’s claim that while God accounts for logic, God’s logic may not be the same as ours – who does he think he’s fooling with this sort of vacuous rubbish?”
There is only one supposed example given of a claim that is “vague or meaningless”. If the claim that God accounts for logic but the logic of God may not be the same as ours is vague or meaningless then we are in no place to call it “vacuous rubbish”, though I can see the rhetorical value in doing so. When I come across something I find to be vague or meaningless I am encouraged to investigate the claim to understand what is meant. It may
e that the claim turns out to be true or false or actually meaningless, but I cannot know this if I do not investigate the claim. When someone sees a vague or meaningless claim as being not “worth bothering with” then he or she has no place to call that same claim “vacuous rubbish”.
“Regarding the latter part of your response, first of all simply because you believe in such a being, it does not follow that such a being does actually exist.”
I do not make this argument.
“Even if we were to concede such a being did exist for argument’s sake this is still no better than me saying something like ‘Robert Oppenheimer had an immense knowledge of nuclear physics therefore this means I also have an immense knowledge of nuclear physics’ – just because someone or something has a certain level knowledge on a given matter, it doesn’t follow that everyone else also acquires this knowledge by proxy.”
I do not make this argument.
“Presumably you consider at least some of this knowledge to have been imparted by divine revelation, but then this just open a hold new world of problems most of which have already been pointed out to you: eg how would you distinguish revelation from delusion or revelation from evil spirits or a lying God (remember, simply assuming God doesn’t lie doesn’t answer the question – any liar can insist that they only tell the truth (verses like 2 Thessalonians 2:11 don’t exactly favour your point in this regard either))?”
Supposedly a “hold [sic] new world of problems” has been pointed out to me regarding knowledge imparted by divine revelation. Notice the constant use of words referring to supposed large numbers of problems without any substance to back up such uses. Revelation is in this context that which comes from God and delusion is the state of an individual so I am not sure what the question means. Revelation and evil spirits likewise belong to wholly different categories. Liars may insist that they are telling the truth, but God is not a liar. To attempt to force me to defend a view that I do not hold is rather pointless. It is one of the most fundamental claims of presuppositionalism that it operates with respect to the Christian God. This must be understood if one is to understand anything else regarding presuppositionalism or TAG.
“How would you validate the revelation claims of the biblical writers beyond simpy taking it on their say-so? (especially when you consider that a. substantial amounts of discoveries in the physical and life sciences, history, archaeology, medical research etc would indicate that the biblical authors were either wrong or ignorant on a number of matters) and that b. Christianity endorses a number of contradictions (see earlier examples))? none of this is what we’d expect from people who had access to an infallible source of knowledge.”
There is no higher authority by which to “validate” the Word of God than God. The Word of God is self-authenticating. This is again basic presuppositionalism. Notice again in this paragraph the use of words referring to supposed large numbers; “substantial amounts”, “number of matters”, and “number of contradictions”. Notice also that these supposed problems are all merely asserted without anything provided to back them up, and that the alleged contradictions mentioned from before have already been dealt with.
“As before, if you have some infallible means of acquiring knowledge that isn’t open to non-believers, we’d expect you are able to tell us things you couldn’t possibly otherwise know about us – anyone who makes such a claim should surely realise that they are going to get called on it sooner rather than later.”
I do not deny that non-believers have knowledge.
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