Of Mitch and Moreland

For some unknown reason Mitch LeBlanc has recently been half-heartedly defending non-presuppositionalist apologetics from the evil presuppositionalist Chris Bolt. It is as though he believes that the contributors to Choosing Hats have never really dealt with arguments in favor of other methods of apologetics, or that we are not familiar with the other methods of apologetics, but I do not want to assume this concerning his belief. However, I will state plainly that if he believes this, he is incorrect.

Mitch wrote a comment on my post that was about the statement Dr. Craig made prior to his debate with Christopher Hitchens. I will briefly respond to it here.

“I think J.P Moreland said it fairly well”

This says a lot about Mitch’s thought. 😉

“Take as an example the illustration of a map to Atlanta. In the order of being, there would have to be the city of Atlanta before there could be a map showing one how to get to Atlanta.”

This is false. If you do not believe me then I have a map to Candy Mountain I want to sell you.

“Thus, in the order of being, Atlanta is first.”

I like how he wrote “thus” when he did not even present an argument. He just asserted a proposition and then reasserted it as his alleged conclusion.

“However, in order to find one’s way to Atlanta, one might need a map.”

True.

“Thus, in the order of knowing, the map is first.”

Knowledge of Atlanta and knowledge of how to get to Atlanta are two different things. Moreland is equivocating. It has already been granted that in order to find one’s way to Atlanta, one might need a map. It has not been granted that in order to know that there is an Atlanta one needs a map.

“In the theistic argument debate, the theist certainly sees that in the order of being God is first, since, if God is the creator of all things besides Himself, then, if there was not a God, there would be nothing else at all, not even an argument for God.”

This is nice but it has little to do with the subject. The presuppositionalist does not merely argue that if God does not exist then neither does anything else. Such an “argument” would beg the question.

“But in the order of knowing, it might be the case that one would need a ‘map’ to God, i.e., a theistic argument.”

Moreland implies that presuppositionalists present no theistic arguments, which is false. He is also blatantly contradicting the claim of Scripture that everyone knows God without theistic arguments. The phrase “it might be the case” is false as according to Scripture it is certainly not the case.

The presuppositionalist does not just state that God must exist in order for there to be knowledge, but that God must be known. J.P. Moreland has never presented an argument for the existence of God which did not already presuppose the knowledge of God.

“Just as using a map to find Atlanta says nothing amiss about the metaphysical priority of Atlanta to the map, likewise, to use a theistic argument to find God says nothing amiss about the metaphysical priority of God to the argument.”

First, Moreland is equivocating as “finding God” must mean something quite different from “finding Atlanta” since both are not “found” in the same way at all, the one being a particular location. Second, Scripture does not allow any room for the view that people are able to “find God” through theistic arguments, as God is already “found” or known. Third, the necessity of theistic arguments with respect to some people results in all sorts of absurdities regarding those who lived prior to such theistic proofs were formulated and those who are intellectually incapable of grasping such proofs. Fourth, there is at the very least a claim that there is an epistemological priority of God to the argument which Moreland has not touched upon at all.

“The presuppositionalist is wrong to think that if an argument leads on to a belief in the existence of God, this God could not be the God of Christianity…”

The god that Antony Flew believes in cannot be the God of Christianity. Flew claims to have been led by an argument(s) to belief in the existence of god, and yet this god is clearly not the Christian God, for Flew continues to refuse to be a Christian and refuses to admit that the Christian God exists. Moreland might respond that perhaps Flew does not have things straight; Moreland might claim that this is the God of Christianity and Flew is mistaken in claiming to believe that it is another god. Yet Flew clearly claims belief in a god which is not the God of Christian Scripture as the result of theistic proof(s) and Moreland’s statement is made concerning such a belief. The god Flew claims to believe in can never be said to be the Christian God. Flew would need to claim belief in a totally different God if he were to claim belief in the God of the Bible. Thus at the very least it is difficult to see how this presuppositionalist is wrong to think that if an argument allegedly leads on to a belief in the existence of a god it cannot be the God of Christianity.

Moreland knows quite well that it is consistent with his view to affirm that a theistic proof can lead someone to belief in the existence of some other god than the God of Christianity. In his conclusion to his version of the cosmological argument he writes:

“In summary, it is most reasonable to believe that the universe had a beginning which was caused by a timeless, immutable agent. This is not a proof that such a being is the God of the Bible, but it is a strong statement that the world had its beginning by the act of a person. And this is at the very least a good reason to believe in some form of theism.” (J.P. Moreland. Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity. Baker Books. Grand Rapids, MI. 1987. Pg. 42.)

“It does not imply that somehow the being of God is secondary. Presuppositionalists mistakenly assume that to have the argument first in the order of knowing is to tacitly deny that God is first in the order of being, it does not.”

Again, Moreland is completely missing the point. Moreland, and those of his ilk, confuse the presuppositionalist endeavor to be something along the lines of arguing from consequence to ground as was popular in Medieval theology and philosophy. Frankly, Moreland shows just as much ignorance concerning the method as William Lane Craig did when he wrote in Five Views On Apologetics something to the effect of Cornelius Van Til not having been a philosopher.

“I’m sorry for pasting the long quotation, but it might be beneficial to work with the responses formulated in response to presuppositionalist criticisms of classical apologetics.”

Not really, as they are responses to misrepresentations of the method. It needs to be pointed out also that Mitch did not actually touch at all upon what I wrote in my previous post; see the part concerning William Lane Craig’s self-defeating implication that Christ is not Lord.

“Even if one granted that human beings are estranged from god by virtue of man’s rebellion, it does not follow that human beings are estranged from reality itself.”

I can honestly say that I am not sure how to respond to this, as I am not in a position to make good guesses as to what it means. It should suffice to point out that classical apologists are constantly divorcing their method from a biblical anthropology, especially with respect to the noetic effects of sin. This is undoubtedly due to the Thomist view of the effects, or lack thereof; of the Fall upon reason.

“Surely even the most extreme Calvinist”

I have no idea what an “extreme” Calvinist is, unless it is some garbage that Moreland pulled from Geisler’s wonderful misrepresentations of Calvinism. Per the Law of Excluded Middle one either accepts the so-called “Five Points of Calvinism” or not, and one either accepts that God is in control of everything or not; there are no “extremes” in the mix.

“…would admit that gravity affects the sinner as much as the saint.”

I admit this, but fail to see how it is relevant.

“It is from this common ground of reality that the Classical tradition has built its natural theology.”

The unbeliever cannot account for the knowledge of something like gravity because she will not accept that Jesus is the Lord of gravity. Of course, Moreland might not either, and that is the problem pointed out in my previous post. Mitch responded to that post without really attempting to answer it at all!


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Bolt’s Blunder: Misunderstanding Apologetics | Urban Philosophy

[…] recently responded to a post by Chris Bolt in which he criticized the apologetic method of William Lane Craig. The criticism is […]

Mitchell LeBlanc
Mitchell LeBlanc

As per your request, I’ve added in an assessment of your argument.


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