Bravo Nocterro

Kudos to Nocterro (who sometimes comments here) for writing a pretty clear explanation of what presuppositionalists have been saying for some time now.

Showing that the Bible is correct in its historical claims does not show it is correct in its theological claims…

Imagine for the sake of argument that someone showed that Jesus did indeed resurrect…All it would show is that a man resurrected, not that Yahweh exists and that such a being was the cause of such an event. It could have been that it was the doing of some other sort of god, or even something else supernatural.

Nocterro perhaps inadvertently calls attention to the presuppositional nature of the dispute between Christians and non-Christians by rejecting so-called evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ according to his own presuppositions  just prior to explicitly recognizing that presuppositions are involved in the claim a Christian might make in his scenario.

But let’s go even one more step further. Evidence of an actual resurrection does nothing to show that ANY supernatural event took place. All it would really show, at its core, is that we are incorrect in our belief that resurrection after death is not naturally possible.

To show that Jesus is lord, you have to first show that the God of the bible exists via another method. if you don’t, that means you’re presupposing that such a god exists. [sic]

Good on him. The remainder of the post is not so promising though. Most of his examples of “bad arguments” appear to be not arguments, but observations.

I have not found a typical response from atheists concerning “faith” in science or atheism, but when unbelievers I have spoken with have affirmed their faith in science (for example) I do not equate this faith with a believer’s faith at all. They differ in content and they differ in provision for rationality. If Nocterro thinks he has reached something without resting ultimately upon some sort of faith then I would love to hear what it is and how he reached it.

It is unwise to present the Problem of Evil as a logical problem for any but the non-Christian position. There is no logical inconsistency between the existence of God and the existence of evil, though there is a logical inconsistency between the non-existence of God and the existence of evil.

It is telling that Nocterro offers a straw man of the TAG and allegedly refutes it prior to offering what is actually meant by the challenge set forth by the TAG. It should be pointed out that if the argument is correct not even what is presented in his straw man has actually been explained, however. Therefore just stating what he has with respect to an alleged explanation is insufficient to deal with the actual argument.


6 Comments

Nocterro

“Nocterro perhaps inadvertently calls attention to the presuppositional nature of the dispute between Christians and non-Christians by rejecting so-called evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ according to his own presuppositions just prior to explicitly recognizing that presuppositions are involved in the claim a Christian might make in his scenario.”

Umm, what am I presupposing, and where? I don’t see it.

“Most of his examples of “bad arguments” appear to be not arguments, but observations.”

You could say I am making observations about arguments, yes. But I have seen every single one used as an argument, multiple times, over the past 2 years or so.

“I do not equate this faith with a believer’s faith at all. They differ in content and they differ in provision for rationality. If Nocterro thinks he has reached something without resting ultimately upon some sort of faith then I would love to hear what it is and how he reached it.”

You missed the point entirely. The point was that a theist can’t apply a different definition of faith to an atheist than he does to himself.

“It is unwise to present the Problem of Evil as a logical problem for any but the non-Christian position.”

I didn’t do that. What I said was: “This is also how the “problem of evil” argument works.” I was citing the argument as an example of an argument which attempts to disprove God.

“It is telling that Nocterro offers a straw man of the TAG and allegedly refutes it prior to offering what is actually meant by the challenge set forth by the TAG.”

The argument I cited was: ““Without a presupposition that God exists, you cannot explain anything.”” I’ve seen this argument word for word at least twice. I did NOT say that this was the TAG argument. Further down, I say: “This more refined form of the argument is known as the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God, or TAG.” It is quite clear that I did not think the argument in bold was the TAG.

C.L. Bolt

Are you claiming that you reject the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ upon presuppositions which are different from your own? Or perhaps you do not believe that you have any presuppositions at all? You presuppose autonomy in that you reject the Lordship of Christ and the interpretation of the resurrection provided by Scripture which states that it was a supernatural event and assume that a naturalistic interpretation is possible for any given evidence.

I am not claiming that you are making observations about arguments, I am claiming that what you are calling arguments are really mostly observations. That mere observations are set forth as arguments does not make them arguments.

Why can’t a theist apply a different definition of faith to an atheist than he does to himself? I began to do so in my post.

You did not make the argument, but you did present the Problem of Evil as a logical problem (“It claims that the existence of evil is contradictory to the proposition ‘God exists’.”)

You did equate the straw man with the TAG, for you wrote, “What the theist *means by this argument* is ‘Without a presupposition that God exists, you cannot explain X’, where X is not everything, but one specific thing, most often morality, or logic. *This more refined form of the argument is known as the Transcendental Argument for the Existence of God, or TAG*”. The problem here is the inconsistency. My counter here, as well as on the other points, might clarify this.

Nocterro

“Are you claiming that you reject the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus Christ upon presuppositions which are different from your own?”

No. In fact, in my article, I make no claims about the validity of the evidence for the resurrection.

“You presuppose autonomy in that you reject the Lordship of Christ and the interpretation of the resurrection provided by Scripture which states that it was a supernatural event and assume that a naturalistic interpretation is possible for any given evidence.”

I never say ‘It is the case that a naturalistic explanation is the only explanation”. I say “It is not necessarily the case that a supernatural explanation is the correct one”. Also, your statement that I “assume that a naturalistic interpretation is possible for any given evidence.” puzzles me. Do you actually claim that the cause of this event could not possibly have been anything but a supernatural one?

“That mere observations are set forth as arguments does not make them arguments. ”

Yes, it does – bad arguments.

“Why can’t a theist apply a different definition of faith to an atheist than he does to himself?”

Because then the theist is being inconsistent in his reasoning. It seems to be a form of equivocation.

“but you did present the Problem of Evil as a logical problem (”It claims that the existence of evil is contradictory to the proposition ‘God exists’.”)”

It DOES claim that. “The epistemic question posed by evil is whether the world contains undesirable states of affairs that provide the basis for an argument that makes it unreasonable for anyone to believe in the existence of God.” (http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/evil/)

Regarding TAG, I thought I was being clear, but I guess not. Let’s call the form of the alleged strawman argument the “argument from the inability to explain”. Both the alleged strawman and the TAG are arguments of this form, but they are different arguments. My overall point was that the use of the word “anything” when presenting this type of argument is a poor choice of words. Perhaps I should have wrote, “What the theist *should instead argue* is ‘Without a presupposition that God exists, you cannot explain X’.

C.L. Bolt

Do you actually claim that the cause of this event could not possibly have been anything but a supernatural one?

Of course I claim that the cause of the resurrection of Jesus Christ could not possibly have been anything but a supernatural one as this is in accord with my presuppositions, just as your claim is in accord with your presuppositions:

“Evidence of an actual resurrection does nothing to show that ANY supernatural event took place. All it would really show, at its core, is that we are incorrect in our belief that resurrection after death is not naturally possible.”

Your answer to my question of why a theist cannot apply a different definition of faith to an atheist than he does to himself is not very satisfying because you give the “reason” that the theist would then be “inconsistent in his reason”. I understand you are making the claim that this would be the case, but my question is, again, why? You mentioned that it is a form of equivocation, but equivocation is when you use the same term twice in two different ways while presenting it as being used only one way. In other words, this would be the exact opposite of equivocation. Perhaps I just do not get what you meant originally.

I understand that the argument from evil has been set forth before as a logical problem. I don’t need the article to know this, but thanks. Again, it is not wise to present the problem as being a logical problem for the theist.

The “form” that the TAG takes is that of a transcendental argument…I mean, that is what it is, a transcendental argument. The use of the word “anything” is not a poor choice of words, for if the TAG is “sound” then one cannot explain *anything*.

Anyway, I’m pretty much ready to let this one go.

Nocterro

I just have one final point to make regarding presuppositions.

Presuppose: To believe or suppose in advance. (American Heritage Dictionary, 4th edition).

You said earlier in this discussion: “You presuppose autonomy in that you reject the Lordship of Christ and the interpretation of the resurrection provided by Scripture which states that it was a supernatural event and assume that a naturalistic interpretation is possible for any given evidence.”

This is wrong. In fact, you could say that I started with similar presuppositions to the ones that you have. I was a Christian for most of my life. But, after careful study of religious issues, I have determined that God(at least the Christian God) most likely does not exist and that my presuppositions were wrong. Of course I may be wrong. But the point is that I do not presuppose ‘no God’. Issues such as the existence of God must be dealt with carefully. I approach them with this attitude: ‘Is this idea true? Why or why not? How sure can I be?’ To be quite honest, I cannot think of anything that I presuppose. You might say that I presuppose that the universe exists as a response to this, however I’m not even 100% certain of this. I merely operate as if it does, because it’s more useful to do so(and the same for similar ideas). If I dropped everything until I was certain that ‘reality is real’, I would never get anything done.

The overall point is this: when an idea is presented to me, I do not immediately think ‘this is true’ or ‘this is false’. I study the issue first, then come to a conclusion.

C.L. Bolt

Well there is your problem. 🙂 I will try to address this when I can because it is much more interesting than what we were discussing, but I do not have the time right now. If I do not “see” you before December 25, have a Merry Christmas.


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