Does the Triune God of Scripture Exist? Jamin Hubner vs. Ben Wallis

Jamin Hubner has made public his debate with Ben Wallis here and Ben Wallis has done so as well and reviewed the debate here. You can download or listen to the debate here or here and apparently there is a transcript of the debate here. Don’t forget to check out the debate that I had with Ben Wallis here if you have not already and to take a look at the subsequent discussion regarding that debate here and here and here and here.

That should keep people busy until I get the time to review the Hubner vs. Wallis debate. 😀


9 Comments

Peter Ochoa

This was a very interesting debate. I just have a couple of questions.

First when it comes to presuppositions let’s take logic for example. Ben argued that just because a person gets stumped doesn’t mean we have to appeal to God. From my limited understanding, doesn’t every non Christian worldview respond this way. So isn’t some reductio to autonomy which makes all non Christian false.

Second when Ben referred to induction in this debate and the Bolt debate he said he uses induction basically because it works and he knows that a priori. But does he really know that a priori how do we go about this.

Third on the topic of logic, it does seem strange to me that we need justification for logic if not it is arbitrary, but if it is arbitrary doesn’t that make all of his arguments in question.

Fourth Jamin said that presuppositional apologetics can’t be in the form of propositional logic, is that true not that that is a huge detriment but I want to make sure.

Last when engaging in debate is it a bad idea just to cut to the Chase and explain that they can’t justify their most basic presuppositions no one can only Christianity?

C.L. Bolt

“Ben argued that just because a person gets stumped doesn’t mean we have to appeal to God.”

That’s correct, but there is a difference between getting stumped and being principally unable to justify some primary feature of one’s worldview.

“So isn’t some reductio to autonomy which makes all non Christian false.”

Correct.

“Ben…said he uses induction basically because it works and he knows that a priori.”

I don’t recall him saying that he knows a priori that it works. I’m not even sure how that would make sense. As for an a priori justification of induction, Hume dismisses it immediately in his treatment of the topic and I followed Hume in that during my debate with Wallis. As for the claim that induction “works” we would have to ask “works for what?” and point out that even this claim is based upon induction.

“it does seem strange to me that we need justification for logic if not it is arbitrary, but if it is arbitrary doesn’t that make all of his arguments in question.”

I’m not sure I understand your question.

“Jamin said that presuppositional apologetics can’t be in the form of propositional logic, is that true”

I don’t know what you’re referring to specifically, but as far as the content of your question goes the answer is no, it’s not true.

“Last when engaging in debate is it a bad idea just to cut to the Chase and explain that they can’t justify their most basic presuppositions no one can only Christianity?”

It depends on the debate. If someone is asking you about the Bible’s teaching on premarital sex it isn’t often helpful to go into a lengthy explanation as to why they could not even ask that question without God as its precondition.

Peter Ochoa

“As for an a priori justification of induction, Hume dismisses it immediately in his treatment of the topic ”

How does Hume dismiss it a prior?

“It does seem strange to me that we need justification for logic if not it is arbitrary, but if it is arbitrary doesn’t that make all of his arguments in question.”

“I’m not sure I understand your question.”

Well this notion of Logic needing justification, the unbeliever uses it but cannot justify it. I guess I am trying to wrap my mind around just how exactly this is arbitrary. I do somewhat understand that if indeed it is arbitrary it means everything that relies on logic is then called into question IE. no true knowledge. But I need help understanding this claim of it being arbitrary and exactly why if it arbitrary that means you can’t really use it.

“Jamin said that presuppositional apologetics can’t be in the form of propositional logic, is that true”

“I don’t know what you’re referring to specifically, but as far as the content of your question goes the answer is no, it’s not true.”

Well in the debate Ben was asking for some type of syllogism, inductive or some type of arguement put into propositional logic. Jamin said he had no yet seen an adequate formulation of TAG. If there is an adequate formulation what is it?

C.L. Bolt

“How does Hume dismiss it a prior?”

Hume dismisses a priori justifications by noting, that “causes and effects are discoverable, not by reason but by experience, will readily be admitted with regard to such objects, as we remember to have once been altogether unknown to us; since we must be conscious of the utter inability, which we then lay under, of foretelling what would arise from them.”

“The mind can never possibly find the effect in the supposed cause, by the most accurate scrutiny and examination. For the effect is totally different from the cause, and consequently can never be discovered in it.”

I’m afraid I’m still not understanding your question about logic, justification, and arbitrariness. If you’re asking how it is arbitrary to “use” logic even though it is unjustified, I would note that you might just as easily not “use” logic with just as much justification, or attempt to use some other manner of “reasoning” without justification. That would be arbitrary and it’s rather problematic from a philosophical viewpoint.

Because of the nature and scope of transcendental arguments and TAG in particular, there are some difficulties with stating them formally. However, an argument need not be stated formally in order to constitute an argument, and “adequacy” is generally determined by the recipient of an argument. Some people deny that TAG can be stated deductively, inductively, or abductively. I am still working through whether or not I agree with them. On a different note, something that does get overlooked a great deal in this discussion is that there is more than one way in which TAG might be stated. For an example of a formal statement of TAG as I used it in my debate against Ben Wallis, see the ending of my opening statement of that debate.

Peter Ochoa

It seems to me that Ben Wallis is reduced to Subjective Skepticism I might be wrong but that’s what it seems to me. I think this position is rationally self refuting but I can’t understand why. Can you help me understand why that position isn’t rationally defenseable?

Finally, as I continue to study Presuppositional apologetics, the more I study it the more I love it. I am still learning the completion of it but, it seems like the heart and soul of the apologetic is as follows. The non christian cannot rationally defend any position, but he doesn’t like the answer that God is the answer to all the tough questions. We state that God answers Logic, Science, morality and the proof really lies in the fact that this is reality. We use logic, morality, induction every day and the non christian just simply refuses to acknowledge the answer to reality. Maybe I am missing something but just trying to gain clear understanding. Thanks.

Ben Wallis

Peter Ochoa wrote: “So isn’t some reductio to autonomy which makes all non Christian false.”

As I discussed in my closing statement, Christians aren’t exempt from acting with autonomy, even though some of them may be under the mistaken impression that they are. We all have to make our own decisions, judgments, etc. The Christian has nothing special to offer, here.

Peter Ochoa wrote: “Second when Ben referred to induction in this debate and the Bolt debate he said he uses induction basically because it works and he knows that a priori. But does he really know that a priori how do we go about this.”

Oh my, no! That is most assuredly not what I want to suggest! I’m saying that we use induction because we HAVE to use induction. We have no choice in the matter.

Now, in addition to the question of whether or not we should CHOOSE to use induction, we also might ask, given that we must use induction, should we consider ourselves rational for doing so? In the debate, I said that we may take induction as rational a priori. In particular, we can use induction to define what it means to be “rational,” or “reasonable,” etc.

Peter Strawson puts the point well, in Introduction to Logical Theory (1952, pp249,56-7): “…if a man asked what grounds there were for thinking it reasonable to hold beliefs arrived at inductively, one might at first answer that there were good and bad inductive arguments, that sometimes it was reasonable to hold a belief arrived at inductively and sometimes it was not. If he, too, said that his question had been misunderstood, that he wanted to know whether induction in general was a reasonable method of inference, then we might well think his question senseless in the same way as the question whether deduction is in general valid; for to call a particular belief reasonable or unreasonable is to apply inductive standards, just as to call a particular argument valid or invalid is to apply deductive standards… So to ask whether it is reasonable to place reliance on inductive procedures is like asking whether it is reasonable to proportion the degree of one’s convictions to the strength of the evidence. Doing this is what ‘being reasonable’ means in such a context.”

Peter Ochoa wrote: “Fourth Jamin said that presuppositional apologetics can’t be in the form of propositional logic, is that true not that that is a huge detriment but I want to make sure.”

The only kinds of inference I know are induction and deduction (some people add a third kind, called abduction, and I accept this as well, but only insofar as it reduces to induction). Jamin denies that his arguments fall in either category. Then again, some of his arguments clearly ARE deductive (e.g. the one I quoted in my opening statement, which appears on his blog). So, Jamin appears to have an incoherent view on this subject.

Peter Ochoa wrote: “Well in the debate Ben was asking for some type of syllogism, inductive or some type of arguement put into propositional logic.”

Oh, I hope I didn’t suggest that he needed to use propositional logic, or formal logic! On the contrary, he can use any mode of deduction or induction that he likes. But there has to be SOME kind of logical structure to an argument, otherwise it won’t be an argument! Jamin’s presentation, which consisted of little more than asking me tough questions and proclaiming the alleged truth of his religious beliefs, did NOT contain or translate into any recognizable argument for Christianity. Now, he did SEEM to allude in his opening statement to the teleological argument from purpose, and I responded to that in my rebuttal. During the cross-examination period, however, Jamin explicitly denied appealing to the teleological argument.

So, I kept asking him to tell me, what else is there to his “argument” besides making grandiose claims, and trying to stump me with tough questions? If Jamin has an argument, then what is its CONTENT? That’s a crucial point he consistently failed to address.

Ben Wallis

C.L.Bolt wrote: “As for an a priori justification of induction, Hume dismisses it immediately in his treatment of the topic and I followed Hume in that during my debate with Wallis.”

Hume denies that induction is an a priori form of reasoning, not that our USE of induction has an a priori justification. This is evident in the longer version of the passage you quoted.

Hume writes (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding 4.1; 23-24): “If we would satisfy ourselves, therefore, concerning the nature of that evidence, which assures us of matters of fact, we must enquire how we arrive at the knowledge of cause and effect. I shall venture to affirm, as a general proposition, which admits of no exception, that the knowledge of this relation is not, in any instance, attained by reasonings a priori; but arises entirely from experience, when we find that any particular objects are constantly conjoined with each other. Let an object be presented to a man of ever so strong natural reason and abilities; if that object be entirely new to him, he will not be able, by the most accurate examination of its sensible qualities, to discover any of its causes or effects. Adam, though his rational faculties be supposed, at the very first, entirely perfect, could not have inferred from the fluidity and transparency of water that it would suffocate him, or from the light and warmth of fire that it would consume him. No object ever discovers, by the qualities which appear to the senses, either the causes which produced it, or the effects which will arise from it; nor can our reason, unassisted by experience, ever draw any inference concerning real existence and matter of fact. This proposition, that causes and effects are discoverable, not by reason but by experience, will readily be admitted with regard to such objects…”

C.L. Bolt

Of course Hume denies that induction is an a priori form of reasoning, that’s not even debatable. He discusses his fork right away. It is silly to suggest that what Hume is doing in the passages you are quoting from is continuing to try and establish that induction is not a priori. No, he’s already confined inductive reasoning to the category of reasoning concerning matter of fact as opposed to reasoning concerning relations of ideas. So again, yes Hume denies that induction is an a priori form of reasoning, but Hume likewise denies that induction can be justified via a priori justification, contrary to what you say here.

Hume begins his discussion by setting out his fork and then notes that all reasoning concerning matters of fact, which induction is a part of, is based upon cause and effect.

All reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of Cause and Effect. By means of that relation alone we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses.

It is by means of the cause and effect relationship alone that “we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses.” Hume is essentially describing inductive inference here. If we can establish this cause and effect relationship then “we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses.” So how do we set out to discover cause and effect? That is what we must accomplish in order to justify induction in this manner. Can we appeal to cause and effect as an a priori justification? Hume says no.

“In a word, then, every effect is a distinct event from its cause. It could not, therefore, be discovered in the cause, and the first invention or conception of it, a priori, must be entirely arbitrary. And even after it is suggested, the conjunction of it with the cause must appear equally arbitrary; since there are always many other effects, which, to reason, must seem fully as consistent and natural. In vain, therefore, should we pretend to determine any single event, or infer any cause or effect, without the assistance of observation and experience.”

The portion that you quoted goes with this argument. It’s not as though Hume is saying something different there. I cut that portion out simply to save space. Hume is using a thought experiment to further bolster his point that we must seek justification for induction through the relation of cause and effect which is obtained via experience as opposed to a priori reasoning. Imagine yourself as Adam looking at the water. You do not know that the water will suffocate you. This effect of the water is not known a priori. It is only by experience that the cause and effect relationship of water and suffocation is known. What Hume is ultimately after here is that we cannot say that the next body of water we look at is known to suffocate us as well a priori. Rather, we assume that the water will suffocate us based upon experience. But why assume that this experience will resemble our previous experience? That is the problem that Hume has put forth, and that you have been unable to answer. I’m still not so sure you understand the problem, and I’m a bit puzzled as to why you would try to correct me on Hume regarding this point. Are you really suggesting that Hume believed that induction was justified a priori?

C.L. Bolt

“…we may take induction as rational a priori.”

Ah good, so by the same reasoning I will take Christianity to be rational a priori. In the context of Christianity it is only reasonable to be a Christian. Or if we want to nitpick, I might say that my revelational epistemology is rational a priori and it likewise defines the non-Christian as irrational. Nice one.


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